The latest from ESPN, Toronto Sun and Boston Globe.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and his agent are onboard with the NY Islanders decision to toll his contract toward next season, and in return the Islanders, who had suspended Nabokov for failing to report after they had claimed him off waivers earlier in the season, will allow him to play for Russia in the upcoming World Hockey Championships. LeBrun writes the idea here is Nabokov’s stock could rise if he has a strong performance in the tournament, as the Isles will likely try to trade him this summer….The LA Kings could join the NY Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs in bidding for Brad Richards this summer..The Kings could consider giving goalie Jonathan Bernier more playing time next season. They’ve been happy with starter Jonathan Quick’s performance but they consider Bernier could have a brighter future….Kyle Wellwood has played very well for the Sharks, particularly in this year’s playoffs, and if he continues his solid performance could be re-signed by the club this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nabokov recently gave an interview to a Russian sports paper where he claimed the reason he didn’t join the Islanders this season was that he didn’t believe he could help them, adding he would have no issue with joining the team in training camp this fall. That being said, it sounds as though the Isles could try to see what he could fetch on this summer’s trade market, given the lack of depth of quality starting goalies…If the Kings do get into the bidding for Richards that could make things interesting, as the Rangers have been considered the front-runners for his services. I doubt he signs with the Leafs, unless they’re the only club to make a lucrative offer…If the Kings intend to give Bernier more playing time next season that rules out the possibility they’ll trade him this summer. And no, they won’t trade Quick this summer either, though if Bernier successfully challenges Quick next season for the starter’s job, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility Quick gets shopped at next year’s trade deadline…A lot of fans love to diss Wellwood for his soft play and doughboy physique, but he has been a strong performer for the Sharks so far int his year’s playoffs, and may indeed earn himself another contract with them, provided his salary demands are reasonable.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons doesn’t imagine the Boston Bruins or any other NHL team will be that keen to sign former Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle this summer, suggesting Kaberle is no longer a prominent player, “if he ever was one”…Simmons also dismissed the hubbub over Ilya Bryzgalov’s recent comments about not wanting to play in Winnipeg if the Coyotes move back there, defending Bryzgalov’s right as a UFA to sign wherever he pleases, adding the goalie isn’t the first and won’t be the last to decline playing there. Simmons points out part of the reason Zybnek Michalek decided not to re-sign with the Coyotes due to concern the club could relocate to Winnipeg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaberle’s stock appears to be in decline due to his poor performance with the Bruins down the stretch and in their first round series against Montreal, where his lack of offensive production has been a concern…Bryzgalov is absolutely within his rights to choose where he wants to play. The fact he was bold enough to say he wouldn’t follow the Coyotes to Winnipeg have earned him unjustified scorn, but as Simmons noted, he’s not the first and won’t be the last. Sure, there’ll be players who’ll have no problem playing there, but there will also be a number of players who’ll rather play elsewhere. Winnipeg hockey fans will have to deal with that, just as Edmonton hockey fans have had to deal with their city being low on the list of preferred destinations for NHL players.
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports the NY Rangers will have plenty of cap space this summer putting them in position for “one of their standard summer overbids”, this time probably targeting Dallas Stars center Brad Richards, though they also have to re-sign RFAs Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle, and Artem Anisimov…Jason Arnott has been a solid pickup for the Washington Capitals. He’s 36 and will be a UFA this summer. Dupont writes Arnott’s no longer worth the $4.5 million he made this season but might be able to convince another team to pay him close to that on a two-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be a busy summer for GM Glen Sather, but apart from perhaps pursuing one big ticket UFA I expect he’ll put just as much urgency into retaining those restricted free agents…Arnott will probably find a one or two year deal but even though he’s played well for the Capitals I believe his age, injury history and declining skills means he’ll be fortunate to earn $2.5 million per season on his next contract.