The latest from the Edmonton Journal, New York Post, and The Sporting News, plus updates on Andrew Ladd and Derek Meech.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile faces a difficult decision in determining how much to pay team captain Shea Weber, a restricted free agent on July 1st. Matheson suggested Poile might be using the contracts of Chicago’s Duncan Keith ($5.5 million per season) and Brent Seabrook ($5.8 million per) as templates, but Weber could be worth as much as Boston’s Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million per season), noting the similarities in playing style and ice time…Poile also has no idea if wayward Predators forward Alexander Radulov intends to return to the team next season or remain in the KHL…Matheson also believes the Columbus Blue Jackets “would be overjoyed” if they could get a third round pick for under-achieving winger Nikita Filatov, who’ll be running a hockey camp this summer in Moscow for amateur players…Oft-injured former Oilers forward Ethan Moreau, 35, could have a tough time finding another NHL team to sign with given his injury history…The Chicago Blackhawks could seek an affordable, younger backup, rather than bring back Marty Turco… The Hurricanes and Blue Jackets could also likely seek affordable backups, while the Colorado Avalanche need a number one goalie…Sources claim the Blackhawks would like to move Niklas Hjalmarsson’s four-year, $14 million contract…The Islanders will almost certainly move Evgeni Nabokov this summer, and if the Flyers come calling, GM Garth Snow shouldn’t move Nabokov unless he gets something of value (Kris Versteeg? Matt Carle?) in return…Joni Pitkanen would be a perfect fit with the Detroit Red Wings but they lack the cap space to sign him, leading Matheson to wonder if perhaps the Columbus Blue Jackets could afford him…Returning to Shea Weber, Matheson suggests there’s a possibility Weber might only sign a one-year extension, making him eligible for UFA status next summer, and wondered if the Red Wings would be in the running for him then…If the Oilers pursue a UFA this summer, it should be Washington’s Brooks Laich, to help mentor Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber could come in between $6.5 -$7 million. He’ll re-sign long-term with the Predators, but he won’t come cheap…It remains to be seen what Radulov will do, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he stays in Russia…Filatov has been a huge bust for the Blue Jackets, and if they don’t dump him this summer, expect them to make him trade bait during the season if he doesn’t pick up his play…Moreau could face retirement or playing in Europe next season…The Blackhawks signed Alexander Salak on Friday, making him their likely backup for Crawford…I expect the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets will dip into this summer’s UFA market for affordable, experienced backup goalies, of which there should be plenty available…If the Avalanche don’t pursue a starting goalie this summer, they won’t be taken seriously as a playoff contender…I’m still not convinced the Blackhawks will move Hjalmarsson only a year after matching the offer sheet from the Sharks…Nabokov will be dealt, but it remains to be seen if he’ll go to the Flyers, as the Avalanche could have serious interest…The Blue Jackets could certainly have interest in Pitkanen, but I doubt they’ll overpay for him…Weber’s not going to sign a one-year deal with the Predators, so forget about him being available next summer…The Oilers appear content to rebuild with youth, and I don’t think the Capitals want to lose Laich.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks continues the call for the NY Rangers to sign Dallas Stars pending UFA center Brad Richards this summer, calling for GM Glen Sather to strike now by making a trade offer to the Stars, whose ownership situation remains in flux, in order to secure exclusive negotiating rights leading up to July 1st.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible the Rangers, or perhaps another team, could try to acquire Richards’ rights from the Stars, but I don’t see that happening until mid-June at the earliest, as the Stars management are probably hoping to get their ownership situation sorted out before then and attempt to re-sign Richards. Don’t be surprised however if the Stars retain Richards’ rights up to the July 1st deadline.
SPORTING NEWS: Craig Custance believes the playoff heroics of pending UFAs like Tampa Bay’s Sean Bergenheim and Dwayne Roloson, Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa, Nashville’s Joel Ward and San Jose’s Ian White could translate into big bucks for those players if they hit the open market, or if their current clubs re-sign them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams however must be careful not to overpay them. It wouldn’t be the first time a player like Bergenheim, Ward or White have one terrific playoff year, but fail to follow up on it. Roloson and Bieksa are proven performers so anyone signing them, be it their current teams or new ones, know what they’ll be getting. Bergenheim, Ward and White on the other hand could merely be flashes in the pan.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Atlanta Thrashers and team captain Andrew Ladd are now on hold given the uncertainty over the club’s future location. LeBrun cautions not to read into this as meaning Ladd, a restricted free agent, doesn’t want to play in Winnipeg if that’s where the team ends up, but rather the two sides simply haven’t yet been able to agree on a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hat tip to GJ Berg. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Ladd’s contract status if the Thrashers as expected are moved to Winnipeg.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: George Sipple reports Red Wings defenseman Derek Meech, who has spent the past four seasons bouncing between the Wings and their AHL affiliate, has decided to move on via free agency and explore other options, including playing overseas.