Rumor Roundup: Lecavalier, Kane & Gonchar buzz

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The Philadelphia Flyers recent signings (defenseman Nick Schultz, backup goalie Ray Emery and winger Jason Akeson) pushes them above the $69-million salary cap by just more than $3 million. That’s the most of any NHL team this summer, putting pressure on GM Ron Hextall to find a way to become cap compliant before the 2014-15 season starts in October.

Hextall reportedly almost had a deal in place that would have sent center Vincent Lecavalier to the Nashville Predators.  The deal, however, fell through because the Predators wanted the Flyers to pick up half of Lecavalier’s remaining contract. The 34-year-old has four seasons remaining worth $4.5-million annually. He has a full no-movement clause, but his agent was given permission by Hextall to explore trade possibilities with other clubs.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports Hextall and Predators management revisited the possibility of a Lecavalier trade. Another suitor could be the Ottawa Senators. CSNPhilly’s Tim Panaccio reports the Senators want the Flyers to not only pick up part of the Lecavalier’s salary but also want something else included. Read more

David Legwand signs with Senators, but he could be traded in short order

David Legwand (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Senators dipped into the unrestricted free agent pool Friday when they signed center David Legwand to a two-year, $6-million deal. There’s no question Legwand will make the Sens better – indeed, after captain Jason Spezza was dealt to Dallas earlier this week, Ottawa needs all the help it can get – but if you’re expecting him to remain in Canada’s capital for the duration of his new contract, you might want to reconsider. Because it may well turn out that, like many veterans changing teams at this time of year, Legwand only sticks around for a season – or less.

Legwand isn’t the player he once was – the quiet-but-effective cornerstone in Nashville for 14-and-a-half of his 15 NHL seasons – but he showed he still had something left in the tank after he was dealt to Detroit at the trade deadline last season (four goals and 11 points in 21 games as a Wing). That said, he’s no Spezza and if he produces at above a .5 points-per-game pace, Sens management will be overjoyed. Not because his contributions are going to turn Ottawa into a playoff team, but because it will make him more attractive as a trade chip either at the next deadline or next summer.

He’s not alone in that regard. Read more

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the James Neal trade from David Poile’s perspective

Rory Boylen
David Poile

It’s always fun to be taken behind the scenes of an NHL team’s operations. And when the Nashville Predators put a mic on GM David Poile during the draft, we caught a glimpse of the thought process behind the James Neal trade.

What’s always a little funny when you watch something like this, is how similar the negotiations can be to your own fantasy league. Asking for a second, or even third, opinion. Trying to come up with a way to get the player you want, without giving up a certain piece you’d rather keep. And casually talking with the other GM, trying to get in his head space and wiggle some negotiating room.

This video leading up to the Hornqvist-Neal trade (and Nashville’s pick) is a neat over-the-shoulder look at how the blockbuster went down: Read more

Was Mike Fisher’s tweet in support of the Hobby Lobby ruling appropriate?

Jason Kay
2nd Annual Tug McGraw Foundation Celebrity Sporting Clay Shootout

Is Plan B tantamount to abortion? Should business owners be forced to insure their employees for items that conflict with their values? What the H-E double hockey sticks is this discussion doing on thn.com?

It became relevant in our realm the other day (though lost somewhat in the free agent feeding frenzy) when Nashville’s Mike Fisher tweeted about it.

Read more

CHL Import Draft: Who is coming and who is staying home?

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The CHL Import Draft is complex. On the surface of course, it’s straight-forward: Every team from the Ontario, Western and Quebec League has the opportunity to select two European players, assuming they have two import slots open on their roster.

But if one of your Europeans went in the first round of the NHL draft, you can keep the rights to three, in case the first-rounder bounces between the pros and junior (it’s basically the Mikhail Grigorenko rule). And you’re not allowed to take goalies anymore, which is protectionist and ignores the fact American netminders have been “taking jobs” from Canadian kids as much as Europeans were.

Also, some folks will tell you it’s not quite a draft because some teams have unofficial deals with players beforehand – which led to last year’s awkward situation where Washington Capitals pick Andre Burakovsky thought he was going to Windsor, only see to Erie scoop up his rights first. After a lot of fuss, Burakovsky went to the Otters and helped Erie make a nice playoff run.

The 2014 installment of the Import Draft happened on Wednesday and as always, there was drama, beginning with the first pick. The OHL’s Sarnia Sting tabbed Czech power forward Pavel Zacha first overall, but the youngster’s agent, Allan Walsh, immediately took to Twitter to announce that Zacha, a potential top-10 NHL pick in 2015, has a contract with Liberec back home and that Sarnia just wasted the pick.

Read more

Don’t rule out Jason Spezza-to-Nashville deal just yet

Ken Campbell
Jason Spezza

PHILADELPHIA – The best chance for Jason Spezza to get the trade out of Ottawa that he supposedly wants might be for him to change his mind about going to the Nashville Predators. And while the Predators are one of the 10 teams that Spezza had on his no-trade list, that doesn’t mean that won’t change.

Senators GM Bryan Murray said after the NHL draft that he had a deal to send Spezza to the Predators Friday night, but the deal was scuttled because the Predators are on one of the 10 teams to which Spezza listed on his no-trade list. When asked whether his client would change his mind about going to Nashville, Spezza’s agent Rick Curran said, “I really can’t say one way or another. Nashville was on Jason’s list that we put together a while ago and without the benefit of a crystal ball, I can’t say. Call me in three or four days and we might have a better answer.” Read more

Predators steal the show, Senators still stuck with Spezza

James Neal

PHILADELPHIA – In the end, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL draft stayed put and so did Jason Spezza. So there you go, all you armchair GMs out there, making trades in the NHL aren’t quite as easy as they look.

Unless, of course, you’re the Nashville Predators. Once the draft started, it was Predators GM David Poile who made the biggest splash on the trade front, acquiring James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. It’s a trade that won’t go over real well with Penguins star Evgeni Malkin and it’s hard to see how this deal makes the Penguins a better team, but this is a team that needed a shakeup in the worst way and trading Neal for a couple of guys who might provide this group of fancy-pants with some grit might not be the worst idea in the world. Read more

Rumor Roundup: O’Reilly and Avalanche headed towards another contract clash?

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For the second time in as many years, the Colorado Avalanche appear headed to another round of contentious contract negotiations with Ryan O’Reilly.

The Avalanche recently elected to take O’Reilly, 23, to salary arbitration rather than pony up $6.5 million to qualify his rights. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports the two sides can continue to negotiate up until July 15, but if still unresolved a date will be set for an arbitration hearing.

Dater claims the Avalanche prefer to use his annual average salary of $5 million as a starting point for negotiations, while O’Reilly’s agent Pat Morris believes it should begin at his actual salary ($6.5 million) for this season. Should this go to arbitration, the new CBA stipulates O’Reilly cannot receive anything less than 85 percent of his actual salary, which would be $5.5 million for 2014-15. He can also chose a one- or two-year contract.

Morris indicated O’Reilly hopes to remain with the Avalanche, but as he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status in two years, this could become a year-to-year situation until his UFA eligibility. This prompted Dater to speculate the Avalanche could shop O’Reilly, noting rival GMs can contact all free agents – restricted and unrestricted – starting June 25, plus there’s a five-day window (July 1 to 5) where O’Reilly can sign an offer sheet. He suggests O’Reilly’s trade value could fetch the stud defenseman the Avs need to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Read more