Ranking the top 25 UFAs plus the latest on Ryan Kesler, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan, and updates on the Bruins, Wild and more.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance lists his top-25 UFAs this summer. Topping the list are Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Callahan, Ryan Miller, Matt Niskanen, Marian Gaborik, Dan Boyle, Jarome Iginla, Anton Stralman and Matt Moulson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of his top UFAs matches my recent ranking, though not necessarily in the same order. And we can both strike Andrei Markov from our respective lists.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman hears the Kings offer to Marian Gaborik is three years between $5.5 – $6 million annually…Panthers GM Dale Tallon might not make his final decision about moving or retaining the first overall pick in this year’s draft until Thursday evening (the night before the opening round)…The Canucks “definitely” made an offer for it, which Friedman believes consists of the sixth overall pick and prospect Hunter Shinkaruk, plus another roster piece, though it’s not Ryan Kesler. Friedman believes Kesler’s list of trade destinations is a short one, but it does include Anaheim. It’s been reported he’ll only accept Chicago or Pittsburgh. Friedman also wonders if a three-way deal might be necessary to move Kesler where he wants to go…The Leafs are getting inquiries about Morgan Reilly (unavailable), Jake Gardiner and James van Riemsdyk. GM Dave Nonis has consistently said he’ll only trade youth for youth…Friedman believes we should keep an eye on Carolina and Winnipeg. There’s growing consensus the Jets could move Evander Kane and perhaps Zach Bogosian. However, they may be simply listening to offers and necessarily ready to pull the trigger…The Flyers might try to move near the top of the draft…There’s lots of reports linking Jason Spezza to the St. Louis Blues. Friedman believes Eric Staal would also look good as a Blue if the Hurricanes want to do that. Patrik Berglund could become a trade chip for the Blues…Barring a “ridiculous offer”, Kris Letang won’t be traded.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: Eric Duhatschek reports moving Ryan Kesler could prove interesting for the Canucks if indeed he only wants to go to the Blackhawks or Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Let’s all be careful buying into the “Kesler only wants to go to two teams” stuff. Yes, the Blackhawks and Penguins were on his list of preferred destinations, but so too were Anaheim, Colorado, Detroit and Tampa Bay. The Blackhawks can’t possibly afford Kesler unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or the Canucks agree to pick up half his remaining salary. I don’t see Kesler as a fit with the Wings, Avs or Tampa Bay, as the Wings are pursuing a right-handed defenseman, while the Avs and Bolts are deep at center. That leaves the Ducks and Penguins. The Ducks are interested in Kesler but the Canucks are probably unwilling to ship him to a division rival. That leaves the Penguins, who might be willing to add Kesler if new GM Jim Rutherford decides it’s time to shake things up. Otherwise, Kesler will have to widen his trade list. The Blues are believed very interested in him, and I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t want to go there. I don’t believe Kesler will widen his list to include Canadian teams.
I expect the Kings will re-sign Gaborik and they’re reportedly close to re-signing Matt Greene…If the Canucks want that first overall pick they must part with a good roster player as part of the return…The Leafs would be nuts to part with van Riemsdyk and they aren’t moving Reilly. Gardiner, however, remains a trade possibility…I’m still not convinced the Jets will part with Kane, but if they do they’ll want a significant return as they’re trying to win now. They’ll get more from shopping Dustin Byfuglien than Zach Bogosian…Don’t see the Hurricanes moving Eric Staal…If I were an NHL GM, I wouldn’t be interested in Kris Letang. If he were healthier, sure, but that long injury history is a concern, as is that big contract.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Lisa Dillman reports Marian Gaborik’s agent said his camp is hoping to work out a deal with the Kings.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports contract talks between the Lightning and Ryan Callahan’s agent have reached a critical stage. It appears increasingly likely Callahan will test the UFA market, though his agent isn’t shutting the door on the Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling Callahan is still seeking something in the neighborhood of six-years and $39 million. Way too much.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli doesn’t intend on using his two compliance buyouts to shed salary. Haggerty reports Chiarelli says they have solutions to their cap issues without going the compliance buyout route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll put Marc Savard on LTIR again next season but that won’t provide additional cap space as the Bruins could be hit with nearly $5 million in salary cap penalties. One of those options is a trade. Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid are possible trade candidates.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild are shopping forward Kyle Brodziak and are willing to pick up part of Niklas Backstrom’s salary to facilitate a trade.