Updates on Tomas Vokoun and the Florida Panthers plus the latest from the Edmonton Journal.
HOKEJ.SPORT.CZ: recently reported Florida Panthers goaltender (and pending unrestricted free agent) Tomas Vokoun claimed he’s heard Omsk of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League might have interest in signing him, though he hasn’t received an offer, and didn’t rule them out as a potential destination if he’s unable to sign with an NHL team this summer. Still, Vokoun said he wasn’t sure what would happen this summer, noting he’d recently spoken with Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon but will assess his pros and cons before making a decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vokoun probably would prefer to remain in the NHL but like Evgeni Nabokov last summer he might not find many team interested in investing in his service long-term, because of his age (he’ll turn 35 on July 2nd) and the fact the current CBA has only one season remaining until it expires. The KHL might be a better option if he prefers an expensive, long-term deal, but if he’s keen to stick with the NHL a one-two year contract for $4.5-$5 million per could probably be had.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Harvey Fialkov recently assessed the problem areas to be addressed this summer by Panthers GM Dale Tallon. Noting Tallon must spend at least $30 million on its payroll for next season and must re-sign key free agents like Marty Reasoner, Mike Santorelli, Sergei Samsonov and Vokoun, Fialkov also suggested pursuing Montreal Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski to man the point on their PP and Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While this summer’s UFA class isn’t very deep the Panthers could be a hard sell for those decent free agents available. Wisniewski and Laich are good suggestions by Fialkov but adding them is another matter.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Minnesota Wild need offense and are unlikely to pay defenseman Brent Burns over $5 million per season when his contract expires next season, so they could toss his name out there during the entry draft. Matheson notes the Flyers have extra forwards while the Sharks have always liked Burns…The Columbus Blue Jackets will likely let UFA defenseman Jan Hejda walk this summer…Anyone who wants to sign Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun if he becomes a UFA this summer better do it on July 1st, as on July 2nd he’ll turn 35, meaning he can’t be bought out. Matheson suggested the Colorado Avalanche could be a likely destination but doesn’t feel Vokoun is worth more than the $3.75 million per season currently earned by Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin…Matheson believed Dallas Stars UFA center Brad Richards will sign this summer with the NY Rangers…He also believes the Nashville Predators will buy out the remainder of fading winger J.P. Dumont’s salary this June…Matheson suggested the Washington Capitals might have to move either Semyon Varlomov or Braden Holtby this summer, perhaps for a defenseman…He wondered if the Rangers either buy out the final year ($5 million) of Chris Drury’s contract or hoping the fading, oft-injured center stays healthy next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson isn’t the only one suggesting Burns could be trade bait, as some pundits in the Twin Cities first raised that possibility…Hejda could walk but the last reports I read out of Columbus claimed Jackets management might try to keep him…Vokoun’s salary also couldn’t be cleared via demotion or retirement if he’s 35 when he signs his contract. As for how much he gets, that remains to be seen…Richards to the Rangers has been the constant speculation since last fall…The Predators will probably buy out Dumont, and the Rangers could do the same with Drury. If the Caps shop a goalie Holtby might have more value than Varlomov, who has an injury history though he also has considerably more experience.