Latest on Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton, Cam Ward, Dion Phaneuf, Patrick Sharp, Tyler Bozak and more.
Collection of rumors from the Ottawa Sun.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports not to be surprised if New York Rangers pending UFA winger Martin St. Louis re-signs a bonus-laden deal with the club based on games-played.
Lots of people are apparently wondering if Dave Tippett will return as coach of the Arizona Coyotes next season.
If the San Jose Sharks miss the playoffs the ugly situation between San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson and former captain Joe Thornton could rear its ugly head again. It remains to be seen if Wilson will remain Sharks GM. “The belief last summer was the only place Thornton may accept a deal was the Rangers and if the Sharks really want to move him or Patrick Marleau then the only option is for the club to buy them out,” writes Garrioch.
The Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and possibly the St. Louis Blues could be looking for goaltending this summer. If the Carolina Hurricanes decide to trade Cam Ward in the off-season, Garrioch believes he’ll be a good fit with the Blues. He recommends pending UFA goalies like San Jose’s Antti Niemi, Minny’s Devan Dubnyk and Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond might want to hold off re-signing with their current teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers must also re-sign Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, but if St. Louis is willing to accept a bonus-laden deal (and if the Blueshirts still want him back) he could return on a one-year contract… I expect Tippett will be back with the Coyotes next season…I think Wilson will be gone before Thornton and/or Marleau…I don’t believe Ward is a good fit with the Blues. Yes, his numbers are better this season, but not enough to justify picking up the final season (at a cap hit of $6.3 million) of his contract…I don’t think the Flames will be shopping for goalies. If they don’t re-sign Karri Ramo, they’ll call up Joni Ortio from their farm team to back up Jonas Hiller…Forget about Devan Dubnyk being a UFA. The Wild will re-sign him and buy out the final season of Niklas Backstrom’s contract.
Big names could move this summer?
TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger cites a Western Conference executive claiming there could be some big moves during, or leading up to, this year’s NHL Draft in June. The executive feels several teams pressed for cap space could be forced to shed salary to become cap compliant for next season. That could keep Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf or Chicago’s Patrick Sharp in the rumor mill. New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello doesn’t dismiss that possibility.
Zeisberger also listed this summer’s top UFAs, headed by Chicago Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette. Goaltenders include San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Minnesota’s Devan Dubynk. Defensemen include Nashville’s Cody Franson, LA’s Andrej Sekera, Washington’s Mike Green and Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff. Forwards include LA’s Justin Williams, NY Rangers Martin St. Louis, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr and Nashville’s Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro.
Players to watch this summer include Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos (the Lightning can open contract talks with him on July 1), Phaneuf, Sharp, Thornton and Connor McDavid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Where the cap ceiling ends up for next season (currently projected at $71.5 million if the Canadian dollar hits .75 cents by the end of the regular season) will cause some teams to shed salary this summer. The Blackhawks could move Sharp and perhaps Bryan Bickell to free up cap space. The Leafs will try moving Phaneuf to clear room for their rebuilding process. It could be a busier-than-usual summer.
Bozak easy to move?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons notes that, despite the Toronto Maple Leafs horrible season, Tyler Bozak is 41st in scoring among NHL centers this season. “With a reasonable contract, he should be relatively easy to move,” claims Simmons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bozak is on pace for 20 goals and 45 points, pretty much the norm for him. His cap hit is $4.2 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $5 million in 2015-16, $4.5 million in 2016-17 and $4 million in 2017-18. Compared to linemate Phil Kessel’s $8 million per season deal, it’s a “reasonable contract.” Still, there could be clubs seeking a second-line center willing to take on Bozak’s contract.