Updates on the Blackhawks and Stars, plus the latest on Mike Richards, Dougie Hamilton, Braden Holtby, Antti Niemi and Jack Eichel.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: While the Blackhawks celebrate their latest championship, they’re aware that significant roster changes could be coming very soon. Pressed for salary cap space for next season, management will be forced to move a couple of players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell (combined annual cap hit of $9.9 million) could be traded as early as this week.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Nothing new to report regarding contract talks between the Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all the focus on Boston’s Dougie Hamilton and Chicago’s Brandon Saad possibly receiving offer sheets, I wonder if a rival GM might try the same with Holtby?
LA KINGS INSIDER: Jon Rosen reports getting a “strong feeling, through multiple channels” that there aren’t any viable suitors stepping forward for Kings center Mike Richards, who the club wants to move to free up cap space. Rosen anticipates a buyout appears more likely before the end of June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For months, I’ve said the combination of the decline in Richards’ play and his $5.75 million annual cap hit makes him difficult to trade. If he is bought out, I won’t be surprised.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty believes Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton will be an elite defenseman one day but he’s not there yet, and thus shouldn’t be paid comparable to St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo or LA’s Drew Doughty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. Hamilton is coming off an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. If his camp truly seeks a big-money deal, the only leverage they have is hope to receive an offer sheet from a rival club or stage a holdout next season. Otherwise, he could receive an affordable two- or three-year bridge deal.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Sharks GM Doug Wilson isn’t ruling out UFA goalie Antti Niemi returning next season.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Jack Eichel could become the first second overall pick in a quarter century to have an immediate impact in the NHL.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars have a recent history of drafting poorly in the opening round of the NHL draft. GM Jim Nill hopes to reverse that.