Evander Kane reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career last season. (Getty Images)
Winnipeg Jets left winger Evander Kane was back in Winnipeg Monday promoting EA Sports’ NHL 13, but offered no word on the status of his contract negotiations.
Kane is among a handful of unsigned NHL restricted free agents. Dallas Stars left winger Jamie Benn, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, NY Rangers blueliner Michael Del Zotto, Buffalo Sabres left winger Tyler Ennis and Florida Panthers D-man Dmitry Kulikov are also currently without contracts for the upcoming season.
With another lockout looming, Jets fans are wondering if Kane and the club will reach an agreement on a new deal before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement Sept. 15.
Recent signings of comparable players by other clubs – such as Edmonton Oilers left winger Taylor Hall and Carolina Hurricanes left winger Jeff Skinner – only stoked curiosity over Kane’s situation.
Yet Kane has kept mum over his contract talks, as well as the trade rumors that popped up over the course of the off-season.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported earlier this summer the Jets offered Kane a six-year deal worth nearly $29 million, considerably lower in value than those signed by Hall (seven years, $42 million) and Skinner (six years, $34.350 million).
Over the summer, Kane was linked to the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, but as the Free Press noted, both his agent and Jets management frequently denied those rumors.
It’s unlikely Kane will reach an agreement with the Jets before the current CBA expires.
FLYERS INTERESTED IN SUBBAN?
A report from RDS.ca that claimed the Philadelphia Flyers had expressed interest in P.K. Subban provided a brief distraction Wednesday from the ongoing CBA watch on Twitter.
Bertrand Raymond reported the Flyers apparently enquired about Subban following their unsuccessful attempt to sign away Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators with an expensive offer sheet.
The fact the Canadiens have yet to re-sign Subban has Habs followers concerned new GM Marc Bergevin isn’t sold on the talented, brash young defenseman, giving rise to trade and offer sheet rumors.
Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer weighed in soon after the RDS report hit Twitter, citing a Flyers source claiming there was “nothing to it.”
It is highly unlikely the Canadiens will shop their most talented defenseman, but if Bergevin were so inclined, moving Subban to a team within their own conference – one which has eliminated them twice from playoff competition (2008, 2010) in recent years – seems like the last thing he would do.
Bergevin could ask for a promising young center like Sean Couturier as part of the return, but Subban’s departure would create a hole on the Habs blueline too big to fill this season via trade or free agency.
BLACKHAWKS HOARD BLUELINERS
The Chicago Blackhawks opted to make a veteran addition to their blueline prior to the expiration of the CBA, signing former Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival to a one-year, $2 million contract.
That move increased the number of Blackhawks defensemen to nine battling for six roster spots, prompting Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago to muse over who’d be the odd man out.
Steve Montador is one possibility. He lost the final five games of the ’11-12 regular season and all six Blackhawks playoff games to a concussion. In an early August interview with the Chicago Tribune, Montador claimed he was feeling better, but was uncertain if his symptoms would return when he faces contact during training camp.
Montador is entering the second season of a four-year contract with an annual cap hit of $2.8 million.
Rogers suggested management could place Montador on waivers, demote him to the minors or trade him to a club in need of reaching the salary cap floor, depending on what’s contained in the next CBA.
If he’s still suffering post-concussion symptoms, he could also be placed on long-term injury reserve.
Rogers also suggested Niklas Hjalmarsson as another possibility, noting his name was floated in trade rumors earlier this summer.
How the Blackhawks address this situation will likely be determined in training camp, whenever that is.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday 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, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.