The latest on Rick Nash, the Rangers pursuit of a goalscorer, the Penguins rumored free agent targets, and much more.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports Rick Nash will likely remain a Blue Jacket until after the start of the NHL unrestricted free agent period on July 1, suggesting July 2-5 could be the next window of opportunity once the big name free agent scorers have been signed. It’s believed Nash is growing restless over the club’s inability to move him, and Portzline suggests things could get ugly if he’s not dealt by mid-July. GM Scott Howson is banking on the lack of quality free agent scorers driving up Nash’s value. The NY Rangers had the most interest but could be out of the market if they sign Zach Parise. The Ottawa Senators have interest but apparently they’re not 0n Nash’s list of preferred destinations, meaning he’d have to alter his list to facilitate a trade. Michael Arace, meanwhile, wonders when the Nash saga will finally end, chastising both sides for how poorly they’re handing the situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howson’s gambling teams losing out in the potential Zach Parise free agent sweepstakes will pay his steep asking price for Nash. That could happen, but it could also blow up in his face. The market for Nash may have shrunk when the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Jordan Staal, and the Philadelphia Flyers are unwilling to move their promising young forwards. The Rangers, Senators and San Jose Sharks appear the more interested parties now, but they’re not going to part with a king’s ranson to get Nash. Further complicating things is the potential availability of Bobby Ryan, who vented his frustration at the Anaheim Ducks management over the weekend. If Ryan is available, he’ll be a cheaper, young option than Nash.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW/PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: It’s expected Penguins GM Ray Shero, having freed up over $6 million in cap space by dealing away Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek on Friday, will pursue either New Jersey’s Zach Parise or Nashville’s Ryan Suter when free agency begins on July 1. Shero isn’t expected to sign players to deals worth more than Sidney Crosby’s, nor will he engage in front-loaded contracts to lure them to Pittsburgh. It’s expected Crosby will be re-signed to a new deal 10-13 years in length, worth between $9-$10 million per season. It’s believed Shero is also aggressively shopping defenseman Paul Martin, who had three years and $15 million left on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No question, the Penguins will be active in this summer’s free agent market. Media and fan opinion is split over whether Shero targets Parise or Suter, but it was rumored he tried to acquire the latter’s rights from Nashville on Friday night. The addition of the Penguins among the major bidders for the few top free agents provides more intrigue for July 1, and could pose a threat to the efforts of Detroit and Minnesota to land Parise and/or Suter.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers GM Glen Sather intends to jump into a shallow UFA pool on July 1, where they could get into the bidding for New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise, despite his claim earlier this month he wouldn’t sign with the Blueshirts. In what could be considered a shot at the Blue Jackets, Sather said he was unwilling to dismantle the core of his team, particularly his young players.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun cited a source claiming the Carolina Hurricanes remain very interested in Rick Nash…The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs were “unimpressed” with the opening asking price for Roberto Luongo. The Panthers intend to focus seriously on Luongo…Dallas Stars winger Steve Ott is getting plenty of interest. LeBrun suggests he’d be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens, who lack size and toughness…The Canucks shopped defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, who could become a UFA as the Canucks don’t intend to re-sign him.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs will join the Rangers, Canucks, Oilers, Blackhawks and Red Wings in pursuit of Justin Schultz on July 1.