The latest on Matt Duchene, Pavel Datsyuk, Milan Lucic, Steven Stamkos and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

Update on Lucic’s contract negotiations.

Contract talks continue between the Kings and Milan Lucic.

Contract talks continue between the Kings and Milan Lucic.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Los Angeles Kings and pending UFA left wing Milan Lucic have had contract talks for a month but have yet to reach an agreement on a new deal. He speculates talks could be set aside once the playoffs begin. LeBrun also claims it appears a sizeable gap remains between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun notes, it’s the Kings lack of cap space for next season that’s the problem. Lucic loves playing in Los Angeles, but he might have to leave some money on the table if he hopes to land a long-term deal with the Kings, or they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for his raise. 

Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”

SPORTSNET:  Elliotte Friedman touched upon Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy’s criticism of center Matt Duchene’s celebration of his 30th goal of the season during a 5-1 loss to St. Louis. Friedman feels any decision on Duchene won’t be a “rush job”. He notes when Duchene’s name popped up in trade rumors earlier this season, the Avs made it clear he won’t be moved unless the return makes sense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Terry Frei reports Roy and Duchene discussed the goal celebration incident and cleared the air, with the center claiming it’s not an issue going forward. If so, that should bring an end to the trade speculation. Still, don’t be surprised if the incident and the earlier trade rumors abut Duchene crop up again heading toward the NHL Draft weekend this June.  

The agent for former Nashville Predators winger Alex Radulov is gauging interest in his client around the NHL. “Everyone assumes Colorado, but there are more teams.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The link with the Avalanche is because Radulov played for coach Patrick Roy during their years with the Quebec Remparts. However, Radulov won’t help them address their porous defense, which is their biggest area of concern for next season. As for other teams, I’m sure they’ll only be interested if Radulov accepts a very cheap, one-year “show-me” contract. Yes, Radulov has put up good numbers in the KHL and had decent stats during his earlier NHL tenure. He also has a reputation as a selfish, one-dimensional player, and his disastrous return with the Predators in 2012 doesn’t help his value. 

If Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk decides to return to Russia next season, Friedman is among those who feel the Wings could get cap relief by shipping the remaining season of Datsyuk’s contract ($7.5 million cap hit) to a club in need of reaching the salary-cap floor. He also suggested the NHL and the Wings could try blocking Datsyuk’s move back to Russia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given all Datsyuk’s given to the Wings during his career,  I doubt they try to stop him from going home to Russia.

If the Tampa Bay Lightning are unable to re-sign Steven Stamkos, Friedman suggests they could try to trade him before July 1, hoping the opportunity to re-sign him to an eight-year deal (compared to seven if he becomes a UFA) might prove attractive. Given Stamkos’ recent vascular surgery, interested teams will want a chance to have their doctors examine him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos’ recent surgery adds to the uncertainty over his future. If the Bolts can’t re-sign Stamkos, I believe they will try to shop him. If so, I don’t see why interested clubs wouldn’t be given the opportunity to give Stamkos a medical exam. 

Sabres shopping list.

WGR550: In assessment the Buffalo Sabres season, Howard Simon reports GM Tim Murray “still needs to improve the offense by bringing in another scoring winger for one of the top two lines and another top four defenseman would be nice too.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Murray to have another busy summer as he continues to rebuild the Sabres. He has plenty of depth in draft picks and prospects to use as trade bait, as well as sufficient salary-cap space to dive into this summer’s deep UFA pool.