The Dallas Stars could be willing to spend to make significant moves, Sabres seeking depth at center, and the latest on the Hurricanes defense.
FOXSPORTS SOUTHWEST: Bob Sturm reports Dallas Stars team president Jim Lites gave the impression the team would be willing to spend under their new ownership to bolster their roster this summer. “This is a different situation than we have been in for the last four seasons”, said Lites. “We have an owner who is willing to spend and not being run by the league.” Lites added the team was prepared “to spend what we need to spend”.
New owner Tom Gaglardi admitted his team, which has around $20 million in available cap space, has identified some players they intend to pursue this summer, while Lites suggested the type of player which could be available are those carrying big contracts which teams cannot afford to carry any longer. He pointed out that’s why his team was able to acquire Brad Richards from Tampa Bay several years ago, and why Columbus dealt Jeff Carter to Los Angeles.
NHL.COM: John Tranchina reports defenseman Sheldon Souray would like to return to the Stars for one more season, but acknowledged that decision isn’t entirely up to him. Souray is eligible for UFA status this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars currently have $43.970 committed to 16 players for next season, and are negotiating a contract extension with RFA forward Jamie Benn, who can expect a hefty raise over his entry level salary of over $821K per season. If Benn agrees to $5 million per season, that’ll take a big bite out of that remaining cap space.
Still, if they’re willing to spend up to the cap (which could go as high as $69-$72 million for next season, or close to the same level – $64.3 million – as this season), they’ll still have enough space to re-sign other key players and chase a big name player via trade or free agency. If they acquire an expensive player via trade, they’ll be sending some salary out in the deal, creating room to take on an expensive contract. And no, Habs fans, I don’t believe they’ll trade for Scott Gomez. No, Canucks fans, they won’t take on Roberto Luongo’s contract, because they have no need to with Kari Lehtonen as their starter.
Should they pursue an expensive player via trade or free agency, it could be a top-two defenseman (no, Canucks fans, not Keith Ballard), like Nashville’s Ryan Suter. If they’re successful, that could spell the end of Souray’s hopes of returning to the Stars for another season.
BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres GM Darcy Regier would like to improve his depth at center, but owing to a thin UFA market, could turn to the trade market next month to address the issue. Regier also told Vogl he expects center Derek Roy to return “at this point, and we expect him to have a good season at this point.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was assumed Roy would be a goner after a sub-par season, followed by his criticism of head coach Lindy Ruff at season’s end over how Ruff handled him and other Sabres veterans. Unless Roy presses the issue and demands a trade, or Regier finds some takers in the trade market, it appears Roy could return and play out the final season of his current contract. The Sabres currently have over $58 million invested in 19 players for next season, and depending on where next season’s cap ultimately ends up, don’t have much room to take on additional salary unless they ship some out.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said defenseman Bryan Allen intends to test the UFA market, while the club might re-sign pending UFA Jaroslav Spacek but were in no rush to get a contract done.