The latest from the Edmonton Journal, Toronto Sun, Boston Globe and New York Post.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Alexander Radulov saga has NHL general managers concerned they could be left holding the bag if they were to select Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko in this year’s entry draft, should they follow his example and bolt for the KHL…Florida Panthers pending UFA blueliner Jason Garrison could attract considerable interest if he tests this summer’s UFA market. Garrison has apparently barely given the Panthers offer of $2.5 million per season (after earning $600K this season) the time of day, and could perhaps earn $4 million per on the open market. The downside is he’s only lit it up for one season (16 goals this season), and he’s a shooter, not a passer, and doesn’t play a physical game…The Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets are “assembling their war chests” to go after Vancouver’s Cory Schneider, but sources say the Lightning are also keeping an eye on LA Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, thanks to their current head of amateur scouting, Al Murray, having worked with the Kings and was behind them selecting Bernier…Anaheim Ducks draft pick Justin Schultz could end up a free agent this summer, leading Matheson to believe the Oilers would be interested in him…
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern over Yakupov or Grigorenko is they could decide to play in the KHL after they’re selected, for they could earn considerably more in the KHL than they will on entry level deals in the NHL. Of course, if they sign those entry level contract, they won’t be able to play in the KHL as there is now an agreement between the two leagues not to “poach” players under contract. I expect Yakupov and Grigorenko will still go within the first five picks in the first round, but GMs will want assurances from these kids their intention is to play in the NHL…As Matheson noted, the lack of depth in quality defensemen in this summer’s UFA market could make Garrison a hot property, but teams definitely should approach with caution, given the shortcomings in his overall play…I’ll be very surprised if Schneider or Bernier aren’t traded this summer. And hey, here’s a crazy thought: would the Lightning be willing to acquire Roberto Luongo if the Canucks bow out early in this year’s playoffs and he doesn’t play well? Stranger things have happened…I believe there will be considerably more interest in Schultz than in Garrison.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has one season left to turn things around for the club. Burke has two years remaining on his current contract with the team… New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello appears convince he’ll re-sign pending UFA winger Zach Parise but apparently his agents aren’t as convinced.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The natives aren’t just growing restless in Leafs Nation, they’re downright revolting. If the Leafs don’t improve next season, Burke will take the fall…Parise will be the best player available in this summer’s UFA market, but it’s not just money which is important to him, but playing for a Cup contender, and that could prove the deciding factor in where he ultimately ends up.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports Nashville Predators backup Anders Lindback will be a restricted free agent this summer, and a possible trade candidate if rival GMs believe he’s capable of handling the workload of a starting goalie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Pekka Rinne locked up long-term, Lindback won’t get a chance to prove himself an NHL starter in Nashville. If Ryan Suter opts to depart via free agency, Lindback might become a bargaining chip to add more depth to their blueline.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports it appears the only realistic way for Mats Zuccarello to continue his NHL career next season is if the NY Rangers decide not to qualify him on July 1st, allowing him then to become a UFA and seek a one-way contract elsewhere. Brooks writes, “Under terms of Article 10.2 (iii) of the CBA, the Rangers are required to offer the impending Zuccarello a two-way contract in order to retain his rights when his contract expires following the season.”