The Canucks blueliner hasn't ruled out re-signing with the Canucks this summer but if they part ways, he won't lack for suitors via free agency.
More than a few eyebrows were raised at the trade deadline when the Vancouver Canucks didn't move pending UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Carrying a full no-movement clause, the 33-year-old blueliner gave the Canucks few acceptable destinations (Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars) via trade.
Canucks management received grief from Vancouver fans and pundits over their inability to trade Hamhuis for a return. The blueliner, meanwhile, hasn't ruled out re-signing with the Canucks this summer.
If Hamhuis and the Canucks part ways in July, he won't lack for suitors via free agency. Despite his age and recent injury history, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Blackhawks, Stars, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins had “genuine interest” in the veteran defender. While that undoubtedly stemmed from his status as a potential playoff rental at the trade deadline, one of those clubs could revisit their interest in him.
Hamhuis isn't the only Canucks veteran potentially on his way out this summer. Ben Kuzma of The Province believes aging winger Alex Burrows could be bought out of the final year (at a cap hit of $4.5 million) of his contract. That would result in a $2-million cap savings for the Canucks, which could be put toward other options.
One of them could be pursuing Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson via free agency in July. Kuzma cites the 30-year-old Eriksson's link with the Sedin twins on the Swedish national team.
Apart from Hamhuis, the Canucks don't have any significant players to re-sign this summer, certainly none who are in line for substantial raises. Even by re-signing Hamhuis, they should have sufficient cap space to offer up a deal worth $6 million annually for Eriksson.
Contract term, however, could be a sticking point. Eriksson could seek a five-year deal, while the Canucks could counter with a three or four year offer.
WARD'S NHL FUTURE IN JEOPARDY
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa speculates Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward could be out of the NHL next season unless he's willing to accept a significant pay cut.
Ward, 32, is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it's unlikely he'll be re-signed by the Hurricanes. Shinzawa notes the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner's best days are behind him, suggesting teams will prefer a younger, more affordable backup option.
The decline in Ward's performance ensures he won't get another lucrative long-term deal like the six-year, $37.8-million contract he's completing. His days as an NHL starter certainly appear to be over.
However, his experience could make him a valuable backup for clubs pursuing depth in the crease this summer. The Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs could be among those that could consider Ward a worthwhile short-term depth option for the right price.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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