Latest on Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Patrick Sharp, Kyle Okposo, plus a list of possible NHL buyout candidates.
Okposo on the trade block?
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports Kyle Okposo, “who is entering the final season of a five-year, $14-million contract, could be on the trading block, according to two league sources outside the Islanders’ organization.” Though Okposo is coming off the best back-to-back performances of his career, Staple speculates GM Garth Snow might be unwilling to invest in a long-term deal for the 27-year-old, who becomes a UFA next summer. Though no deal appears imminent, Okposo’s $2.8 million cap hit for next season could prove attractive to cap-strapped clubs. Staple speculates Okposo could seek a six- or seven-year deal worth $7 million annually next summer It’s also believed Snow is shopping veteran winger Michael Grabner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Staple points out, the Isles don’t have any selections until 72nd overall in this year’s draft, so Snow could be looking to acquire picks in the first and second round as part of a return for Okposo or Grabner. It would certainly be a bold move by Snow to trade Okposo, one which might not sit well with Isles fans, but Snow has proven willing to make big, sometimes surprising deals. The Islanders do have some depth on right wing with 21-year-old emerging star Ryan Strome and the versatile Josh Bailey, plus the promising Josh Ho-Sang in their system. If Okposo’s available, there will be considerable interest in him.
Latest on Kessel, Phaneuf and Tarasenko.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons claims he’s hearing Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan “doesn’t love Phil Kessel” and neither does new Leafs coach Mike Babcock. They want Kessel traded but won’t just give him away. Both, however, “don’t dislike” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf…Simmons also suggests if he were an NHL GM, he’s pitch an offer sheet to St. Louis Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko, as the Blues “aren’t exactly known for paying big bucks.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs aren’t willing to accept a lesser return for Kessel (and they certainly shouldn’t), he’ll be skating for Toronto next season, regardless of what Shanahan and Babcock may or may not think of him. Same goes for Phaneuf…Blues aren’t exactly known for paying big bucks? That’ll come as a surprise to Paul Stastny and Alex Pietrangelo.
Penguins, Islanders looking at Sharp?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford “will sure try” to land Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp. He also speculates the New York Islanders could have their eye on Sharp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have depth in young, affordable defense prospects who would interest the ‘Hawks, but they must shed salary if they’re to absorb Sharp’s $5.9 million annual cap hit for the next two years. The Islanders could afford to take on Sharp but that depends upon their plans for Kyle Okposo.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports rumblings out of Chicago suggest the Blackhawks seek “a first-round pick, a top prospect, and an NHL forward on an entry-level contract. That’s best described as absurd.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yep, but you can’t blame Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman for setting a high asking price. I suspect we’ll see that price drop considerably in the coming days or weeks.
Ranking some possible NHL buyout candidates.
CBS SPORTS: Adam Gretz looked at several players who could be considered contract buyout candidates to determine which one is most likely to receive one. He doesn’t believe a buyout of Alexander Semin ($7 million annually for three more years) makes sense for the Carolina Hurricanes. He also doesn’t think it’s a good idea for the LA Kings regarding Mike Richards ($5.75 million annually for five more years) or the Columbus Blue Jackets with David Clarkson (five years, $5.25 million annually). He recommends the Philadelphia Flyers buy out Vincent Lecavalier (three years, $4.5 million annually), the Pittsburgh Penguins buy out Rob Scuderi (though Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he’s not using that option this year on any of his players) and for the Detroit Red Wings with Stephen Weiss (three years, $16 million), and probably a good idea for the Buffalo Sabres with Cody Hodgson (four years, $4.25 million annually).