With NHL training camps slated to begin in mid-September (barring another lockout), the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators are among several teams either actively seeking blueline depth, or expected to be in the near future.
Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com reported the Flyers blueline “may have depth, but they lack superior depth.”
GM Paul Holmgren's failed efforts earlier this summer to land Ryan Suter and Shea Weber is indicative of the kind of “superior depth” the Flyers sought.
With Chris Pronger's career in jeopardy due to post-concussion symptoms, Kimmo Timonen with an ailing back, and the loss of Matt Carle to free agency, it's little wonder Holmgren went after Suter and Weber.
Panaccio suggested Holmgren should contact the San Jose Sharks about Dan Boyle or Douglas Murray, or the Montreal Canadiens about restricted free agent P.K. Subban, who is in contract talks.
This isn't the first time Boyle and Murray have appeared in summer trade rumors.
Boyle, 36, attracted some criticism for his performance during the first half of last season. With Brent Burns seen as Boyle’s heir apparent, some fans feel the Sharks would be better off shopping Boyle and his contract (two years at over $6.66 million per) for a top-six forward.
He would also be easier to move now, as he no longer has a full no-trade clause, but rather a modified one in which he must submit a list of eight clubs he won't accept being dealt to.
Murray, 32, will be eligible for UFA status next summer. Among the league leaders in hits by defensemen during the regular season and playoffs in 2010-11, injuries hampered his performance last season, sparking some speculation over his future in San Jose.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson could consider moving either guy, but he'd also have to find a suitable replacement.
Boyle is ageing, but his performance improved in the second half of last season and his experience and leadership would be missed, as would Murray's physical style.
As for Subban, while his contract talks are taking longer than expected, that's no indication the Canadiens would consider moving him.
Like the Flyers, the Red Wings have some big skates to fill on their defense after losing Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart to free agency.
George Sipple of The Detroit Free Press reported GM Ken Holland acknowledged his team's need for more blueline depth.
Sipple feels that need will be addressed via trade or a “gamble on a free agent” and listed Michal Rozsival, Brett Clark and Carlo Colaiacovo as the best available options.
Should Holland decide to go the free agent route, the Wings currently have around $13 million in available cap space, enough to pursue one or more of those blueliners.
Rozsival earned an average annual salary of $5 million on his last contract, Colaiacovo $2.125 million and Clark $1.5 million.
The longer they go unsigned, the more affordable they'll become, provided another club seeking blueline help doesn't sign them first.
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reported the Nashville Predators still need some upgrades and cited their blueline, especially given the loss of Ryan Suter to Minnesota via free agency.
Cooper didn't speculate on free agent options for the Predators, but indicated trade choices were few. He claimed the Predators had interest earlier this summer in Pittsburgh's Paul Martin, but it appears he'll remain with the Penguins.
Panaccio noted the possibility that this season might not begin on time gives these teams longer to address their needs.
The next collective bargaining agreement could also be a significant factor, as it could force some teams to shed salary by shopping some high-salaried talent they cannot afford to retain.
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, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.