Trade flames still burning
Brendan Morrison will return to Calgary for 2011-12 (Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Trade flames still burning
The Chicago Blackhawks' signing of unrestricted free agent defenseman Sami Lepisto Friday signalled the end of the club's contract talks with restricted free agent blueliner Chris Campoli.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told the local media Campoli's contract demands “were not in concert with where we see him fitting into the team.”
In other words, Campoli, who earned $1.4 million last season, was seeking more than Bowman was willing to pay to fit him comfortably under their salary cap.
It's expected Campoli will be shopped prior to his arbitration hearing on August 3 or allowed to become an unrestricted free agent following that hearing.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins might have some interest, as they currently have more than $8.7 million in available cap space and are rumored to be in the market for another puck-moving blueliner.
FLAMES LOOKING TO DEAL?
Another team that could hit the trade market this summer are the Calgary Flames, as their recent signing of center Brendan Morrison to a one-year, $1.25 million deal gives them 13 forwards with one-way contracts.
With a little more than $1.3 million remaining in cap room, GM Jay Feaster will need to free up additional space in case one or more prospects make the roster or for possible moves during the season.
The Calgary Sun suggested left winger Niklas Hagman ($3 million) or center Matt Stajan ($3.5 million) as possible trade candidates. Hagman, who lacks a “no-trade” clause and has only one year left on his contract, appears the more likely to move.
If a trade isn't possible, Hagman could be demoted or loaned overseas to free up sufficient cap space.
DEVILS NEED CAP ROOM
The New Jersey Devils could also be shedding salary later this summer.
Having added free agent enforcers Eric Boulton (one-way contract) and Cam Janssen (two-way deal) last week, plus signing 2011 first round pick Adam Larsson to an entry level contract, the Devils – counting Larsson's $925,000 salary if he makes the roster next season—would have around $5 million in salary cap space left.
That's not enough to re-sign left winger Zach Parise and defenseman Matt Taormina to new deals.
The New York Post observed GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this month he'll have to make some subtractions to his roster.
He'll probably do so once Parise receives a new contract, via negotiated deal or arbiter, by his arbitration date of August 3.
Lamoriello could try once again to trade veteran left winger Brian Rolston (one year, $5.1 million), but only if he agrees to waive his “no-trade” clause.
Rolston could be demoted, but the fact he was over 35 when he inked his current contract means his salary would still count against their cap.
Center Dainius Zubrus (two years, $3.4 million) and defenseman Bryce Salvador (one year, $2.9 million) could also become trade or demotion candidates. Salvador missed last season recovering from a concussion, but recent reports suggest he could be ready to play next season.
In previous years, attempting to move struggling players with salaries like those three would be nearly impossible, but the Phoenix Coyotes ($45.5 million committed to 21 players), Colorado Avalanche ($45.4 million invested in 23 players) and New York Islanders ($38.4 million devoted to 19 players) are below the salary floor of $48.3 million, which could put them in the market for players who could help them get above that limit.
The Nashville Predators ($41.2 million, 20 players) are also below the cap floor, but it's expected the new contract for team captain Shea Weber will put them close to it without having to acquire more salary.
The Winnipeg Jets are also under the cap floor at $47.1 million, but the anticipated re-signings of right winger Blake Wheeler and defenseman Zach Bogosian will easily put them over the mandated floor.
COLUMBUS STILL HUNTING FOR HUSELIUS REPLACEMENT
If Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is unable to find a suitable replacement for injured left winger Kristian Huselius via the currently remaining forwards in free agency, he could either make a trade, sign a player whose club has rejected his salary arbitration award.
Howson told the Columbus
The piece suggested he'd also need to find one who is affordable, perhaps a one-year deal at $2 million.
Such players currently slated for salary arbitration include Teddy Purcell of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets or Blake Comeau of the New York Islanders, but odds are they'll be re-signed by their teams.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.