Latest on Milan Lucic, Mike Richards and Antti Niemi, plus updates on the Colorado Avalanche.
Milan Lucic on the trade block?
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins biggest decision this offseason is whether to trade left wing Milan Lucic, who is coming off a disappointing 44-point season. Lucic, 26, has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $6 million plus a no-trade clause. He’s eligible for UFA status in July 2016. Center David Krejci’s injury-shortened season may have contributed to Lucic’s decline this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Lucic is willing to accept a pay cut on his next contract to remain a Bruin, they’ll keep him. If not, they’ll have to shop him this summer or risk his contract status becoming an unnecessary distraction through next season.
Latest on the Avalanche.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei reports Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly’s contract status will be a priority for GM Joe Sakic, who hopes to re-sign O’Reilly before the start of next season. The 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner has a year remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $6 million and is eligible for UFA status next July. Mike Chambers reports better puck-moving defensemen are also on the Avs’ wish list this summer, though they currently have six blueliners under contract for 2015-16. That need could be addressed via their farm team as well as free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If O’Reilly is willing to accept a modest raise on a long-term deal, the Avs will likely re-sign him. If he seeks $7 million or more, I don’t think Sakic can justify that expenditure. As for their defense, they’ll likely seek affordable short-term options via free agency in hopes their current blueliners under contract for next season can improve.
Buyout an option for Mike Richards?
NBC SPORTS: Ryan Dadoun reports the possibility of the LA Kings trading center Mike Richards cannot be ruled out, though it will be difficult finding teams willing to take on his lengthy and expensive contract. Kings GM Dean Lombardi admits a contract buyout is also a possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Kings really have any other choice. Richards is no longer worth his contract and I doubt they’ll find any takers via the trade market because the deal has five more season left at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. They cannot go through another season of uncertainty over Richards’ future.
What next for Antti Niemi?
CSNBAYAREA.COM: Kevin Kurz recently reported San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi was mum on his future. Niemi is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Sharks will turn the page. Niemi will hit the UFA market and the Sharks will consider other goaltending options.