Steven Stamkos’ recent vascular surgery comes as a blow to the Tampa Bay Lightning entering the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. With a recovery time frame of one-to-three months, the 26-year-old might not return in time to help the Bolts in the post-season.
Given Stamkos’ UFA eligibility in July, his lengthy convalescence creates more uncertainty over his future. The Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly suggests Stamkos may have played his final game in a Lightning jersey.
TSN’s Gary Lawless doesn’t expect Stamkos’ surgery will scare away free-agent suitors or reduce what could be his expensive asking price. It’s expected he’ll make a full recovery from the procedure. Lawless wonders, however, if this will have an effect upon Stamkos’ future plans, and those of the Lightning.
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene’s celebration after scoring his 30th goal of the season during a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues didn’t sit well with Avs coach Patrick Roy. With the club’s playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Roy’s criticism of Duchene’s actions during a post-game presser is once again giving rise to questions over the 25-year-old’s future in Colorado.
A slow start to the season by the Avs and Duchene resulted in the latter’s name surfacing in the rumor mill last November, linking him to the Ottawa Senators. As his play heated up, however, the speculation petered out by early-December.
Over the weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman created a stir by reporting a source claiming Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk could return to Russia following this season.
Datsyuk, 37, is apparently making this decision for family reasons. He has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7.5 million, which Friedman points out would remain on the Wings’ books because he was past his 35th birthday when he signed the deal.
If Datsyuk decides to finish his playing career in Russia, Ken Campbell suggests offloading his contract to a team in need of reaching next season’s salary-cap minimum, like perhaps the Arizona Coyotes. The Wings could use the freed-up cap room to pursue Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos via free agency in July.
As another lost season winds down for the Edmonton Oilers, significant roster changes could be coming in the offseason. Expect right winger Nail Yakupov to be among the first on the trade block.
Since the Oilers selected Yakupov first overall in the 2012 NHL draft, he’s struggled to play up to lofty expectations. Frequent coaching changes, lineup shuffles and constant losing haven’t help the 22-year-old’s development.
Leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, there was speculation suggesting Yakupov could be dealt. On Monday, the Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis cited a report in a Russian sports outlet indicating Yakupov requested a trade prior to the deadline. The winger attempted to downplay the report, but didn’t deny his agent approached Oilers management about a trade.
Poised to miss the NHL playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, some changes could be coming to the Arizona Coyotes. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk the Coyotes slow rebuild doesn’t bode well for GM Don Maloney. Garrioch claims the belief is somebody in the ownership group wants to speed things up, noting the club will have money this summer to invest in additions through trades and free agency.
It’s unfair, however, to blame Maloney for the pace of the rebuild. A change in ownership, uncertainty over the Coyotes future in Arizona and a payroll well below the league’s salary-cap ceiling hampered his efforts. Indeed, he’s done a good job restocking the roster with promising youth via trades and the draft. It seems unlikely that ownership will ditch him now.
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is never one to mince words about his team’s performance. With the Senators poised to miss the playoffs, Melnyk told reporters the club faces key changes in the off-season. “There’s no one that’s safe when you’ve had a year like we just did,” said Melnyk. “There’s just no way.”
Most of those changes could come in the front office and behind the bench. GM Bryan Murray is battling Stage 4 colon cancer and could step down this summer. Coach Dave Cameron could get his walking papers at the end of the regular season.
The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan and Bruce Garrioch put Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien at the top of their respective wish lists as Cameron’s replacement. However, there’s no indication out of Boston suggesting Julien could be available.
The 2016 NHL trade deadline is history and the start of unrestricted free agency is months away, but questions persist over contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and captain Steven Stamkos. Eligible for UFA status on July 1, the future of the 26-year-old sniper remains a subject of interest in the rumor mill.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the longer Stamkos remains unsigned, the more speculation will grow over his future. If the Bolts captain hits the open market, Garrioch believes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres could be among the suitors.
The recent unveiling of a potential NHL expansion draft format is generating speculation over which players on the current 30 team rosters could be available if the draft is held next year.
Depending upon how many new clubs are added, existing teams could lose one or two players in an expansion draft. Las Vegas and Quebec City are the only candidates. The league is expected to make a formal announcement this June, with the expansion draft expected to be held a year later.
Under the proposed framework, each existing club could protect either one goalie, three defensemen and seven forwards or one goalie and eight skaters at any position. Players with two years or less experience on entry-level deals, along with drafted but unsigned prospects, would be exempt.