Latest on Jonathan Bernier, Brad Richards, Kris Letang, Roberto Luongo, Alex Pietrangelo, David Clarkson and more.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports five teams (Flyers, Maple Leafs, Islanders, Wild and Panthers) are in the mix for Jonathan Bernier, whom the Kings hope to move for the right deal. The Wild would have interest in Bernier if they cannot re-sign pending UFA Niklas Backstrom, while the Flyers will only buy out Ilya Bryzgalov if they’ve got a “Plan B” in place, like Bernier or Backstrom…Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman acknowledged using his compliance buyouts is something to consider. Local reports suggested captain Vincent Lecavalier could be a compliance buyout candidate…New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello remains committed to re-signing David Clarkson…Blues GM Doug Armstrong warned his fellow GMs not to target his RFAs (Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart) with offer sheets, claiming the Blues can afford to match them…Penguins GM Ray Shero acknowledged contract talks with Kris Letang’s agent have begun…
TSN.CA: LeBrun believes the message Letang’s agent passed to Shero is they won’t accept a dime less than $7 million per season. Darren Dreger, however, suggest Letang could stay for an eight-year deal if the salary starts with a 6 (as in $6.5 million). Dreger also reports the Canucks remain confident they can move Roberto Luongo via trade.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi also reports on Shero opening contract talks with Letang’s agent, noting the defenseman wants to remain with the Penguins. Shero is also involved in discussions with Pascal Dupuis’ agent.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James doubts the Red Wings pursue Letang via trade this summer, as the asking price could prove too expensive in both salary and return to the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero does have the luxury of time with Letang, as he’s not eligible for UFA status until next summer, but the expectation is he won’t hesitate to shop the blueliner in the coming weeks if they can’t reach agreement on the salary. If Letang is dealt, Shero will certainly get a solid return, but the issue still remains about replacing his offensive contributions from the blueline…As for Bernier, I think the Kings will get a good return. The lack of quality goalies in this summer’s UFA market should improve his trade value…Buying out Lecavalier makes the most sense for the Lightning to clear cap space, as I don’t see them moving his hefty contract via trade…Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t bluffing about matching offer sheets for his RFAs, but he’s primarily warning off those with interest in Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk…The Canucks may be confident of trading Luongo now, but that could be put to the test if they haven’t found any takers by the July 4th deadline for compliance buyouts.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports a Flyers source said his team would be very interested in center Brad Richards if the Rangers use their remaining compliance buyout on him. The Flyers intend to use one of theirs on Daniel Briere, but it remains uncertain if they’ll do the same with Ilya Bryzgalov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s speculated the Rangers might hold off on a Richards buyout, as they wish to see if he shows any improvement under new head coach Alain Vigneault. If they do buy him out, a number of clubs would be willing to take a chance on him, albeit on a much shorter, far less expensive contract than his current one.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports limited salary cap space for the Minnesota Wild means there will be trades and potential contract buyouts this summer to become cap compliant for next season. Dany Heatley’s ongoing recovery from late-season shoulder surgery makes him ineligible for a buyout. Pierre-Marc Bouchard will become a UFA this summer, as could Matt Cullen unless some cap space is freed up in the coming weeks. Russo wouldn’t be shocked if Cal Clutterbuck were dealt, and has heard the Wild are shopping center Zenon Konopka. He speculates if defenseman Tom Gilbert isn’t traded, he could be bought out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t put it any better than Russo did. Some changes are coming to the Wild roster, who have just over $6.7 million in cap space and must either replace or re-sign Niklas Backstrom and Matt Cullen. They could trade Dany Heatley, but at this stage in his career, I doubt there’s much interest in him. Gilbert seems a buyout candidate. I would’ve added Devin Setoguchi to that list, but he showed all round improvement as the season went on, so the Wild could retain him in hopes that improvement continues into next season.