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
One of the most interesting potential free agents heading to market in 2016 is Andrew Ladd, but the Winnipeg Jets captain made it no secret he wants to stay in Mantioba’s capital.
In an interview with TSN Wednesday, Ladd said he wants to get a contract extension done before the new season begins and said he feels the interest is there from the Jets. But getting it done before the season — we’re now only 40 days away from puck drop — could be difficult. Ladd knows that, however, and said that he’s aware it could take some time.
“I’ve been around long enough that I know sometimes these things take a little time,” he added. “I think both parties are interested.” Read more
With a tight salary cap and uncertainty about where the upper limit will be heading in the future, this off-season hasn’t been an easy one for veteran free agents.
Top UFAs such as Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff remain unsigned, useful veterans such as Marek Zidlicky have yet to land deals and those looking to get their careers back on track, such as Martin Havlat and Tyler Kennedy, aren’t even sure if a deal is coming their way. It’s a tough set of circumstances for both Havlat and Kennedy, as they may not even be looking for solid NHL contracts, but rather the opportunity at a training camp tryout.
Already Sergei Gonchar and (reportedly) Devin Setoguchi are among those who have signed pro tryout agreements, but Havlat’s name might be the next added to that list. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Wednesday that Havlat’s agent has been contacted about the 34-year-old right winger signing a PTO with the Senators. Read more
The one thing I’ll always remember about Alexander Burmistrov during his Barrie Colts days is how skinny he looked. He was a perfect example of a prospect who had great tools; you just had to forecast what he would look like once a couple years in the weight room kicked in.
But the Atlanta Thrashers needed talent right away and the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft went straight to the NHL, where he survived and contributed. Then the team moved to Winnipeg, where all the good vibes of NHL-starved Manitoba fans couldn’t push an underdeveloped squad into the post-season under coach Claude Noel. And Burmistrov certainly didn’t thrive under the conditions, either.
So the lanky young Russian returned to his homeland, playing two years in the KHL for Ak Bars Kazan, his local squad.
Now he’s back.
While there’s no award given for finishing as the best Canadian team in the NHL, it’s always a point of pride for the seven clubs north of the border.
In 2014-15, the Montreal Canadiens were practically carried by the incredible play of Carey Price, finishing atop the Atlantic Division and just three points back of capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. In addition to leading the charge in the Atlantic, though, the Canadiens also ended the campaign as the best Canadian club in the league — and, it just so happened, as the Canadian team with the best shot at capturing Canada’s first Stanley Cup since 1993.
Montreal has made some interesting additions to the lineup this off-season by acquiring struggling sniper Alexander Semin, grinder Zack Kassian and defenseman Mark Barberio. The trade deadline additions of Brian Flynn, Devante Smith-Pelly, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn will also get a full season in Montreal this time around. But in 2015-16, does Montreal finish atop the heap of Canadian teams again or does another club unseat them as the country’s best club? 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
Recent internet-generated trade speculation involving Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien caught the eye of SI.com’s Allan Muir. Byfuglien, 30, becomes eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. While the Jets don’t have to move the big blueliner this summer, Muir notes re-signing him could be tricky.
Like Byfuglien, Jets captain Andrew Ladd could become a UFA next July. Center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Jacob Trouba will be restricted free agents in line for significant raises. Muir points out the Jets are a budget club that usually doesn’t spend toward the league’s cap ceiling.
Muir observes the recent rumor tied Byfuglien (who had a modified no-trade clause) to the Boston Bruins, but they must ship out salary to absorb his $5.2-million cap hit. Muir also suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks as possible trade partners. Read more
The way Red Deer finished the 2014-15 campaign – a five-game, first-round loss to Medicine Hat – you’d be forgiven for wondering how they would turn things around in time to be tough hosts of the Memorial Cup this year. But in a flash of activity, GM and coach Brent Sutter has begun to shake the foundations.