Defenseman Ryan Suter’s signing with the Minnesota Wild has those who lost out in bidding for his services scrambling for alternatives.
One name frequently mentioned is Calgary blueliner Jay Bouwmeester, the subject of trade speculation since the Flames acquired Dennis Wideman from Washington nearly two weeks ago and signed him to a multi-year contract.
Sportsnet’s Roger Millions tweeted Thursday the Flames have not tried to trade Bouwmeester, but other clubs have expressed some interest. That interest could increase in the coming weeks.
Bouwmeester, 28, has two years remaining on his contract at an average annual cap hit of $6.7 million, plus a no-trade clause. He might be willing to waive that clause, however, if a well-respected club with considerable cap space – hello there, Detroit Red Wings – were to come calling.
A club like the Philadelphia Flyers – in need of blueline depth after losing Matt Carle to free agency and possibly Chris Pronger to a career-ending concussion – would be a suitable destination.
The Nashville Predators could also see Bouwmeester as both a replacement for Suter and a means to entice captain Shea Weber to sign a long-term contract extension.
Interest in ‘J-Bo’ may not be limited to those that failed to land Suter.
For a defenseman once considered untradeable because of his salary, style of play and movement clause, Bouwmeester appears to have become a valuable trade chip for a Flames team in need of more scoring punch.
MAPLE LEAFS COMING UP EMPTY
Toronto Maple Leafs fans continue to chafe over GM Brian Burke’s inability to add an experienced goaltender and a scoring center.
Burke hasn’t exactly been quiet this off-season, shipping defenseman Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for left winger James van Riemsdyk and signing checking center Jay McClement.
He’s also talked to the Vancouver Canucks regarding goalie Roberto Luongo and contacted Martin Brodeur’s agent prior to his re-signing with the New Jersey Devils.
Burke is under pressure from a fan base increasingly unhappy over the Leafs lack of progress under his stewardship. He recently spoke to Sportsnet 590 The Fan, assuring Leafs Nation he’s still looking around to address the team’s needs.
That will take some creativity on his part. The free agent market has dried up for quality goalies and centers. As for trades, Luongo remains available, but it’s believed Burke balked at the asking price of promising blueliner Jake Gardiner.
It’s thought the Los Angeles Kings will shop backup Jonathan Bernier, but Burke isn’t keen to acquire an inexperienced netminder.
CANUCKS STILL HUNTING FOR HELP
The Vancouver Canucks could be in the market for a third-line center and a backup goaltender.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province recently reported the Canucks had interest in center Olli Jokinen prior to his signing a two-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets.
Given the lack of depth in the UFA market, Botchford speculated they go the trade route for help.
If the Canucks finally pull the trigger on a trade of Roberto Luongo, they’ll need a backup for Cory Schneider.
They could promote Eddie Lack into that role, but one shouldn’t rule out a pursuit of a more seasoned backup.
Perhaps both needs will be addressed with the return for Luongo.
(CORRECTION: Paragraph noting Shane Doan as center was removed)
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla’s Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.