Ryan Miller logged a .915 save percentage and 2.81 GAA this past season. (Getty Images)
Speculation persists over the future of Buffalo Sabres stars Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek.
Entering the past weekend’s NHL draft, both were mentioned as trade candidates, but neither ended up moving.
One reason is both have one year remaining on their expensive contracts and become eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million this coming season, teams are reluctant to acquire such players.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun claimed the Sabres still want to move Miller, but it’s not clear whether that will happen this summer, or around the trade deadline in 2014.
A drawback of waiting until the deadline to move the two is their trade status would become a distraction throughout the season. Also, there’s a risk one or both could sustain an injury that would effectively make them untradeable.
DON’T EXPECT A DAN BOYLE TRADE IN THE SUMMER
The San Jose Sharks made a couple of depth trades, acquiring Tyler Kennedy from the Pittsburgh Penguins, then shipping versatile checking forward T.J. Galiardi to the Calgary Flames for a draft pick in 2015.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun speculated defenseman Dan Boyle could also become a trade candidate, as he's got one year remaining on his contract ($6.6 million cap hit) and becomes an unrestricted free agent next July.
For a year Boyle's name has surfaced in trade rumors, but the Sharks haven't shopped him because they have no one who could suitably replace him. Brent Burns, once regarded as Boyle’s heir apparent, seems more comfortable at forward. Boyle's age (he turns 37 on July 12) and cap hit will also make him difficult to move in a summer when the salary cap drops.
If the Sharks do decide to move Boyle, it'll be near the trade deadline and will depend on his performance and the team’s placement in the standings.
MINNESOTA DANCING AROUND SALARY CAP
Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher shipped out Cal Clutterbuck and Justin Falk during NHL draft weekend, but his club remains pressed for cap space.
Clutterbuck and Falk were restricted free agents whom the Wild couldn't afford to re-sign. They've also decided to let Pierre-Marc Bouchard depart via unrestricted free agency.
One reason for these moves is Fletcher hopes to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign veteran Matt Cullen, who's coming off a three-year, $10.5-million contract. But with only around $2.45 million in cap space, Fletcher must move another player or two.
The addition of Nino Niederreiter could make Devin Setoguchi ($3-million cap hit) expendable, while Zenon Konopka ($925,000) is also being shopped.
Michael Russo of Startribune.com reported Tom Gilbert ($4 million) could be dealt or bought out. Having traded Falk, however, moving Gilbert would put them in need of another blueliner. Fletcher could address this, however, by elevating prospect Mathew Dumba into the lineup.
This is the price the Wild are paying for last summer's expensive free agent signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. It'll be interesting to see how Fletcher's moves this summer affect the team’s overall performance.
CAP HITS LIKELY TO KEEP HORCOFF, HEMSKY IN EDMONTON
The Edmonton Journal reported Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff has a list of teams he's willing to play for and that management has made some calls, but his $5.5 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons is proving difficult to move.
Same goes for Ales Hemsky, who has only one season remaining on his contract, but at a cap hit of $5 million.
Unless the Oilers absorb part of their salaries in trades, Horcoff and Hemsky are likely to stay put.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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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