The NHL's off-season is upon us and teams are already looking to re-shape their rosters for a more successful 2015-16 season. Keep up to date on the latest trade/free agent speculation and rumours from around the league.
The Ottawa Senators are stepping up efforts to clear a little space in their crowded crease.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, the Sens have increased their efforts to move one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner in the coming week.
The Sens have a backlog of netminders in the system between Anderson and Lehner alongside the recently-re-signed Andrew Hammond and collegiate free agent Matt O'Connor. McKenzie, though, identified Lehner as the lead candidate to be moved.
The San Jose Sharks made steps to implement a culture change in the dressing room last off-season, and are expected to continue that process this year.
Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area, speculates the Sharks could do something big before or at the draft later this week.
“There’s a real possibility that there could be a blockbuster in the works involving one of the team’s core players.
Would aging veterans Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau prefer to relocate to a team that has a better chance of winning in the immediate future? Was Brent Burns shifted back to defense last season in order to increase his trade value? Is Logan Couture still happy here, after he was critical of the team’s “not great” culture? Is Justin Braun expendable after he struggled in the first year after signing a big contract extension? These are all fair questions.”
The Sharks also have ample cap space and Kurz reports the possibility they get in the restricted free agent market.
“Wilson has hinted for months that the Sharks could be in a position to take advantage of a club that is up against the cap. Perhaps they are readying an offer sheet or two for a top restricted free agent.
There should be plenty of options, and Wilson will weigh them all leading up to the draft and in the weeks that follow.”
More Kessel Speculation
The Phil Kessel speculation continued Monday as it likely will everyday leading up to Friday’s draft. The latest team to get in the mix? The Pittsburgh Penguins.
Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Penguins have at least some interest in the scoring winger.
“Rutherford is shopping for a top-six winger and, because the Penguins own just one choice in the first four rounds of this draft, at least one more early-round selection.
Perhaps because there are so few top-six wingers in play now, the Penguins are believed to have at least a kick-the-tires level of interest in Toronto’s Phil Kessel.
Kessel, 27, is one of the NHL’s top goal-scorers — he has 247 in 668 games with the Maple Leafs and Boston — but comes with an $8 million salary-cap hit on a contract that runs through the 2021-22 season.”
Molinari notes acquiring Kessel would be difficult for the Penguins and the team would almost certainly need the Leafs to retain some of his salary.
Lucky No. 11?
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he likes to make bold moves, but isn’t going to do anything crazy just because this year’s draft is in Florida.
According to David J. Neal of the Miami Herald, Tallon said he’ll likely look for a winger with the 11th overall pick in Friday’s draft, but is open to moving the pick for some immediate help as well.
“Our depth chart is deep up the middle and we’re very strong, when you look at our future as far as the back end is concerned, it’s terrific,” Tallon said. “There are a lot of different good young players in this draft that fit our needs, so we’ll see what happens. If something shakes up and there’s a startling pick in the first 10, that opens up more possibilities for us. But we’re willing to do anything to make our team better and right now if you look at our depth chart, speed and scoring are two things that we really would like to have.”
Tallon said he’d be willing to trade the pick for a proven goal-scorer with the right offer.”