The NHL free-agent market opens on July 1. Here’s the latest on the Penguin, Avalanche, Sabres, Canucks, Red Wings and Canadiens.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t ruling out dipping into this summer’s limited free agent market. Rutherford admits what he does will depend upon what moves he makes (or doesn’t make) leading up to July 1. The Penguins GM seeks a top-six scoring winger and isn’t ruling out adding one via free agency if he cannot land one via trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The UFA options are limited for the Penguins. Matt Beleskey, Drew Stafford and Michael Frolik could be the best of the bunch. There was also speculation linking the Pens to the aging Martin St. Louis.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports pending UFA defenseman Mike Green interests the Red Wings because he’s a productive right-handed shot. However, it’ll likely cost between $5-$6 million per season to sign him, which is too expensive for the Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have also been linked to Cody Franson, who could be a more affordable option. Still, they might look toward the trade market if a better option can be found.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin claims he made his free-agent signings by retaining Jeff Petry and Torrey Mitchell. We’ll find out soon enough if his recent buyout of Parenteau is clearing the decks for a UFA addition or perhaps to add a scorer via trade.
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports the Colorado Avalanche are hoping to sign a left-shooting free-agent defenseman or two to bolster their blueline. Chambers cites Andrej Sekera, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya and Matt Irwin as possibilities.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres GM Tim Murray hopes to add a veteran defenseman via trade or free agency. Vogl lists Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin, Francois Beauchemin, Barret Jackman and former Sabre Andrej Sekera among their options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Sabres have noticeably boosted their roster thus far, replaced their coaching staff, possess plenty of cap space and a willingness to spend, Murray might still have difficulty convincing one of these UFAs to join his rebuilding club. The club’s recent struggles (including accusations they tanked the season in a failed attempt to land the first overall pick) isn’t a strong selling point.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning ruled out pursuing any high-end UFAs this year. Benning made a splash last summer by signing Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata. However, he isn’t ruling out an affordable addition if the right one can be found. Kuzma cites the Canucks defense as a weak point, suggesting Boston’s Matt Bartkowski (who Benning knows from his days as the Bruins assistant GM) and San Jose’s Matt Irwin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Benning can ship out Kevin Bieksa’s $4.6 million cap hit for next season before July 1, that will give him over $10 million in cap space. That will give him more dollars to perhaps invest in a slightly more expensive (but not a cap buster) blueline addition.