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Decisions, decisions

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Speculation over the potential destination of Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester continues to brew despite the fact his free agent status has yet to be determined.

The Ottawa Sun recently suggested Bouwmeester, an Edmonton native, could sign with either the Oilers or Calgary Flames this summer should he decide to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Perhaps the 25-year-old blueliner would like to play for either Alberta club, but unless the Oilers or Flames free up extra cap room or change their respective needs this summer, they’re unlikely to pursue Bouwmeester.

The Flames already have more than $42.6 million committed to next season’s payroll and GM Darryl Sutter’s priority will likely be to retain forward Mike Cammalleri, who has terrific offensive chemistry with team captain Jarome Iginla. Sutter might also want to keep some space available to sign an experienced backup for over-worked starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

As for the Oilers, they currently have almost $43.5 million committed for 2009-10 and have plenty of high-priced defensemen (Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky and Tom Gilbert) on their roster. GM Steve Tambellini’s priority this summer will be to find a quality starting goaltender to replace the 39-year-old Dwayne Roloson, who also becomes a UFA in July.

• Last week, the Detroit Free Press reported Red Wings GM Ken Holland intends to meet this week with Marian Hossa’s agent in hopes of determining what the cost might be to keep the talented winger in Detroit.

Holland has about $9 million in available cap space for this summer, but he also has to consider re-signing winger Johan Franzen, who’s on pace to score 34 goals this season.

The Wings GM has stated he’d like to re-sign both players, but given his limited cap space that seems unlikely.

Even if both accepted considerable hometown discounts – as Hossa suggested he might be interested in doing – it still might not be enough to keep both wingers in the fold.

Unless Holland can move significant cap space to accommodate both players without adversely affecting his roster depth he’ll have to choose between Hossa or Franzen.

Franzen will likely end up being the most affordable option for the Red Wings to retain.

• Former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr recently confirmed there was talk between the Edmonton Oilers and his current team, Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental League, about a deal that would’ve gotten Jagr out of his KHL contract and signed him with the Oilers.

The Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun reported Jagr indicated the deal fell through when Omsk qualified for the KHL playoffs. He added he wanted to honor his KHL contract and would only have considered otherwise if Avangard ownership requested it.

It appears that as long as Avangard Omsk can afford to pay Jagr he’ll keep playing in Russia, but given the recent reports of the KHL facing financial difficulties, the speculation of his possible return to the NHL is likely to grow in the coming months.

• The Colorado Avalanche is finishing off their worst season since the club relocated to Denver in 1995, which has lead to calls in the local media for significant off-season changes in the front office, behind the bench and to the roster.

A top starting goaltender is the Avalanche’s most pressing need, something they’ve lacked since Patrick Roy retired in 2003.

Adrian Dater of the Denver Postrecently listed several potentially available goalies this summer, including Boston’s Tim Thomas and Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin. But considering the club’s limited cap space (more than $44 million tied up in 13 players) for next season, Dater believes they’ll have to consider cheaper options.

Those could include Scott Clemmensen, Craig Anderson, Martin Biron or Manny Legace.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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