As the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames prepare for another spring without playoffs, speculation is turning toward potential off-season changes for both clubs.
For the Leafs, the priority should be finding a quality starting goaltender. Looking at the lack of starting goalies in this summer’s free agent market, Terry Koshan of The Toronto Sun opined Leafs GM Brian Burke ought to aim higher via trade.
Koshan suggested Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider as possible trade targets if the Vancouver Canucks make an early playoff exit. He also suggested contacting the Calgary Flames to find out if Miikka Kiprusoff is available.
Meanwhile, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal wondered if the Canucks would part with Schneider for Leafs goalie James Reimer and either promising defenseman Jake Gardiner or the Leafs’ lottery pick and a defenseman other than Gardiner.
It could take more than that to pry Schneider out of Vancouver, though, especially with teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets also expected to be in the hunt.
The Bolts have more cap space than the Leafs – as well as depth in prospects and draft picks – to help make a competitive bid for Schneider.
It remains to be seen what plans Calgary GM Jay Feaster has in store for Kiprusoff and the rest of the Flames lineup.
Having failed to make the playoffs for the past two years with pretty much the same core, Feaster must seriously consider shaking things up this summer.
That includes determining where center Olli Jokinen fits into his team’s future plans.
Jokinen, 33, is eligible for unrestricted free agency this July, but maintained his desire is to remain with the Flames.
This was a bounce-back season for Jokinen, whose 23 goals and 61 points were his best numbers since 2007-08.
Unfortunately, his offensive production declined significantly down the stretch. He has just three points and is a minus-14 in his past 11 games.
That decline will likely impact Jokinen’s future with the Flames and will surely go a long way towards determining how much the organization is willing to pay to keep him.
SIGN OR SNUB SEMIN?
It’s assumed the Washington Capitals will part ways with left winger Alexander Semin this summer when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency.
That’s based on a perception he cannot elevate his game in the post-season, as well as the reality of decline in his production since his career-best 40-goal, 84-point performance two years ago.
Semin was hampered by shoulder and arm injuries earlier in the season, but as the Capitals jockey for one of the final playoff berths in the Eastern Conference, his numbers have picked up, with six points in as many games entering Monday’s tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Washington Post‘s Neil Greenberg – admittedly a fan of Semin – recently examined the winger’s worth to the Capitals and pointed out there are no other UFA forwards available (other than New Jersey’s Zach Parise) this summer with multiple 30-goal seasons before the age of 30.
Greenberg believes Semin could command “at least $6 million per year on the open market” and possibly less if the deal were longer than three years.
Given the lack of suitable replacements available to the Capitals this summer, Greenberg believes it would be best to re-sign Semin for another year or two at $6 million per, provided Capitals management still sees him as a key part of its future.
Greenberg makes a good case for the Capitals to retain Semin, but it remains to be seen if management feels the same way. Much will depend on his performance over the remaining regular season games and into the playoffs, provided the Capitals can hold off the Buffalo Sabres for that final spot in the East.
GETTING THE DUCKS IN ORDER
Right winger Teemu Selanne hasn’t decided if he’ll return for one more season with the Anaheim Ducks, but there’s another Finnish forward keen to remain with the club.
Center Saku Koivu, like his countryman and teammate Selanne, is a UFA this summer, but recently told the Orange County Register he wouldn’t mind returning to the Ducks.
The 37-year-old Koivu’s offensive numbers are in decline, but he’s still effective at winning faceoffs and killing penalties. He’d likely have to accept a lesser role as a checking-line forward and a dock in pay from the $2.5 million per season he makes on his current contract.
While it’s possible Koivu will return with the Ducks, the same cannot be said for popular right winger/enforcer George Parros, who’s been a regular healthy scratch in recent weeks as his role has been reduced.
Like many of today’s NHL enforcers, Parros is facing a changing world, where overall skills are every bit as important as pugilistic ability. If he’s unable to adapt, he could find himself not only out of a job in Anaheim, but possibly unable to find another NHL team to sign with.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 and Kukla’s Korner.