Heading toward a disappointing finish to this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets got a head start on rebuilding for 2010-11 by shipping out forwards Raffi Torres and Fredrik Modin along with blueliner Milan Jurcina at the trade deadline.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, we can expect GM Scott Howson to make another move or two this summer.
The Dispatch claimed Howson could shake up his blueline corps, which is too heavy with defensive specialists, by shopping one or two of them for a puckmoving defenseman.
Howson also hopes young right winger Nikita Filatov will return to the Jackets next season after being loaned to the Kontinental League for most of 2009-10.
Should Filatov decide the Blue Jackets aren’t a good fit, he might threaten to remain in Russia another year, which would prompt Howson to shop him.
However, with Ken Hitchcock no longer behind the bench for the Jackets, Filatov – who never adjusted to Hitchcock’s demanding defensive system – is likely to give Columbus another chance.
• The Ottawa Senators surprised many by re-signing young defenseman Brian Lee to a two-year, one-way contract extension.
Lee, who’ll turn 23 later this month, was the Senators’ first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2005 draft, but spent the past three seasons bouncing between Ottawa and its American League affiliate in Binghamton.
Leading up to this season’s trade deadline, it was believed Lee would be used as trade bait.
The Ottawa Sun suggested the reason for the re-signing was the uncertain futures of veteran defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton, who are eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1.
Volchenkov rejected a five-year contract extension prior to the Olympic break, but negotiations continue.
The Senators, who acquired Sutton the day before the deadline, have been impressed with the 6-foot-6, 245-pound blueliner’s physical play and hope to re-sign him.
The problem for the Senators is their limited cap space for next season. Volchenkov, who is earning $2.5 million this season, and Sutton, earning $3 million, will be expecting raises.
If the salary cap fails to increase significantly over this season’s $56.8 million, the Senators might have to choose one or the other.
Re-signing Lee to an $875,000 per season extension gives the Senators an affordable insurance policy.
• Another player who could be the victim of salary cap constraints is Montreal Canadiens center Dominic Moore.
Acquired for a 2011 second round pick from the Florida Panthers prior to the Olympic break, Moore has fit in well with the Habs, particularly as a faceoff specialist.
Unfortunately for Moore, the Canadiens have nearly $45 million committed to next season’s payroll, without including potential AHL graduates P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty.
The Habs are attempting to re-sign leading scorer Tomas Plekanec rather than risk losing him to unrestricted free agency, plus they’ve got restricted free agents Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price, Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre and Benoit Pouliot to re-sign.
All this likely means Moore will be hitting the UFA market again.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.