Minnesota Wild defenseman Brent Burns’ costly overtime giveaway against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday not only killed any realistic chance of his team making this year’s playoffs, but was cited by Startribune.com columnist Jim Souhan as an example of how Burns’ erratic play could impact his long-term future with the Wild.
Burns’ current contract expires after next season, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency and leading Souhan to speculate Wild management will have to decide this summer if Burns should be re-signed to a long-term extension worth up to $6 million per season, or traded for hopefully more scoring depth at forward.
Souhan suggested a possible trade target would be New Jersey Devils left winger (and Minnesota native) Zach Parise if the Devils are unable to re-sign the restricted free agent this summer.
As Larry Brooks of the New York Post observed Sunday, the Devils lack a skilled puck-moving, playmaking defenseman. Brooks wondered if perhaps Parise would be the bargaining chip to land such a blueliner.
Parise would be a good fit with the Wild, but one shouldn’t automatically assume he’ll get swapped for Burns or, for that matter, any other notable two-way defenseman.
The Devils have limited cap space for next summer (CapGeek.com lists them as having more than $52 million committed to 17 players) and GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to open contract talks with the Parise camp, which doesn’t bode particularly well for his retention.
Still, Parise has expressed his intent to remain with the Devils and if it’s possible to get a deal done, his agent and Lamoriello will find some way to do so.
It’s still too early to suggest with any degree of certainty that Parise will be available, but if he’s still unsigned heading into the June draft weekend it’ll certainly ramp up trade speculation.
Regardless of Parise’s status, there’s no denying the Wild must bolster their anaemic offense this summer and Burns would certainly be a valuable trade chip that could address that need.
RANGERS WAVING GOODBYE TO SEAN AVERY?
Sean Avery has been at his agitating best as a New York Ranger, but his play this season has raised suggestions this will be his last on Broadway.
Avery’s undisciplined play this season has resulted in reduced ice time. He was a healthy scratch in two of three games last week and it appears coach John Tortorella has lost confidence in the veteran pest.
The 30-year-old left winger has one year remaining on his four-year, $15.5 million contract, half of which is being paid by the Dallas Stars, as the Rangers claimed him off re-entry waivers two years ago.
A trade is possible, but Avery has a limited no-trade clause. With the Rangers on the hook for only half of his $3.875 million per season cap hit, buying out the final season of his contract would be an affordable option, as the cap hit would also be split with the Stars.
ALES KOTALIK A BUYOUT CANDIDATE FOR FLAMES
Another potential contract buyout candidate is Calgary Flames right winger Ales Kotalik, who played well in his first game back with the club after being recalled last week, but whose $3-million salary for next season makes him too expensive to retain.
It’s also possible Kotalik will opt to play in Europe next year, which would allow the Flames to suspend him, thus clearing his salary from their books.
MIKE SANTORELLI SOON TO BE A FAT CAT
Florida Panthers center Mike Santorelli’s days of bouncing between the NHL and American League might finally be over.
The Miami Herald reported Saturday the Panthers made a two-year contract offer to the 25-year-old, who is on pace for a 40-point performance in his first full NHL season.
The SunSentinel.com subsequently reported Panthers assistant GM Mike Santos denied any formal offer had been made to Santorelli’s agent, claiming only preliminary discussions had begun, but it appears the front office is keen to retain him beyond next season.
Santorelli told the Herald he’s leaving the details up to his agent. He’s earning $600,000 this season and could see a raise to more than $1 million per.
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 Magazine.