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.

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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2015 Draft Preview – Buffalo Sabres take baby steps with their baby faces

Ken Campbell
Sam Reinhart. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

So how does a center ice corps of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Mikhail Grigorenko and Johan Larsson sound? Well, considering only two of the four can legally drink in New York State, pretty young. And considering the top end of that group, pretty darn promising. As a group, Buffalo will continue to take its lumps as the Sabres continue through a painful rebuild. When you finish 30th in the NHL in successive seasons, the rewards at the draft are potentially astronomical. Even with Eichel, the Sabres will still finish near the bottom, meaning they’ll be getting another gem in 2016.

Round 1, pick 2
Round 1, pick 21
Round 2, pick 31
Round 2, pick 51
Round 4, pick 92
Round 5, pick 122
Round 6, pick 152
Round 7, pick 182

Buffalo’s future on defense is tied to Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, but if the Sabres are going to come close to competing in the next few seasons, they’re going to need depth, preferably in the form of a player who can help show the young blueliners the way.

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Team USA summer roster out; look for an experienced world junior squad

Noah Hanifin of Boston College (Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

Team USA was almost shockingly young at the world juniors in 2015, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the Americans lost to Russia in the quarterfinal, mainly due to a rash of unnecessary penalties. But the wound of that loss could become vital scar tissue for the 2016 squad.

Because USA Hockey just released its preliminary summer camp roster and it is heavy on experience.

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Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks will have to get creative to re-sign Saad

Brandon Saad

Chicago Blackhawks left winger Brandon Saad is garnering favorable reviews for his performance in this year’s NHL playoffs. Entering Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 22-year-old Saad’s eight goals ranks him among the Blackhawks leading post-season scorers..

Factor in Saad’s solid regular-season numbers and it’s clear the Hawks have a rising star on their hands. It’s also increased the possibility he could receive an offer sheet in the off-season.

Saad, 22, is coming off an entry-level deal and lacks arbitration rights. Blackhawks management obviously intends to re-sign him, but with over $64 million tied up in cap payroll for 2015-16 they won’t have enough to ink Saad, re-sign RFA forward Marcus Kruger and replace their departed unrestricted free agents. Read more

Report: Sabres’ Mikhail Grigorenko could sign KHL deal

Jared Clinton

When the Jack Eichel era starts in Buffalo, the Sabres could be without 2012 first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, there has been some speculation the 21-year-old center is considering signing a deal in the KHL. Grigorenko is set for restricted free agency and McKenzie reports the Sabres were hoping to get 2012’s 12th overall pick signed to a two-way deal and have him fight for a roster spot next season, but Grigorenko may not be interested in competing for a spot in the lineup and venture instead to the KHL where there would likely be the promise of more money and a guaranteed roster spot. Read more

Five players who are top buyout candidates this summer

Vincent Lecavalier

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray made headlines Thursday afternoon when he said the team has considered buying out the contract of 25-year-old winger Cody Hodgson.

Hodgson signed a six-year contract in September 2011 valued at an average annual salary of $4.25 million, but his production slipped in a big way this past season as he managed just six goals and 13 points in 78 games. Hodgson, who was drafted 10th overall by the Canucks in 2008, hasn’t quite panned out to be the big star the Sabres were hoping for when they acquired him from Vancouver at the 2011-12 trade deadline.

While he did manage consecutive good in 2012-13 and 2013-14, including scoring a career high 20 goals and 44 points in the latter, the drop in play was cause for his name to be mentioned in buyout talks during the season. With Hodgson currently working out in Sweden with a skating coach, according to Murray, if he comes into training camp and his play doesn’t please the staff, it’s possible he’s a late addition to the free agent pool.

Hodgson isn’t the only player who could be headed for a buyout this summer, and here are five other notable players who could be getting paid by two clubs next season: Read more