The Maple Leafs and Flyers have their focus squarely on the upcoming campaign. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Reports out of Philadelphia suggest Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is considering starting the season with young centers Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn in the lineup.
Couturier has played well enough in the pre-season to at least earn himself a nine-game NHL regular season audition, after which he would lose a year off his entry level contract.
If, however, he plays well enough to stick around longer, Holmgren would have to dump some salary to make room for Couturier's contract and still leave sufficient cap space for additional moves as necessary throughout the season.
Currently, the Flyers have a little more than $175,000 of cap space, though that'll increase by an additional $1.2 million when Ian Laperriere is placed on long-term injury reserve.
This also takes into account the first season of Schenn's $3.1 million entry level contract if he isn't demoted to the American League. He recently suffered a shoulder injury, which might impact his chances of sticking with the club.
Prospect Matt Read could further complicate things. He's among the Flyers pre-season scoring leaders and is making a bid to stick with the team.
Suggested candidates to be demotes are Blair Betts ($700,000) and Oskars Bartulis ($600,000).
CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio cited a team source suggesting the possibility of a trade was “pretty good.”
Panaccio also claimed “the hot rumor of the day” had the Flyers shipping Scott Hartnell and his $4.2 million cap hit back to Nashville.
It was reported late last week the Predators were seeking more depth at forward, with Hartnell mentioned as a possibility.
Hartnell does, however, possess a no-trade clause, so he gets to call the tune on whether or not he is moved and, if so, the destination. Moving his salary remains difficult at this time of year.
Shipping out Hartnell appears a bit extreme, given his value to the club in the past. He also recently saw a cardiologist regarding an elevated heart rate during an exhibition game, which might scare off potential suitors.
It's also not the first time Hartnell's name has been in the rumor mill over the past couple of years. Still, Jeff Carter was also frequently mentioned as trade bait and eventually the Flyers moved him, so don’t dismiss a Hartnell trade.
That said, it would be surprising if Holmgren were to make such a hasty move simply to make room for Couturier, who may not stick. Demotions or trades of Bartulis or Betts are more likely.
LEAFS SHOPPING DEPTH?
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported the Toronto Maple Leafs’ additional depth had the club calling around to see if there was any interest in some of their players.
LeBrun claimed center Tyler Bozak and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson were among those discussed. No deals are believed imminent. It's a bit of a surprise Bozak would be available, as he was considered among the Leafs’ promising young players.
With Tim Connolly currently sidelined with an “upper body” injury and Nazem Kadri out two to four weeks with a knee injury, Bozak likely won't be moving any time soon. But he'll have to step up his game if he hopes to remain with the Leafs beyond this season.
RANGERS NOT INTERESTED IN MCCABE
LeBrun also reported veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe remained unsigned. McCabe apparently received an offer from a Western Conference team this week, but it wasn't something that interested him.
The Rangers are still believed in the market for a veteran defenseman, but they aren't interested in bringing back McCabe, who had a short and disappointing tenure with the Blueshirts late last season.
WHO'S OUT IN MONTREAL?
The Canadiens signing defenseman Chris Campoli earlier this week to a one-year, $1.8 million contract has raised some questions about which current Habs blueliner will become the odd man out.
With star blueliner Andrei Markov slated to miss the opening weeks of the season due to soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, Campoli was brought in as insurance. But his presence has led to speculation over defenseman Yannick Weber's future with the team.
Weber was recently moved up to forward as the coaching staff continues to evaluate young blueliners Alexei Yemelin and Raphael Diaz. Coach Jacques Martin insisted Weber remains in the mix for a spot on defense.
Weber has struggled to crack the Habs blueline and if he becomes odd man out again it's possible he’ll be put on the trade block.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 Kukla's Korner.