Canucks could make shed salary via trade, the Sabres could consider buying out Cody Hodgson and possible defense targets for the Stars. 

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 Canucks must shed salary.

Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis remain possible trade candidates for the Canucks.

Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis remain possible trade candidates for the Canucks.

THE PROVINCE: Jim Jamieson reports the Vancouver Canucks could have only $3 million in cap space for next season (assuming the current cap ceiling rises to $70 million) “to sign three defencemen and three forwards to get to the usual 23-player roster size.” Jamieson considers defenseman Kevin Bieksa an obvious trade candidate, as he has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $4.6 million and is eligible next summer for UFA status. He would have to waive his no-trade clause. Other trade options could be defenseman Dan Hamhuis ($4.5 million), Radim Vrbata ($5 million) or Alex Burrows ($4.5 million).

Ben Kuzma reports the Arizona Coyotes are willing to listen to offers for the third overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, but Canucks GM Jim Benning has no intention of moving prospects or promising center Bo Horvat to move up to that spot. “Benning is more concerned with recouping second- and third-round picks for this draft that were surrendered in the Sven Baertschi and Ryan Kesler deals respectively.” Kuzma speculates goalie Jacob Markstrom or Eddie Lack (if a new contract can’t be worked out) could fetch a second-round pick, as could Bieksa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bieksa and Hamhuis seem the more attractive candidates, not just to clear cap room but also because the Canucks defense corps must get younger and faster.  Vrbata only has a year left on his contract and played well for the most part last season. The Canucks will miss his offense if they trade him. Burrows is obviously in decline and has two seasons left on his contract. I doubt there’s much interest in him. 

Hodgson a buyout candidate?

WGR550: Paul Hamilton reports Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray said a buyout for center Cody Hodgson is still a decision. Hodgson is currently in Sweden working to improve his skating.

TSN 1060 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie observes the Sabres haven’t unequivocally said they’re buying out Hodgson but “if I’m reading between the lines there it sure sounds like he’s going to get bought out.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because Hodgson is under-26, a buyout counts as one-third the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure of his contract. He has four seasons remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.  While that means paying him out over 8 years, the annual cap hit isn’t that bad. Still, perhaps they should give him another season to see if his performance improves under a new coach and with new linemates. We’ll learn his fate by June 30. 

Latest on the Stars.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika lists Washington’s Mike Green, Nashville’s Cody Franson, Boston’s Adam McQuaid, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya and Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin as this summer’s best UFA defensemen and examines if any of them are a good fit with the Stars.

WFAA SPORTS: Josh Lile observes the Stars could have over $16 million in cap space to put toward roster improvements for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling for next season. As for the Stars defense options, Martin could be the best fit in terms of experience, skills and blueline stability. However, he’s a left-handed shot and the Stars could use another right hander. Franson would fit the bill in that regard, though his overall defensive skills aren’t as strong as Martin’s.