Rumor Roundup: Bruins blueline needs work, but reinforcements not coming just yet

Lyle Richardson
Torey Krug (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Entering this off-season, Boston Bruins management made no secret of their need for a skilled, puck-moving defenseman. With September and the start of training camp fast approaching, that issue has yet to be addressed.

NBC Sports’ Joey Alfieri reports the Bruins blueline still needs work. Captain Zdeno Chara, 39, is aging and no longer the dominant defenseman he once was. Torey Krug is their only reliable offensive rearguard.

Alfieri notes trade chatter earlier this summer tied the Bruins to St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The 27-year-old is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency and could prove difficult for the Blues to re-sign. While there was considerable speculation regarding Shattenkirk in late-June, the talk has largely gone away.

Read more

Sweden’s Lehner withdraws from World Cup to heal ankle, Enroth takes his place

Jared Clinton
Robin Lehner (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Robin Lehner was only able to suit up for one-quarter of the Sabres’ games in his first season as presumptive starting netminder for the club. But in an attempt to avoid that in his second campaign, Lehner is making sure he takes his time to heal the ankle injury that sidelined him late in the season.

It was announced Friday that Lehner, 25, has decided to withdraw from Team Sweden’s World Cup team. Sabres GM Tim Murray said Lehner made the choice because he wants to be ready to go come training camp.

“As Robin continues to progress during the off-season in his rehab from last season’s ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup,” Murray said in a statement. “Robin felt it was important to continue his rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings will go into season with current D-corps, look at trades later

Red Wings GM Ken Holland. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings pursuit of a top-three defenseman remains a hot topic among the club’s fans. In late-June, rumors linked the Wings to St. Louis Blues blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler.

With the start of NHL training camps fast approaching, Wings GM Ken Holland still hasn’t found a suitable defenseman. MLive.com’s Ansar Khan responded to questions from Wings fans on this topic. He notes the lack of depth in the free-agent market and intense competition for the few quality players who hit the trade block makes it difficult for Holland to address this need.

Khan points out the asking price for “non-elite talent” such as Shattenkirk and Fowler could cost the Wings some combination of “a top prospect, first-round pick or a good, young roster player.” He said the Wings contacted the Blues about Shattenkirk and the Ducks about Fowler earlier this summer, and probaby spoke to other clubs, but were unwilling to meet their asking prices.

Earlier this summer, rumors claimed Blues GM Doug Armstrong sought rising young star Dylan Larkin in exchange for Shattenkirk. It’s understandable Holland would pass on that. Larkin has the potential to become the Wings’ franchise player and future captain.

Much of the Shattenkirk conjecture is tied to his eligilibity next summer for unrestricted free agency. However, Armstrong now appears willing to retain the 27-year-old for the upcoming season.

As for Fowler, the Ducks aren’t likely to move him until they’ve re-signed restricted free agent blueliner Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks have an excess of defensemen and a need for depth at left wing. Fowler would make an attractive trade chip, but they could consider moving someone else.

Should Fowler be shopped, the Wings won’t be the only club interested in his services. The Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils could also come calling.

Since a deal hasn’t been made by now, Khan feels the Wings will go into 2016-17 with their current D-corps and evaluate their situation, and the trade market, later in the season.

KANE TRADE TALK ON HOLD

Earlier this summer, there was talk the Buffalo Sabres could attempt to trade troubled left winger Evander Kane.

The 25-year-old is facing misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in a Buffalo bar in late June. His first season with the Sabres was an injury-shortened disappointment, limited to 20 goals and 35 points in 65 games in 2015-16.

With the Buffalo Sabres losing Jimmy Vesey to free agency, Kane could be off the market. The Buffalo News’ Mark Harrington speculates Vesey’s signing with the New York Rangers spells the end of talk the Sabres could shop Kane to the Vancouver Canucks. Harrington notes the Canucks seemed to be the only team with interest in the winger.

Considering Kane’s legal issues and the fact he’s signed through 2017-18 at $5.25-million annually, Harrington believes the Sabres’ best bet is to hope Kane rebounds this coming season and improves his trade value.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Report: Sabres’ Alex Nylander could head to AHL thanks to loan loophole

Jared Clinton
Alex Nylander (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

After one 28-goal, 57-point campaign in the OHL, Buffalo Sabres first-round, eighth-overall draft pick Alex Nylander is reportedly set to leave the Mississauga Steelheads for the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

According to OHLInsiders, Nylander, 18, could be set to head to the Sabres’ farm club as soon as the 2016-17 campaign, which would means the young winger is making use of a loophole that would allow him to go from major junior to North America’s top minor league before the normal age of eligibility.

Typically, a player drafted out of major junior has to wait until their age 20 season to become a full-time AHLer. But Nylander is the rare case of a player who had spent the entirety of the past season on a loan. So, in that sense, he’s not a major junior player, but a European player that is eligible for the AHL whenever the Sabres see fit. And it appears they could see fit this season. Read more

Vesey met with seven teams, discussing options Thursday — what can each team offer?

Jimmy Vesey (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

For those tiring of hearing about NCAA free agent Jimmy Vesey, rest assured that the 23-year-old winger is nearing a decision on his destination.

According to a report from ESPN’s Joe McDonald, Vesey has finished meeting with the teams he has interest in joining — seven in total — and will begin discussing the options with his agents today with the possibility of coming to a final decision as early as Friday. Included on Vesey’s list of meetings were the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. That’s not to mention Vesey’s meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, who traded for his rights in mid-June.

Vesey comes with a lot of potential, having scored 56 goals and 114 points in 70 games with Harvard over the past two seasons, and he picked up the Hobey Baker Award in 2016 as the top player in the NCAA. But his performance doesn’t mean money can be used to sway his decision. Each team will have to table similar offers because Vesey will enter the league on a two-year, entry-level deal.

So which team will persuade Vesey to sign on the dotted line? Here are the pros and cons for each team in the running to land the college standout: Read more

Sabres’ Bylsma says talks with Girgensons, Ristolainen are ‘progressing’

Jared Clinton
Rasmus Ristolainen (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Sabres have been active this off-season, signing Kyle Okposo and bringing Dmitry Kulikov aboard to solidify their defense, but there are still two familiar faces yet to be locked up to new contracts to start next season in Buffalo.

With roughly a month until the start of training camp, Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Ristolainen are still without contracts for the 2016-17 campaign. Both remain restricted free agents as the summer winds on, but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he believes contract talks are heading in the right direction for Girgensons and Ristolainen.

“I think it’s a normal talk right now between the two groups — between both Rasmus and Zemgus,” Bylsma said on WGR 550’s Hockey Hotline. “Those are things that I don’t get too much involved in, but I know they’re progressing. I know we’re talking. They do take time.” Read more

Lawsuit filed against Evander Kane in connection to December assault allegations

Jared Clinton
Evander Kane (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The off-ice troubles are continuing for Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane, as the 25-year-old has had a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who alleges Kane assaulted her in December 2015.

According to the Buffalo News, Kane is preparing to countersue, and his lawyer Paul J. Cambria told the Buffalo News the countersuit for false claims would be filed in the coming weeks.

The lawsuit is connected to an alleged incident that occurred in a hotel room near Buffalo’s First Niagara Center on Dec. 27, which resulted in Kane becoming the subject of a sex offense investigation, per the Buffalo News. Kane was not charged with a crime and acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr., said an “examination of all the known facts, including the results of forensic and toxicological testing, neither the provable facts nor the applicable law support the filing of any criminal charges or a prosecution in this matter,” according to the Buffalo News. Read more

Evander Kane pleads not guilty to charges stemming from alleged bar incident

Jared Clinton
Evander Kane (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane made his first appearance in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to six charges, including one misdemeanor trespassing charge, one charge of disorderly conduct and four charges of non-criminal harassment.

The court date came less than two weeks after Kane, 25, was charged and handcuffed outside Buffalo’s Central Booking Bureau and charged July 22. The charges stem from an incident which allegedly occurred in late-June at a bar in downtown Buffalo.

The Buffalo News reported that a bouncer at a downtown bar said he got into an altercation with Kane while trying to remove the Sabres winger from the bar following complaints about his behavior. Three women also gave statements about the alleged incident, and each woman said Kane grabbed them, according to the Buffalo News. One woman told police she was grabbed by the neck, another said she was grabbed by the wrist and another said her hair was pulled.

Kane’s lawyer, Paul J. Cambria, Jr., said the events from the evening have been blown out of proportion. Read more