Rumor Roundup: Would Lucic for Hall or Eberle help both teams?

Milan Lucic (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers winning the 2015 draft lottery continues to resonate in the trade rumor mill. Their recent hiring of former Hockey Canada honcho Bob Nicholson as CEO and former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli as GM and president of hockey operations provides further speculation of major off-season moves for the Oilers.

Joe Haggerty of CSNNE noted these factors while suggesting there’s a good chance Oilers top-line wingers Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle could be available. He feels the Bruins should consider offering up power forward Milan Lucic for Hall or Eberle.

Haggerty believes Lucic’s style of play is something the Oilers need. He also notes the 26-year-old left winger’s friendship with Oilers captain Andrew Ference, which dates back to the Ference’s days with the Bruins. With Lucic eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Haggerty feels Edmonton could be just the place where he could land a big payday. Read more

Rumor Roundup: What trades will the Penguins make this summer?

Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Pittsburgh Penguins marched to two consecutive Stanley Cup finals (winning the Cup in 2009), future championship success seemed assured. This season, however, the Penguins barely qualified for the playoffs, prompting suggestions that their once-promising championship window is closing.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Josh Yohe believes this spring could be the final go-around for the current Penguins roster, suggesting changes could be coming in the off-season. While rumors recently made the rounds claiming Evgeni Malkin or possibly captain Sidney Crosby could be shopped, Yohe reports the club’s organization has no intention of parting with neither them nor goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, unless they ask to be moved.

As for others on the current lineup who were part of the Penguins’ last Cup run, Yohe notes questions concerning how the health of top defenseman Kris Letang (concussion) and right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) could affect their playing careers. He also suggests the declining performances of left winger Chris Kunitz and defenseman Rob Scuderi could tempt Penguins management to unload their contracts, while aging right winger Craig Adams probably won’t be re-signed this summer. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kari Lehtonen for Jimmy Howard or Cam Ward?

Kari Lehtonen (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Heading into the off-season, Dallas Stars management face a difficult decision regarding the state of their goaltending. Depth between the pipes was a serious issue, as the Stars failed to find a suitable backup for struggling starter Kari Lehtonen. As a result, they finished the season 27th in goals against.

In a recent chat with Stars fans, the Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News speculated over Lehtonen’s future. While acknowledging the 31-year-old is a “35-win, .917 goalie” who would be difficult to part with, Heika is wavering on whether Lehtonen can regain his form with the Stars.

Heika’s concern is understandable. While Lehtonen won 34 games for the Stars, his goals-against average (2.94) and save percentage (.903) was among the worst for NHL starting goalies. It didn’t help that Lehtonen’s backups (Jhonas Enroth, Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas) fared little better, though Enroth improved in his final games of the season.

Perhaps Lehtonen would benefit from a fresh start, but moving him won’t be easy. In addition to his woeful stats, he’s got three years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. He also has a no-trade clause, though that becomes a limited one starting in 2015-16. Heika wonders if the Detroit Red Wings would be interested in a swap of Jimmy Howard or if Carolina would want to trade Cam Ward straight up for Lehtonen. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will the Hurricanes deal Staal, Semin, Skinner or Ward this summer?

Lyle Richardson
Eric Staal & Cam Ward (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Having missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth straight season, the Carolina Hurricanes could face significant off-season changes. Ron Francis stood pat in his first summer as Hurricanes GM last year, but now he could make significant moves.

The process began leading up to the trade deadline, when Francis dealt away pending free agents Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty and Tim Gleason. Other players could follow them out the door later this summer.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer believes Francis has some “meaty decisions” to make. He must determine if captain Eric Staal, who is a year away from unrestricted free agency, is part of the Hurricanes’ long-term plans.

The 30-year-old Staal tells Alexander he loves living and playing in North Carolina. While he wants to help the Hurricanes return to the playoffs and compete for another Stanley Cup title, Staal admits it’s up to management.
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Rumor Roundup: Big changes coming for Boston Bruins

Lyle Richardson
Lucic

The Boston Bruins missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007 is generating considerable speculation over their off-season plans. Many observers wonder if general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien could lose their jobs.

Regardless of who’s sitting in the Bruins GM chair this summer, roster changes are definitely expected. After years as a Stanley Cup contender, the Bruins were hampered by injuries this season, while several key players failed to play up to expectations. Limited cap space prevented them from suitably addressing their roster needs, forcing the unpopular trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders as an early-season salary dump. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Panthers could target Blackhawks in off-season

Patrick Sharp (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

A lower than expected salary cap for 2015-16 and nearly $65 million in cap payroll invested in just 14 players ensures the Chicago Blackhawks will be shedding salary in the off-season. Teams with available cap space seeking skilled talent will be calling Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman once the playoffs are over.

Among the suitors could be the Florida Panthers. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa speculates Panthers GM Dale Tallon could once again acquire players from his former club. The Panthers roster currently contains former Hawks (like Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) who were acquired via trade or free agency. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Dion Phaneuf could still be a target for Detroit

Dion Phaneuf

Leading up to the recent NHL trade deadline, the biggest rumor making the rounds claimed the Detroit Red Wings were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf. While trade talks between the two clubs ultimately fell through, speculation persists suggesting the Wings could revisit their interest in the 29-year-old Phaneuf during the off-season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe took in a recent game between the Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. As the Wings completed their respective season series with both clubs weeks ago, Friedman facetiously wondered which player Howe was scouting.

If the Wings remain keen to land Phaneuf, they must ensure not to use up too much cap space for future use. They currently have over $53 million invested in their 2015-16 cap payroll, but Friedman points out they have several key players to re-sign. Notables include Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith this summer, plus Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm and Petr Mrazek in 2016.

Phaneuf has another six seasons at $7-million annually remaining on his contract. If the Wings want him, they must convince the Leafs to pick up part of his salary or accept a toxic contract in return like center Stephen Weiss, who has three years at $4.9-million per season left on his deal.

BLUE JACKETS WANT TO BOLSTER BLUELINE

The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t have fond memories of 2014-15. Having reached the playoffs last year for only the second time in franchise history, the Jackets followed up by finishing well out of contention this season.

Injuries were largely to blame. As of Apr. 7, Man Games Lost indicates the Jackets led the league in man games lost to injury with 499. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, defensmen Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray along with forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu and Matt Calvert were among the notables to miss considerable time.

While the Jackets front office expressed disappointment in how the season unfolded, they don’t intend on a major roster shakeup this summer. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports team president John Davidson said management will try to improve the lineup, “but we’re not going to tear it down to improve it.”

Prior to Davidson’s comments, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he’d like to add more depth to his blueline. Given the amount of players the Jackets have under contract next season and with the prospects within their system, Kekalainen said he wants to ensure his club has enough defensive depth going forward.

With over $61 million already invested in cap payroll for 2015-16 and all his core players under contract, Kekalainen has some room to add an experienced and affordable blueliner via free agency. St. Louis’ Zbynek Michalek and Barret Jackman, Detroit’s Marek Zidlicky, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Montreal’s Jeff Petry and perhaps Nashville’s Cody Franson could be among the options.

Rumor Roundup: Could the Boston Bruins trade Marc Savard?

Lyle Richardson
Marc Savard (Steve Babineau/Getty Images)

Post-concussion symptoms have all but ended the playing career of Boston Bruins center Marc Savard. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion (his second in 10 months) in January 2011. Savard, 37, hasn’t officially retired and his $4.007-million cap hit through 2016-16 remains on the Bruins’ books.

Since 2011-12, the Bruins regularly placed Savard on long-term injured reserve, providing them a measure of relief when pressed for salary-cap space. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Bruins could try trading Savard’s contract to a club with a lower payroll.

Friedman claims this move would free up valuable cap space for re-signings and other additions by the Bruins. It could also help a rival team reach the salary-cap floor for 2015-16. Read more