Latest on Milan Lucic, Vincent Lecavalier, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, plus updates on Canucks’ free agents Shawn Matthias and Yannick Weber.
Lucic hopes to remain a Bruin.
THE BOSTON GLOBE/BOSTON HERALD: Amalie Benjamin and Steve Conroy report Bruins left wing Milan Lucic hopes to stay with Boston but that’s not a certainty. His $6 million salary for next season, inconsistent performance this season and UFA status in July 2016 raises questions about his future with the club. Benjamin writes the Bruins must decide if Lucic is worth retaining. If Lucic is shopped this summer, Conroy believes he could fetch the Bruins a very good player in return. He also has a limited no-trade clause, giving the winger some say over potential trade destinations. He must provide a list of 15 favorable trade destinations. Lucic says management has not approached him about a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another factor could be a change of management. If the Bruins fire GM Peter Chiarelli, his replacement could decide to make a big splash by shipping out Lucic this summer.
Will Flyers and Lecavalier part ways this summer?
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports the Philadelphia Flyers “don’t have enough snipers, don’t have a true first-pairing defenseman, and don’t have enough speed to match up with the league’s elite.” However, GM Ron Hextall lack sufficient cap space to address those needs unless he can shed some contracts, notably those of forwards Vincent Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger. Odds are most of the changes could come from within. Carchidi speculates Hextall could try moving a defenseman or two, like Niklas Grossmann, for a draft pick.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio reports moving Lecavalier is a priority for the second straight summer. Panaccio also speculates Grossmann, Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald could have value if Hextall decides to make a trade.
COURIER-POST: Dave Isaac reports Lecavalier is willing to return with the Flyers next season provide Craig Berube is no longer the head coach. If Hextall trades Lecavalier or makes other moves, Isaac suspects most of them will come during the NHL Draft weekend from June 25-27.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Flyers sack Berube, I think Hextall will still try to find a way to trade Lecavalier. A buyout is possible, though at two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure it’s an option Hextall could try to avoid. Grossmann is a likely trade candidate. Schenn could be too, but MacDonald’s hefty contract will be tough to move unless Hextall agrees to pick up part of it, take on a toxic contract in return or finds a club in need of reaching the cap floor before the start of next season.
Phaneuf and Kessel want to remain Maple Leafs.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports much-maligned Maple Leafs stars Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel insist they want to remain in Toronto. Both are ongoing subjects of trade speculation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m only noting Phaneuf’s and Kessel’s comments as it’s the first time since the season ended they’ve acknowledged the possibility they could be moved. Sure, they’re saying the right things about wanting to stay, but in reality they will probably welcome being moved. I believe Leafs president Brendan Shanahan wants to move them. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit, not just for return but also finding a club willing to take on the remainder of their salaries. That won’t be easy.
Latest on the Canucks free agents.
THE PROVINCE: Steve Ewen wonders if the Vancouver Canucks have enough cap space remaining to re-sign pending UFA forward Shawn Matthias. Ewen notes the Canucks have over $66 million invested in 17 players for next season. If the cap reaches its original projection of $73 million, the Canucks will only have a little over $6 million to spend on six more players. Matthias is earning $1.85 million this season and is due a healthy pay bump. He’s among their leaders this season in goals and ice time among forwards.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough recently noted the Canucks limited cap space could make it difficult to re-sign defenseman Yannick Weber, who was red-hot offensively down the stretch. Weber will be a restricted free agent and hopes to remain. Brough points out the Canucks could free up space via trades, speculating veteran blueliner Kevin Bieksa might become a trade candidate, though his no-trade clause could hamper that possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks played well during Bieksa’s lengthy absence this season. He has a year left on this contract at a cap hit of $4.6 million. If he can be convinced to waive his no-trade clause, moving him will free up sufficient space to re-sign Weber and Matthias to affordable raises.