With the NHL Draft now over and free agency approaching, here’s a look at some of the notable NHL trade speculation plus a couple of UFA rumors.
Highlights from Friedman’s “30 Thoughts.”
Note: My comments are italicized.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks worked for over a week attempting to work out a trade that would’ve sent defenseman Kevin Bieksa to the Sharks. So much so, the Bieksas even looked at homes in the San Jose area. It apparently fell through because Bieksa wanted a contract extension from the Sharks. Friedman reports 10 teams have interest in the veteran blueliner. The Boston Bruins were also thought to have interest in Bieksa, though they could now probably take a timeout from trades following their recent deals.
I’ll be very surprised if Bieksa isn’t traded this summer. The move could come sometime in July when teams that struck out in free agency circle back to him. I also wouldn’t fully dismiss the Sharks as an option. As a San Jose pundit observed, Bieksa was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Sharks, so both sides could revisit those trade talks again. I don’t see him going to the Bruins now.
Friedman wonders if the Calgary Flames or Ottawa Senators might pursue winger Chris Stewart via free agency. Both teams had previous interest in him.
Of the two, the Senators had the most interest but the Flames have more cap space. Should be interesting to see if either club chases him.
The Chicago Blackhawks could make re-signing defenseman Brent Seabrook, who’s elgible next summer for UFA status, a priority in the coming weeks.
It’ll cost an annual cap hit of $7 million over the next seven years to keep Seabrook in Chicago.
The Anaheim Ducks aren’t trading goaltender John Gibson, who has a year remaining on his two-way contract.
Despite their acquisition of goalie Eddie Lack, the Carolina Hurricanes did not ask goalie Cam Ward to waive his no-trade clause.
There’s a decent chance Tyler Bozak will start next season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I believe there’s more than a decent chance of that happening. A lousy second-half performance last season and an expensive contract makes him tough to move. There’s reportedly no interest in Bozak at all in the trade market. The Leafs apparently shopped him for picks during the recent draft but found no takers.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is staying patient regarding trade targets Jiri Hudler, Phil Kessel, TJ Oshie, Sharp and Jeff Skinner (among others), waiting for the best deal to emerge. Friedman claims Kessel to Pittsburgh had “serious traction.” The Leafs were willing “to ease the Penguins’ contract burden,” but there was no consensus as to how much.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those, Oshie, Sharp and Skinner are the best bets. Kessel’s contract is too expensive for the Penguins, who have too much money tied up in a handful of players. I’m still not convinced the Flames will trade Hudler.
The Canadiens and Blackhawks were apparently working on a deal regarding Kris Versteeg during the draft but the deal fell through.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Habs were going after Versteeg, that probably because they can’t afford to take on Patrick Sharp’s $5.9 million per season contract. That was before their decision to buy out P-A Parenteau, so perhaps that changes things.
Islanders GM Garth Snow claimed a couple of teams inquired about Kyle Okposo but there was nothing serious. Snow claims he has no plans to trade Okposo.
Doesn’t sound like Snow is as keen to move Okposo as some pundits suggested. Then again, perhaps the right offer just didn’t materialize.