Marian Gaborik is schedule to become a UFA July 1. (Getty Images)
April 11’s Minnesota-Columbus game could have been the last time hockey fans saw right winger Marian Gaborik in a Wild jersey.
Reports out of Minnesota suggest Gaborik could be leaning toward testing this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The Wild have apparently made him an offer, but he might not be interested.
Gaborik will probably test the market, but won’t find anything nearly as lucrative as the reported $8 million per season offer he spurned last fall from the Wild.
Gaborik’s injury history could result in offers of shorter term and less money. The Ottawa Sun suggested he could be looking at two years and around $12 million.
The Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings were rumored destinations for Gaborik when he was being shopped around the league last fall and it’s possible those clubs could be interested in his services this summer.
• It’s been speculated for some time the Edmonton Oilers would shop for a quality starting goaltender this summer, but recent reports out of Edmonton suggest they could re-sign Dwayne Roloson instead.
The 39-year-old Roloson was considered washed up last summer, but he regained the starter’s role this season and was a significant factor in keeping the Oilers’ playoff hopes alive down the stretch.
Other options are available to the Oilers this summer. New Jersey’s Scott Clemmensen could be an affordable free agent signing, while Minnesota’s Josh Harding and Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen might be prime targets for offer sheets.
What could be the determining factor for all this is the Oilers’ available cap space. They’ve committed more than $42 million to next season’s payroll and also need to find a quality sniper for Ales Hemsky’s line.
Re-signing Roloson to a one-year, bonus-laden contract could become their best available option, but don’t expect that to sit well with restless Oilers fans.
• The Tampa Bay Lightning had a season to forget, but they’re well positioned to once again land a high pick in the draft.
There’s a possibility they win this year’s draft lottery and secure the first overall pick, but at worst they’ll end up third overall.
Lightning GM Brian Lawton recently told the St. Petersburg Times he was open-minded about trading that pick.
Given the Lightning’s lack of defensive depth it’s possible Lawton could shop it for a quality defender, although he told the Times he won’t do so for a “30-year-old defenseman.”
Lawton added that trading the pick is one of many options he faces heading into the off-season.
Think he’d offer that pick to the Florida Panthers in a package deal for Jay Bouwmeester?
Probably not, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that rumor pops up in what’s bound to be endless speculation about the Panthers blueliner in the coming weeks.
• Ottawa Senators forwards Chris Kelly and Chris Neil could be playing for different teams next season.
The Ottawa Sun reported the Senators apparently weren’t happy with Kelly’s performance this season and could consider shopping his $2.125 million per season contract this summer.
Neil could be lost to the unrestricted free agent market if the Senators are unable to meet his rumored asking price of $2.5 million.
One team that might push hard for Neil is the Senators’ hated rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
GM Brian Burke wants to bolster his size and toughness on his forward lines for next season and Neil would certainly fit the bill.
Senators GM Bryan Murray would prefer to retain Neil and probably isn’t fond of the idea of the gritty right winger returning to haunt the Senators in a Leafs jersey at least six times per season. However, unless Murray can free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Neil and still address his other roster needs that could be a distinct possibility.
• Los Angeles Kings winger Alexander Frolov’s name has popped up occasionally in this season’s trade rumor mill, but if he has anything to say about it he’d prefer to remain with the Kings.
In a recent interview, Frolov, who has one year remaining at a cap hit of $2.9 million, acknowledged he could’ve had a better performance this season and stated he absolutely wanted to remain with the Kings. If approached about an extension this summer, Frolov said he’d be willing to listen.
It’s been suggested the Kings need an experienced goal-scorer and if unable to land one via free agency Frolov could be used as trade bait.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.