Off-Season Watch: Wednesday's latest from around the NHL

TSN.ca Staff
6/11/2014 9:47:18 AM
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With the NHL Draft coming up on June 27 and free agency opening on July 1, discussions between NHL general managers are already heating up towards a busy off-season.

Each day, TSN.ca provides the latest rumours, reports and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Keeping The Captain?

Brian Gionta's agent Steve Bartlett told La Presse on Tuesday that the Montreal Canadiens want to keep their captain - an unrestricted free agent on July 1 - in the fold, while sources tell the paper that the two sides will start talks this week.

"We'll probably make progress in our discussions over the next few days," Bartlett told Richard Labbe of La Presse. "We haven't really discussed an amount or length of contract, we've only had a few discussions in very general terms, nothing precise.

"But I know that the Canadiens want to bring him back and I must now talk about this possibility with my player."

Bartlett added that Gionta is open to signing a new deal with the Habs, a team he's played with for the last five seasons. "He loves Montreal and he loves the team, but needs to know where he fits with their plan of direction -  what would be his role," said Bartlett.

Gionta, 35, signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Canadiens in 2009 and tallied 173 points in 303 games.

Still Happy In San Jose

Joe Thornton's agent and brother John Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News that his client would consider waiving his no-movement clause if he felt the fans in San Jose didn't want him back.

"If he felt the fans didn't want him in San Jose, he might re-think things," Thornton explained to Mercury News writer David Pollak. 

John Thornton added that his Joe is very happy in San Jose and wants to stay and help the team win a championship. "He wants to stay there and win the Cup," he said. "He believes they still have enough talent."

A New Face In Winnipeg?

Gary Lawless of TSN Radio 1290 and The Winnipeg Free Press suggests that Mike Richards - if he's bought out at the end of the season by the Los Angeles Kings - would be a great fit with the Jets.

"For the Jets, it's a no-brainer," Lawless wrote. "Richards would set a standard of competition in the Jets dressing room and on the ice. It'll be easy from the perspective of the coaching staff and management to see who matches up and who doesn't.

"The Jets need a player willing to grab the rest of the team by the throat."

No Jokin' Around

Lawless adds that no talks have taken place between the Jets and soon-to-be-free agent Olli Jokinen's camp.

Jokinen, 35, made $4.5 million last season and tallied 18 goals and 25 assists. 

"We haven't heard a thing from the Jets," Jokinen's agent, Ian Pulver told Lawless. "I understood we would talk. But it hasn't transpired. We'll see where it goes. I don't know Winnipeg's plans."

Busy Summer In Pittsburgh?

Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the Pittsburgh Penguins' off-season possibilities and suggests that winger James Neal could be a trade candidate this summer.

Neal, 26, will make $20 million over the next four years. Gordon adds that new GM Jim Rutherford might retain former Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen, while Martin Brodeur might be a good addition in net alongside Marc-Andre Fleury.

Also, Gordon writes that the Blues or Anaheim Ducks could be a good fit for Jason Spezza, with the Ottawa Senators reportedly wanting a prospect, a player and a first-round pick in return. Gordon adds that salary cap concerns could force the Boston Bruins to deal forward Brad Marchand, who has three years and $13.5 million left on his contract and could feee up room to re-sign Jarome Iginla.

Brian Gionta (Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
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