Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Coyotes looking to bolster defense

Lyle Richardson
By:

Cody Franson. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Coyotes looking to bolster defense

Lyle Richardson
By:

The free agency period has been open for two weeks, but defenseman Cody Franson has still yet to sign a contract. The 27-year-old blueliner has been drawing interest from a number of teams, however. In Washington, the Capitals have solidified their top two lines, but might need to pick up a depth forward before the season begins.

It's been a busy summer for Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney. Since the free-agent market opened on July 1, Maloney brought back center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Zbynek Michalek via free agency. He also signed UFAs Brad Richardson, Anders Lindback, Steve Downie and John Scott.

Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan reports Maloney isn't done shopping for experienced depth. He cites a source claiming the Coyotes GM would like to add “two more pieces to the current roster.” The specific targets are a right-handed defenseman and a winger.

Morgan lists Sean Bergenheim, Brad Boyes, Eric Fehr, Mike Santorelli, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty among the best available forward options. He claims the Coyotes are looking to sign a player within the $2-$3 million range. All of those forwards could likely be had for that price.

As for a right-handed blueliner, Cody Franson is still available. He was rumored earlier this summer seeking a long-term deal worth $6 million annually, but his asking price is probably much lower now. Still, the Coyotes might not get him for less than $3-million per season.

The Coyotes could be among three clubs with interest in Franson. WKBW.com claims the Sabres are also pursuing the 27-year-old rearguard. GM Tim Murray reportedly sought a top-four left-handed blueliner. He was believed among several clubs interested in veteran Johnny Oduya before his signed with the Dallas Stars.

Franson being a right-handed shot wouldn't suit the Sabres need for another left-hander defenseman. Perhaps at this point, Murray's priority could be to simply add experience to his blueline.

Christian Ehrhoff is a lefty and remains available. NBC Sports' Jason Brough reports Ehrhoff's agent claims his 33-year-old client is willing to accept a one-year deal.

Murray, however, used a compliance buyout on Ehrhoff last summer, so it's unlikely he'll bring the former Sabre back to Buffalo. Ehrhoff probably isn’t keen to repeat the experience.

WASHINGTON SEEKING DEPTH

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has also been busy this summer, acquiring right wingers Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie respectively via free agency and trade. While MacLellan still has to re-sign goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Marcus Johansson, he could continuing bolstering his roster.

Eric Fehr has yet to sign a contract this off-season, and in doing so has left a hole at center on Washington’s checking lines. If Holtby and Johansson can be signed to reasonable contracts, The Washington Post's Alex Prewitt speculates MacLellan could attempt to squeeze another center into the mix.

Free-agent options could include Stephen Weiss, Mike Santorelli, or Matt Cullen. If Fehr is unable to find a suitable deal elsewhere, maybe he'll return to the Capitals on their terms.

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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Rumor Roundup: Coyotes looking to bolster defense