The ongoing contract talks between the Winnipeg Jets and left winger Evander Kane continues to provide fodder for trade speculation.
On August 12, CTV Regina sports anchor Julie Stewart-Binks took to Twitter to report “inside sources” claimed Kane, 21, had requested a trade.
Stewart-Binks wrote the 21-year-old Kane “wanted to be the face of the franchise,” but center Mark Scheifele, the Jets 2011 first round pick (seventh overall), would likely take over that role.
An unusual suggestion, as Kane is a budding star with three NHL seasons under his belt (including a 30-goal, 57-point performance in 2011-12), while the promising 19-year-old Scheifele has yet to crack the Jets roster, save for a seven-game cup of coffee last season.
It didn’t take long for the denials to come from Jets management and the Kane camp.
Winnipeg Free Press reporter Gary Lawless tweeted he’d been informed by the team Kane hadn’t made a trade request, while Kane’s agent, Craig Oster, told the Winnipeg Sun there was no truth to the story.
As Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski observed, this was just the latest in a series of trade rumors involving Kane stretching back to last October, resulting in denials from his agent and the Jets.
He’s not the only unsigned restricted free agent whose contract status has resulted in speculation this summer. Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and his agents have had to deny trade rumors and claims he’s seeking an expensive, multi-year deal.
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun tried to allay the fears of Jets fans about Kane’s status, reminding them defenseman Zach Bogosian, who was in a similar contract situation last summer, wasn’t re-signed until a couple of days before the opening of last fall’s training camp.
Like Kane, Bogosian was the subject of unfounded trade speculation, including a wild rumor that had him headed to the Montreal Canadiens for center Scott Gomez.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the Jets and Kane’s agent are quietly negotiating a new long-term contract, away from the media glare.
It’s rumored the Jets have a six-year, $29-million offer on the table, which would be worth an average annual salary of $4.8 million. Neither side commented on that report.
Kane was selected fourth overall in the 2009 draft, behind John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene.
Kane won’t get a deal similar to Tavares (six years, $33 million), but should be in line for a better one than Duchene’s two-year, $7-million extension.
One wonders if Kane’s agent will attempt to compare his client with Edmonton Oilers left winger Taylor Hall, who recently signed a seven-year, $42-million extension.
SAMSONOV TRYING FOR NHL COMEBACK
Former NHL left winger Sergei Samsonov is planning an NHL comeback.
Samsonov, a 14-year NHL veteran whose last season was 2010-11, was initially believed to have signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Sharks.
His agent, Neil Abbott, denied this report, but acknowledged being in talks with several NHL clubs.
It remains to be seen what effect an NHL lockout will have on his comeback plans.
NO SWEDISH OPTION FOR LOCKED-OUT NHLERS
Locked-out NHLers thinking of playing in the Swedish League will have to look elsewhere.
On Thursday, the league announced it would not accept NHL players on short-term contracts. If they wish to play there, it will have to be on minimum one-year contracts with no out-clause allowing them to return to the NHL if a lockout ends during the season.
It had been speculated Swedish stars such as Vancouver’s Sedin Twins might consider playing in the Swedish League if a lockout threatens an entire season.
During the season-killing lockout of 2004-05, 75 NHLers played there.
So far, there’s been no indication if other European leagues will follow suit. If so, it’ll be a significant blow to the plans of locked-out players and could have an impact on the NHLPA’s negotiations with the NHL.
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.