Rumor Roundup: Buzz surrounding Schenn brothers in Philadelphia

(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Speculation is brewing in Philadelphia over possible moves by the Flyers to shed salary and free up a roster spot for an affordable young player before the start of the upcoming season. The Flyers currently have just over $583K in salary-cap space, giving them no wiggle room to promote a deserving prospect.’s Greg Paone reports defenseman Luke Schenn seems the most likely to move. The 25-year-old has one season remaining on his contract worth $3.35 million.’s Randy Miller claims the Flyers tried dumping Schenn’s $3.6-million cap hit for the past two years. He speculates they might get a third-round pick in return.

Though Paone observes Schenn hasn’t developed into a top-pairing blueliner, the 6-foot-2, 229-pounder has the size and big shot that could prove useful to a rival club. He also lists Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald as trade options, but the 37-year-old Streit is getting long in the tooth while few clubs will have interest in MacDonald’s $5-million annual cap hit. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Leafs looking to land Zajac from Devils?

Travis Zajac (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

It hasn’t taken long for speculation to arise tying Toronto Maple Leafs general manager (and former New Jersey Devils GM) Lou Lamoriello with a player on his former team. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports “more than one NHL exec” believes Lamoriello would love to acquire Devils center Travis Zajac.

The 30-year-old Zajac was selected 20th overall in the 2004 NHL draft by Lamoriello, and within two years made his debut with the Devils, netting 42 points in 2006-07. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound center’s two-way play swiftly made him a key forward. In Jan. 2013, Lamoriello re-signed Zajac to an eight-year, $46-million contract.

Since reaching a career-high 67 points in 2009-10, however, Zajac’s production has declined. Last season was the nadir, tallying only 25 points in 74 games while being demoted to checking line duty. Part of that decline can be blamed on the Devils lack of offensive depth, but it doesn’t fully explain the dramatic drop in his offense. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hiller could be odd man out in Flames crease

Jonas Hiller turns aside Bo Horvat (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames entered training camp carrying three goaltenders in Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and promising Joni Ortio. At some point, they’ll have to address this potential log jam between the pipes.

Should the 24-year-old Ortio have a strong training camp, the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis speculates Hiller could become the odd man out. Despite winning 26 games last season, the Swiss netminder was often inconsistent. The 33-year-old is entering the final year of his two-year contract carrying a cap hit of $4.5 million.

Ramo, meanwhile, is on a one-year, $3.8 million deal. Ortio is carrying an affordable $600K salary this season, but he can’t be demoted without first passing through waivers. Given his potential, a rival club is sure to pluck him off the wire. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Eric Staal could be top rental player at deadline

Lyle Richardson
Eric Staal (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Most of the recent NHL media speculation is focused upon the respective contract statuses of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Lately, however, attention has shifted onto forward Eric Staal’s future with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Like Stamkos and Kopitar, the 30-year-old Hurricanes captain is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. In an interview with Sportnet The Fan 960, Elliotte Friedman claims Staal’s agent Rick Curran and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis were no closer to a deal.’s Pierre LeBrun reports Curran and Francis had a great open dialogue, but no time frame on reaching an agreement. He points out Staal’s status is different to that of Stamkos and Kopitar, who are playing on postseason contenders. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Grabner trade impact Okposo’s future?

Kyle Okposo (Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Islanders made a trade on the opening day of training camp, shipping winger Michael Grabner to the Toronto Maple Leafs for five minor leaguers. An unrestricted free agent next July, Grabner’s slide down the Isles depth chart made him the subject of trade rumors earlier this summer so this move wasn’t surprising.

Grabner isn’t the only Islanders winger to pop up in the off-season rumor mill. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports right wing Kyle Okposo was “briefly shopped around” by GM Garth Snow before the 2015 NHL Draft. Like Grabner, the 27-year-old is eligible for UFA status in July.

Staple claims contract talks between Snow and Okposo’s agent Pat Brisson were brief and unproductive. Okposo is in the final season of a five-year, $14-million contract. While his annual cap hit is $2.8 million, his actual salary for 2015-16 is $4.5 million. Given his performance over the past couple of years, he will likely seek a significant raise (perhaps over $6 million) on a long-term extension. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Plekanec’s contract status stokes trade rumors

Lyle Richardson
Tomas Plekanec (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

After playing without a captain through 2014-15, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently announced a new one will be selected before the start of the upcoming season. The candidates could come from among last season’s four alternates, which include center Tomas Plekanec.

The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd made the case for Plekanec as Habs captain, who he considers “arguably the most under-rated player ever to wear the CH”. There’s certainly merit to Todd’s suggestion, as the 32-year-old pivot spent his entire NHL career with the Habs and is clearly their best two-way forward.

However, Todd notes there’s some talk in Montreal claiming Plekanec might be traded to make room for youngster Alex Galchenyuk, who will start the season at center. Galchenyuk, 21, spent most of young NHL career at left wing. Given his offensive skills (20 goals, 46 points in 80 games last season), he will be centering one of the top two lines.

Suggestions that Plekanec should be moved are likely tied to his contract status. He’s an unrestricted free agent next July and is completing a six-year, $30-million contract with an annual average salary of $5 million. His recent comments claiming his agent hasn’t been contacted by management about a contract extension likely stoked the trade rumors.

However, it’s doubtful the Canadiens will shop Plekanec now. As Todd observes, if Galchenyuk struggles at his new position, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s back on the wing by Halloween. That will snuff out suggestions about moving the veteran center.

Bergevin likely intends to evaluate Plekanec’s performance this season before opening contract negotiations. If he’s named Canadiens captain, it’ll be an obvious indication Bergevin intends to keep him around for a while.


Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney spent the summer courting free-agent defenseman like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff and Marek Zidlicky. However, with training camp opening soon, Sweeney has opted not to add a veteran blueliner.’s Joe Haggerty reports Sweeney was tempted to pursue Franson as his asking price dropped over the summer, but decided to give young defensemen like Zach Trotman, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow an opportunity to earn a spot. It also means Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid will be given a look as top-four defensemen.

If those youngsters struggle in training camp or early in the season, Haggerty believes Sweeney won’t hesitate to pursue some big-name rearguards who could become available, like Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.

It’s possible blueliners of that caliber might become obtainable, but Sweeney could be waiting a while. Given the value of Byfuglien and Seabrook to their respective club, the earliest they could hit the trade block this season – if at all – is near the Feb. 29th trade deadline. Of course, that will depend upon whether those clubs are in playoff contention by then.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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Rumor Roundup: Stamkos, Kopitar deals could impact Tavares contract talks

Lyle Richardson
John Tavares (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the start of NHL training camps fast approaching, the contract statuses of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar continue to dominate headlines. Both are unrestricted free agents next summer, and it is expected they’ll receive lucrative long-term deals, either with their current clubs or via next summer’s UFA market.

Whatever Stamkos and Kopitar receive will also significantly impact the UFA value of other top first-line NHL centers in the coming years.’s Craig Custance believes New York Islanders captain John Tavares will be most affected by those new deals.

Tavares, 24, has three seasons left on his current deal until his eligibility for UFA status in 2018. His current annual salary cap hit is $5.5 million, though he’ll earn $6-million annually over the remaining term.

Like Stamkos and Kopitar, contract extension talks for Tavares can begin one year from his UFA eligibility. Islanders management will likely waste little time getting negotiations rolling when that date (July 1, 2017) arrives. It won’t surprise anyone if the Tavares camp cites Stamkos or Kopitar as comparables. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Yandle last the season on Broadway?

Lyle Richardson
Keith Yandle. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers enter training camp having retained center Derek Stepan. Doing so, however, came at the cost of shedding salary by trading winger Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for an inexperienced, but also affordable, Emerson Etem.

While the Rangers’ Metropolitan Division rivals in Pittsburgh, Washington and Columbus improved their rosters during the off-season,’s Arthur Staple notes the Rangers salary-cap issues prevented them from doing the same The Blueshirts’ cap issues will continue for 2016-17, with over $54 million invested in just 12 players.

Staple suggests defenseman Keith Yandle could become a salary-cap casualty by the Feb. 29th trade deadline, as the Rangers can’t afford to re-sign him beyond this season. Yandle, 29, becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. His current annual cap hit is $5.25 million split between the Rangers and his former club, the Arizona Coyotes and he’ll likely seek a substantial raise. Read more