Latest on Eric Staal, Derek Stepan, Johnny Oduya and Joffrey Lupul. 

Should the Hurricanes trade Eric Staal?

Time for Eric Staal and the Hurricanes to part ways?

Time for Eric Staal and the Hurricanes to part ways?

TSN: In a discussion on Eric Staal’s future on “That’s Hockey”, Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless suggested it’s time for Staal to move on from the Carolina Hurricanes. Lawless believes the 31-year-old has been in a funk of late because of the Hurricanes’ lack of quality depth and feels Staal would be best served by playing with a better club. He thinks the Hurricanes could get a top-line player, top prospect and a high pick in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. He and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis must decide if he still has a future with the Hurricanes. More importantly, they’ll have to work out how much it’ll cost to keep him in Carolina and for how long.

Staal’s current cap hit is $8.25 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $9.5 million next season. He will have to take a significant pay cut on perhaps a four-year deal to remain a Hurricane.

So far, there’s been no news out of Carolina regarding Staal’s status. It’s possible he and Francis could see how next season unfolds before getting down to serious discussions. That could mean the earliest Staal might hit the trade market (if at all) is within a month of next season’s NHL trade deadline. 

Showdown coming between Rangers and Stepan?

CBS NEW YORK: Sean Hartnett reports a showdown could be coming between New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton and center Derek Stepan, whose arbitration hearing is set for July 27. The Rangers only have roughly $10 million in cap space for Stepan, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Emerson Etem (Note: Etem was re-signed yesterday to a salary worth over $800K). If this goes to arbitration and Stepan receives a $7 million salary, it could force the Blueshirts to trade him. They could also retain Stepan at his new salary and instead ship out other players to free up cap space, like blueliner Kevin Klein.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could also re-sign Stepan to a front-loaded long-term deal worth between $6 – $6.5 million. Even so, that’s going to take up a lot of cap room. A salary-dumping deal involving another Ranger later this summer shouldn’t be ruled out, though it remains to be seen if Klein becomes that trade option.

Stars in on Oduya?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the Dallas Stars are among a handful of teams interested in free-agent defenseman Johnny Oduya, who won’t be returning to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets are also believed to have interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Add the Boston Bruins to that list as well. Oduya is reportedly close to deciding which club he’ll sign with. Hopefully, we’ll find out his decision before the end of this week. 

Isles interested in Lupul?

NHL.com’s Brian Compton was asked by a reader if there was any truth to rumors claiming the New York Islanders had interest in Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul. “First I’m hearing about it, so probably not,” replied Compton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also the first I heard of it. Considering the Isles depth on both wings, and with promising Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang in their system, I don’t see any reason why the Isles need an expensive, oft-injured winger like Lupul.