Latest on Jason Spezza, Jarome Iginla, Mikhail Grabovski, Thomas Vanek, Paul Stastny, Nikolai Kulemin and more.
OTTAWA CITIZEN/OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren and Bruce Garrioch report the Senators had a disappointing evening as they were unable to find a deal in the opening round of the NHL Draft for center Jason Spezza. The 31-year-old’s salary ($7 million cap hit) and contract status were the reported sticking points. No one was willing to part with a first-round pick as part of the return for Spezza. It’s possible Spezza’s status could drag on beyond July 1, the opening date of the UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I confess to being surprised Ryan Kesler moved before Spezza, as there were more potential destinations for the latter. The Senators can still move him but they’ll have to go to “Plan B”. As getting a first-round pick is out, they can try to land a couple of players and a prospect, a player, top prospect and a first-round pick in 2015, or a player and a couple of prospects. A deal is there to be made, but it could take until after the dust settles following the start of the UFA market to sort one out. I believe the Senators remain determined to move Spezza this summer, rather than have his status hang over the club next season.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports the lower-than-expected salary cap increase for next season ($69 milion) puts the Blackhawks over the cap ceiling, necessitating dumping some salary this summer. Lazerus claims the Blackhawks want to move Johnny Oduya’s $3.375 million salary, while GM Stan Bowman remained mum on Patrick Sharp’s trade status, despite Sharp’s agent claiming Bowman told him the winger wasn’t on the market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Blackhawks won’t have to cut nearly half their roster as they did four years ago, they are currently perched just over the cap ceiling. They have no choice but to trade one or two players to become cap compliant before next season. And if they want to bring in a second-line center, it’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap, or by getting the other club to pick up part of their trade target’s salary.
BOSTON GLOBE/CSNNE.COM: The lower-than projected cap ceiling is also bad news for the Boston Bruins, who already had limited cap space and face a $4.75 million bonus overage penalty. It could adversely affect their efforts to re-sign Jarome Iginla. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($3.36 million) and center Chris Kelly ($3 million) could be trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have no choice. With only $1.6 million in cap space, they must shed salary if they’re to re-sign RFAs like Reilly Smith and Torey Krug, let alone re-sign or replace Iginla.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The interest in Thornton is meaningless if Thornton isn’t willing to waive his movement clause. While the Stars have interest in Stastny, I’m not sure they’re willing to engage in a bidding war for him, especially if its over $6 million per season.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild met with Matt Niskanen and reportedly still have interest in Thomas Vanek, who they would like to sign to a one- to three-year deal.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: For Daniel Alfredsson, it’s the Red Wings or retirement.
WASHINGTON POST: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan claims money is “a little prohibitive right now” in his efforts to re-sign Mikhail Grabovski, who is believed seeking up to $5 million per season.
TORONTO SUN: The Pittsburgh Penguins could have interest in signing Leafs pending UFA winger Nikolai Kulemin, who’s a friend of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.
NJ.COM: Pending UFA defenseman Mark Fayne seems unlikely to return to the Devils.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets could have interest in bringing back gritty forward Tanner Glass.