The latest on Ryan Suter, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Nabokov, Scott Gomez, and Josh Harding.
THE TENNESSEAN: Josh Cooper reports Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter isn’t thinking about his contract status, as he’s more concerned about helping the Predators prepare for the playoffs.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan points out the folly of trading Maple Leafs leading scorer Phil Kessel, claiming the Leafs wouldn’t get back anywhere near what he gave up to land him. Koshan believes goaltending must be a priority for Leafs GM Brian Burke in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I address the Leafs current situation in detail in a recent THN.com column.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports NY Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov isn’t used to missing the playoffs, but said it won’t alter his thinking about re-signing with the club for one or possibly two more years. Contract talks between Nabokov’s agent and Islanders GM Garth Snow are ongoing, and two sources claim a deal could be in place by season’s end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another player “drinking the Islanders kool-aid”. Seriously, many of the Islanders genuinely believe they’re very close to becoming a legit playoff contender in the near future, Nabokov among them.
LA PRESSE: Richard Labbe reported on recent rumors claiming the Montreal Canadiens could buy out Scott Gomez in the off-season. Ian Pulver, Gomez’s agent, denied a rumor his client nixed a trade to the NY Islanders before the February 27th trade deadline, calling it false.
MONTREAL GAZETTE’s Dave Stubbs reported yesterday via Twitter Gomez told him a buyout and a return to the New Jersey Devils was news to him. Gomez claims a buyout was never mentioned by Habs management.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If there’s an amnesty buyout at the start of the next CBA, you have to believe the Canadiens will use it to buy out the remaining two years of Gomez’s contract. A trade in the off-season to a team trying to get about the cap floor is possible, but unlikely, especially if the cap floor ends up dropping in the next CBA.
TWINCITIES.COM: Brian Murphy reports Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding faces an uncertain future with the club but is hoping for a strong finish. Harding is eligible for UFA status next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Niklas Backstrom is the Wild’s starter, Harding won’t get his opportunity to fill that role. He’ll find considerable interest in his services in this summer’s UFA market, likely from the Maple Leafs and Lightning, who will be seeking goaltending depth.