The latest on Ryan O’Reilly, Phil Kessel, Kari Lehtonen, Vladimir Sobotka plus updates on the Red Wings.

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Highlights of Elliotte Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts”.

SPORTSNET.CA: Elliotte Friedman recently wondered what player Detroit Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe was watching during a recent Toronto Maple Leafs/Buffalo Sabres game…While the Wings have plenty of cap space this summer, Friedman notes they cannot afford to overspend. “Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith” all have contracts which expire in 2016…Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy claims he will be very disappointing if the club is unable to re-sign Ryan O’Reilly to a long-term extension. O’Reilly, whose annual cap hit is $6 million, is due to become a UFA next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lemme guess, Howe was checking out Dion Phaneuf? Well, if the Wings decide to acquire Phaneuf this summer they must ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign next summer’s key free agents…O’Reilly’s status will be a hot topic in the rumor mill in late-June once the playoffs ends. The Avs can re-sign him to an extension effective July 1. The longer he goes without one, the more the trade speculation will increase.

Will the decline in Phil Kessel's production this season hurt his trade value?

Will the decline in Phil Kessel’s production this season hurt his trade value?

 Kessel’s declining production could hurt his trade value.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran wonders about the trade value of Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel, who could miss reaching the 30-goal mark for the first time over a full NHL season since joining the Maple Leafs in 2009-10. McGran suggests Kessel’s value is at a lower point, noting Kessel’s reputation also took a beating this season as he seemed to check out with the Leafs fortunes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think interested clubs understand this season’s been a difficult one for Kessel and the Leafs. I doubt it’ll have an adverse effect upon his trade value. Indeed, his salary ($8 million annually) is a bigger stumbling block than the decline in his production this season. 

Can the Stars risk moving Kari Lehtonen?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the Dallas Stars’ biggest fear is moving out Kari Lehtonen via buyout or trade, only to watch him go on to success with another NHL club. Though Lehtonen has a 34-17-7 record this season but ranks among this season’s worst starters in goals-against average (2.94) and save percentage (.903). There’s also little in their system to replace him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen’s inconsistency has hurt the Stars this season, and they’re lacking depth in quality backups. If there’s an opportunity for the Stars to land a more consistent starter, they could try to trade or buy out Lehtonen. If not, they’ll stick with him for another season and try to bolster their backup depth as well as their defense. 

Update on Vladimir Sobotka.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy P. Rutherford reports the Blues have no plans of bringing back center Vladimir Sobotka this season. An arbiter ruled Sobotak owes the Blues one season, and if he were to return to the lineup he would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Sobotka, currently in the KHL, intends to play for the Czech Republic in the World Championships.