Latest on Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar, Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Justin Abdelkader, plus updates on the Ducks, Blue Jackets and Flames.

Status of Stamkos, Kopitar, Staal, Skinner and more.

USA TODAY: TSN insider Bob McKenzie appeared on USA Today’s “Top Shelf” Podcast to discuss some of the early-season NHL storylines. Among the highlights:

McKenzie believes Anze Kopitar will re-sign with the Los Angeles Kings before Steven Stamkos re-signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He believes Kopitar seeks $10 million annually, but thinks Kings management will try to talk him down to $9 million to leave some cap space to re-sign players like Tyler Toffoli.

Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal are frequently popping up in the rumor mill.

Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal are frequently popping up in the rumor mill.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Kopitar, we’ve at least heard some updates on his contract talks in recent weeks, including the team’s director of hockey ops telling Hockey Central at Noon both sides are getting close to a deal. With Stamkos, it’s like a cone of silence has descended over his contract negotiations. Maybe they’re talking, maybe they aren’t. 

No further word on Eric Staal’s contract status with the Carolina Hurricanes. If the two sides agree to part ways by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, Staal will be an attractive playoff rental player.

Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murrray was trying to make a trade, but wasn’t receiving worthwhile offers. Murray’s on record saying he won’t make any rash changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, there’s nothing in the trade market right now that can help the Ducks. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets would like to make a move to improve their defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Obviously there’s currently not much out there in the trade market to bolster their blueline. 


McKenzie believes the trade market could start to pick up around American Thanksgiving (late-November).

TSN: McKenzie also reported on the struggles of Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner, noting his name has come up recently in trade rumors. While the Hurricanes don’t appear to be shopping Skinner, it’s though they could move him for the right price. However, McKenzie notes teams aren’t likely lining up to take on a young, struggling player with a concussion history and a big contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Hurricanes are willing to pick up a big chunk of Skinner’s $5.75 million cap hit, they’re stuck with him. And considering his contract runs through 2018-19, I’d say they’re stuck with him even if they were willing to pick up part of that cap hit. Either that, or they take back a toxic contract in return. 

Updates on the Red Wings and Flames.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports a source claiming the Detroit Red Wings are close to re-signing winger Justin Abdelkader to a long-term contract extension. Abdelkader, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. The deal is expected to be longer than four years and worth over $4 million per season. His current cap hit is $1.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will be quite a raise for Abdelkader, who had a breakout performance (44 points in 71 games) last season. Going over $4 million annually seems high, until one remembers his actual salary for this season is $2.2 million. Judging by Khan’s estimates, it could be a five-year, $22 million contract, at around an annual cap hit of $4.4 million. So, what do you think, folks? Fair deal, or too much?

CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports Flames GM Brad Treliving has been scouring the league to bolster his struggling roster, but he feels it is up to the current players to dig themselves out of their current mess. “We’re banging on every door we can, but we can’t mortgage the future,” said Treliving.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no outside help coming for the Flames, at least not at this point in the season. The current roster will sink or swim together.