Rumor Roundup: Latest big-name UFA buzz

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While the focus in recent days was upon potential trades leading up to the draft, a number of NHL teams are using the free agent interview period to reach out to potential unrestricted free agents.

Interest in Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is growing. The 28-year-old could become the best player available in the upcoming UFA market if the Avalanche fail to re-sign him before July 1. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun claims up to 15 teams have contacted Stastny’s agent.

LeBrun claims the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks are among “the long list of teams” that reached out to the Stastny camp. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Blues have also expressed interest.

While the thought of Stastny centering a line with Patrick Kane is an enticing one for Blackhawks fans, it will cost around $6.6 million per season on a long-term deal to land him. Given the Blackhawks limited cap space and their need to re-sign Kane and Jonathan Toews to long-term extensions before their UFA eligibility next summer, Stastny’s unlikely to land in Chicago.

The Jets need more offense and Stastny would be a great fit on their first line, but the expense of wooing him to Winnipeg could prove more than they’re willing to pay.

As for the Avalanche, they remain hopeful of re-signing Stastny. As the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater observes, a monster offer worth between $6 and $7 million annually from a rival club could spell the end of Stastny’s tenure in Colorado.

BOLLAND HEADED TO A SUNNY LOCALE?
Another center garnering considerable interest is the Maple Leafs’ Dave Bolland. The Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley reports Bolland’s agent, Anton Thun, claims up to eight teams have either expressed interest in his client or are poised to do so.

Bolland’s preference is to re-sign with the Leafs, but Thun is reportedly seeking a seven-year deal worth nearly $5-million annually, while the Leafs prefer a five-year deal for less than $4.2 million per season.

Longley wonders if a rival club would be willing to pay $5 million for Bolland, who rushed back from an ankle injury that sidelined him most of this season and was ineffective for the Leafs down the stretch. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the Florida Panthers could be a destination for the 28-year-old. Bolland knows Panthers GM Dale Tallon from their days with the Chicago Blackhawks.

OH DANNY BOY, FREE AGENCY IS CALLING
TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported as many as eight teams have interest in free agent defenseman Dan Boyle. Among them are the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks speculates the Rangers see Boyle as a potential replacement for Anton Stralman, who could be headed to free agency on July 1. In addition to the Wings and Rangers, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in Boyle.

It’s believed Boyle seeks a two-year deal, but his age (38 in July) could turn off some suitors. Despite his struggles this season (related in part to an early season concussion), there will be clubs willing to gamble on Boyle having enough left in the tank for two more years.

SHARP STAYING, SAYS AGENT
The recent appearance of Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp in the trade rumor mill prompted a terse reaction from his agent, Rick Curran. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports Curran denied a recent report from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming his client was available.

“There’s no truth to any rumor that Patrick Sharp is available to trade,” said Curran, who had some disparaging remarks about Kypreos for circulating that rumor.

Regardless of the validity of the rumor, there’s no doubt the Blackhawks are squeezed for cap space. If they’re to make any significant additions via trade or free agency they’ll have to shed salary.

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

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