Rumor Roundup: All eyes on Steven Stamkos as free agency approaches

Steven Stamkos  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here’s a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.

All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.

It’s believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won’t lack for suitors.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he’ll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.

Read more

Best picks by round on Day 2 of the draft

Carter Hart (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – On Day 2 of the draft, team preference plays such a huge role in when kids get picked. But for my money, there were some definite winners by round. In some cases, it was teams that made solid multiple selections. In other cases, it was a matter of the value they got in one player. Here are my winners for Day 2.

Read more

Three storylines left unresolved after Night 1 of the 2016 draft

Ben Bishop (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

BUFFALO – Night 1 of the 2016 NHL draft gave us a bit of everything, a blend of expectant nods and wide-eyed gasps.

We saw the predictable occur. Auston Matthews went first overall, Patrik Laine second. The Calgary Flames acquired a goaltender in Brian Elliott. The Chicago Blackhawks squeezed another forward out because of their salary-cap crunch in Andrew Shaw, dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings shipped Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit to the one team we knew would take it: the Arizona Coyotes, striving for the salary floor.

We saw plenty of shocking moments, too. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the draft’s swing pick, usurped Jesse Puljujarvi, seemingly the consensus No. 3 overall selection. The Wings went off the board on Dennis Cholowski at No. 20 overall. We had him 37th in our 2016 Draft Preview, for what it’s worth.

But plenty of hyped storylines remain unresolved entering Day 2 of the draft. Let’s review a few.

Read more

Updated: Maple Leafs land Andersen from Ducks, sign him to five-year, $25-million deal

Jared Clinton
Frederik Andersen (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier entered training camp on a brand new two-year, $8.3-million contract in 2015-16. This year it appears he’ll be heading into camp with some serious competition for his starting job.

The Maple Leafs announced Monday afternoon they have acquired restricted free agent goaltender Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks for two draft picks — the first-round, 30th-overall selection in 2016 and a second-round pick in 2017.

Anaheim had long been trying to get Andersen under contract, with GM Bob Murray saying as recently as this past weekend that he was working on getting a deal done. Murray did, however, acknowledge that eventually one of Andersen or John Gibson would have to be moved. With Gibson being the presumptive goaltender of the future, though, it seemed Andersen would be the one sent packing. Monday’s deal makes that official.

The acquisition addresses a definite need for the Maple Leafs, who were hoping to rely on, but were mostly let down by, the play of Bernier this past season. Read more

Ducks GM Murray says one of his goaltenders has ‘got to move’

Jared Clinton
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

As much as the stagnant salary cap has the possibility to effect rosters this off-season, the impending expansion draft is weighing just as heavily on roster decisions that will be made over the course of the off-season.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has already spoken about the potential expansion draft and the effect it could have on Pittsburgh goaltending situation with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray both having claims to the starting job, and one of Rutherford’s fellow GMs, Anaheim Ducks architect Bob Murray, is in a similar spot.

With John Gibson, 22, the presumptive future in goal for Anaheim, it appears to have made restricted free agent Frederik Andersen, 26, a potentially expendable piece of the Ducks roster. And even though Murray said he has been talking contract with Andersen, the Ducks GM realizes that, eventually, something is going to have to give.

“If I can get Freddie signed one way or the other, I’ve got to move one (goaltender) because I’ll lose one for sure in expansion,” Murray told the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens. “It just will happen. It’s just something that’s in front of us. It’s there. We have a lot of defensemen. So we have to turn some of these things into assets.” Read more

Ducks ink blueliner Sami Vatanen to four-year, $19.5-million deal

Jared Clinton
Sami Vatanen (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sami Vatanen has become an integral part of the Anaheim Ducks’ defense, and now the 25-year-old rearguard will be compensated as such.

The Ducks announced Saturday that Vatanen has signed a four-year, $19.5-million contract that will see him become the highest-paid defenseman on the Anaheim roster next season. Vatanen’s new deal will carry an annual cap hit of $4.875 million and, according to the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens, will pay the defenseman $5 million in each of the next three seasons before dipping to $4.5 million in 2019-20.

The signing is an important one for the future of the Ducks blueline and rewards Vatanen following a career year. Read more

Humongous big comeback: Ilya Bryzgalov wants to make return to NHL

Anaheim Ducks Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov has played 40 NHL games in the past three seasons — and didn’t play professionally at all in 2015-16 — but that isn’t about to stop the quirky, veteran netminder from setting his sights on an NHL return.

In an interview with NHLPA.com’s Chris Lomon, Bryzgalov, 35, said a season away from the game has reignited his desire to play in the league, to face the world’s best shooters and give his 10-year-old son, a goaltender himself, the opportunity to watch his father play.

“When I told my son I was looking to play in the NHL again, his eyes lit up,” Bryzgalov told Lomon. “He was so excited. Now he’s older and he understands the game more. It would be great if he could watch me play again, maybe to learn some things that can help him.” Read more