NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2014

Is it time for the Sharks to cut ties with Joe Thornton? Are Brad Richards and Mike Richards buyout candidates?  What’s the latest on Brooks Orpik? Read on for the latest. 

CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz makes the case for the San Jose Sharks to part ways with captain Joe Thornton. While Kurz doesn’t pin all the blame on Thornton for the Sharks’ division semifinal collapse this year against the LA Kings, or for the club’s inability to win a Stanley Cup during his tenure, he feels the club’s leadership group is largely responsible. Kurz also points out the Sharks are turning over its core to younger players, which could mean stripping Thornton of the captaincy. He also feels Thornton’s best chance to hoist a Stanley Cup in the near future rests elsewhere. Moving Thornton, however, will be difficult, as he’s got a no-trade clause in his new three-year contract and has indicated he doesn’t want to play elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A player will waive his no-trade clause if he feels he’s not wanted, but he won’t do it for just any club. While Sharks GM Doug Wilson has indicated significant change could be in the offing for the Sharks, it remains to be seen if Thornton will be part of it. If Wilson does shop Thornton there will be considerable interest in him, but his no-trade clause significantly limits potential trade partners, which of course will affect potential return.

Buyout rumors dog Brad Richards.

Buyout rumors dog Brad Richards.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL/NBC SPORTS: James Mirtle reports of speculation the New York Rangers’ limited cap space could force them to buy out Brad Richards, who’s having a strong playoff performance. Jason Brough noted there’s buyout buzz swirling about Kings center Mike Richards, especially if the club hopes to re-sign Marian Gaborik. He also speculates if Richards could be a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have 13 players under contract for a total cap hit of nearly $54 million. If the cap goes up to $70 million, they’ll have only $16 million to re-sign or replace Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, Dominic Moore and Anton Stralman. They also have one compliance buyout remaining. Richards has six more years at a cap hit of $6.66 million left on his contract. Something’s gotta give. Another option could be buying out Rick Nash, who hasn’t played up to expectations as a power forward.

As for Mike Richards, his performance has noticeably declined. He has six years at a cap hit of $5.75 million left on his contract. The Kings have over $57 million invested in 18 players for next season, giving them a projected  $12 million in cap space. They don’t have as many players to re-sign or replace (Gaborik, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene and Dwight King), so they have more wiggle room. Still, if Richards is in decline, it would make sense to shed his salary, rather than have it become a drain over the next six years. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Josh Yohe reports the Penguins management situation has pending UFA Brooks Orpik in limbo. He and fellow UFAs Matt Niskanen, Jussi Jokinen and Derek Engelland are waiting for the club to hire a new general manager before contract talks can begin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Penguins having several promising young defensemen ready to crack the lineup, Orpik could be on his way out. 



  1. The Kings have room this year its the following year things get tricky. If they buy him out this year it can be a compliance buy out, which makes some sense.

    • As long LAK are winning I don’t see them messing around with the chemistry of the team and Richards is a BIG part of that. As far as UFA’s Gaborik and Greene are the two to focus on. Mitchell looks like he is near the end from what I have seen the past couple of years. Maybe sign him for one year $ 2 million but anything more than one year would seem to be a risk but never have been a Mitchell fan. Assuming the LAK’s do take out the Blackhawks it appears to me that the Blackhawks have a much bigger job ahead of them then either San Jose or Anaheim do to get to the Kings PLAYOFF LEVEL. Frankly Chicago looks stale, looks like they at least may be talking to Miller or Hiller and do need a D man that doesn’t wonder all over the place.

      • Can’t buy out Richards if you want Carter to keep producing. Just ask Columbus. If they’re separated Carter will pout.

        • Carter’s producing without Richards right now. He doesn’t need him at all. Columbus had poor coaching and no real leader thus his decline in production.

          For Carter to produce regularly he needs a cast of good players around him. In Columbus it was just him and Nash I believe. That’s my opinion anyway.

          • JES
            The point JR is making that they are best Buds, drinking buddies etc.
            It’s not that Carter needs Richards on his line, it’s a personality / chemistry thing. Richards is all about leadership / team chemistry.

      • Richards is very expensive 4th liner to be locked up for 6 years @$5.7M. Plus Kopitar will need $8M+ in 2 years time

    • Just don’t send Richards back where he came from………DON’T

      • Why is everyone saying Richards is a 4th liner? 2nd/3rd liner IMO.

  2. If I were Sather I would buy out Nash over Richards , however contract length may dictate.
    With Toffoli and Pearson playing solid in the lineup and Vey waiting for a chance I can see Lombardi trying to deal Richards and if that does not work out then a buy out , time is tight. Fla may be a fit for Richards , he could mentor some of the younger players/centres

    • They would need to make some cap room, but Richards or Thornton would be a good fit in Washington. Washington desperately needs help at center and defense. If the Penguins don’t resign him then look for the Caps to make a hard push for Orpik.

    • I can’t see buying out a player who still has trade value. Nash could still bring in a good return. Richards unfortunately cannot, and he will be more of a victim of his contract than he is of his performance. Nash I believe would be better suited for a quiet market. I think he has not handled playing in a big market well.Tampa, Carolina, Florida, Nashville are among place I think he would thrive!

  3. I wouldnt mind seeing Richards in Anaheim if he is bought out. (if Kesler wasnt aquired) I wouldnt pay him more than $4 mil per in that scenario. He is still very good on the PK and in the faceoff cirlce. Though, his point production has declined quite a bit over the past season and a half is something scary.

  4. If Vancouver asks for DSP in exchange for Kessler I would nix the deal right away. DSP is going to be a monster.
    I know it’s kinda off topic, but do you guys think (really love the opinions here and everyone is entitled to them) that kadri Peter holland plus the 8th overall pick is enough to get Kessler out of van city?

    • enough? thats a massive overpayment on torontos end

    • I wouldn’t do Kadri alone for Kessler. Kessler is overrated.

      • I completely understand the reluctance of trading a 23 year old guy still developing, for a guy pushing 30. But if this trade were to happen today, Kessler would be the better player involved in the trade. Not saying he is a superstar, just saying Kessler for Kadri straight up isn’t a tilted deal.

    • Clearly some Leafs fans replying. I’m neither a Leafs nor Canucks fan, so I’ll try and bring my unbiased opinion here (not to say I’m not full of B.S. and totally wrong either, just that I’m not biased!)

      I’d say that proposal isn’t bad, really. Certainly not a Toronto overpayment as noted above. I think Holland has very little value – he’s a depth guy who hasn’t yet proven he can stick. So, a top-6 centre + a high first-rounder + a depth forward for an elite defensive centre. It’s not unfair (though I think the Canucks would get better offers).

      p.s. I’m no Kesler fan, either. Look at his playoff numbers ever since that all-world series against Nashville. 21GP, 4G, 5A. Not awful, but nowhere near elite. And I think he rubs coaches the wrong way and can be a headache. That said, he works his bag off and can likely be elite again, and so has high value.

      • Minus that 8th overall pick from that trade add a mid level prospect or a pick.

        • I agree Holland has no trade value. It would take Kadri, Gardner and a draft pick or prospect.

          • Keep Kessler, best days are behind him, injury riddled 3rd liner within the next 2 years, Kadri & Gardiner will just be entering their prime no way would I do Kadri Gardiner and the 8. The Leafs are no where close to contending and never will if they continue to give up the future for 30 year old players with a history of injuries. A guy like Kessler makes way more sense for a team that is much closer to contending for a cup than the Leafs…windows have to kinda match up. Hawks Ducks Sharks Pens way better fits for a guy like kessler no sense bidding on him.

    • well, most pundits are saying that kesler would refuse to wave his ntc to go to a canadien team and also he is a grumpy guy and doesnt take to kindly to criticism, so I highly doubt that he would waive it to go to toronto. Supposedly he gave a list of 6 teams to go to, i would be shocked if toronto was one of them.

  5. I have heard rumors on the Edmonton sports radio station that if Mat Green goes unsigned in LA that the Oilers will try and bring him back. He was one of my favourite Oilers before they traded him and Stoll to LA.

    • Betting that if Matt Greene goes unsigned he ends up in Anaheim. Just what they need and he would not have to move his family / kids / school etc, if he has them

  6. I don’t see Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau going anywhere for the Sharks, but I can see them doing something with Joe Pavelski. Little Joe has a modified NTC which gives the Sharks more options for trades – aside from that little Joe is younger, skilled and can play all forward positions. I don’t see the Sharks moving Couture, but I do see them buying out Havlet and they do need to pick up a D-man as I think moving Burns back at D will not be enough. Thornton and Marleau are fan favorites, but I also can see them moving Niemi because IMO they have never really been solidly behind him.

    • Pavelski would garner a big return but he’s also the Sharks’ best player now. He’ll be a Shark for a long time – Thornton and Marleau are the guys that will be moved, not necessarily this year, but soon.

  7. Why buyout Brad Richards or Rick Nash? Richards has had a lot of his contract paid out already, there would have to be a few cap floor teams that would take him and Nash is starting to get it together and would be a great on any team.

    • It isn’t about what Richards has been paid out, it is the cap hit (6.66 ) million that is a concern for NY for the next 6 years. And this is the last year of amnesty buy outs. No way Richards is anything but a 3rd or 4th line center by the end of his current deal.

      • My point though is that a buyout isn’t necessary because he has some trade value unlike the end of last season. Get something in return for the guy instead of using a buyout.

        • Not sure anyone is going to trade for the contract tho when if the Rangers make some calls about dealing him knowing that they could have him witjh out giving up assets and a cheaper contract if the Rangers buy him out. Other GMs will understand why Sather is calling around when it comes to Richards there is no leverage to deal with. There is absolutely no value in moving him if they have to hold half the contract and I m pretty sure the reapture rule still applies to the Rangers for giving him the contract in the first place.

          • Lol yep they are and if he retires in the last year of the deal its an 18 million dollar cap hit for the Rangers…have to buy him out imo.