Players the Devils should target this summer, how next season’s salary cap could affect the Sabres’ dealings and potential interest in Andrew Hammond.

Possible forward targets for the Devils.

Could the Devils target James van Riemsdyk this summer?

Could the Devils target James van Riemsdyk this summer?

NJ.COM: Rich Chere recently speculated over which forwards the New Jersey Devils could have on their radar this summer to bolster their offense. Chere lists Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri, Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle, Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Arizona’s Sam Gagner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beleskey could be available via the UFA market. Doubt the Ducks want to move Palmieri. The Leafs could consider trading Kessel or van Riemsdyk but the asking price could be more than the Devils are willing to pay. Forget about landing Eberle or Monahan, as I don’t believe their respective teams have any intent of moving them. Gagner’s probably available if the Devils want to make a pitch for him. 

Could a rise in the cap affect Sabres’ trade targets?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports a projected increase of the salary cap from $69 million to $71.5 million could reduce the number of teams looking to shed salary, thus reducing possible trade targets for Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray. Even with that increase, however, Vogl speculates there will be a few teams (Philadelphia, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles) who could be squeezed for future cap space, forcing them to make salary-dumping deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I would also add Boston and Pittsburgh to that list. I also think Murray’s biggest problem won’t be the number of teams he could target for trades, but competition from other clubs with plenty of cap space next summer and a willingness to take on salary. The Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils could also employ the “vulture strategy” this summer.

Latest on Andrew Hammond.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently speculated on possible destinations for Ottawa goalie Andrew Hammond if the Senators fail to re-sign him before his UFA eligibility on July 1. The Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars could be in the market for goaltending depth this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hammond continues his solid play over what remains of this season, the Sens could face a difficult decision. They’ve already got two goalies under contract for next season in Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Management must decide if “The Hamburgler” is for real or just an average goalie on a hot streak. If they believe he’s the real deal and re-sign him, they’ll have to move Anderson or Lehner this summer.