The latest on Thomas Vanek, P.K. Subban, Ryan Callahan, Paul Stastny, Martin Brodeur and more.
OTTAWA SUN/NBC SPORTS/NEW YORK POST: Montreal Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek repeated his intent to test this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, but his poor playoff performance has raised questions about his value. It’s the first time Vanek’s been eligible for UFA status. The Post’s Larry Brooks believes Vanek isn’t remotely worth the seven-year, $50 million contract he rejected from the NY Islanders before he was dealt to the Canadiens at the NHL trade deadline. However, he notes pending free agents rarely pay the price for having underperformed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though we should never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to succumb to auction fever at the start of the NHL’s UFA period, especially in an offseason when the salary cap is rising, but this summer could be different. The lack of depth in star talent in this year’s UFA pool is giving rise to trade speculation involving notable stars (Spezza, Thornton, Staal, Kesler, Neal), largely because of the ability for teams to retain a portion of a traded player’s salary combined with the aforementioned cap increase. Vanek could find big-money offers from playoff contenders few and far between.
TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens superstar P.K. Subban hopes to re-sign a long-term contract with the Canadiens and remain with the team for his entire career. Subban is a restricted free agent this summer and is expected to receive a significant raise. Subban wouldn’t elaborate as to what type of deal he’s seeking, leaving that in the hands of his agent Don Meehan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Subban will get the maximum term (eight years) for between $8 -$9 million per season. Wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of his salary is paid out in the latter half of the deal, within the guidelines of the league’s salary variance rules. He could receive an offer sheet, but given his stated preference to remain a Hab, he might not sign one even if it could force the Canadiens into matching.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers will pay a price for their success this season, as it will be difficult to re-sign all their key players this summer. Brooks points out the Rangers will have to pay to re-sign Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Benoit Pouliot. They’ll also have to re-sign defenseman Marc Staal or risk losing him next summer to free agency. Brooks believes management will have to decide if they’ll use their remaining amnesty buyout on center Brad Richards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have a projected $17 million in cap space (based on the cap rising to $71 million), which won’t be enough to re-sign all those key players, especially Zuccarello, Kreider, Brassard and Stralman, who will seek significant raises. Something’s gotta give, which could involve losing a couple of those players to free agency, a buyout of Richards or another player (Rick Nash?), or salary-dumping trades.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa wonders if Ryan Callahan could become this summer’s David Clarkson, an unrestricted free agent grossly overpaid for his services. While Callahan’s a better player than Clarkson, his style of play has given him a lengthy injury history….Shinzawa believes the Canadiens need to bolster their defense in the off-season…He points out Alex Stalock, Chad Johnson, Ryan Miller, Al Montoya, Thomas Greiss,Justin Peters, Jonas Hiller, Tim Thomas, Curtis McElhinney, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jonas Gustavsson, and Ray Emery have better save percentages this season than Martin Brodeur, suggesting Brodeur could find it difficult signing elsewhere this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning or another NHL club will be taking a big chance signing Callahan to an expensive, long-term deal. Still, somebody will likely pay up… I agree with Shinzawa’s assessment of the Canadiens’ defense corps. GM Marc Bergevin must avoid adding more slow-footed blueliners like Douglas Murray. Size is important but it won’t help if they lack speed…Brodeur’s a certain Hall-of-Famer but he’s at the end of his career and could find it difficult signing elsewhere.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres could be tempted in selecting defenseman Aaron Ekblad in this year’s NHL draft. The Sabres hold the number two pick. Harrington cites two sources claiming Sabres GM Tim Murray was chatting with Panthers GM Dale Tallon last week. Tallon is willing to shop his pick (first overall). Harrington speculates over what it could cost the Sabres to land the first overall pick, including packaging a couple of second rounders, offering up next year’s first round pick acquired from the NY Islanders, or shopping a current roster player like Christian Ehrhoff or Tyler Myers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray could stand pat and hope the Panthers select another player if they retain their pick. The danger, however, is the Panthers trade away the pick to another club which uses it to select Ekblad.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater reports nothing is imminent in contract talks between the Avalanche and pending UFA Paul Stastny.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika wonders if the Stars will pursue a younger backup for starter Kari Lehtonen via free agency or trade, suggesting Chad Johnson and Devan Dubnyk as free agent options. Tim Colishaw believes the Stars should pursue a shutdown defenseman.
NJ.COM: Rich Chere reports Devils coach Pete DeBoer would welcome back Martin Brodeur next season to share the goaltending duties again with Cory Schneider. Chere believes Brodeur must accept a lesser role as backup for it to work.