The NHL holiday trade freeze is now in effect (until Dec. 27), but that hasn’t stopped the trade rumors. Check out your Sunday roundup.
Updates on Stamkos and Kopitar.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos addressed the rising tide of speculation about his future, stating he wants to remain with the Lightning. Eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, Stamkos said he believes an extension can be worked out, claimed his agents and Lightning management have been discussing a new deal and dismissed speculation of a rift with head coach Jon Cooper. “Not even close. That’s why people say, ‘I’ve got a feeling. I think, speculate, there’s so much information out there that’s probably false. Like the ones about my parents moving to Tampa (which Stamkos said is not true). That just comes with the territory”, said Stamkos.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stamkos speculation reached a fever pitch last week during the Lightning’s visit to face the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Until then, he seemed willing to ignore it, but the blizzard of “Stamkos could bolt the Lightning” stories out of Toronto likely prompted him to finally speak out. Yes, it’s possible he could depart via free agency, but it’s also possible he could re-sign with them. Remember, free agency isn’t until July. There’s a long way to go before then.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Los Angeles Kings are getting closer to a new contract with center Anze Kopitar. One of the hangups was over a no-trade or no-movement clause, but it’s now believed that’s been resolved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun claims it’s an eight-year deal worth around $9.75 million per season. Sounds like it could be announced in early-January, if not sooner.
Highlights from Garrioch’s “Insider Trading.”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Pittsburgh Penguins have been listening to offers for winger Chris Kunitz. He also notes winger David Perron is a UFA next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kunitz is 36, earning over $3.8 million annually through 2016-17 and his production’s been in steady decline. Perron’s younger (27) and more affordable as his contract expires at season’s end, but his output this season also leaves much to be desired.
Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving and Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic were busy shopping for help earlier this season. In the wake of their respective club’s recent improvement, however, they’ve backed off. Treliving is still believed seeking goaltending help but the options are limited.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were linked to Maple Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier. However, he’s carrying a $4.15 million cap hit through next season and the Flames have a lot of key players to re-sign. Not sure if he’s a fit there.
Once the LA Kings re-sign Anze Kopitar, it’s expected they’ll focus on re-signing left wing Milan Lucic.
The Winnipeg Jets still aren’t close to re-signing free agents Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba and no one is happy that their salary demands got leaked to the press last week.
The Jets and Minnesota Wild are among the clubs believed “kicking the tires” on Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen. The Jackets aren’t shopping Johansen but they are listening to offers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansen’s affordable ($4 million annually) for now, but his actual salary for next season is $6 million, which is also what it’ll cost to qualify his rights in 2017, plus he’s bound to seek a raise over that. Given the Jets are a budget club, I doubt they’re too seriously interested in him.
It’s believed forward Patrick Marleau will finish this season with the San Jose Sharks and could be playing for them next season as well. His no-movement clause and expensive contract makes him difficult to trade.
Johansen to the Predators?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman notes the Nashville Predators have been linked to Columbus center Ryan Johansen. Predators want to add a piece up front this season but they don’t want to part with one of their top-three defensemen.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wonders if a Johansen to Nashville for young blueliner Seth Jones might work.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace warns trading Johansen could have negative consequences for the Blue Jackets, pointing out how the Boston Bruins dealing away Joe Thornton and Tyler Seguin backfired on that club. While acknowledging Johansen needs to take responsibility for his poor play, he also blames his teammates and a lack of leadership in the dressing room for not motivating the young center to elevate his game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Preds aren’t willing to part with Jones, Shea Weber or Roman Josi, Johansen won’t be going to Nashville.