With the Vancouver Canucks having hired a new GM (Jim Benning) and coach (Willie Desjardins), the focus returns to center Ryan Kesler, who remains the target of recent trade speculation.
Earlier this month it was reported Kesler informed Benning he still prefers a trade. There’s been some recent confusion, however, over where the 29-year-old prefers to be dealt. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are Kesler’s only preferences, prompting The Globe & Mail’s Eric Duhatschek to note the difficulty that would create for the Canucks to move him.
The Blackhawks have limited cap space ($4.6 million) for 2014-15 and restricted free agents (Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin and Antti Raanta) to re-sign. They’ll have to either do a dollar-for-dollar swap with the Canucks or convince them to pick up part of Kesler’s salary to squeeze him under their cap. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp has been mentioned as a trade candidate, but Sharp has a modified no-trade clause, meaning he’ll have to agree to the deal. Read more
The New York Rangers freed up over $6.67 million in annual cap space by using their remaining compliance buyout on center Brad Richards, who now becomes an unrestricted free agent. Rather than use the savings to pursue unrestricted free agents, Larry Brooks of the New York Post anticipates the money will be sunk into re-signing as many of their key free agents as possible.
One of them is defenseman Anton Stralman, who Brooks reports could receive a three- or four-year offer from the Blueshirts worth $4-million annually. The question is, will that be enough to keep Stralman from testing the upcoming UFA market? Read more
With the NHL draft only a week away, the Jason Spezza rumor mill is heating up. TSN reports Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said he’s received two serious offers for his captain. It’s believed his asking price for Spezza is a top-six forward, a highly rated prospect and perhaps a first-round pick.
Though Murray didn’t name the teams, it’s rumored the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are be the front-runners. Mike Johnston of Sportsnet cited a rumor from St. Louis claiming the Blues were Spezza’s destination of choice.
Johnston’s colleague Mark Spector believes the Ducks could land Spezza, suggesting their depth in “sub-22-year-old talent” along with their two first round picks (one of them acquired from the Senators last summer in the Bobby Ryan trade) could tilt the scales in Anaheim’s favour. Read more
One thing in l’Affaire Jason Spezza that has become clear is that Spezza is no Dany Heatley. What isn’t so clear is whether or not Spezza actually asked for a trade out of Ottawa. Senators GM Bryan Murray maintains that Spezza did, those close to the player say that isn’t exactly the case.
According to sources close to Spezza, the scenario went down a little differently than it’s being portrayed. In his exit interview with Murray, Spezza laid his cards on the table. He told Murray that if the Senators were intent on a quick rebuild and were in the acquisition mode in terms of bringing in top-end talent, he wanted to be a part of it. But if the plan was to tear down the roster and rebuild the team with young players and draft picks, it might be best for the organization to maximize his value now and that he would not stand in the way of a deal involving him, provided it was not to one of the 10 teams in his modified no-trade clause. Read more
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
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
After an unexpected absence, THN’s online mailbag is back, and better than ever. Well, maybe just back. Thanks to all who submitted a question.
Now that Jason Spezza has requested a trade from Ottawa, and that GM Bryan Murray said “I know I won’t get the value, in all likelihood, that I should get for him”, what will it take to acquire him?
Niclas Emanuelsson, Säffle, Sweden
Although Spezza is still a valuable NHLer, you’re not looking at an Eric Lindros-to-the-Flyers-type trade package to land him. Spezza just turned 31 and is in the last year of his contract, so any team that acquires him won’t be ponying up draft picks, prospects and NHL-ready young players.
Murray surrendered one of each of those to acquire Bobby Ryan from Anaheim last summer, but if he can get two of those three components (depending, of course, on the prospects and/or players and/or picks involved) for his captain, he’ll be satisfied and pull the trigger on a trade. As you said, Murray already has acknowledged he’s not going to get equal value for Spezza – that’s always the case when a player’s trade request goes public – so the best he can hope for is to create a bidding war (preferably, among Western Conference teams) and drive up the price as best he can. Read more
Since the end of the regular season there’s been speculation Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza could be traded. On Wednesday Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed the center requested a trade.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks called Murray about his captain’s availability. The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren suggests the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers as possible destinations.
Matt Larkin of The Hockey News includes the Toronto Maple Leafs on his list, but acknowledged Murray would prefer not sending Spezza to a team his Senators would have to face often. Larkin dismisses the possibility of the Canucks landing the 31-year-old center as “wishful thinking.”
Warren notes Spezza’s market value could be affected by the possibility of the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler and the San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton being shopped at the same time. Garrioch reports the Senators rumored asking price is a player, a first round pick and a top prospect. Murray’s admitted a couple of clubs have expressed serious interest in Spezza, but the GM hasn’t informed teams as to what he’ll seek in return. He claims he doesn’t really want to trade Spezza, admitting he probably won’t receive full value in a trade. Read more