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

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

Five things we’ll never forget about Alex Kovalev

Alex Kovalev scored 430 career goals in the NHL. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Drafted 15th overall in 1991 – right after Pat Peake – Alex Kovalev became a prolific, if somewhat mercurial, NHL scorer. He had the size and the skill to take over NHL games, but at times he also left you expecting more. Kovalev retired from professional hockey this week after spending the 2013-14 season playing in Switzerland.

His last NHL season was with the Florida Panthers in 2012-13 and he finishes his career with 430 goals and 1,029 points in 1,316 games. He reached the 30-goal mark three times and set a career-high of 44 goals in 2000-01 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2002-03, Kovalev was one of the best players available on the trade market and he fetched the beleaguered Penguins Rico Fata, Mikael Samuelsson, Joel Bouchard and a few million dollars. Kind of underwhelming, wouldn’t you say?

He may not be beloved like Jaromir Jagr and Kovalev is certainly not a Hall of Famer, but he still brought us moments we’ll never forget. Here are five of them: Read more

Winners and losers of free agent day include Stars, Capitals, Lightning and Panthers

Jason Spezza (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

You’d hope by now it wouldn’t need to be said that the real winners of the NHL’s annual first day of free agency are at least as often as not the teams that don’t throw lavish contracts at every flavor of the summer. Today’s impulse buy can become tomorrow’s cold-blooded buyout quicker than ever – ask former Rangers captain and new Blackhawks center Brad Richards – and nobody can predict with absolute certainty how any player will fit into his new environment.

Nevertheless, when all teams come away from this first day spinning it as working in their favor, somebody has to try and make sense of it all. That’s what this free agency winners/losers column is all about: one opinion on which teams can realistically claim to have improved, and which ones you can argue have hurt themselves with their activity – or, as the case may be, their lack of action:

Winners:

Dallas Stars

The Stars signed winger Ales Hemsky to a very reasonable (three-year, $12-million) deal and added worker bee forward Patrick Eaves and backup goalie Anders Lindback via free agency, but their best acquisition Tuesday was the trade with Ottawa for center Jason Spezza. Nill made his team significantly better up front at very little cost to the roster – and, just as importantly, he’s given up virtually no contract flexibility (he’ll have some $35.4 million in cap space to spend next summer) to do it. In this day and age, that’s as much as you can ask for on free agent day.
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Pens GM Jim Rutherford had the book on Kasperi Kapanen

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PHILADELPHIA – Bits and bytes from the 2014 NHL draft that didn’t quite make it into cyberspace, but have full blog potential when compiled as a compendium:

KAP TALK To say that Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has been scouting Kasperi Kapanen for a long time would be an understatement. Rutherford made history Friday night when he became the first GM in NHL history to draft both a father and a son. Back in 1995, he drafted Sami Kapanen 87th overall for the Hartford Whalers, then 19 years later, took Kasperi 22nd overall for the Pittsburgh Penguins in this draft.

“Do you know anybody else who’s done that?” Rutherford said of drafting the father-son combo. “We drafted Sami in 1995 and he had a son in 1996. I used to watch (Kasperi) on the ice when he just started skating and I end up drafting him.” Read more

Day 2 draft winners and losers: Calgary stocks up, Toronto sputters

Mason-McDonald

The 2014 draft had little consensus going into Philadelphia and it showed in the results on Day 2 as teams went all over the board with their picks. One thing that became very clear is that teams were valuing upside and potential, swinging for the fences instead of settling for safe selections.

But with the full draft in the books, some teams helped themselves more than others. Here are my winners and losers from Day 2.

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Rumor Roundup: UFA interviews begin…who’ll stay and who’ll go?

Stastny (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The window for NHL clubs to interview free agents on rival teams opened on Wednesday. Though actual contract negotiations are prohibited, the interview period is a great opportunity for teams to woo prospective free agents before the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector observes the Calgary Flames hope to re-sign left winger Michael Cammalleri while the Boston Bruins want to retain Jarome Iginla. However, this interview period provides players an opportunity to gauge interest from other clubs.

That’s why Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is going to test the market, even though his agent claims he’s had good contract conversations with Avalanche management. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater notes the Stastny camp intends to circle back to the Avalanche to give them an opportunity to retain him. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Where will Ryan Kesler be traded?

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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