A recent report in the Edmonton Journal cited sources claiming Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has interest in Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky, though the report didn’t offer specific details.
Hemsky, 27, has one year left on his contract at $4.1 million and attracted considerable interest from rival clubs leading up to February’s trade deadline.
The Oilers opted to retain him and instead shipped out Dustin Penner, but it remains to be seen if Hemsky sees himself as part of Edmonton’s future beyond next season. He’ll be eligible for UFA status in July of 2012.
Hemsky’s recent injury history will also affect his trade value, as shoulder surgeries limited him to only 69 games combined over the past two seasons.
Howson knows Hemsky from his days as an assistant GM with the Oilers, but the Jackets already have a top-flight right winger in Rick Nash and it’s widely assumed Howson would prefer to add a first line center to complement his star.
The Blue Jackets have also reportedly begun talks with pending UFA defenseman Jan Hejda and it appears there’s a strong mutual interest in getting a new contract in place.
However, the same cannot be said for Scottie Upshall, who appears as though he will not re-sign, though that may still change depending on any other moves that are made in the next two weeks.
Center Andrew Murray and goaltender Mathieu Garon also appear headed for the UFA market.
The Oilers, meanwhile, seem ready to cut ties with right winger Zack Stortini.
The Edmonton Journal recently reported Stortini may be offered up as trade bait for a pick at the upcoming entry draft.
Failing that, the Oilers will have to either qualify his rights or allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
FLYERS GET BUSY WITH BRYZGALOV
Philadelphia Flyers management met this week with goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and his agent for the first time since acquiring the Russian’s rights from the Phoenix Coyotes and began preliminary talks on a new contract.
The Flyers are reportedly confident of getting Bryzgalov under contract before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. It’s rumored the Russian-born goaltender is seeking a five-year deal worth around $27 million.
Keep an eye on the Flyers next week leading up to the draft weekend, as it’s possible they will make a salary-dumping deal or two prior to officially announcing Bryzgalov’s new contract.
PREDS’ POILE WORKING ON WEBER
Nashville Predators GM David Poile recently said there’s nothing imminent to announce regarding his contract talks with his key free agents.
Poile’s priority remains re-signing restricted free agent defenseman and team captain Shea Weber and the GM said those talks are ongoing and that he remains hopeful of getting something done sooner rather than later.
He’s also held discussions with the agents for pending UFA forwards Joel Ward and Marcel Goc.
Ward’s 13 points in this year’s post-season will make negotiations a bit more tricky, since he’s never netted more than 35 points in a season. Still, the report noted Ward and his agent appear willing to give the Predators every opportunity to sign him.
It’s expected Poile will get Weber re-signed to a long-term extension, but the dollar amount of that contract will have an impact on other contract negotiations.
AVALANCHE NOT TRADING NO. 2 DRAFT PICK
While some GMs are mulling the possibility of shopping their first round picks in the upcoming NHL draft, Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman intends on retaining his second overall pick.
Sherman admitted some clubs have expressed interest in the selection, but he said it would take “something paramount” for him to part with it.
The Avs also own the 11th overall pick and it’s possible Sherman will consider moving it for the right offer. It’s believed he wants to bolster his goaltending and blueline depth this summer.
There’s also no further word on the medical status of Avalanche left winger Tomas Fleischmann, who missed the second half of the season to a pulmonary embolism. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
NO MARKOV CONTRACT…YET
Agent Don Meehan, who represents Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, said there wouldn’t be a new deal in place for his client this week, but noted an extension could still be signed before the draft.
Markov, 32, is eligible for UFA status and is coming off a four-year deal that paid him $5.75 million per season. He was also sidelined for most of the past two seasons by injuries, which will make it interesting to see what kind of deal he eventually gets from the Canadiens.
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.