The window for NHL clubs to interview free agents on rival teams opened on Wednesday. Though actual contract negotiations are prohibited, the interview period is a great opportunity for teams to woo prospective free agents before the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1.
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector observes the Calgary Flames hope to re-sign left winger Michael Cammalleri while the Boston Bruins want to retain Jarome Iginla. However, this interview period provides players an opportunity to gauge interest from other clubs.
That’s why Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is going to test the market, even though his agent claims he’s had good contract conversations with Avalanche management. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater notes the Stastny camp intends to circle back to the Avalanche to give them an opportunity to retain him.
For months the Minnesota Wild have been considered the destination of choice for left winger Thomas Vanek, but they could balk at inking him to a long-term deal. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune speculates the Wild might try to convince Vanek to accept a “one- to three-year deal” in order to pursue a top free agent defenseman like Matt Niskanen.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports Maple Leafs center Dave Bolland wants to stay in Toronto, but not at a hometown discount. It’s been reported the Vancouver Canucks have contacted Bolland. NBC Sports’ Mike Halford notes Bolland’s previously disparaging comments toward the Sedin twins and Kevin Bieksa during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, though he’s since expressed remorse. Given the Canucks could trade Ryan Kesler in the coming days, Bolland could be considered a potential replacement.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan reports Senators pending UFA left winger Milan Michalek is also taking advantage of the interview window to speak with other clubs, but he has also expressed interest in re-signing with the Senators.
IS IGINLA A GONER?
If the Boston Bruins fail to re-sign Jarome Iginla, they could be forced into the trade market in search of a top-six right winger. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports Bruins management hopes to re-sign Iginla, but could end up losing him to free agency.
Shinzawa noted the Bruins, already pressed for cap space, face a cap penalty around $4.75 million in overages this season, most of which stemmed from their bonus-laden contract with Iginla. They currently have $3.7 million in cap space, and must also re-sign restricted free agents Reilly Smith, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, plus find a backup for Vezina winner Tuukka Rask.
If Iginla walks, Shinzawa speculates GM Peter Chiarelli may consider replacing him via trade, suggesting defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($3.36 million) could fetch the best return. Boychuk will be UFA eligible next year and Shinzawa doubts the Bruins can afford to re-sign him.
Depending on how much it costs to re-sign their key RFAs, the Bruins could be forced to shed salary. While they could try moving center Chris Kelly ($3 million) or Adam McQuaid ($1.56 million), Boychuk would receive the most interest.
WHO WILL TAKE VINNY?
Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall kicked off the week leading up to the NHL draft by shipping left winger Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger and a draft pick. While Umberger comes with a shorter term (three years remaining on his contract) than Hartnell (five years), his annual cap hit ($4.6 million) was only slightly less than Hartnell’s $4.75 million.
The addition of Umberger and the recent re-signing of Brayden Schenn leaves the Flyers with $1.8 million in cap space. They still have to re-sign RFAs Jason Akeson, Erik Gustafsson and Tye McGinn, plus add a backup goaltender. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports Hextall said he still has to clear cap space, leading Carchidi to speculate Vincent Lecavalier remains the likely trade candidate, provided he agrees to waive his no-movement clause.
Moving the 34-year-old Lecavalier, who has four years at $4.5 million annually left on his contract, won’t be easy. Perhaps Hextall will try to peddle him to a club in need of adding salary to reach the cap minimum, like the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders or Florida Panthers.
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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