A call for Bruins management not to break up their core, potential goalie options for the Lightning, and the Penguins likely intentions for their top three centers.
BOSTON HERALD: Ron Borges calls on Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to follow the example of the NFL’s New England Patriots and keep his core intact.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently reported a rejuvenated Brian Rolston wouldn’t mind returning with the Bruins next season. Rolston is eligible for UFA status this summer, and many believe he could retire if he’s unsigned.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli is one of the more patient GMs in the league, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he returns next season with his core intact. As for Rolston, while it’s possible Chiarelli could see him in a leadership role similar to that of Mark Recchi, I think the Bruins GM will be looking for a younger forward this summer.
TAMPA BAY TIMES/TBO.COM: considered the available goaltending options for the Tampa Bay Lightning, including Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun, Jonathan Bernier, Anders Lindback, and Josh Harding.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, it’s possible the Lightning could acquire Luongo, but as I’ve noted before, even if ownership is willing to spend up to the cap ceiling, adding Luongo would tie up over $30 million in just five players, so they’ll have to dump one of their high-salaried players. Yes, I know, everyone believes Ryan Malone is the obvious choice, but from all accounts, GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Guy Boucher like what Malone brings to the team. Thomas would be a good one-year option, provided the Bruins are willing to part with him, but the 38-year-old isn’t a long-term solution. Vokoun would be a more affordable option, but his performance in Washington suggests he’s on the downside of his career. Bernier and Lindback have promise, but have yet to prove themselves as NHL starters. Harding, of course, has that long injury history, so buyer beware. It’s going to be interesting to see what move Yzerman makes to address this situation.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Rob Rossi believes the Penguins have little choice but to stick with their model of paying for premium talent (Crosby, Malkin and Staal) and hope they carry the club to the playoffs. Acknowledging the speculation around the league suggesting the Penguins might be forced to move one of their “big three” centers (Staal considered the most likely to be dealt), Rossi believes a move away from that format “probably isn’t in the offing because of the limited impact made by players picked in Shero’s first three drafts.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem, however, is Crosby, Malkin and Staal will all be due raises over their current annual salaries over the next two years. Currently, the Penguins have $21.4 million invested in the trio each season, as Crosby and Malkin each earn $8.7 million per season, and Staal makes $4 million per. Even if Crosby and Malkin were to accept a little less than market value, both could seek $10 million per season, while Staal could easily make over $6 million on the open market next summer. Though I believe the Penguins will do everything they can to keep this trio (hell, why wouldn’t they?), unless they can shed some salary elsewhere, it could prove difficult to retain their big three long-term. If there’s an amnesty buyout period in the next CBA, don’t be surprised if they use it to dump the remainder of defenseman Paul Martin’s $5 million per season contract.