TSN analyst Bob McKenzie created a stir last week when he suggested the New York Islanders might be interested in Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo “under the right circumstances.”
Though the Islanders’ priority is determining the cost of re-signing UFA goalie Evgeni Nabokov, McKenzie believes they would be willing to re-acquire Luongo (who began his NHL career with the Islanders in 1999-2000) provided the Canucks take oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro in return.
DiPietro has eight years remaining on his 15-year contract at $4.5 million per season and is expected to receive a compliance buyout, though the Isles front office would prefer to trade him.
The idea is the Canucks would trade Luongo to the Isles, take DiPietro (along with another player, prospect, or draft pick) in return and then buy out the remainder of DiPietro’s contract, which would be slightly cheaper than buying out Luongo.
Vancouver Province columnist Jason Botchford is skeptical about this scheme, pointing out other clubs have expressed interest in Luongo “under the right circumstances” since last summer, but he didn't move. Botchford also believes Canucks ownership would be reluctant to invest $24 million in a 16-year compliance buyout for DiPietro.
The Canucks could take back a bad contract to move Luongo, but it would have to be a much shorter term than DiPietro's to make it a palatable buyout.
Luongo at least saw the humour in this story, replying to McKenzie saying he'd want “his partner in crime” (former Islanders GM Mike Milbury, who drafted Luongo fourth overall in 1997) as part of the deal.
The Canucks aren't the only team the Islanders would speak to about DiPietro. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported if any NHL team is willing to take his contract, the Isles would discuss an “asset exchange” to make the deal work.
The Islanders might be willing to move DiPietro for an expensive, shorter contract to buy out, but they'll have to also move a solid asset – a good young player, a top prospect or a high draft pick – for a rival club to at least consider taking on the goalie’s contract.
SENATORS SEARCH FOR SCORING – IS BICKELL THE ANSWER?
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray will be in the market this summer for an experienced scoring winger between 28 and 30 years old.
Murray will scan the free agent and trade markets and could offer up some prospects to teams in need of shedding a high-salaried scorer to become cap compliant next season.
The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren suggested New Jersey's David Clarkson, the New York Islanders' Brad Boyes, Boston's Nathan Horton and Chicago's Bryan Bickell as free agent targets.
Though the Senators currently have about $21 million in projected cap space, Murray reportedly won't be spending toward the cap ceiling, preferring to remain in the $50 million range.
The Senators currently have around $43.5 million invested in 19 players, and will likely re-sign restricted free agents Erik Condra and Peter Wiercioch. If captain Daniel Alfredsson returns for another season, that will put them near $50 million.
Landing a scoring winger via free agency or trade could push their budget closer to $55 million.
The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan believes the Senators would be better off signing Bickell than pursuing an expensive trade option (both in return and salary) such as Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks. Brennan cited Bickell's size (6-foot-4, 233 pounds) and physical style as assets and noted NBC analyst Pierre McGuire believes the Blackhawks winger could become a 30-goal scorer playing alongside Jason Spezza.
Bickell earned $600,000 this season, but his performance (especially in the playoffs) could earn him as much as $3 million per season on the open market. With less than $2.1 million in projected cap space next season, the Blackhawks could lose him to free agency.
Bickell would be a tempting target for the Senators, but other clubs will also have interest, which will potentially push him out of Murray's price range.
WASHINGTON’S SCHULTZ ASKS FOR TRADE OUT
Any NHL GM in the market for an experienced depth defenseman should contact the Washington Capitals.
Reports out of Washington last week indicated Capitals blueliner Jeff Schultz had requested a trade, frustrated by the lack of playing time he received under coach Adam Oates this season.
It's not the first time Schultz has requested a trade, having done so back in March as well. Capitals GM George McPhee said he’d do what he could to accommodate the 27-year-old defenseman, who has one season remaining on his contract worth $3 million in actual salary at a cap hit of $2.75 million.
The Capitals only have around $5.6 million in projected cap space and must shed salary to re-sign free agents Mike Ribeiro, Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson and Matt Hendricks. The asking price for Schultz could be a draft pick or prospect.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).