Latest on Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, Jared Cowen, Mike Hoffman, Scott Hartnell and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from TSN’s latest “Insider Trading.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Los Angeles Kings and the agent for pending UFA left wing Milan Lucic have exchanged contract proposals, noting the two sides are in the early stages of negotiations. Citing the Kings’ limited salary-cap space, LeBrun suggests talks could be lengthy, noting the amount of time it took to get Anze Kopitar under contract earlier this season. However, Lucic has a genuine desire to re-sign with the Kings and they believe he’s a great player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie also thinks the Kings and Lucic can get a deal done before his UFA eligibility in July. There was some talk of Lucic perhaps signing with the Vancouver Canucks if a deal falls through with the Kings, who have over $64 million invested in next season’s cap payroll. That will be reduced by over $2 million when Vincent Lecavalier retires at season’s end. Still, with Lucic coming off a three-year, $18 million deal, he’ll be a tight fit even if he’s willing to accept less money to stay in Los Angeles. The Canucks could be Lucic’s plan B, though signing him would push their payroll to around $65 million for 2016-17
Darren Dreger reports there’s been some “back and forth” between pending UFA right wing Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders, but they don’t appear to be even close to a deal. It’s more likely Okposo will test the free-agent market in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo could seek over $6 million annually on an eight-year deal, a significant boost in salary over his current $2.8 million annual cap hit. I think he’s playing his final season for the Isles. Despite Okposo’s speculated asking price, there will be considerable interest in him this summer.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jared Cowen won’t be filing a grievance against the club for sending him home to ensure he remains healthy for a contract buyout in June. He’s also been given permission to speak with other clubs regarding a new contract, but his agent doesn’t intend to do so until season’s end for most clubs.
The possibility of a flat salary-cap next season contributed to the trade market fizzling out by the deadline. Friedman cites last summer’s trades involving younger players like Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad, suggesting teams interested in pursuing young players on clubs in need of shedding salary this summer were saving their trade assets. Friedman speculates one of those players could be Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, though his improvement of late also makes him worthwhile for the Habs to retain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton and Saad were restricted free agents last summer, while Galchenyuk has another year at an affordable $2.8 million remaining on his contract. Until a few weeks ago, I had a feeling Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin might be running out of patience with Galchenyuk. However, in his last seven games, the youngster has nine goals and an assist. He’s finally getting more playing time at center. The Habs aren’t likely to get equal value by trading him. Unless Bergevin’s gets an offer too good to pass up, he’ll likely stick with Galchenyuk next season.
Friedman speculates pending restricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman could be playing his final games for the Ottawa Senators, who is a year away from UFA status and has arbitration rights this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s also been in head coach Dave Cameron’s doghouse in recent weeks. Considering the Senators are usually a budget team, it wouldn’t be surprising if they shop Hoffman in June for a more affordable player.
Lots of trade rumors involving Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Scott Hartnell leading up to the deadline but Friedman doubts there was anything close to a deal. The Blue Jackets apparently weren’t interested in a salary-for-salary swap. The Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins were believed to be interested but ultimately backed away. Hartnell has a no-movement clause and would’ve had to approve a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartnell’s contract ($4.75 million annually through 2018-19) is difficult to move but not impossible. As I frequently said leading up to the trade deadline. tradiing a contract like his usually takes place in the offseason. Don’t be surprised if the Hartnell trade rumors flash up again by mid-June.
Friedman wonders if an NHL GM tried to acquire both Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes. Boedker was eventually dealt to the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline.