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Would Martin Brodeur be a good fit with the Penguins or Islanders? Is there nothing Brad Richards can do to stop a buyout from the New York Rangers? And will the Washington Capitals take a pass on re-signing Mikhail Grabovski and use Evgeny Kuznetsov as their No. 2 center?
Long-time New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is leaning toward returning next season, but it remains to be seen if it'll be with the Devils. Brodeur wouldn't rule out another season with the Devils, but acknowledged their priority is re-signing Cory Schneider, who supplanted him as Devils starter. Schneider is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2015.
If the Devils cannot re-sign Schneider to a contract extension this summer, NJ.com's Randy Miller believes they should trade him and re-sign Brodeur. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins as a destination for Brodeur, in order to mentor Marc-Andre Fleury. Garrioch also notes the New York Islanders need a goalie.
If Fleury suffers another playoff meltdown, the Penguins could be in the market for a new starting goalie, not a mentor. As for the Islanders, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports they'll be in talks with current starter Evgeni Nabokov. He could return in a backup role if they land a younger, experienced starting goalie via trade or free agency this summer.
WILL RICHARDS BE BOUGHT OUT?
New York Rangers center Brad Richards enters this year's playoffs facing an uncertain future. The New York Post's Larry Brooks believes Richards faces “the possibility, if not the likelihood” of a compliance buyout in June.
Richards, who led the Rangers to a 4-1 series-opening victory against Philadelphia on Thursday, has six years remaining on his nine-year, $58.5 million contract, worth an annual cap hit of $6.6 million. Since his 91-point performance with the Dallas Stars in 2009-10, the 33-year-old's offensive numbers have steadily declined. His 51 points in 82 games this season is the lowest over the course of a full season in his career.
As Brooks observes, June will be the last opportunity for teams to shed expensive, front-loaded contracts (signed prior to Sept. 15, 2012) without incurring a cap penalty. The Rangers currently have more than $54 million invested in 13 players and must re-sign or replace free agents Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle. Even if Richards has a strong performance this spring, it might not be enough to prevent him from receiving a compliance buyout.
WAITING ON GRABBO
Speculation over the futures of Washington Capitals GM George McPhee and coach Adam Oates could have an effect upon Mikhail Grabovski's decision to re-sign. Grabovski told the Washington Post's Katie Carrera he'd like to return, but wants to know who will be the GM and coach.
Grabovski inked a one-year, $3 million deal with the Capitals last summer. Injuries limited him to only 58 games, but he collected 35 points playing as their second-line center. Carrera notes the 30-year-old was one of their best forwards at even strength this season.
Last month, Grabovski's agent, Garry Greenstin, said his client prefers to play where he can compete for the Stanley Cup. It's believed Grabovski seeks a four- or five-year deal worth $5 million per season. The Capitals have most of their core under contract. If the salary cap rises to $71 million for next season, they will have $14 million in cap space.
Carrera speculates the Capitals could pass on Grabovski if they decide young Evgeny Kuznetsov can step into the second-line center role. That could be a risky gamble. While the promising Kuznetsov is an affordable option, he still has limited NHL experience. Pushing him into a second-line center role could be too much pressure too soon.
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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