Last week’s elimination of the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks from the playoffs leaves their respective GMs pondering potential off-season moves.
Reports out of Washington suggest GM George McPhee doesn’t see the need to make radical changes to his roster, but does face some necessary tweaks to improve the club. Among them are addressing the goaltending, landing a quality veteran defenseman and adding a physical forward who can be a presence in front of the opposition’s net.
McPhee must also consider replacing Sergei Fedorov, Viktor Kozlov and Donald Brashear, who could depart this summer via free agency, as well as re-signing Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin to long-term extensions.
Jose Theodore lost his starter’s role to rookie Simeon Varlamov in the playoffs, but the Washington Post reports Theodore’s determined to regain that job in training camp next fall. GM McPhee anticipates Theodore will still be with the club next season.
Fedorov, 39, still believes he has enough left in the tank for one more season, preferably with the Capitals, but he’ll likely have to accept a pay cut.
Cap space could be an issue for McPhee, who presently has more than $44 million committed to next season. He could consider trading or buying out Theodore, but given McPhee’s comments about the veteran goalie returning - plus the fact Theodore only has one more season on his contract - it makes more sense to retain him.
A potential buyout candidate would be Michael Nylander, who has two more seasons at $4.875 million remaining on his contract. Nylander doesn’t seem to have a future with the Capitals and given his no-movement clause for next season they cannot bury his salary in the minors and would have a tough time trading him.
For the third straight summer Ducks management will be wondering if Scott Niedermayer will retire.
In the past when Niedermayer wavered he was still under contract with the Ducks, but this summer he’s an unrestricted free agent; if he does decide to return it might not necessarily be with the Ducks, although GM Bob Murray wants him back next season.
The Los Angeles Times suggested if Niedermayer retires Teemu Selanne might follow suit despite having a year left on his contract.
It’s also believed Francois Beauchemin will test this summer’s free agent market and probably won’t return to the Ducks. Rob Niedermayer and Todd Marchant are also UFAs and might have to accept pay cuts to return. Murray must also consider adding depth to his second line.
Scott Niedermayer could eat up considerable cap space if the Ducks re-sign him, but thanks to Murray’s moves prior to the March trade deadline he currently has less than $39 million committed for next season. That might leave enough space to retain Niedermayer and either his brother or Marchant, add a depth defenseman and still leave enough room to bring in an offensive forward.
Fans and pundits on Canada’s West Coast didn’t take well to the Canucks’ elimination in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks, leading to suggestions GM Mike Gillis should consider trading high-priced goalie Roberto Luongo.
That suggestion stunned Luongo, who was quite emotional over letting down his teammates with a poor performance in Game 6.
Gillis, however, dismissed any suggestion the Canucks would be better off trading Luongo, saying he could afford to retain Luongo, who has another season at $7.5 million left on his contract, and re-sign the Sedin Twins, who are eligible for UFA status in July.
Gillis has sufficient cap space to retain the three, but the question is the cost of retaining the Sedins. Gillis is believed to have offered $5.5 million to each twin earlier this season, while their agent requested more than $6 million each. Unsubstantiated speculation places their asking price at more than $6.5 million apiece.
While the Sedins’ future has yet to be determined it appears Mattias Ohlund has played his last game as a Canuck, telling the Vancouver Sun it was starting to sink in he might be playing elsewhere next season.
Ohlund isn’t concerned about where his next NHL destination will be and at 32 he believes he can still perform at a high level. Don’t expect Ohlund to be available on the UFA market for long.
As for Mats Sundin, his experience with the Canucks could be short-lived. It’s not expected he’ll be re-signed and like last summer, Sundin will take some time to decide if he’ll return for another NHL season anywhere.
If he does return he shouldn’t expect the same interest for his services he had last summer. Sundin’s performance this season adversely affected his market value.
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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.