Buyout candidates, this summer’s thin NHL free agent market, and more.

Could the Rangers buy out Brad Richards this summer?

Could the Rangers buy out Brad Richards this summer?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch listed Ilya Bryzgalov, Roberto Luongo and Brad Richards as likely amnesty buyout candidates this summer. There’s talk the Flyers might retain Bryzgalov and buy out Daniel Briere instead. He also considers a Luongo buyout possible but unrealistic. If Richards is bought out, “don’t rule out a return to Tampa Bay”…Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery could be well-positioned for a significant UFA contract this summer, especially if he helps the ‘Hawks to a deep playoff run…Expect Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey to move on via free agency this summer. The Flyers and Senators could be among the interested clubs…Expect the Flyers to make another pitch for Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle…The Red Wings listened to offers for Valtteri Filppula at the trade deadline but opted to retain him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers could also buy out Bryzgalov and Briere as they’re pressed for cap space next season, even with Chris Pronger’s inevitable placement on LTIR. Remains to be seen what they’ll do, but amnesty buyouts of one or the other, or both, is a  possibility…The Canucks still hope to move Luongo for a return this summer, so a buyout seems unlikely…Richards could be bought out, but the Lightning also have cap issues, so unless they dump some salary, they won’t have room for Richards, unless its at a discount…Emery could move on, but don’t rule out his inking a short-term deal to stay with the Cup favorite Blackhawks…Hainsey will certainly attract interest, though I daresay the offers will be for less than the $4.5 million per season he made on his current contract…If the Flyers want Yandle, the reported asking price is two top forwards, one of which must be a first line center…Unless Filppula is willing to reduce his salary demands (he’s rumored seeking over $5 million per season), the Wings will let him walk this summer.

OTTAWA SUN: Mike Zeisberger noted this summer’s UFA market has thinned drastically. Among those potentially available are  Jarome Iginla, Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Niklas Backstrom, Sergei Gonchar, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro and Tyler Bozak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Add to that list Mike Smith, David Clarkson, Michael Ryder, Valtteri Filppula, Mark Streit, and Andy McDonald. There’s  plenty of second-tier talent to choose from,  but when it comes to star talent, it’s a shallow pool this summer. It’s been that way for some time, as teams have re-signed players to long-term contract extensions well before their UFA eligibility dates.

BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports the Maple Leafs success this season has diminished rumors they’ll trade Phil Kessel in the off-season…The Bruins could look to re-sign Patrice Bergeron this summer. He has one year remaining on his current deal…The New Jersey Devils could lose forward Patrik Elias and David Clarkson to free agency…

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I never bought into the Kessel trade rumors when the Leafs were struggling, and I certainly don’t buy into them now. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing reports of how much easier it would be to part company with Kessel now that the Leafs have returned to the playoffs…I’m sure Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli would love to re-sign Bergeron, but his recent brush with concussion could factor into the negotiations…Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has a long-standing policy against re-signing his UFA players during the season. Once the Devils season is over (which could be in about two weeks or less), I would expect he’ll begin contract talks by then. Elias will have to accept a pay cut, while Clarkson quite rightly will seek a raise. Should be interesting to see how Lamoriello plays this.  It could result in Clarkson re-signing and Elias walking.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports the Flyers are undecided over an amnesty buyout of Ilya Bryzgalov. It’s possible they could bring him back next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, the Flyers can either go the amnesty buyout on two players this summer or next, or they can buy out one this summer and one next summer. They could, for example, decide to buy out Daniel Briere this summer and Bryzgalov next summer.