The latest on Vincent Lecavalier, Kris Letang, Roberto Luongo and Dave Bolland.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports a source claims it’s too early to tell if the Montreal Canadiens have interest in former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, who will be bought out by the club and become an unrestricted free agent on July 5. LeBrun speculates the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs could have interest in Lecavalier.
SPORTING NEWS: Sean Gentille reports Lecavalier hasn’t made up a list yet of preferred destinations, but claimed his door is “open to everybody”.
DETROIT FREE PRESS/MLIVE.COM: Helene St. James and Ansar Khan speculated on the possibility of the Red Wings pursuing Lecavalier as a replacement for Valtteri Filppula, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
TVA SPORTS: speculates on the possibility of Lecavalier returning to Quebec and playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Louis Jean reports he was told Lecavalier is “open and willing to play in Montreal”, but he wants to consider all his opportunities.
LNH.COM: Arpon Basu reports via Twitter Lecavalier doesn’t think he wants a one-year contract. “I’d prefer a contract that can bring me to retirement.”
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Joe Yerdon cited a report from the Tampa Bay Times that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has no plans to use his second compliance buyout for this summer. Yerdon suggests that means winger Ryan Malone, rumored to be a buyout candidate, can breathe easier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Lecavalier, and to a lesser degree Daniel Briere, will certainly spice up this year’s free agent market. The biggest question is how much they’re seeking for salaries, and for how long. Obviously they won’t get the same deals they had with their former clubs, but Lecavalier could seek three-to-five years at between $4-$5 million per, while Briere could get two-three years at $4 million per. Seem expensive? Remember the golden rule of NHL free agency: never underestimate the ability of NHL GMs to succumb to auction fever and overpay for players they really, really want. Where either guy ends up is unclear right now, but with the start of free agency only a week away, the field should narrow considerably in the coming days.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun cited tweets from TSN’s Bob McKenzie in which Kris Letang’s agent denied having any discussion about moving his client to the Toronto Maple Leafs, insisting his camp remains focused on re-signing with the Penguins. Dadoun also cited a tweet from RDS’s Renaud Lavoie stating Letang has no trade preference if he were shopped.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been a backlash toward Pittsburgh Tribune-Review hockey columnist Rob Rossi, who broke the story of Letang’s supposed preference to be deal to the Leafs if unable to get a new contract with the Penguins. I’ve followed Rossi’s work for years and doubt he just made this up. It’ll be interesting to hear his response to this.
NATIONAL POST: The Vancouver Canucks will try to trade Roberto Luongo heading into this weekend’s NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks GM Mike Gillis will be lucky if he finds a trade partner willing to take on the remainder of Luongo’s hefty contract. Gillis will either have to take back a toxic contract, or absorb up to half of Luongo’s remaining salary or cap hit to make a trade now. Otherwise, he’ll have to use a compliance buyout to shed Luongo’s contract.
ESPN CHICAGO: Jesse Rogers reports sources told Pierre LeBrun the Chicago Blackhawks are shopping center Dave Bolland, who scored the Cup clinching goal in Game Six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Rogers expects the savings from moving the remaining year and $3.375 million of Bolland’s contract could be put toward re-signing Bryan Bickell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s what I believe, too. The Blackhawks don’t have to gut their roster to become cap compliant as they did three years ago following their previous Cup win, but they do have to free up some room to retain other key players.