Rumor Roundup: Several notable names still awaiting free agent deals

Lyle Richardson
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It’s been over a month since the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market opened. While most of the best players in what was a shallow pool of talent were signed weeks ago, several notable players remain available. Here’s a look at several of the notables:

Cody Franson: It was assumed the soon to be 28-year-old Franson would be snapped up on opening day, but he’s still available. He’s seeking a multi-year deal and wants a substantial raise over the $3.3 million he earned last season.

Franson claims he’s spoken with five or six teams, including the Boston Bruins. He’s also linked to the Arizona Coyotes, but GM Don Maloney told The Arizona Republic he’s not signing any more one-way contracts unless he gets a favorable deal. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is the time right to trade Shea Weber?

Shea Weber (Getty Images)

While the Nashville Predators matched a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet for captain Shea Weber from the Philadelphia Flyers in July 2012, he’s remained the subject of annual off-season trade speculation.

Weber’s value to the Predators and the expense of his contract are usually cited as reasons why he won’t be dealt, but Yahoo Sports’ Josh Cooper believes the time could be right to trade him within the next year. Among the factors justifying this move includes the potential for a strong return, the expense of re-signing Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones next year and the possibility the 29-year-old defenseman’s performance could be about to decline.

Unlike most stars of Weber’s caliber, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract. The Predators can entertain offers from around the league and ship him anywhere without his consent.
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Rumor Roundup: Franson, Ehrhoff inching closer to deals

Jared Clinton
Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

It’s officially one month since the beginning of free agency, and the biggest names remaining on the market are free agent blueliners Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson, but it might not be long before both are scooped up.

Late this week, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported that the Blue Jackets had made a “low-ball offer” to Ehrhoff for his services, but added the fit wasn’t right for the veteran defenseman quite yet. The problem for Columbus – and what’s keeping Ehrhoff from getting the contract he desires – is lack of cap space.

Ehrhoff likely took much less than he could have gotten last off-season in order to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins and take a run at the Stanley Cup in 2014-15, but injuries limited him to 49 games and he only mustered three goals and 14 points. Even still, his $4 million hit this past season, which was considered low, is more than the $3.73 million the Columbus Blue Jackets currently have available.

If he wants to sign in Columbus, Ehrhoff will likely have to take a sizeable hit and another short-term deal could be his best option.

As for Franson, the Boston Bruins continue to show interest in the 27-year-old, but there has yet to be a deal finalized.

In speaking at a press conference to announce the 2016 Winter Classic game at Gillette Stadium, Bruins GM Don Sweeney was asked about the status of talks with Franson and if the two sides were close to a deal. Sweeney said that he didn’t believe he could say the two sides were “close, because you don’t know what other conversations they’re having.”

VISNOVSKY TO EUROPE?

Lubomir Visnovsky is also available as a free agent, but it appears his future is in Europe.

Slovakian news outlet Sport.cas reported this past week that Visnovsky had received a contract extension from the Islanders, but the team has since decided to go in another direction.

One such option could be the KHL, where Visnovsky spent half a season during the 2012-13 lockout. However, Visnovsky said the amount of travel is discouraging.

He admitted he could consider retirement, too, as his back is still causing him pain. Before he does that, though, Visnovsky said he will explore his options and then make a firm decision on how to proceed.

HOFFMAN AWAITING NEW DEAL

Mike Hoffman and the Ottawa Senators are still at an impasse with regards to a new contract, but the arbitration hearing happened Thursday and a decision could come by Sunday, the team said.

Hoffman, who was the Senators’ top goal scorer this past season with 27 tallies, asked for $3.4 million per season, while Ottawa’s offer was $1.75 million. However, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported that it is likely Hoffman will get a deal closer to his ask than what the Senators have offered.

Rumor Roundup: Trading Sedins would spark Vancouver rebuild

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin  (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

NBC Sports’ Jason Brough notes Daniel and Henrik Sedin were recently asked by a Swedish newspaper if they felt they might be traded. The twins replied they had no intention of finishing their NHL careers with another team, even if it meant another shot at a Stanley Cup.

Brough observes, however, the Sedins didn’t outright reject the notion of waiving their no-movement clauses by the final season (2017-18) of their contracts. Should the Canucks miss the 2016 playoffs or become a first-round casualty again, Brough suspects calls for a major rebuild in Vancouver could increase.

Such a rebuild would mean shipping out the Sedins. Their no-movement clauses, however, aren’t the only impediment. It’s no stretch of the imagination to assume the twins will only accept a deal in which they’re moved together to the same team. With both earning $7-million per season, takers for their combined $14-million annual salaries could be scarce. That especially if the salary cap doesn’t significantly increase for 2016-17. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Flyers, Sharks and Oilers buzz

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

It appears efforts by the Philadelphia Flyers to trade Vincent Lecavalier have once again proven futile. GM Ron Hextall told CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio his club remains “status quo” with the 35-year-old center, adding they intend to start the season with Lecavalier to see how it goes.

Last summer, there was interest in Lecavalier from the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, prompting speculation Hextall might find a taker this year. However, the combination of Lecavalier’s ongoing decline and his $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2017-18 makes him a tough sell, even to clubs which have the cap space to absorb. it.

Panaccio reports Hextall was hoping interest in Lecavalier might increase after the Flyers paid his $2-million signing bonus on July 1, but received no offers. Without freeing up cap space, Hextall could find it difficult promoting a promising defensemen next summer. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blueline buzz as free agency continues

Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets could add a veteran defenseman before the start of 2015-16. Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports sources claiming Jackets management have had discussions with free-agent blueliner Christian Ehrhoff, who’s coming off a one-year, $4-million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Portzline suggests a deal between the Blue Jackets and the 33-year-old Ehrhoff is possible, provided the latter remains on the free-agent market long enough to drive down his asking price. Despite missing 33 games last season due to head injuries, the puck-moving rearguard could help the Blue Jacket’s power play.

The Jackets only have around $3.6 million in cap space for 2015-16, which Portzline believes is why they’re willing to be patient in their dealings with Ehrhoff. He also notes several other defensemen, including Andrej Meszaros, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky are available, but hasn’t yet confirmed if the Jackets are interested in them. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Franson still looking for fit in free agency

Lyle Richardson
Cody Franson. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nearly three weeks into the NHL’s free-agency period, former Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson remains unsigned. In a free-agent market decidedly thin on quality talent, the 27-year-old blueliner was considered among the top players available.

It was expected Franson would be among the players signed with the first 24 hours of free agency. That he’s still without a contract entering late-July is drawing headlines as free-agent activity slows down.

CBS Sports’ Adam Gretz suggests Franson’s high asking price could be a factor, speculating the blueliner seeks a deal comparable to the annual cap hit ($5.75 million) of Washington’s Matt Niskanen. Gretz also thinks the decline in Franson’s performance following his February trade from Toronto to Nashville hurts his free-agent value.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples cites TSN’s Craig Button forewarning Franson’s lack of speed could be an issue. While acknowledging the rearguard’s lumbering style, Staples points out he’s an excellent passer with a strong snapshot from the point. He believes Franson is best suited as a second-pairing defenseman. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Coyotes looking to bolster defense

Cody Franson. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s been a busy summer for Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney. Since the free-agent market opened on July 1, Maloney brought back center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Zbynek Michalek via free agency. He also signed UFAs Brad Richardson, Anders Lindback, Steve Downie and John Scott.

Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan reports Maloney isn’t done shopping for experienced depth. He cites a source claiming the Coyotes GM would like to add “two more pieces to the current roster.” The specific targets are a right-handed defenseman and a winger. Read more