It’s Canada Day, up Canada way, and it’s also the annual start of the NHL’s free-agent period. Here’s a last-minute look at the notable players available and their rumored destinations.
Milan Lucic. With Steven Stamkos off the market, Lucic becomes the biggest name in the UFA market. Unconfirmed reports out of Edmonton claim the 28-year-old power forward could have a deal in place with the Oilers. The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins are also believed among his suitors. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens also made inquiries.
Kyle Okposo. Several teams are pursuing the soon-to-be former New York Islanders right winger. A two-time 60-plus point performer, he’s been linked to the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild.
As the July 1 opening day of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agent market approaches, speculation is heating up over potential destinations of the top free-agent stars.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in bidding for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. He also thinks the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins could join them.
On Sunday, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News cited a report in the Toronto Star claiming the Sabres reached out to the Stamkos camp to gauge his interest in coming to Buffalo. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, meanwhile, reports the Canadiens will chase Stamkos, though they face long odds of signing him.
With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here’s a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.
All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.
It’s believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won’t lack for suitors.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he’ll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.
Entering the 2016 NHL draft, the trade speculation is ramping up on several notable NHL stars.
Topping the list is Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. The trade chatter reached a fever pitch on Thursday when Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he contacted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to inquire about Subban. Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli claimed he looked into acquiring the Habs blueliner but the asking price was too high.
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin insists he’s not shopping Subban but he can’t prevent rival clubs from calling about the defenseman.
As the 2016 NHL draft draws near, trade activity is picking up. On Monday, the Anaheim Ducks shipped goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs for two draft picks, the New York Rangers dealt defenseman Keith Yandle‘s rights to the Florida Panthers, while the Nashville Predators dealt the rights of college prospect Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Panthers acquisition of Yandle’s rights makes sense if Brian Campbell departs via free agency on July 1. The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports Panthers GM Tom Rowe expects Campbell, 37, to test the market.
It also douses recent trade speculation involving Panthers blueliner Dmitry Kulikov. The Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov claims the Panthers frequently get inquiries about the 24-year-old blueliner but he’s not on the trade block.
The Chicago Blackhawks wasted little time shedding salary following the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last Thursday, they shipped forwards Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes for two draft picks.
They won’t be the only cap-strapped team trying to free up salary-cap space over the next couple of weeks. With over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2016-17, the Columbus Blue Jackets must create room to re-sign restricted free agents Seth Jones and William Karlsson.
The Jackets attempted to trade left wing Scott Hartnell and defenseman Fedor Tyutin before this season’s trade deadline. It’s expected they’ll peddle both players again.
Hartnell has reportedly agreed to waive his no-movement clause and provided the Jackets with a list of several preferred destinations. If the Jackets fail to find any takers for Tyutin, he could be bought out by month’s end. Read more
In recent weeks, Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie was a hot topic in the trade rumor mill. But according to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, the 24-year-old blueliner isn’t going anywhere.
The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Sakic said he’ll be meeting with Barrie’s agents during the upcoming NHL draft in hopes of working out a new long-term contract.
Sakic tells Chambers that if they cannot work out a new agreement, it’s expected Barrie will head to arbitration. “Either way, he’ll be here,” said the Avs GM.
It’s possible Sakic called his rival GMs to gauge their level of interest in Barrie and the type of return he might fetch. That could account for the recent speculation involving Barrie. Taking Sakic at his word, it’s evident the Avs wish to keep Barrie in the fold for at least the immediate future.
Following the end of the 2016 Stanley Cup final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, it didn’t take long for speculation to begin over the Cup finalists’ off-season plans.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance suggests the Penguins trade goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With Matt Murray taking over as the starter during the playoffs and the Penguins carrying limited salary-cap room, they could consider moving the 31-year-old’s $5.75-million cap hit.
Custance believes Fleury could be “a great fit” with the Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes. Both clubs need depth between the pipes and have depth in young talent and prospects to entice the Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari notes the Penguins could also move Fleury this summer in order to protect Murray in a possible expansion draft next June. He also speculates the veteran netminder could request a trade.