Latest on Steven Stamkos, Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson, plus the Penguins are shopping for a first-round pick.
Could the Lightning shop Stamkos this summer?
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports of chatter wondering if the cost of re-signing Steven Stamkos (a UFA in 2016) could prompt the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade him. Shinzawa suggests this speaks to “Stamkos’s asking price, uncertainty about the salary cap in the future, and Tampa’s depth.” He speculates Stamkos’ asking price could be $10.5 million annually.
SI.COM: Allan Muir writes the idea of Stamkos going to Toronto when his contract expires at the end of next season no longer sounds quite so crazy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m currently working on a piece for my Soapbox regarding the possibility of a Stamkos trade which I’ll post up later today. I won’t go into much detail here, other than noting the factors Shinzawa touches on are those I’m examining in greater detail. As to Muir’s comment, I’m assuming he’s referring to the Leafs hiring Mike Babcock as head coach, but if Stamkos hits the UFA market I’m guessing he’ll want to join a contender and not a rebuilding franchise, having gone through that process twice now with the Lightning.
Could the Leafs retain Phil Kessel?
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox suggests it might be in the Maple Leafs’ best interest to retain Phil Kessel in hopes Mike Babcock can improve the winger’s performance. Cox notes Kessel’s trade value is likely very low right now. If he improves under Babcock it will also improve his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve been wondering if the Leafs might retain Kessel and Dion Phaneuf for the upcoming season to see if they’ll improve under Babcock. If they do, it’ll boost their trade value. It could also make them worthwhile retaining. Then again, if they perform poorly under Babcock, it will send their trade value plummeting. It’ll be interesting to see what the Leafs do with these two.
Could the Stars pursue Anderson?
SI.COM: Allan Muir believes Ottawa Senators starting goalie Craig Anderson could be the answer for teams seeking to take the next step. He expects Jim Nill, GM of the Dallas Stars, to be among the suitors, along with Edmonton, Buffalo and San Jose.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars and Senators do have a recent trade history, and Nill possesses depth in young players and prospects to interest the Senators. It’s thought the Sens could move Anderson if he’ll attract a top-six winger but I still have my doubts they’ll trade him. A tandem of Robin Lehner (injury history)and Andrew Hammond (inexperience) doesn’t inspire much confidence right now. With Matt O’Connor now in their system, I’m guessing they’ll move Lehner and go with Hammond and Anderson next season.
Penguins shopping for a first-round pick.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is trying (“rather vigorously, it appears”) to acquire a first-round selection in this year’s NHL Draft. The Penguins currently lack a pick in the opening round. The Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets each have two picks in the first round, and it’s expected Rutherford will focus his attention on some of those clubs. Sabres GM Tim Murray has made it known he’s willing to deal the lowest of his first-round picks, which is 21st overall.