Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester recent filing for salary arbitration has generated Internet interest on his potential trade status.
It’s believed he’s seeking a deal similar to Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf, whose new contract is for six years at $39 million. Over the past three seasons, Phaneuf has produced better statistics (54 goals, 159 points, plus-27) than Bouwmeester (32 goals, 125 points, plus-19), but considering the latter posted those numbers on an inferior Panthers team provides some justification for seeking a contract comparable to Phaneuf.
Bouwmeester’s agent has been negotiating with Panthers GM Jacques Martin on and off for the past year without success. If they end up in front of an arbiter, Bouwmeester could be awarded a one-year contract, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency next July as well as a frequent topic for trade rumors throughout next season.
Martin and new head coach Peter DeBoer will likely spend the first half of next season attempting to convince Bouwmeester to stick with the Panthers; no easy task given the team has been on a treadmill to nowhere, with no sign of improvement, for some time.
They could face the same situation as the Atlanta Thrashers did this season with Marian Hossa, when they were forced to shop an impending UFA star at the trade deadline.
• Keep an eye on the Los Angeles Kings in the coming weeks.
The Kings are presently more than $10 million below the cap floor of $40.7 million for next season. Even after they re-sign restricted free agents Patrick O’Sullivan, Jarret Stoll and Erik Ersberg, the Kings will likely still need to add more salary to get up to next season’s league minimum.
Kings fans have grown restless about their club’s inactivity thus far in the off-season, but there’s plenty of time for GM Dean Lombardi to make some moves.
That being said, Lombardi has suggested he’s not about to pursue any expensive signings this summer, preferring instead to build with young, affordable talent.
Internet-based rumors have suggested Lombardi is interested in Chicago Blackhawks netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, whose $6.75 million contract would certainly push the Kings closer to the minimum, but those sources also predicted former Ottawa Senators goalie Ray Emery would be in a Kings uniform.
It’s believed Lombardi will rely on Ersberg and Jason LaBarbera between the pipes next season, while prospect Jonathan Bernier could get another chance to make the club in pre-season.
• While the Kings have to get up to the cap minimum, the Philadelphia Flyers have to get below the cap ceiling.
The Flyers are around $2 million above the $56.7 million cap ceiling and given their depth at right wing, it’s thought GM Paul Holmgren could move one of them.
Recent reports suggest the best candidates are Mike Knuble ($2.8 million) and Joffrey Lupul ($2.3 million) as moving either would get the Flyers below the cap.
• The Tampa Bay Lightning have spent the off-season loading up on forwards, fueling speculation they’ll be shopping one or more in the coming weeks for some experience on the blueline.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Lightning’s current roster contains 17 forwards (including 2008 first overall pick Steven Stamkos), meaning some moves have to be made before the 2008-09 season begins.
Forwards Jussi Jokinen and Michel Ouellet continue to be named as potential trade bait and the Times also suggests Jason Ward and Ryan Craig could be shopped.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.