The Penguins struggles in the Eastern Conference Final has sparked speculation over Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury, Sergei Gonchar could be leaving the NHL, and the Oilers could part ways with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.
SPORTSNET.CA: Chris Johnston reports the Penguins could face a roster shakeup if they’re swept from the Eastern Conference Final. He considers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin “untouchables”, but notes the Penguins cannot afford to retain all their free agents this summer (“Pascal Dupuis, Jarome Iginla, and Matt Cooke among them”) and with Malkin and Kris Letang due extensions, suggests trades “are a possibility as well”.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jason Brough cited a “tweet” from TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming “some think Malkin becomes a trade target”. Brough also wondered what could happen with Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Dejan Kovacevic interprets coach Dan Bylsma’s decision to stick with Tomas Vokoun for Game Three over Marc-Andre Fleury suggests the club no longer trusts Fleury. He speculates they could move the remaining two years (at $5 million per season) of Fleury’s contract, stick with the more affordable ($2 million next season) Vokoun and bring in an affordable backup who could eventually take over from Vokoun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $7.8 million in projected cap space for next season, but considerably more for 2014-15 ($39.7 million if the salary cap for 2014-15 were $64.3 million), so re-signing Malkin and Letang shouldn’t be an issue. Indeed, I’ll be shocked if they don’t re-sign either guy. I assume they’ll try to re-sign Dupuis, but it’ll take more than the $1.5 million per season he made on his current contract, and will eat up most of their current cap space. If they use a compliance buyout for Fleury, they’ll free up $5.5 million to re-sign key players and perhaps add a promising goalie. I don’t believe Iginla, Morrow, Murray or Cooke will be re-signed. Moving out Fleury, via trade or buyout, appears the logical choice.
YAHOO! SPORTS Dmitry Chesnokov yesterday reported Ottawa Senators pending UFA blueliner Sergei Gonchar was close to moving to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported sources claiming the Metallurg offer could be “north of $7 million per season”, but his agent denied anything was signed, adding his client still wants to play in the NHL. The Senators would like to re-sign him but for less than the $5.5 million per season he made on his current contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the 39-year-old Gonchar finds a deal worth as much as he made on his current contract in the NHL, let alone one as lucrative as being offered by Mettalurg. If he wants to stay in the NHL, especially with the Sens, he’ll have to accept under $5 million per, and on a short term deal (one or two years).
SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector reports Edmonton Oilers new GM Craig MacTavish is prepared to move captain Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, though he’d welcome them back if the right trade doesn’t present itself. MacTavish also said Nikolai Khabibulin won’t be returning as Devan Dubnyk’s backup.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis speculates over trade destinations for Hemsky, citing the Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators as possibilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sticking point is salary. Horcoff has two years at $5.5 million per remaining on his contract, Hemsky one year at $5 million. The Oilers might have to eat some of that salary to move either guy via trade. Regardless, I expect MacTavish will be actively shopping both guys in the off-season.