Does Milan Lucic have a long-term future with the Los Angeles Kings? What’s the latest on Carolina Hurricanes’ stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward?
Lucic a short-term pickup for the Kings?
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa recently speculated Milan Lucic might not have a long-term future with the Los Angeles Kings. Acquired from the Boston Bruins in June, Lucic is eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. The Kings, however, must re-sign top center Anze Kopitar before his eligibility for UFA status next summer. They also must retain forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who will be RFAs in 2017. Given the Kings limited cap space and a slow-rising cap ceiling, Shinzawa believes Lucic is a secondary concern.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings currently have over $49 million invested in just 14 players for 2016-17, but that’s not counting Slava Voynov’s $4.166 million cap hit or Mike Richards’ salary-cap recapture penalty. It could cost over $9 million annually to re-sign Kopitar, Factoring in the long-term cost of retaining Toffoli and Pearson, the Kings must shed salary if they hope to re-sign Lucic. If they’re out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, it wouldn’t be surprising if Lucic gets shopped.
Update on Staal and Ward.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward still lack new contracts, leaving them in limbo heading into the final season of their current deals. Both are eligible for UFA status next July. While talks are amiable between Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and agent Rick Curran (who represents both players), they are no closer to a resolution. A stumbling block could be Peter Karmanos Jr’s efforts to sell a portion of his ownership of the team, though Francis denies that has any bearing on contract negotiations. DeCock also reports of persistent rumors linking the Hurricanes to Quebec City.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s seems increasingly likely Staal and Ward will start the season with their futures in Carolina still uncertain. That’ll ensure both players remain hot topics in this season’s trade rumor mill, especially if the Hurricanes fail to make any noticeable improvement. As DeCock notes, the longer Karmanos seeks a buyer willing to allow him to retain control of the franchise, the more uncertainty will affect Staal and Ward’s contract status and the club’s future in Carolina.