San Jose Sharks playoff hero Joe Pavelski has garnered accolades around the league for his performance this spring. Among those singing his praises are former Sharks coach and current Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss Ron Wilson and Leafs GM Brian Burke.
The two were criticized last December for selecting Pavelski to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team over more established centers, but were rewarded for their decision as his versatility helped Team USA win a silver medal.
Pavelski’s a restricted free agent this summer and could attract offer sheets from rival clubs if he’s unsigned by July 1, but don’t expect the Leafs to be amongst the suitors.
Wilson and Burke would undoubtedly love to have Pavelski in the lineup, but the Toronto Sun reported they lack the required compensatory first round pick in 2011 (having dealt it to Boston last fall in the Phil Kessel trade) to send to San Jose if the Sharks were unable to match the offer.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have more than $36 million committed to 12 players for next season, leaving them with more than enough room to re-sign Pavelski – who made $1.6 million this season – provided his asking price isn’t outrageous.
• Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan believes it’s time for the Sabres to ship out center Tim Connolly, suggesting the fans are fed up and management disillusioned by what Sullivan described as Connolly’s “flat and uninspired” play in this year’s playoffs.
Connolly, who’ll turn 29 May 7, is entering the final year of a contract paying him $4.5 million annually. Sullivan admitted he won’t be easy to move, but believes there must be another team that would be dazzled by Connolly’s stickhandling skills.
Anything’s possible, but Connolly’s salary and well-publicized injury history could keep him in Buffalo for most of next season. The best time to move him would probably be the 2011 trade deadline, when the bulk of his salary will have be paid out – and if he has a healthy season his stock would be higher.
• Nashville Predators GM David Poile wasn’t impressed with the lack of goal production this season from center David Legwand, telling The Tennessean he wouldn’t be happy if Legwand failed to score at least 20 goals next season.
It’s understandable why Poile called out Legwand, who has four more years at a cap hit of $4.5 million per season left on his contract, along with a no-trade clause. He’s reached the 20-goal mark twice, in 2006-07 and 2008-09 and would’ve hit it again in 2007-08 had he not missed 17 games to injury.
This season, however, Legwand managed only 11 goals and 38 points in 82 games, although he stepped up his play in the playoffs with two goals and seven points in six games against Chicago.
Poile probably won’t move Legwand this summer, but he’s definitely served notice that he must play up to higher expectations next season.
• Long-time New Jersey Devils checking forward Jay Pandolfo might have played his final game with the team.
Pandolfo, 35, missed 17 games to a shoulder injury that hampered his performance for the rest of the season. He’ll undergo surgery soon to repair a torn labrum and while he has one season left on this contract worth $2.5 million, there’s speculation he might be asked to waive his no-trade clause.
Pandolfo is an experienced defensive forward, but given his age and salary the Devils might not find many takers if they try to trade him unless they try to bundle him with another player, although such moves are rare in today’s salary cap world.
His recovery from shoulder surgery means the Devils won’t be able to buy out his contract.
• One player who could face a buyout in June is Montreal Canadiens left winger Andrei Kostitsyn, whom the Montreal Gazette recently noted has been all but invisible in this spring’s playoffs.
The article noted Kostitsyn was demoted to the Canadiens’ fourth line in Game 2 of their conference semifinal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, spending most of the game nailed to the bench. His brother Sergei, meanwhile, was in the press box, where he’s spent most of the playoffs.
Andrei has one more year at $3.25 million left on his contract, but as the article pointed out, moving him might not be easy. A buyout, however, would free up more than $2.7 million of cap space, which the Habs, with presently more than $45 million committed to 14 players, could use toward re-signing a key player like center Tomas Plekanec or playoff hero Jaroslav Halak.
Brother Sergei is a restricted free agent and is expected to jump to the Kontinental League.
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.