Updates on Patrick Sharp, Marc Staal and Francis Bouillon, plus a look at the NHL free-agent goalie market.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford mused over Patrick Sharp’s future with the Chicago Blackhawks, citing the 32-year-old winger’s contract and the club’s limited cap space. Halford noted the rumors earlier this summer suggesting Sharp, despite a limited no-trade clause, could be traded as a cost-cutting move, but he wondered if the Blackhawks would actually move the veteran winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the short term, no, the Blackhawks don’t have to trade Sharp. While currently over the salary cap by $2.2 million, they can shed salary by moving another player (Johnny Oduya? Nick Leddy?).
Next summer, however, they could face a tighter cap squeeze. They’ll have over $65 million invested in 15 players. Key restricted free agents (Leddy, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger) must be re-signed, while pending UFAs (Oduya, Brad Richards, Michal Rozsival) must be re-signed or replaced. Even if the salary cap jumps to $75 million, they won’t have sufficient space to re-sign or replace those players unless they shed more salary. If Sharp isn’t traded before the start of this season, his name could resurface in the rumor mill next summer.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Andrew Gross believes the New York Rangers must re-sign defenseman Marc Staal soon or risk having to pay more to keep him off next summer’s free-agent market. Gross also noted the drama that surrounded last summer’s contract talks with Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi and now-former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gross points out, there’s still plenty of time for the Rangers to re-sign Staal before the season starts. The question is, will they? If recent history is anything to go by, no. The Girardi and Callahan negotiations dragged on up to last season’s March trade deadline, while Lundqvist was re-signed in early December.
RDS.CA: reports the Montreal Canadiens are involved in negotiations with UFA blueliner Francis Bouillon regarding a one-year contract. Bouillon is very interested in returning with the Canadiens. GM Marc Bergevin wanted to complete negotiations with P.K. Subban before opening talks with the 38-year-old Bouillon.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently examined this summer’s free-agent goalie market. Among those still available are Martin Brodeur, J-S Giguere, Ilya Bryzgalov, Tim Thomas and Tomas Vokoun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giguere is expected to retire.