Buyout candidates, updates on the Sharks, Flames and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox lists Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jared Cowen, Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell, Dallas Stars goalies Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi, Edmonton Oilers blueliner Andrew Ference, Florida Panthers center Dave Bolland, Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown, Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek, Philadelphia Flyers forward R.J. Umberger, Vancouver Canucks right wing Alex Burrows and forward Chris Higgins, Nashville Predators forward Eric Nystrom, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman as possible buyout candidates.
Of these, Fox expects Cowen and Bickell are certainties to receive buyouts. He points out Ference and Bolland must pass medicals first or they cannot be bought out. Fox also notes Stars GM Jim Nill is expected to stick with his goaltending duo for another season but doesn’t rule out Nill exploring the possibility of an upgrade between the pipes.
The Wild could look to new head coach Bruce Boudreau to reinvigorate the struggling Vanek. The Predators will try to trade Nystrom first. Buying out Wideman could be an option for the Flames if they need to free up cap room to re-sign young stars such as Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan plus add a goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cowen, Bickell, Umberger, Burrows, Higgins and Nystrom are most likely to be bought out before the 5 pm ET deadline on June 30. Nill’s remarks about keeping his tandem intact makes it unlikely Lehtonen or Niemi are bought out. If Ference and Bolland are given clean bills of health, they’ll be bought out. I thought Vanek was a certainty to receive a buyout but their hiring of Boudreau could change things. Brown is simply too expensive for the Kings to buy out. I expect the Blue Jackets will push hard to trade Tyutin, even if it means holding part of his salary. The Flames will likely return with Wideman unless they can find a club willing to pick up the final season of his contract.
Will Thornton and Marleau return with the Sharks?
THE MERCURY NEWS: Jon Wilner reports long-time San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau intend to return with the club next season. Both have a year left on their respective contracts and carry full no-movement clauses. “Marleau was the subject of trade rumors during the season, with Los Angeles, Anaheim and the New York Rangers identified as teams he would consider joining.”
CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz also noted Marleau’s reported trade request last November, though the talk subsided over the course of the season. “Is it his first choice to be a Shark? “Yeah.” It was concise – not atypical for Marleau – but still not overly convincing,” writes Kurz, who noted the veteran forward at times didn’t appear to see eye-to-eye with head coach Peter DeBoer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season so he’s not going anywhere. And if Marleau wants to return for another season, there’s nothing the Sharks can do about it.
Update on the Flames.
CALGARY SUN: Flames GM Brad Treliving said he’s narrowing down the field of choices to fill the vacant position of head coach. “Reports out of Vancouver’s TSN 1040 radio suggest that Treliving’s final three candidates were Canucks assistant coach Glen Gulutzan, Randy Carlyle, and Washington Capitals assistant Todd Reirden. However, Carlyle appears to be out of the running with reports Monday that the Anaheim Ducks were on the verge of hiring him.”