With the Calgary Flames elimination from the playoff race earlier this week, speculation has already begun over potential off-season moves.
Many observers suggest GM Darryl Sutter might lose his job, but there’s also talk of shopping team captain Jarome Iginla. The star right winger is on pace for 70 points, well below his production of the previous three seasons.
George Johnson of the Calgary Herald suggested it was “better-than-even-money” a stale, jaded-looking Iginla would be dealt, while Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported Flames fans are debating the value of trading their franchise player.
Iginla, meanwhile, said he understood the disappointment of the fans over the club’s poor performance, but insisted he still enjoyed playing in Calgary.
Some Flames fans are trying to pin the blame on Iginla for the club’s poor performance, but considering he shouldered the bulk of the offensive load with little help from his teammates that’s simply unfair.
The fault lies with Sutter, who invested his free agent dollars in defenseman Jay Bouwmeester last summer, rather than re-signing forward Mike Cammalleri, who’s gone on to become a valued member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Iginla’s “no-movement” clause ensures any attempt to trade him must first meet with his blessing, plus it significantly limits potential trade destinations. The front office could attempt to pressure him into accepting a trade, but driving their franchise player out of town might not go down well with the fans.
Unless Iginla wants a trade, management should just leave well enough alone for now and look toward other options – although limited – for improving the roster for next season.
• Don’t expect Ilya Kovalchuk to be re-signing with the New Jersey Devils before the start of the post-season.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that Kovalchuk said he wouldn’t talk contract with the Devils until after their playoffs were over.
Kovalchuk’s performance in the upcoming post-season should factor into any decision the Devils make regarding contract talks with him.
• The Miami Herald wrote Monday goaltender Tomas Vokoun could be playing his final games with the Florida Panthers.
Vokoun has another season at $5.7 million remaining on his current contract, but the Panthers – knowing they have no chance of re-signing him to an extension this summer – could shop him.
If he hits the trade block, he’ll undoubtedly attract considerable attention, but with his no-trade clause he’ll have the final say over where he’ll go.
The Philadelphia Flyers would likely be at the head of the pack pursuing Vokoun, but they’d have to dump his equivalent salary via trade, demotions or buyouts to not only afford him this season, but to give them an opportunity to re-sign him to an extension.
• St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason has played well enough this season (29-22-8, 2.52 goals-against, .910 save percentage, two shutouts) to earn a new contract with the club, but according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues lack a “goalie of the future,” someone who can take over for Mason in a few years time.
The article suggested Montreal’s Carey Price and Vancouver’s Cory Schneider might become available this summer, but while St. Louis might be interested, it won’t part with a player like right winger David Backes for either guy.
Still, the Blues have enough depth in affordable young players, which will give them an edge in pursuing either goalie this summer.
• The Edmonton Oilers could be in the midst of a significant roster overhaul this summer and forwards Ethan Moreau and Patrick O’Sullivan could become casualties.
Recent reports in the Edmonton Journal wondered if the two, who are signed through next season, fit into the club’s future plans.
Given how difficult this season was for both players – Moreau was reportedly offered around at the March trade deadline, while O’Sullivan’s minus-37 is the league’s worst – it could prove difficult for the Oilers to move them this summer.
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.