With only a week remaining in the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement, it’s increasingly unlikely significant player movement will occur prior to the CBA’s expiration on Sept. 15.
The top unrestricted free agent left to sign is right winger Shane Doan, who on Thursday claimed he had a deal in place with the Phoenix Coyotes and was waiting for prospective buyer Greg Jamison to purchase the team.
Doan’s agent had claimed his client would sign a new contract – either with the Coyotes or another NHL club – prior to Sept. 15.
Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is believed to be mulling over a two-year offer from the Detroit Red Wings, but so far there’s been no indication he’s close to signing.
The last UFA signing of note occurred on August 17, when blueliner Scott Hannan inked a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators.
Otherwise, the other remaining notable UFAs – center Jason Arnott, left winger Brian Rolston, right wingers Mike Knuble, Petr Sykora and Andrei Kostitsyn, defensemen Michal Rozsival and Pavel Kubina – have barely garnered mention in the rumor mill in recent weeks.
Granted, one reason for that lack of speculation is most of these players are nearing the end of their NHL careers, but the looming threat of another NHL lockout is having an impact on the UFA market
Restricted free agent stars – such as Dallas Stars center Jamie Benn, Winnipeg Jets left winger Evander Kane, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres center Tyler Ennis, New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, Washington Capitals blueliner John Carlson and Florida Panthers D-man Dmitry Kulikov – appear no closer to new contracts than they were when summer began.
It’s possible one of those players will be targeted for a last-minute offer sheet from a rival club, but when one considers the Philadelphia Flyers’ attempt in mid-July to sign defenseman Shea Weber away from the Nashville Predators was matched, it’s doubtful any of the aforementioned RFAs will get one.
Except for the re-signings of a few players who would’ve been eligible for restricted or unrestricted free agent status next summer – Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, Nashville’s Mike Fisher, Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, Ottawa’s Kyle Turris and Zack Smith – it’s been quiet since late-July.
As for the trade market, the last deal of note was, of course, the blockbuster which saw the Columbus Blue Jackets ship star right winger Rick Nash to the New York Rangers July 23.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan and Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, along with Subban and Kane, frequently popped up in the summer trade rumor mill.
However, the approaching possibility of another lockout and the uncertainty over the contents of a new CBA has brought trade chatter to a halt.
One shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a GM hoping to use the approaching end of the current CBA and the possibility of an ensuing lockout to their advantage by swinging a significant last-minute signing or trade.
That being said, it appears the GMs are following the same approach to the end of this CBA as they did in 2004, putting off significant additions via trade or free agency until a new agreement is in place.
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.