Will this summer see an increase in Steven Stamkos free-agent rumors? Did the Ducks nearly trade Matt Beleskey? Do the Blue Jackets have too many forwards?
Another “Summer of Stamkos”?
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Erik Erlendsson reports there will be significant attention paid to Steven Stamkos’ contract talks this summer with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos was the hot topic of speculation as a restricted free agent during the summer of 2011. He has one season remaining on his contract and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July 2016. Bolts management can re-sign him as early as July 1 of this year. Erlendsson suggests there will be plenty of talk out of Toronto linking Stamkos (a Markham, Ontario native) with the Maple Leafs. Stamkos, meanwhile, insists he enjoys playing and winning in Tampa Bay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In January, Stamkos said his plan is to re-sign with the Lightning. It’ll likely take a deal comparable to the eight-year, $10.5 million per season deals signed last summer by Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to keep Stamkos in Tampa Bay. Rest assured Lightning management will do everything it can to ensure their captain and franchise player is re-signed this summer. Still, Erlendsson makes a good point. The longer Stamkos goes without being re-signed this summer, the more speculation will grow suggesting he wants to sign with the Leafs and return to his hometown. I doubt that’s Stamkos’ intent but it won’t prevent his name being tied to the rebuilding Leafs, who can certainly afford to toss big money at him if he becomes a UFA in 2016 and would do so willingly if he expressed a desire to join them.
Ducks almost dealt Beleskey?
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported last week it sounded as though the Anaheim Ducks either came close to re-signing winger Matt Beleskey or trading him at the deadline. Beleskey is eligible for UFA status in July and has already scored a career-high 21 goals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the Ducks decided to retain Beleskey for the upcoming playoffs. Re-signing him could depend upon his postseason performance.
Blue Jackets face decisions at forward.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports the Blue Jackets face decisions this summer over their glut of forwards. Portzline writes, “The Blue Jackets listened to trade offers for center Artem Anisimov and right wing Cam Atkinson, but none of the offers were deemed worthy of deal. Yet.” He claims they’ll continue to entertain offers in the off-season and will likely trade a forward or two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets recently re-signed Atkinson to a three-year, 10.5 million extension, though that could also make him attractive for clubs seeking players with term remaining on their contracts. Anismov has a year left on his contract and is eligible for UFA status in 2016. His future could depend upon his plans after next season and willingness to remain with the Jackets. Their plans could also depend upon the cost of re-sign RFA forward Matt Calvert and pending UFA Mark Letestu.