Since the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs a month ago, it’s been widely assumed GM Mike Gillis would shop veteran goalie Roberto Luongo to make room for promising Cory Schneider as their new starter.
That, however, might not be as certain as originally thought.
Last week, Gillis suggested bringing back Luongo and Schneider next season was “a distinct possibility,” an opinion shared by Schneider’s agent, Mike Liut.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province didn’t see how keeping both could be a “healthy situation,” for the goalies or the club’s cap space. The Canucks have considerable salary tied up in Luongo, plus Schneider will be due a healthy raise on a long-term contract.
Schneider is a restricted free agent and could become an offer-sheet target between July 1 and 5, even if he or the Canucks were to file for salary arbitration before then.
Botchford acknowledged, however, there could be tepid interest in Luongo if potential suitors wish to wait and see how things play out with the next collective bargaining agreement.
The new CBA could have an effect upon Luongo’s lengthy contract and $5.3-million annual cap hit, as well as how to dispose of that contract (if necessary) later in its term.
Gillis will gauge Luongo’s trade value once the playoffs are over and he could find a trade partner willing to accept that big contract, whatever the risks in the next CBA.
SENATORS SUMMER PLANS?
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray’s main priorities this summer are re-signing Norris Trophy finalist Erik Karlsson and trying to convince team captain Daniel Alfredsson to play out the final season of his contract.
After that, Murray might consider dipping into the free agent market to add more offense at forward and defensive grit on the blueline.
Ottawa Sun pundit Bruce Garrioch listed New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise, Boston Bruins center (and former Senator) Chris Kelly, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Bryan Allen, Colorado Avalanche right winger David Jones and Detroit Red Wings right winger Jiri Hudler as five unrestricted free agents Murray should target.
Forget about landing Parise, who has indicated the importance of playing for a Stanley Cup contender as a factor in his future plans. The Senators, while showing promise in their first year of rebuilding, aren’t anywhere near that category yet.
Besides, Parise’s has been linked to American-based teams, like Detroit, Minnesota and the New York Rangers.
Kelly is a better bet. As Garrioch observed, Murray was forced to trade the 31-year-old to the Boston Bruins last year as part of a salary purge. Kelly maintained a home in the Ottawa area and, if his contract talks with the Bruins remain stalled, could consider a return to the Senators.
Allen and Jones would be affordable alternatives. The 27-year-old Jones is a streaky scorer, but Garrioch believes he could thrive playing on Jason Spezza’s line.
Hudler would be a good addition, but his first choice is to re-sign with the Red Wings. Given how his game fell apart after a year in Russia’s Kontinental League, he might not play as well outside of Detroit, regardless of his familiarity with former Wings and current Senators coach Paul MacLean.
The Senators currently have more than $37 million committed to 15 players. Karlsson’s new contract, along with those for RFA left winger Nick Foligno and perhaps UFA defenseman Filip Kuba, will take a bite out of that cap space.
If Murray does go into the free agent market, he’ll look for affordable players who’ll best complement the Senators’ rebuilding plan.
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 and Kukla’s Korner.