Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk, Lecavalier and Bozak trade talk continues

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Kevin Shattenkirk trade speculation that surfaced during the recent NHL draft gained momentum during the opening day of free agency. Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the defenseman’s agent denied claims his client was being shopped, but it did little to quell the rumors.

It remains to be seen how the speculation will be affected by the Blues recent trade of winger T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals. If they’re still fielding inquiries about Shattenkirk, Rutherford suggests the 26-year-old blueliner’s contract could be the issue. Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal at an average cap hit of $4.25 million. The Blues already have considerable long-term contracts invested in blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Rutherford notes they won’t part with Pietrangelo, while Bouwmeester’s struggles last season could hurt his trade value. Read more

Antoine Vermette returns to Arizona Coyotes for two years, $7.5 million

Matt Larkin
Antoine Vermette

The kneejerk reaction to Antoine Vermette re-signing with the Arizona Coyotes might be, “He did WHAT?” After all, he was one of the best two unrestricted free agent centers available July 1, and the best considering Mike Ribeiro re-signed with Nashville early in the day. Contending teams, in theory, could’ve lined up out the door to employ a Stanley Cup-winning two-way center.

But, on second thought, Vermette returning to the Arizona Coyotes for two years and $7.5 million makes a lot of sense.

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Zbynek Michalek returns to Arizona on two-year, $6.4 million deal

Jared Clinton
Zbynek Michalek (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

After a brief stint in St. Louis, blueliner Zbynek Michalek is returning to Arizona.

The Coyotes announced shortly after free agency opened that they have signed the 32-year-old to a two-year deal that will pay him $6.4 million. By landing with Arizona, Michalek is set for his third stint in the organization.

By coming back to Arizona, Michalek will likely come in to continue to tutor the younger defensemen on the club, including the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Michael Stone, Klas Dahlbeck and Connor Murphy.

This past season, the Coyotes dealt Michalek to the Blues at the trade deadline for a third-round selection and Maxim Letunov. Bringing Michalek back into the fold makes it clear just how valued he was by GM Don Maloney, and getting him for a cheaper cap hit than his previous deal is a savvy move by the Coyotes. At his age, he could help the Coyotes transition into their next era, once their stock of young guns is ready to go.

Arizona wasn’t done with the signing of Michalek, however. The club also announced that they have signed Steve Downie to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.

Downie is the type of player who can extremely effective on a third- or fourth-line, but plays with a certain edge that could have him watching from the sidelines at some point during the season. This past season in Pittsburgh, Downie notched 14 goals and 28 points in 72 games, including three goals with the extra man and two game-winners. He also racked up a gaudy 238 penalty minutes, the highest tota of his eight-year career.

Chris Pronger deal another example of NHL salary cap follies

Chris Pronger (Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE – All right, let’s see if we have this straight. If the Arizona Coyotes can somehow keep their disputed lease in effect, the good people of Glendale will be giving money to a team that is paying a guy $575,000 to not play for them and another guy making $3 million who will actually play for them. That will cost them $3.6 million total, a little more than the $3.2 million they were paying to the guy they traded away, who will likely get paid by his new team to not play for it. The guy making $575,000, by the way, will likely be elected into the Hall of Fame in a couple of days and he now works for the league, while still being paid by the teams who are paying him to not play for them.

Only in the NHL. Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes consummated a convoluted trade that saw defenseman Nicklas Grossmann head to the desert in exchange for Sam Gagner and the rights to Chris Pronger. The reason for the deal? The Coyotes will gain $1.5 million to help them get up to the salary floor, since Pronger’s deal is for $575,000 each of the next two seasons in real money and $4.94 million against the cap, and the Flyers will get some relief at the upper level. Pronger will also become the first player in history to be taken off the league’s long-term injury list without actually being activated.

Carry on, then.

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‘Anything is possible’ when it comes to Kessel, says Shanahan

Phil Kessel

FORT LAUDERDALE – We know a few things when it comes to the prospects of Phil Kessel being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs. First, the Leafs have already told their core players there are going to be changes. Second, the Leafs are actively speaking with teams about the possibility. Third, there appears to be a lot of interest in acquiring him. Fourth, the chances of him reporting to training camp as a member of the Maple Leafs are growing slimmer by the day.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan did not come out and say Kessel would be dealt, but spoke volumes when he said, “Anything is possible.” To these eyes anyway, it just does not look as though Kessel has any long-term future in Toronto. So does Shanahan see any scenario where Kessel actually remains a Maple Leaf?

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Stats say Maple Leafs & Coyotes should look at trading down in draft

(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just like every year, the idea of trading down inside the top 10 has become a hot topic before the NHL draft. Arizona GM Don Maloney has stated he’s open to trading the third overall pick, while Toronto has been rumored to be interested in doing the same with fourth overall. Is it worth it, though?

That’s likely the question both teams are asking themselves leading up to Friday and with each one taking the scorched-earth approach to rebuilding, whether or not to trade down is an important question to ask. Generally, the answer is yes, but it’s harder to answer the higher the pick is. It really depends on the context. For these two clubs, the context is the luxury of drafting a franchise-cornerstone prospect in the top five. That’s difficult to pass up, because those types of players are usually only found in that top five.

At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the assets they can get in return for moving down a couple of spots. Historically, that’s usually been a second round pick plus, but the price is likely higher for picks within the top five, especially considering this year’s crop of talent.

What it boils down to is knowing how much a pick is worth and how much the prospects available are worth. That value really depends on what a team wants from a draft: high-success rate or high-impact players. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hawks still trying to peddle Sharp and Bickell

GettyImages-Sharp-Bickell

The increase in the NHL salary cap ceiling from $69 million to $71.4 million does little to help the Chicago Blackhawks escape from salary cap hell for 2015-16. They have over $64 million invested in cap payroll, leaving only $7.3 million to invest in new contracts. With restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Markus Kruger to re-sign plus several UFAs to re-sign or replace, the Blackhawks must shed salary.

It’s widely assumed left wingers Patrick Sharp ($5.9-million annually for two more seasons) and Bryan Bickell ($4-million annually, two years) are the likely trade candidates. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports that, as of Monday evening, the Hawks weren’t far along in trade talks about any player.

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Rumor Roundup: It’s official – Matt Beleskey done with the Ducks

Matt Beleskey (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks’ efforts to re-sign pending UFA winger Matt Beleskey ended in failure. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the 27-year-old rejected the club’s best offer and is headed to unrestricted free agency on July first.

Murray told media members at Tuesday’s GM meetings: “We made a really fair offer. God bless him.”

Beleskey is coming off a career-best 22-goal season, along with eight goals in 16 playoff games. He’s completing a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $1.35 million. Given the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA pool, Beleskey could command more than $4-million annually on the open market.

It’s possible the Ducks could shop Beleskey’s rights before the July 1 free-agent deadline. If so, the Ducks could get a conditional draft pick if the winger signs with the team his rights were dealt to. It’s not much, but it will be better for the Ducks than losing him for nothing.

KESSEL TO…THE PENGUINS?
Hearing word that the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the preferred trade destinations of Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Phil Kessel raised some eyebrows in Pittsburgh. Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review believes acquiring Kessel is something the Penguins should consider, though he acknowledges there are significant issues working against such a move.
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