A number of notable NHL stars, including Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Carolina’s Eric Staal, are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. The longer those players go without re-signing this summer, the more frequently their names could appear in trade speculation.
The contract talks of Stamkos, Kopitar and Staal could generate headlines in the coming season, but it’s the status of Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien that’s become the hot topic through an otherwise quiet summer in the NHL rumor mill. Thanks to the speculation of internet rumor bloggers, the 30-year-old blueliner garnered some media attention in early-August.
Most of the rumors linked Byfuglien to the Boston Bruins, who have a big hole to fill on their blueline after trading Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in June. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty recently downplayed the notion of the Bruins acquiring Byfuglien, citing the potentially high asking price from the Jets.
It’s believed Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hopes to re-sign Byfuglien and left winger Andrew Ladd, who is also eligible for UFA status next summer. So far, however, there’s no indication Cheveldayoff is close to inking either player to new contracts. Read more
Apart from the wheeling and dealing during the 2015 NHL Draft and the usual NHL free-agent signing frenzy of early-July, it’s been a fairly quiet summer in the rumor mill. However, with September and the start of training camp drawing near, speculation should increase over the next several weeks.
Here’s a look at several NHL players who could start popping up in training camp trade and free-agent rumors in September. Read more
With less than a month remaining until NHL training camps open, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings pivot Anze Kopitar remain unsigned. The duo are eligible for unrestricted free agency next July.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance reports there’s been only preliminary talks between the Kings and Kopitar, while negotiations have yet to being between Stamkos and the Lightning. Custance notes both players are eligible for big raises, with Chicago Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (eight-years, $84-million each) likely seen as comparables. He also points out both clubs must carefully consider the impact those new contracts will have upon their respective salary-cap payrolls.
The Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly believes Lightning fans shouldn’t panic over Stamkos’ contract situaiton, but notes his status could become an unwelcome distraction for the club the longer their captain remains unsigned. The same can also be said of Kopitar and the Kings. Read more
The status of defenseman Slava Voynov remains an issue for the Los Angeles Kings in the coming season. The 25-year-old is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on a misdemeanour domestic violence charge. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough reports there’s local media pressure upon the Kings to part ways with Voynov.
Assuming the Kings decide to sever ties with the Russian-born Voynov, and if he isn’t deported or suspended by the NHL, Brough suggests they could terminate the defenseman’s contract or try to trade him.
Brough considers a trade unlikely, noting the PR consequences for any team acquiring Voynov right now. As for a contract termination, the Kings went that route in June with center Mike Richards following an incident at the Canada-US border. However, Richards hasn’t been charged with anything and the NHLPA recently filed a grievance over his contract dissolution. There’s no word yet as to when that hearing will be held. Read more
With the start of NHL training camps a month away, a number of unrestricted free agents are still seeking contracts for 2015-16.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline compiled a roster of the best available players. The notables include forwards Martin Havlat, Olli Jokinen, Erik Cole and Brenden Morrow. Sadly, these players are all well past their playing prime. Some, like Havlat and Cole, face retirement as a result of injuries suffered during their careers.
Portzline also includes forwards Stephen Weiss, Curtis Glencross and Jiri Tlusty, along with defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky. As the start of training camp approaches, these free agents stand the best chance of landing new contracts.
The New York Rangers’ recent signing of center Jarret Stoll to a one-year, $800K contract indicates there are teams with limited cap space still seeking affordable depth. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets are among this group. Even rebuilding teams with plenty of cap room, like the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, could pursue cost-effective depth via free agency. Read more
It’s been nearly a month since Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney expressed interest in adding a defenseman via free agency during an interview with the club’s website. Speculation over who Sweeney might sign is creating headlines in an otherwise quiet NHL rumor mill.
Since trading away Dougie Hamilton in June, Sweeney signed former San Jose Sharks blueliner Matt Irwin. However, the Bruins defense corps could use another skilled puck-moving rear guard, especially with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg getting long in the tooth.
Over the last several weeks, the Bruins were linked to defensemen Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff and Marek Zidlicky. Sweeney confirmed speaking with Franson and Zidlicky, but doesn’t appear close to signing either player. Ehrhoff received an offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but is reportedly speaking to other teams. The Bruins could be one of them. Read more
This summer’s pool of unrestricted free agent talent was the shallowest in recent memory, but next summer’s crop promises to be considerably deeper. Here’s a look at several NHL stars who could be available by July 1, 2016.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s assumed the Lightning will re-sign Stamkos, but it’s been over a month since his agent, Don Meehan, told TSN talks had yet to commence. Re-signing Stamkos could cost the Bolts over $10-million annually on an eight-year deal. If they can’t or won’t pay top dollar, another club will gladly do so next summer.
Both sides give the appearance a deal can be reached. However, the longer the Lightning captain is unsigned, the more speculation will grow over his future in Tampa Bay. Read more
Following the recent completion of the NHL’s 2015 salary-arbitration period, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston observed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild had a second buyout window open for a 48-hour period commencing on Aug. 5. None of the clubs, however, used the opportunity to shed a contract.
The Senators spent months last season trying to find a trade partner for winger Colin Greening, prompting some speculation the 29-year-old winger might receive a buyout. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion explained that wasn’t possible, as Greening’s $2.65-million annual cap hit was about $10K short of the minimum allowable to be bought out.
Greening’s future with the Senators remains uncertain. Garrioch believes Murray will keep trying to peddle the winger, who was a frequent healthy scratch last season. Perhaps Murray will have better luck next month, as rival GMs evaluate their roster needs during training camp and preseason play. Read more