Contract negotiations between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steven Stamkos continue this week, with speculation the two sides are closing in on a new contract.
However, the longer Stamkos goes unsigned the more rumors brew over the possibility the Lightning will trade him.
That appears to be unlikely, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, an NHL source claimed the Flyers were preparing to make a trade offer for Stamkos if the Lightning decide they can’t afford to re-sign him.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was quick to dismiss that report, saying he had no idea where those rumors were coming from, adding he doesn’t imagine Stamkos will end up leaving the Lightning.
Lightning management are keen to retain Stamkos, hence the reason GM Steve Yzerman warned his peers any offer sheet sent to the young center would be matched. Contrary to baseless Internet rumors, Stamkos has given no indication he doesn’t like playing in Tampa Bay and is looking for a way out.
While the length of time it is taking for the two sides to reach an agreement is unnerving for Lightning fans, it must be remembered the Bolts have to take into account not only how much to pay Stamkos – which is expected to be more than $7 million per season – but also how much his new contract will impact future player movement.
These deals take time, but it appears an agreement will eventually be reached to keep Stamkos in Tampa Bay.
DREW DOUGHTY CONTRACT NEGOTIATION STATUS WITH KINGS
While all the focus has been on Stamkos’ situation, curiously there’s been little news regarding Los Angeles Kings defensemen Drew Doughty, this summer’s other notable RFA superstar.
The latest word came from Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, who reported Sunday Kings management, having recently added Mike Richards via trade and Simon Gagne via free agency, would now turn full attention toward the blueliner’s negotiations.
Elliott reported the two sides have exchanged contract proposals, but no deal was imminent. It’s thought Doughty, 21, will command up to $7 million per season.
Kings fans hoping for a quick resolution will be disappointed, as GM Dean Lombardi told Elliott via e-mail he had the sense it would take a while to get Doughty re-signed, claiming it was critical “the dollars reflect a fair rate of return regarding the term of the contract.”
Lombardi also confirmed he’d match any offer sheet Doughty might sign with another team. Elliott suggested the possibility the Kings are waiting to see what kind of contract defenseman Shea Weber signs with the Nashville Predators and perhaps use it as a comparable.
It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes until baseless trade rumors surface about Doughty.
July 5 marked the deadline for unsigned restricted free agents to file for salary arbitration.
Amongst the notables this year are Montreal’s Josh Gorges, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell, Chicago’s Chris Campoli, Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler, Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen and New York Rangers forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.
The salary arbitration hearing period is from July 20 to August 4 and the dates for each player will be determined by the league and the NHLPA.
Recent history has shown most players who file for arbitration re-sign with their respective teams prior to their hearings, so it’s a good bet most of these players will avoid the arbitration process.
LOGIC BEHIND LEAFS-PREDATORS TRADE
The Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs raised eyebrows with their four-player swap over the weekend, in which the Predators shipped promising defenseman Cody Franson and center Matthew Lombardi to the Leafs for blueliner Brett Lebda and minor-leaguer Robert Slaney.
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean explained the move was in part a salary dump for Predators GM David Poile to give his club more flexibility to re-sign team captain Shea Weber, as well as blueliner Ryan Suter and goaltender Pekka Rinne.
The combined salaries of Franson and Lombardi are $4.3 million for next season, with Lombardi also having another season at $3.5 million left on his contract. Lebda has one year at $1.45 million left on his deal, while Slaney is on a two-way contract and isn’t expected to be in the Predators lineup next season.
Weber is currently a restricted free agent who is headed to arbitration later this summer, while Suter and Rinne have one season remaining on their contracts.
RED WINGS SEARCH FOR BACKUP GOALIE
The Detroit Red Wings continue to evaluate their options to best address their backup goaltending.
Veteran Chris Osgood would love to return, but there’s concerns over the health of the 38-year-old netminder.
Management will consider signing an affordable backup and have reportedly been linked to former Wing Ty Conklin, who was Jaroslav Halak’s backup in St. Louis last season. They will also consider a trade.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.