Rumor Roundup: The latest on Stamkos, Lucic, Bishop and more

Steven Stamkos, Milan Lucic, Ben Bishop. (Getty Images)

As the July 1 opening day of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agent market approaches, speculation is heating up over potential destinations of the top free-agent stars.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in bidding for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. He also thinks the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins could join them.

On Sunday, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News cited a report in the Toronto Star claiming the Sabres reached out to the Stamkos camp to gauge his interest in coming to Buffalo. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, meanwhile, reports the Canadiens will chase Stamkos, though they face long odds of signing him.

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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.

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Alex Goligoski signs with Arizona, gives Coyotes’ back end stability

Ryan Kennedy
Alex Goligoski (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, is now officially a member of the Arizona Coyotes. The veteran defenseman had his rights traded from Dallas for a fifth-round pick in 2016 last week and the Coyotes wasted no time in locking him down with a long-term contract.

For the new brain trust in Arizona, this is a big win.

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Report: Stars free agent defenseman Demers seeking $5.5 million per season

Jared Clinton
Jason Demers (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Stars have already had to part ways with one of their top defenseman, Alex Goligoski, because the free agent-to-be couldn’t come to terms on a contract with Dallas. Goligoski may be joined as a Stars cast off, though, as it appears Jason Demers could be on his way out of Texas, as well.

The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle reported that Demers’ free agency ask is somewhere in the $5.5 million per season range, which would be hard for the Stars to carry going forward. Coming off of a seven-goal, 23-point season in which he averaged nearly 21 minutes of ice time per night, that seems like a steep asking price for Demers, but it’s one that he could potentially have met on the open market. It could also be a simple negotiating strategy for Demers — start high, and hope you can find some middle-ground.

This past season, Demers carried a $3.4-million cap hit, but his actual salary was $3.65 million. An increase of two million seems unlikely, but even more unlikely considering the Stars aren’t in a position to be handing that type of raise out. Read more

Coyotes take calculated risk, land negotiating rights to Goligoski from Stars for fifth-round pick

Jared Clinton
Alex Goligoski (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least, that’s the approach the Arizona Coyotes are taking when it comes to landing one of the off-seasons big free agent defensemen.

The Coyotes dealt a fifth-round pick in 2016 draft to the Dallas Stars Thursday afternoon for the negotiating rights to blueliner Alex Goligoski, who is set to become a free agent July 1. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the Coyotes don’t have a deal in place with Goligoski, who is coming off of a four-year, $18.4-million contract, but the hope is that GM John Chayka and staff can hammer something out with the 30-year-old and have him join their defense corps next season.

Goligoski was set to become one of the bigger fish in the free agent market, especially among defensemen. This past season, he scored five goals and 37 points for the high-flying Stars. What likely attracts the Coyotes most is that Goligoski can play big minutes against top competition and he’d be a strong addition to the top pairing. He averaged nearly 24 minutes per game for Dallas over the past three seasons. Read more

10 players who could be buyout candidates this off-season

Bryan Bickell (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.

For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.

With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more

Stars GM Nill sounds confident in Lehtonen bouncing back from poor playoffs

Jared Clinton
Kari Lehtonen (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars may have been the Western Conference’s top seed and took home a Central Division title, but in the post-season they were let down in large part by poor goaltending from Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.

The play of the two netminders, who are signed for another two seasons at a combined $10.4 million, led many to believe the Stars would try in some way to get out from under the contracts of one or both netminders during the off-season. With four regular defensemen and four regular forwards up for unrestricted free agency, ditching the contracts of Lehtonen and Niemi would open up significant cap room for the Stars, space that would come especially in handy with Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp slated for unrestricted free agency in 2017-18.

Some suggested possible trades of Lehtonen and Niemi, while others believed a buyout could be a possibility. And while a trade and buyout may still be on the table for Niemi, that doesn’t seem the case for Lehtonen. Asked about Lehtonen by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Stars GM Jim Nill said there’s no buyout coming for the netminder and it doesn’t sound like a trade is in the works, either.

“No, we’re not buying him out,” Nill told Friedman. “That last (playoff) game is not a full reflection of the season. Nobody remembers the game before where he stood on his head. He’s disappointed, and the team is disappointed. We finished second overall, and everybody is focussed on the playoffs. Something went right too, you’ve got to be careful.” Read more

Czech Republic will be burly at the World Cup, but survival will be tough

Dallas' Radek Faksa  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Today’s announcement of the Czech Republic World Cup roster made official what we had already known: Jaromir Jagr would not be suiting up for the national squad. And hey, that’s fair – the man is an icon and he needs some rest as he continues a marvelous NHL career. So let’s turn to the players who will be playing in Toronto this summer.

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