Rumor Roundup: Do the Calgary Flames want Jason Spezza?

Jason Spezza (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

The NHL’s buyout period has begun and runs to 5 p.m. EST June 30. This year is also the final one where teams can use compliance buyouts to shed contracts without the calculation counting against their salary cap.

The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin recently summarized the details of the buyout calculation and provided a listing of teams that have one or both compliance buyouts remaining. Only players under contract prior to Sept. 15, 2012 are eligible for such buyouts.

It’s expected Buffalo Sabres winger Ville Leino will receive such a buyout. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports Leino’s agent, Markus Lehto, has had a “few very short discussions” with Sabres GM Tim Murray regarding his client. Vogl notes Murray has said it’s a “very good possibility” the two sides will part ways.

Over the course of the playoffs there was growing speculation the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings could respectively buy out Brad Richards and Mike Richards. Of the pair, Brad is the most likely candidate. The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis believes the center will “almost assuredly” be bought out to free up cap space to re-sign several notable free agents, including Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and Anton Stralman.

Other compliance buyout candidates could include Columbus’ R.J. Umberger, Dallas’ Erik Cole, New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov, San Jose’s Martin Havlat, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone and Vancouver’s David Booth.

SPEZZA-TO-FLAMES RUMOR BURNS OUT QUICKLY
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Calgary Flames made a pitch for Spezza, offering up Jiri Hudler, Mikael Backlund, possibly defenseman Dennis Wideman and one of their second- or third-round picks. Garrioch considers that offer insufficient and cites sources claiming the Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are on Spezza’s 10-team “no-trade” list. Read more

Brad Richards, Marc-Andre Fleury lead list of contract buyout candidates

Marc-Andre Fleury (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the NHL’s 2013-14 season at an end, teams will immediately embark on making changes to their roster. In addition to trades and free agency, GMs will have, for one last summer, the option to buy out contracts with no salary cap penalty.

The amnesty buyout period, which began last off-season but starts again today, provides each franchise with the opportunity to buy out two contracts; four teams (Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia and Toronto) used their two buyouts last season, while ten (Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, the Islanders, Rangers, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and Washington) have bought out one contract. That leaves 16 teams (Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Winnipeg) with two buyout options), but there’s no guarantee any of those franchises will utilize them.

That said, it’s a virtual certainty a handful of players signed to expensive contracts will be amnestied. In reverse order, here are the top five NHLer contracts likely to be bought out:

5. Anton Volchenkov, Devils. At $4.25 million per season for the next two years, Volchenkov is the fourth-highest paid player on New Jersey – ahead of goalie Cory Schneider ($4 million) – and their top-earning blueliner. However, the 32-year-old Russian plays an average of just 16:47 per game – dead last among Devils D-men. He’s also missed at least 10 games every season since 2006-07.

The Devils currently have $57 million in used salary cap space for the 2014-15 campaign; if they hope to bring back unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Fayne – and when they need to sign Schneider to a new deal next summer – using Volchenkov’s money will be a big help. Read more

Final thoughts from the Stanley Cup final: It wasn’t even close

Kings celly

LOS ANGELES – Once again, the Stanley Cup final provided Eastern Conference teams a glimpse of what they’re up against when it comes to building legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. And once again, the Western Conference proved so superior that it’s almost as though teams in the east and west are playing in two different leagues.

Not only did a Western Conference team win the Stanley Cup for the sixth time in nine years since the 2004-05 lockout, it wasn’t even close. Don’t let the fact that three of the five games of the Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers went to overtime fool you. Read more

10 photos of the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup celebration

Los Angeles Kings

From down 0-3 in the first round to undisputed champions of the hockey world, the Los Angeles Kings completed one of the greatest playoff runs in history with their 3-2 double overtime win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final over the New York Rangers.

It was the second Cup in three years for the Kings and they will be able to return the same team in 2014-15, if GM Dean Lombardi chooses. Will they become a dynasty? Are they already a dynasty? Only time will tell.

Here are 10 photos from the post-game Cup celebration. All photos are from Getty Images. Read more

Justin Williams wins the Conn Smythe and third Stanley Cup

Justin Williams

LOS ANGELES – A total of 42 players have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs and 29 of them are either in the Hockey Hall of Fame or have already punched their tickets. (It’s a little too early to count Jonathan Quick and Patrick Kane as future Hall of Famers, but they’re making a pretty good case to push that total to 31.)

Suffice to say, Justin Williams will almost certainly not be making a Hall of Fame acceptance speech three years after his career ends. So he’ll have to be content with his three (possibly more) Stanley Cups and a reputation as one of the best clutch players of his generation. Read more

See the 2014 Stanley Cup winning goal, scored by Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez

Alec Martinez

The Kings led 1-0, and then the Rangers led 2-1, and then the Kings tied it in the third. That’s when we were treated to a double dosage of outstanding, unpredictable sudden death overtime.

In all, there were four posts combined in the first and second overtime periods, two for each team. And there were all kinds of other desperate chances right in front of the crease. But Jonathan Quick and, Henrik Lundqvist, put on a show.

Unfortunately, there had to be a loser. Read more

Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup champions, but are they an NHL dynasty?

Dustin Brown

LOS ANGELES – We know the Los Angeles Kings are an outstanding hockey team, one of the greatest of this era. What is left to determine now that they’ve won two Stanley Cups and made it to the Western Conference final a third is whether or not they qualify as a dynasty by today’s NHL standards.

As of the 14:43 mark of the second overtime period, when Alec Martinez scored to give the Kings the most beautiful trophy in the history of sports, the conversation has begun. At franchise that stumbled and bumbled around in the dark looking for a Stanley Cup for 45 years only had to wait two years to find another one. Read more

Rangers not only ones facing ‘must-win game’ tonight

Carter on Lundqvist

LOS ANGELES – It wasn’t exactly a Mark Messier-type guarantee, in part because the times are not that desperate that they require measures that desperate…yet. But for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, it was in the ballpark.

Doughty was talking after the morning skate about the desperation with which the Kings have to play in Game 5 on home ice with the Stanley Cup in the building waiting to be awarded.

“There’s no way we’re going to play a bad game tonight, that’s for sure,” Doughty told reporters. “We are fully prepared for this game. We want this so bad. We want to win this one more than (they do), there’s no doubt about that.” Read more