NHL Morning Rumor Mill – May 25, 2013.

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Brad Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Bobrovsky, Daniel Briere and more.

Could the Penguins buy out Marc-Andre Fleury this summer?

Could the Penguins buy out Marc-Andre Fleury this summer?

ESPN.COM: Neil Greenberg makes the case for the Pittsburgh Penguins to buy out the remainder of Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract, noting the decline in his performance since the 2009 Stanley Cup Final isn’t worth paying him $5 million per season for two more seasons, as well as his losing the starter’s job this spring to backup Tomas Vokoun.

Craig Custance, meanwhile, listed the Blackhawks, Blues, Capitals, Kings and Islanders as potential destinations for NY Rangers center Brad Richards if he’s bought out this summer, citing the lack of quality depth in this summer’s UFA market for centers could make him an attractive option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: From a financial standpoint, buying out Fleury makes sense, freeing up cap space to either re-sign Jarome Iginla or Pascal Dupuis, or for long-term contracts for Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. Still, while using a compliance buyout for Fleury removes his cap hit from their payroll, they’ll still have to pay him his remaining salary, and ownership might not be keen to spend money on a player no longer on the roster. Furthermore, dumping Fleury still leaves them in the market for an established starter. Vokoun’s been steady and could carry the Penguins to the Stanley Cup, but he turns 37 in July and isn’t a long-term solution. It wouldn’t surprise me if they retain Fleury for another season and give him a chance to rebound.

As for Richards, the Rangers’ deep-pocketed ownership won’t bat an eye about using a compliance buyout on him, but it’s possible GM Glen Sather could retain Richards and fire John Tortorella, hoping the veteran center’s performance improves under a new coach. If not, they could use their remaining compliance buyout next summer on Richards.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Pavel Datsyuk’s agent refuted reports out of Russia claiming his client had agreed to a contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan for next season. Meanwhile, SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL is preparing to offer up big money to Columbus Blue Jackets RFA goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Datsyuk is still under contract with the Red Wings, so it’s illegal for any non-NHL team to make him a contract offer. That being said, Datsyuk enjoyed his stint in the KHL during the lockout and expressed interest in returning to that league one day. The Red Wings would love to keep Datsyuk, of course, and GM Ken Holland plans to meet with him this summer to discuss his future. Datsyuk remains among the NHL’s elite players and arguably the Red Wings best player, but he’ll turn 36 after his current contract expires next summer, and it appears he’d like to end his playing days back home in Russia. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about his plans this summer.

As for Bobrovsky, we shouldn’t be surprised KHL teams are once again targeting some of the NHL’s top Russian free agents. The first season of the new CBA is coming to an end, the salary cap is dropping for the first time, and some KHL teams hope to exploit that. It also works well for players like Bobrovsky, providing them significant leverage in contract talks with their NHL teams. While the KHL can offer up considerably more money on short-term deals of one to three years, the NHL teams can offer up the security of longer term deals as well as a higher level of competition. In Bobrovsky’s case, I expect the Blue Jackets will have little choice but to pay him what he’s seeking on a five-to-seven year deal.

CSNPHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers star Daniel Briere remains uncertain over his future with the team. He’d prefer to finish the remainder of his contract, but it’s expected he’ll become a candidate for a compliance buyout.

DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla calls upon the Colorado Avalanche’s new head coach and co-VP of hockey operations Patrick Roy to shop for a proven starting goaltender this summer, believing current starter Semyon Varlamov isn’t good enough in the job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, I doubt Kiszla gets his wish this year. This season was Varlamov’s worst, but he had no help defensively. He’s also under contract (at an affordable cap hit of just over $2.8 million) for one more season, and I expect Roy, Sakic and GM Greg Sherman will give him one more chance. Besides, the Avs currently have over $56 million invested in 22 players for next season, and it’s doubtful ownership will approve pursuing a big ticket free agent. They could try to trade for an established starter and move some salary the other way, but again, I think they’ll give Varlamov another shot. They can always shop around for an improvement during the season.


  1. 1. Buyout Fleury
    2. Trade for Bernier
    3. Re-sign to a 3 year, $3 million deal
    4. Use other $10 million to re-sign Iginla, Dupuis, and other(s)

    Pens owner is a billionaire, I don’t think he would have an issue buying out Fleury.

    • I’m not saying the Pens couldn’t pull off a Bernier trade but if you think he’s signing for a million a year for THREE years you must be the biggest Pens homer of all time. Very average backups in the NHL make that and more & I’m assuming you would want him to be the Pens starter for that money too. So sorry it’s not 1990 anymore.

  2. Bernier is a quality backup (albeit with starter potential) but there has been only ‘kick the tires’ interest in him because there are always ufa options. Why give up assets if you don’t have to? He’s also been riding the bench for the most part and hasn’t really proven himself in the playoffs.

    He comes off as a Marty Biron type. Great teammate, passable backup, potential that was never realized (in Berniers case it’s to no fault of his own).

  3. Be surprised if they buyout Fleury. He has not forgotten how to play hockey. Sure he had a bad stretch in the playoffs… that sometimes happens. He is still young.. I can’t see them giving up on him.

    The Pens have to be careful of their spending next season, especially with Malkin & Letang coming up for big raises after next season…

    I just can’t see Datsyuk leaving Detroit just yet…

  4. 1. Buy out Fleury. I agree, as amatter of fact I suggested that before anbody else did. I also suggested they sign Smith, however that might be tough because of all the other contracts that need signing. The pens need to shore up on D, they have several d-man prospects but they may not be ready.
    2&3. Trade for Bernier. This would be a better option than signing a high priced UFA but are the Kings willing to let him go. If he is traded to the pens you can be sure he would want more than a million per on a three year contract even though he hasn’t really proven much. Hype has pushed his value way up.
    4. Even if they buy out Fleury the pens still need a lot of cash to sign guys other than Iginla. He looks good on the penguins but I’m not sure the pens can afford him. Don’t forget the cap goes down also. They may even lose Dupuis this year.
    So the pens owner is a billionaire, does that mean he doesn’t give a shit about other people? Just kidding, I know what you meant. They could also buy out another contract to make room, but who do they buy out?

    • Im kinda agree that I dont think the Pens will spend boat loads on buy outs yes the have a billioare owner but still not as quite as deep of pockets as say the flyers rangers Leafs and some other teams around the league guys with less term on their contracts could be a possibility or trading guys away and eating some of the contract seem like another….this being said (and the question being asked) who else could they buy out if they went that way…how bout Paul Martin and his 5 mill per year cap hit yes he has had a bit of a bounce back year this year but when you look at who is going to need contracts coming up very important guys core pieces, compared to Paul who after last years inconsistancies and a pretty good year this year but I dont think worth 5mill or that you could say he is at the same level of an integral part as say Dupuis Letang Malkin ect…

      • honestly think about it thought, richards or bozak??? your talking the same amount of money and im sorry but im taking a shot with a stanley cup champion whos still in his prime. richards centering lupul and kessel, its sounds so good it wont happen.
        as for fleury, if he was bought out a signed a 2 year 8 mil id take a shot with him and reimer all day, trade scrievens for a good dman/prospect, and your making a great team. add clarkson and bam we beat the bruins in 6 not 7. to bad about the game 7 collapse i honestly think the leafs would have rolled over nyr just as boston did and we would be in east finals.

        • I wouldn’t pay Bozak 4 or 5 mill either…lol to get a good D your going to give up alot more then Scrivens and if you look at Riemer vs Fluerry I would say right now Riemer is the better goalie Fluerry while great a couple years ago has had a couple of almost bad seasons hardly a for sure upgrade in net and at four mill not worth the risk to me there will be cheaper veteran options available I’m sure…If they are going to pay big money for a number 1 center I would hold on and see what else becomes available via trade or buyout I really have my doubts about Richards he should have looked good with Nash and that didn’t really work out either so to say he will with a guy like Kessel who can be a bit of an enigma himself is anything but a sure thing…could workout great, but could be awful. If he did come over it might be wiser to play him with Lups and JVR, and try Kadri Kessel Kulimen or Frattin….or if they did pick up Clarkson, play him on that line to make space for the 2 smaller guys to dance…but again that’s alot of money that we would have to clear out (bye bye Grabovski….)

          • Lines would look good tho..

            Lups Richards JVR
            Clarkson Kadri Kessel
            Kulimen Colborne Frattin
            Orr McClement Komarov

          • what to do with grabo is the biggest issue. he got a lot of heart, and skill and played like an animal against boston, but comes to numbers as well right. to me bozak is gone at anything over 3.5 mil, kadri can more then enough fill his sues giving a full year maybe 2 at center on the top line. Clarkson is a must, i know i focused a lot on richards and maf, but clarkson is a guy we need badly on out team, i’d rather sen 4.25-5 mil to clarkson then bozak. yes i know he does not win face offs but he adds a huge physical and scoring threat on the wing. as for reimer, i agree with you hes earned it, the only reason i was saying add fleury was for insurance and SOME experience. richards will play next year no matter what whether its on the rangers or another team is yet to be seen , but we made a huge push for him last time and if it comes down to it, i think nonis would give him a substantial amount of money, to come to Toronto.

  5. So I’m not sure about something. Even though Bobrovsky is a free-agent, he is an restricted free-agent. So under the rules doesn’t that mean the Blue Jackets still own his rights. If so, then how can the KHL offer him a contract if the two leagues have an agreement not to poach each others players? Its not like Datsyuk who will be an UFA so can do whatever he feels like.

    • While the Blue Jackets still own Bobrovsky’s rights, he’s still a free agent, meaning he can sign with any team outside the NHL.

    • Yes, Bob is an RFA and, therefore, CBJ “property”. He’s already expressed an interest in resigning. My best guess is that he’ll get a 3 – 5 year contract, as the Jackets have 3 solid goaltender prospects under contract developing.

  6. I say trade Fleury to a team like the Avs for Varlemov and picks obviously not this years 1st overall. Varlemov is still young he can split time with Vokoun and learn in front of a powerhouse Pens get some cap relief. Fleury goes to Colorado and has the best goalie ever as his head coach to learn from. That change of scenary for Fleury may be all he needs.

  7. Now I am not trying to refer things to the Leafs, but not one mention on 2 players they would in my mind be coveting if they are bought out? Fleury if bought out, the leafs would be all over this guy in a second, if they are willing to take luongo ( which they are) how could you not go on all for fleury?? and Richards, the number one center they so badly need, toronto tried before with a big pitch but burkie did not like those contracts, who know with nonis. But both these guys would play in other cities for cheaper then there current deals because the are still getting paid. if it happens leafs could let bozak and mcarthur walk, sign these 2 guys and still go after clarkson.

    • ehh I hope not… I really have doubts that Richards is anymore then a number 2 center (not a very physical one at that) and looks to be pretty uninterested any more, if Torts couldnt get him going you think Randy will? Sure he will be bought out of his 6.6Mill for the next 6 years deal but Richards will still be signed by someone for around 4 or 5 per year. Fluery even if he is bought out will still be offered starter money somewhere else and could put us in a bad spot simmilar to Van with paying a guy way too much money to sit on the bench and be a back up…even if you get him for 4-4.5 mill (not outragious money for a cup winning goalie…) we would have close to 7 million dollars worth of goalies which to me seems a little high when you take in to account that money could be spent better on other more glaring needs….
      Together even bought out these 2 guys will still be big ticket items and will cost nearly 10 mill for the pair if you look at this years playoffs thats 10 Mill sitting on the bench…

  8. If Richards becomes available the blues would do well to chase him. He and backes would make a real quality 1 & 1b duo down the middle in STL.

  9. Am I the only one laughing at these headlines?
    Both Richards and Fleury are tradeable commodities, nobody in their right mind would just simply buy them out.
    Toronto would indeed jump all over Richards (not so much Fleury as I believe Reimer has proven himself)
    I could also see interest in Fleury from Chicago, Philadelphia, and even Calgary.
    Buyouts are for those CONSISTENTLY under-performing and over-paid players.

    • Fleury might have some trade value but not great given recent events. Teams also probably want to send salary back and that leave the pens with the same cap issue. Richards has negative trade value. His contract is horrible and massive.. He was scratched after being at best invisible on the fourth line. No one is taking that contract. Now once he is a free agent post buy out, then yes there will be a good amount of interest.

      • not sure why it double posted. Sorry about that.

    • Fleury might have some trade value but not great given recent events. Teams also probably want to send salary back and that leave the pens with the same cap issue. Richards has negative trade value. His contract is horrible and massive.. He was scratched after being at best invisible on the fourth line. No one is taking that contract. Now once he is a free agent post buy out, then yes there will be a good amount of interest.

      • Richards had 34 points in 46 games this season and was a plus 8. Maybe not worth 6.6 M as a cap hit, but certainly tradeable. He will not be bought out. Its much more likely that he quit on Tortorella, as did some other of his teammates. Maybe a straight-up swap with the Leafs for Grabovski would satisfy both teams…Rangers get some cap relief and can then move Grabovski if they want…Leafs add only 1.1M toward the cap. If the Rangers are desparate to trade Richards rather than buy him out, maybe they’d throw in a guy like Brian Boyle…a perfect 3rd line center in Toronto.