Long-time New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is leaning toward returning next season, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be with the Devils. Brodeur wouldn’t rule out another season with the Devils, but acknowledged their priority is re-signing Cory Schneider, who supplanted him as Devils starter. Schneider is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2015.
If the Devils cannot re-sign Schneider to a contract extension this summer, NJ.com’s Randy Miller believes they should trade him and re-sign Brodeur. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins as a destination for Brodeur, in order to mentor Marc-Andre Fleury. Garrioch also notes the New York Islanders need a goalie.
If Fleury suffers another playoff meltdown, the Penguins could be in the market for a new starting goalie, not a mentor. As for the Islanders, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports they’ll be in talks with current starter Evgeni Nabokov. He could return in a backup role if they land a younger, experienced starting goalie via trade or free agency this summer.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hiring Brendan Shanahan as their new president isn’t the only off-season change expected for the club in the coming weeks. Amid rumors coach Randy Carlyle could be fired, speculation persists over potential off-season roster moves.
James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail believes goaltender James Reimer along with defensemen Cody Franson and Tim Gleason could become trade candidates. Reimer and Franson are restricted free agents while Gleason has two years (at an annual cap hit of $4 million) left on his contract. Mirtle also thinks forwards Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul could be dealt for the right price.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons also believes Reimer and Franson could be moved, but feels their trade value is lower than it was a year ago. Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star adds his voice to the growing speculation over Reimer’s trade status, and thinks defenseman Jake Gardiner could be dealt for a top forward. Read more
For Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, this season is one he won’t fondly remember. The Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, his father underwent heart surgery and Russia’s men’s hockey team failed to medal at the Sochi Olympics. The only bright spot was reaching the 50-goal plateau for the fifth time in his NHL career and leading the league in goals for the fourth time.
This disappointing season prompted some speculation over Ovechkin’s future with the Capitals and the NHL. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson mused about the possibility of Washington shopping their captain. THN columnist Adam Proteau dismissed the idea, pointing out the difficulty of moving or buying out the remaining seven years and $70 million of his contract.
It’s been suggested Ovechkin might follow the lead of countryman Ilya Kovalchuk by retiring from the NHL to return to Russia and the Kontinental League. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported of rumors a KHL team could try to lure Ovechkin away from the Capitals. KHL president Alexander Medvedev told LeBrun the only way that could happen is if the 28-year-old negotiated his way out of his current NHL contract. Read more
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will reportedly step down at season’s end, handing the management reins to Ron Francis, the club’s current vice-president of hockey operations.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the biggest decision facing Francis is deciding whether to buy out the remaining four years and $28 million of winger Alexander Semin’s contract. The 30-year-old has had a poor showing this season, with 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games. Garrioch claims if the Hurricanes fail to buy out Semin this summer they won’t get another chance.
Garrioch appears to be referring to a compliance buyout, as this June will be the last time NHL teams can make use of that option. Such buyouts, however, only apply to players under contract on or before September 15, 2012. Semin signed his current deal last March and is therefore ineligible. Read more
Trade rumors dogged Winnipeg Jets’ winger Evander Kane throughout this season. Speculation over his future resurfaced after he was a healthy scratch during last Saturday’s match between the Jets-Maple Leafs in Toronto for arriving late for a team function.
Kane subsequently declined to discuss the incident with the media and was evasive when asked if he wants to be traded.The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe mused over the 22-year-old’s future in Winnipeg. While noting “to our knowledge” Kane hasn’t sought a trade, Wiebe believes that doesn’t mean Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff isn’t entertaining offers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. That prompted Toronto Sun columnists to speculate about the club’s off-season roster moves.
Terry Koshan notes center Dave Bolland reportedly sought a seven-or eight-year deal worth upward of $40 million before contract talks broke off in February. Given that the Leafs inked David Clarkson to a seven-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $5.25 million last summer, Bolland could seek a similar deal.
If Bolland becomes a free agent in July, Koshan claims there’s talk the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers will pursue the 30-year-old center. Koshan’s colleague Steve Simmons believes the Leafs should re-sign Bolland even at the risk of overpaying him.
Koshan also reports defenseman Cody Franson could be shopped this summer. Simmons, meanwhile, thinks there will be a lot of interest in former Leafs winger Leo Komarov, who signed with the Kontinental League’s Moscow Dynamo last summer. The Leafs could try to bring him back, but Simmons claims the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning could be among those pursuing the 27-year-old in this summer’s free agent market.
The Winnipeg Jets will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, and for the seventh straight dating back to 2007-08 in their previous incarnation as the Atlanta Thrashers. That’s prompted speculation in the Winnipeg media over possible off-season roster changes.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press believes it’s time for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to move out a core player for a return, which will improve the overall roster depth. Lawless considers Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba as the only untouchables, though he also advocates retaining underrated center Bryan Little and captain Andrew Ladd.
Lawless feels winger Evander Kane is their best trade chip, citing an NHL GM suggesting Kane could fetch “a major return” of players as well as draft picks and/or prospects. Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian could also become trade bait, though Lawless cited the lengthy contracts of Byfuglien and Enstrom along with Bogosian’s injury history as hurting their trade value. Read more
Leading up to the March trade deadline there were reports the Anaheim Ducks pursued Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman said the Ducks were among six teams Kesler was believed willing to waive his no-trade clause for. Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported the Canucks were reluctant to ship the center to a division rival. They also felt they could get better offers from other clubs come June at the draft.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson notes Ducks GM Bob Murray has “the deepest pool of young talent in the league.” He believes Murray will revisit his interest in Kesler this summer. Except for Cam Fowler, rookie Hampus Lindholm and promising goalie John Gibson, Matheson claims it’s likely every one of the Ducks young guns is available. Murray also owns the Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick this summer, but Matheson doubts he’ll include that pick in a trade package.
If Murray pursues Kesler he could face a challenge from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who reportedly offered center Brandon Sutter, two draft picks and a choice of defense prospects Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin. Given the Canucks’ reported reluctance to ship Kesler to a Western Conference club, it could give the Penguins the edge, especially if they’re willing to sweeten the pot.