Rumor Roundup: Is Phil Kessel a fit with Flames, Blues or Panthers?

Phil Kessel (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s claim last Saturday the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting trade inquiries for Phil Kessel, there’s growing speculation over where the 27-year-old scorer could be dealt.

If a Kessel trade happens, Friedman believes it will be a couple of weeks before it takes place. That’s likely because the NHL draft weekend (June 26-27), where many off-season trades generally take place, is fast approaching.

Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer who twice reached the 80-point mark, has value on the trade market. His contract, however, is a sticking point. He has seven years left at an annual cap hit of $8 million. Factor in the projected marginal increase in the cap ceiling for 2015-16 from $69 million to $71 million and it could prove difficult for the Leafs to find a suitable deal.

Friedman subsequently appeared on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central panel to discuss potential destinations for Kessel. He notes Predators GM David Poile had interest in the Leafs right winger, but doubts Nashville is a destination now, pointing out it has young stars like left winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Seth Jones to re-sign the following season. Other destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.
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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

AHL’s Texas Stars go Victory Green, unveil sleek new logo

Jared Clinton
(via AHL)

The season of change in the AHL continues to roll on, but this time the new isn’t change of location, affiliation or staff. No, this change is purely aesthetic as the Texas Stars have unveiled their new logo for the 2015-16 campaign.

The Stars – who at this time in 2013-14 were playing in the Calder Cup final, a series they would go on to win in five games – announced Thursday that they’ll be changing their primary and secondary marks for the upcoming season. The new logo, which does away with the previous gold color that was used by Dallas’ AHL club, is similar to the color scheme the NHL’s Stars use, which likely means similar changes are coming to the uniform.

“The colors and themes have worked so well in Dallas and they’ve become synonymous with Stars Hockey,” said owner Tom Gaglardi. “It’s exciting for us to have the Texas Stars represented in the same Victory Green that we take great pride in.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Martin St-Louis a good fit with Devils?

Martin St-Louis (Getty Images)

As the New York Rangers head into the off-season, it seems doubtful right winger Martin St-Louis will return with the club. St-Louis, who turns 40 on June 18, is an unrestricted agent in July. It was obvious throughout this season that his skills are declining. His 52 points were lower than the 2012-13 lockout season, the lowest in an injury-free NHL season since 2000-01.

With more than $59.5 million invested in their 2015-16 payroll and key free agents like Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin to re-sign, the Rangers probably can’t afford to keep St-Louis. Facing an uncertain future, the veteran intends to take some time in the coming weeks to consider his options.

Should St-Louis decide to continue his playing career, his NHL options could be limited. Among the reasons behind his trade last season from Tampa Bay to New York was to be close to his family. Should that remain a priority, he’ll only have a handful of teams to choose from and they might not require his services. Read more

Getting to Know: Jim McKenzie

Jim McKenzie (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Status: NHL left wing from 1989-2004 with Hartford, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Anaheim, Washington, New Jersey and Nashville. Currently serves as a pro scout for Florida. Resides in Nashville.

Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 205 pounds

DOB: November 3, 1969 In: Gull Lake, Sask. Read more

Memorial Cup: Quebec stars show up just in time

Zach Fucale (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

QUEBEC CITY – Hard to believe, but coming into Thursday’s tiebreaker game at the Memorial Cup, Anthony Duclair did not have a goal. Zach Fucale wasn’t at peak form and the host Quebec Remparts didn’t look too threatening. But in beating their fellow Quebec Leaguers from Rimouski 5-2, the Remparts put it all together.

And of course Quebec wants to win the Memorial Cup on home ice, but there’s also the added factor of the venue itself: Le Colisee, the arena that Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Peter Stastny all called home in the past, will close after this tournament.

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How to snuff out a superstar

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.

If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.

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This year’s Ted Lindsay Award finalists: Canadiens’ Price, Capitals’ Ovechkin & Stars’ Benn

Jamie Benn (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The NHL Players’ Association revealed Tuesday the three finalists for this year’s Ted Lindsay Award recognizing the league’s most outstanding player as voted by fellow NHLPA members: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin. Read more