Updates on Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Mikkel Boedker and Mike Richards in your NHL rumor mill.
Latest on Stamkos, Kucherov and Boedker.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance reports the decision by Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper to shift captain Steven Stamkos from center to left wing is another consideration to add to Stamkos “very complicated” contract debate. Custance believes Stamkos wants to win a Stanley Cup, but wonders if there “may be some convincing to do that his best route to win one long term is away from his natural position — and in Tampa Bay.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Stamkos remains unsigned in January, expect his name to appear more frequently in trade speculation. Unless the Bolts fall completely out of playoff contention or Stamkos demands a trade (two thing I don’t foresee happening), I don’t believe he’ll be traded. The Lightning hope to push for another run to the Cup Final. Their chances of doing so are better with Stamkos in the lineup.
Custance adds Stamkos’ contract situation is holding up other deals, like re-signing winger Nikita Kucherov, who’s due to become a restricted free agent at season’s end. There’s been no contract talks between the Lightning and Kucherov, though that’s expected to change once Stamkos’ contract situation is sorted out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything’s pretty much on hold until the Stamkos situation is sorted out. Kucherov is a restricted free agent so there’s no rush to re-sign him right now.
If the Arizona Coyotes decline to the point where they’re eligible for a lottery pick in the 2016 NHL draft, Custance speculates right wing and pending UFA Mikkel Boedker could be shopped by the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s certainly possible, perhaps another situation like Antoine Vermette last season, where they traded him before the deadline for a good return and then brought him back months later via free agency. Then again,
Vermette’s Boedker’s still a young player (he turns 26 this month) and is blossoming into a reliable offensive forward. They could be inclined to keep him instead of losing him to the UFA market. Still, it’ll depend upon his salary demands. I’m guessing it’ll take around $5.5 million annually on a long-term deal to re-sign him.
An update on Mike Richards.
SPORTSNET: Damien Cox reports former Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards has a court date this week regarding an incident last June at a U.S.-Canada border checkpoint. Once it’s completed, Richards will have a meeting with the NHL brass and could face suspension. If he isn’t, several NHL clubs could be interested in signing him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the outcome of Richards’ trial for possession of a controlled substance doesn’t effect his efforts to work in Canada or the US, and if the league doesn’t suspend it, it wouldn’t surprise me if a playoff contender inked him to a very cheap one-year deal. While his play is obviously in decline, someone is bound to take a chance on him.