In the wake of the Detroit Red Wings’ playoff elimination, speculation abounds that long-time Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has played his final NHL game.
Lidstrom, 40, had a slow start to this season, but had a strong second half to finish with 49 points in 82 games and a plus- 22 rating. He also had a terrific playoff performance, scoring four goals and 10 points in 12 games with a plus-7 rating.
When asked about his future plans, Lidstrom told the Detroit media he hadn’t given it any serious thought yet and intended to meet with Red Wings GM Ken Holland in a few weeks to discuss his options.
Current thinking is Lidstrom will return for another season, but he’ll have to accept a pay cut. He earned $7.45 million in 2009-10 and might have to accept less than $6 million for next season to give the Red Wings more cap space to address other roster needs.
Lidstrom’s decision will be based in part on whether or not he feels he can perform at an elite level, but family could also be a factor. Kukla’s Korner reported Lidstrom’s oldest son has been accepted into a Swedish hockey school this fall.
• Brian Boucher has done an admirable job helping the Philadelphia Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference semifinal, but he’s not going to be their starting goalie next season.
Rob Parent of Delcotimes.com considers Boucher and Michael Leighton worthy backups, but believes the Flyers’ priority this summer should be landing a true No. 1 goaltender.
Parent pointed out this summer’s free agent market is thin for quality starting goalies, with perhaps San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov and Dallas’ Marty Turco being the best options. He suggested GM Paul Holmgren will have to consider the trade route, making tongue-in-cheek suggestions of perhaps shopping Simon Gagne or a package of Braydon Coburn and Scott Hartnell.
Gagne and Hartnell have no-trade clauses and are probably unwilling to waive them. If the Flyers do go the trade route for a goalie it could cost them a quality roster player, like Coburn or perhaps Jeff Carter, who lacks a no-movement clause in his contract.
Given the Flyers’ limited cap space they would have to free up salary to either sign a UFA netminder or trade for a true starter, like Florida’s Tomas Vokoun, whom the Flyers were linked to prior to the 2010 trade deadline.
• ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Los Angeles Kings are likely to aggressively pursue a big name player this summer.
LeBrun claimed their prime target is Ilya Kovalchuk, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. If he’s unavailable, the Kings might pursue Patrick Marleau if he’s not re-signed by the San Jose Sharks before July 1.
If they cannot find what they seek via free agency, Los Angeles could also go the trade route, as LeBrun notes the Kings are “loaded with assets” from years of rebuilding and there’ll be teams this summer looking to dump salary and willing to move forwards.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a prime target as they’re already capped out for next season and must shed some salary to re-sign their own players and still be under next season’s cap limit.
• Don’t expect Sergei Kostitsyn to be back with the Montreal Canadiens next season.
A restricted free agent this summer, Kostitsyn’s indifferent play has him banished to the press box for the Canadiens-Penguins series and his poor attitude and work ethic in practice has incurred the wrath of his teammates.
It’s possible the Habs will try trading him this summer and more than a few Canadiens fans would love to see him packaged with his underachieving brother, Andrei, but the same issues that have made Sergei persona non grata within the Canadiens organization also work against a trade.
It was rumored at mid-season Sergei Kostitsyn would jump to the Kontinental League despite being under contract with the Habs, but was warned doing so would’ve prevented him from playing for Belarus at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
As a free agent this summer, however, he can sign wherever he wants so don’t be surprised if he bolts for a KHL team.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.