Should the Leafs pursue Brad Richards? What’s the latest on Jaromir Jagr? Are the Blues planning off-season moves? What does the future hold for Steve Bernier?
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox recently reported Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke would like to get into the bidding for Dallas Stars center Brad Richards if he becomes available as a UFA, and Burke might be willing to offer up a seven-eight year deal. It’s expected Richards “will go north of $7 million, and possibly $8 million, on his new deal”. Cox however suggested Richards might not get as far as July 1st, as the Stars could try to re-sign him if new ownership is in place by late-June. It’s also possible the Stars could trade his right before July 1st.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke would also need permission to speak to Richards’ agent to determine if his client would be willing to play for Toronto, otherwise it would be a waste of assets to acquire his rights if he has no intention of playing there.
NBCSPORTS.COM: James O’Brien recently reported Jaromir Jagr’s agent claims his client isn’t entertaining offers from NHL teams at the present time. It’s believed Jagr would prefer to remain in the KHL, as he’d make more money there and wouldn’t face as much physical play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hat tip to GJ Berg. Jagr isn’t coming back to the NHL. He’s rumored close to signing with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Jeremy Rutherford reports Russian prospect forward Vladimir Tarasenko has decided to play one more season in the KHL, while David Perron’s recovery from an early-season concussions remains slow, leaving Blues management potentially thin at forward. They have five forwards – TJ Oshie, Patrik Berglund, BJ Crombeen, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt D’Agostini – who are restricted free agents. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has hinted he could package one or more of his three second-round picks in this year’s draft for an established forward. He could also perhaps pursue one via free agency, though with the club currently up for sale it remains to be seen how active they’ll be via trade or free agency this summer. The Blues currently have just over $32 million invested in next season’s payroll.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong will re-sign all his key free agents, and with the cap rising to potentially over $62 million, if he needs to remain near the cap floor, he’ll have just over $14 million to work with, but obviously he’d prefer to have new ownership in place and more budget flexibility. Regardless, I don’t expect Armstrong to just stand pat, and believe he’ll make a trade plus a free agent signing, though he’ll try to keep it affordable.
SUNSENTINEL.COM: Harvey Fialkov reported Florida Panthers forward Steve Bernier is hoping for a bounce-back performance next season but it remains to be seen if he’ll get an NHL contract, as he’s bounced between four teams (Panthers, Canucks, Sabres and Canucks) over the past three seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bernier has good size (6-2, 216) but has never played up to expectations as a power forward. He might get another NHL contract but it could be for the league minimum, possibly a two-way deal.