Evander Kane (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Once Jimmy Vesey makes his choice, the clubs that lose out could turn to either the trade or free-agent markets to bring in an affordable scoring forward.
Top college prospect Jimmy Vesey is expected to announce this week which NHL team he'll be signing with. His decision could come as early as Tuesday.
Entering this week, NHL.com's Tom Gulitti lists the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs as the contenders for Vesey's services. Other clubs could also try to sign the promising youngster.
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa observes New York Islanders GM Garth Snow attended one of Vesey's on-ice workouts. Philly.com's Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is interested in pursuing Vesey. TVA Sports claims several sources say the Montreal Canadiens could also get into the bidding.
Once Vesey makes his choice, the clubs that lose out could turn to either the trade or free-agent markets to bring in an affordable scoring forward.
Free-agent pickings are slim. Forwards Jiri Hudler, Radim Vrbata, Alex Tanguay, Matt Cullen and Brandon Pirri are the best of the bunch. At this point, all could be had for inexpensive short-term deals.
Better options could be had via trades, but return and salaries could create difficulties.
Colorado Avalanche left winger Gabe Landeskog occasionally surfaced in this summer's rumor mill. The recent resignation of Patrick Roy as coach and VP of hockey operations should put to rest any chance of the 23-year-old Avs captain hitting the trade block. His $5.57-million annual cap hit would be difficult for most of the Vesey suitors to absorb.
The Detroit Red Wings have a surplus of forwards and could part with a winger such as Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist for a top-three defenseman. They're also perched above the $73 million cap ceiling by over $4.2 million. Placing sidelined forwards Johan Franzen, Joe Vitale and Teemu Pulkkinen on long-term injured reserve will address that problem, but they cannot afford to take on additional salary.
Sabres left winger Evander Kane's off-ice legal issues is making him the subject of trade speculation. Kane's reputation as a troublemaker, along with his injury history and $5.25-million salary-cap hit, makes him a risky investment.
The Maple Leafs must reach a decision over the future of oft-injured veteran Joffrey Lupul. If he's healthy, the Leafs could put the 32-year-old on the trade block. Like Kane, however, his injury history and cap hit ($5.25 million) are significant stumbling blocks.
Entering the off-season, Edmonton Oilers underachieving right winger Nail Yakupov was assumed to be a trade candidate. With only one season left on his contract at an affordable $2.5 million, the 22-year-old is a more affordable and healthier option than Kane or Lupul. Given his on-ice struggles, however, Oilers management could find it difficult to drum up interest in him.
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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