Lyle Richardson is a contributing writer to THN. His Rumor Roundup has been a regular feature since 2007. He also runs the website spectorshockey.net. A Canadiens fan married to a Leafs fan, Lyle's Saturday nights during hockey season can get quite entertaining at his home.
With the New York Islanders eliminated from the second round of the 2016 playoffs, they head into the offseason facing the possibility of some significant roster changes.
Newsday’s Steve Zipay reports pending unrestricted free agents Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin face uncertain futures with the Isles. Of the trio, the 28-year-old Okposo stands to cash in the most. He’s completing a five-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.8 million, though he earned $4.5 million this season in actual salary.
Since last summer, contract talks between Okposo and the Isles have been almost non-existent. It’s assumed he won’t be back, meaning the Isles need a suitable replacement at right wing.
Citing defenseman Travis Hamonic’s request last year to be dealt to a Western-Canadian team, Newsday’s Mark Herrman suggests shipping the 25-year-old blueliner to the Edmonton Oilers for one of their good young wingers. ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recommends acquiring Jordan Eberle to replace Okposo. Read more
The NHL and NHLPA recently agreed upon the rules for a potential expansion draft that could be held following the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Though these rules haven’t been officially released, TSN’s Gary Lawless reported sources claim players carrying no-movement clauses must be protected from the draft, while those with no-trade clauses won’t be exempt and can be exposed.
NBC Sports Ryan Dadoun notes that could create an interesting dilemma for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Should an expansion draft be held, existing NHL teams can only protect one goaltender. With rookie netminder Matt Murray filling in very well for sidelined starter Marc-Andre Fleury in the 2016 playoffs, Penguins management could face a difficult decision over which one to protect.
The Toronto Maple Leafs winning the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery generated considerable excitement among their long-suffering fans. It’s also sparked speculation over what the Leafs might do with that pick.
It’s assumed the Leafs will retain it and select American center Auston Matthews first overall at next month’s draft. TSN’s Frank Seravalli doesn’t expect the Leafs will shop the pick in hopes of landing a return than can accelerate their rebuilding process. He does anticipate some teams might at least inquire into the possibility.
Throughout this season, some in the media floated the notion of the Arizona Coyotes pursuing the top pick if they didn’t win the draft lottery in order to select local boy Mattews. Coyotes CEO Anthony LeBlanc last month dismissed talk of his club offering up top defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in an effort to land that pick.
It’s been over a week since the New York Rangers were eliminated from the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. That hasn’t dampened the speculation over their off-season roster plans.
Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News believes the Rangers should find a replacement for pending UFA defenseman Keith Yandle via the trade market. He suggests they offer up left winger Rick Nash to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Nash is signed through 2017-18 at an annual cap hit of $7.8 million. Shattenkirk, meanwhile, has only only one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $4.25 million. He’ll be eligible next summer for UFA status and could be too expensive to re-sign. This suggested trade would reunite Nash with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who Leonard thinks might get a contract extension. Shattenkirk, meanwhile, could play top-two minutes and thus push Dan Girardi into a secondary role.
With the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs underway, the remaining casualties from the opening round are taking stock. For the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, considered by some to be Cup contenders, their early exit raises questions about off-season changes.
A lack of skilled defensive depth proved the Blackhawks’ undoing against the St. Louis Blues. Chicago Tribune pundits Chris Kuc and David Haugh, along with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, believe addressing this issue should be GM Stan Bowman’s priority this summer.
As more NHL teams become first-round casualties of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, the more speculation grows over their offseason moves.
After yet another roller coaster season for the Minnesota Wild ended in an early playoff exit, GM Chuck Fletcher faces some tough decisions. The biggest, of course, is deciding if interim head coach John Torchetti returns on a full-time basis. After that, Fletcher could shake up his inconsistent, under-performing roster.
With only around $12 million in available salary-cap room for 2016-17, it’s expected the Wild GM will buy out the remaining season of disappointing left wing Thomas Vanek. The 31-year-old is owed $7.5 million in actual salary, though the cap hit is $6.5 million. Read more
The Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings were the first clubs eliminated from the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Their early exits have given rise to considerable speculation about their off-season plans.
Having rebounded from missing the 2015 post-season, the Kings entered this year’s playoffs considered among the Cup favorites. Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times cites a lack of blueline depth for why they fell in five games to the San Jose Sharks. It’s an issue she believes GM Dean Lombardi will have difficulty addressing this summer.
A lack of salary-cap space will hamper Lombardi’s effort to bolster his defense. The Kings currently have over $65.9 million invested in 20 players for 2016-17, though center Vincent Lecavalier’s anticipated retirement should free up an additional $2.25 million.
If center Steven Stamkos fails to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer, it’s assumed the Toronto Maple Leafs will be his destination of choice via free agency. However, he could entertain an offer from another major Canadian franchise.
In an interview with Richard Labbe of La Presse, NHL Network analyst and former Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he believes Stamkos would consider a contract proposal from the Montreal Canadiens. He suggests Stamkos’ long-time friendship with Habs star P.K. Subban could be among the factors working in Montreal’s favor.