The latest on the Penguins, Sharks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Capitals and Wild.
TRIBLIVE.COM: In the wake of the Pittsburgh Penguins humiliating sweep out of the Eastern Conference Final by the Boston Bruins, Rob Rossi believes Penguins GM Ray Shero has little choice “but to take on tough decisions with his roster”. He reports they current have “contracts committed to 18 players at a combined salary-cap hit of about $61 million for next season. The cap is set at $64.3 million.” Rossi noted Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams, along with Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, are UFAs this summer, while Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz will be eligible next summer. He believes a new era is coming for the Penguins, which “will be led by Crosby and Malkin, the tandem ownership has instructed Shero to keep together at any cost.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on what moves I expect from the Penguins this summer in my Soapbox, but I wanted to highlight that last sentence by Rossi. It’s been suggested the Penguins might consider moving Malkin, but judging by Rossi’s report, that’s not the case. One good reason to retain Malkin is Crosby’s injury history. If Sid gets sidelined again for a lengthy period, they’ll need Malkin to fill the void as he’s done in the past.
CSNBAYAREA.COM: Kevin Kurz suggests San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson should test the market value of Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle. Of the two, Kurz believes Boyle would be the easiest to move, as he has a limited NTC, while Thornton has a full “no-movement” clause. Kurz also noted both will be eligible for UFA status next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sensible suggestion from Kurz, though it remains to be seen if Wilson shares that opinion. The Sharks fans I’ve corresponded with on this issue believe Thornton will be re-signed, while Boyle probably won’t be dealt if there’s no one of comparable skill available to replace him. I would go a step further and also investigate Patrick Marleau’s trade value.
This isn’t about “assessing blame” for the Sharks inability to contend for the Stanley Cup with Thornton, Marleau and Boyle in the lineup. The Sharks won and lost as a team. It’s about common sense. The trio are in the mid-thirties, their best seasons are behind them, and it’s time for Wilson to think ahead. I’m not saying they should be dealt simply for the sake of doing so, but if there’s a good return to be had for any of those three, Wilson should pursue it.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jason Brough cited an interview given by Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to Russia’s Sport-Express confirming he’s in contract talks with both the Blue Jackets and KHL team SKA St. Petersburg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE; St. Petersburg can offer up more money over a shorter term, but the Blue Jackets can offer long-term financial security and the opportunity to play in the best pro league in the world. Bobrovsky and his agent appear to be using the KHL as leverage to squeeze the Blue Jackets for a better deal. If “Bob” should win the Vezina Trophy, that value goes even higher.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: cited a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming Sergei Gonchar, whose rights were recently dealt by the Ottawa Senators to the Dallas Stars, could agree to a two-year contract with his new NHL club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gonchar signs with the Stars it’ll be interesting to see how much he gets. The KHL is reportedly offering between $6-$7 million for next season, and Gonchar earned $5.5 million this season with the Senators.
**UPDATE** TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Gonchar has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: $5 million per season on a 39-year-old blueliner whose best years are behind him? Holy overpayment, Batman!
WASHINGTON POST: Katie Carrera reports Matt Hendricks agent said there’s been “no progress at all” in contract talks with the Washington Capitals. Carrera noted the contracts signed by comparable players like Montreal’s Brandon Prust (four years, $10 million) and Tampa Bay’s Nate Thompson (four years, $6.4 million) over the past year, suggesting Hendricks could fall in the range between those two deals. Carrera also recently reported the Capitals won’t be re-signing UFA forward Joey Crabb.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hendricks stands to at least double his salary ($825K cap hit), either with the Capitals or another club via free agency.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance reports goaltending will be the priority for Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher this summer, needing to either re-sign or replace veteran Niklas Backstrom, who is eligible for UFA status this summer.