Latest on Ryan Suter, Roberto Luongo, and Justin Schultz.
STARTRIBUNE.COM/PIONEER PRESS: Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher will face stiff competition if he intends (as rumored) to pursue New Jersey’s Zach Parise and Nashville’s Ryan Suter via free agency, which begins next Sunday. Though the Wild will have plenty of cap space to spend, they’ll have to out-bid teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit and the NY Rangers. If they fail to land either guy, they could be forced to make short-term free agent signings elsewhere, or perhaps turn to the trade market.
THE TENNESSEAN: Josh Cooper suggests Suter is” a midwest guy, who likes the anonymity of playing in Nashville. The laid-back nature of playing a majority of games in Western Conference markets — many of which aren’t nearly as rabid as Eastern Conference teams — fits his personality.”
ESPN CHICAGO: Jesse Rogers suggests if the Blackhawks intend to pursue Suter, they’d better have a backup plan if they lose out in the bidding for his services on July 1. Florida Panthers blueliner Jason Garrison could be worth keeping an eye on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can the Wild hope to compete against the star-studded Penguins, Red Wings and Rangers for Suter’s services. Does being a “midwest guy” give the Wild the edge? Can the Predators re-sign him? Would Chicago be a better destination? We’ll know for sure at some point next week. I expect Suter will field offers, and then give the Predators the chance to match or beat the best one.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL/NATIONAL POST: Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke still has holes to fill in his roster, notable at center and in goal, the latter of which he might address by trying to pry Roberto Luongo out of Vancouver.
VANCOUVER SUN: Iain MacIntyre cites the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers as the leading suitors for Luongo, but for Canucks GM Mike Gillis, it’s about trying to find the right return.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Harvey Fialkov reports Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon calls reports of his interest in Luongo to be “pure speculation”.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: James O’Brien cites a report suggesting the Chicago Blackhawks may have interest in landing Luongo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canucks GM Mike Gillis merely wanted to dump Luongo’s salary, he’d have made the move by now. He obviously wants to get a good return, which is why he’s not rushing to ship him out. Remember, the Canucks are allowed to go over the cap ceiling by ten percent during the off-season, provided they’re under the ceiling (whatever it may be under the next CBA) by the start of next season (whenever that may be), so he has time on his side. If the Blackhawks are interested in Luongo, that would be a significant change in their mindset, as they’ve stubbornly stuck by Corey Crawford and re-signed Ray Emery to a one-year extension.
CBC.CA: reports NHL teams are ready to woo former Anaheim Ducks prospect defenseman Justin Schultz, who is now eligible to become a UFA on July 1.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio reports the Flyers are expected to be among the bidders for Schultz.