The NHL’s annual free-agent market opens at noon ET on Saturday. Here’s a look at the latest speculation over possible destinations for this summer’s noteworthy UFAs.
Kevin Shattenkirk: Arguably the best player available in this summer’s free-agent market, the 28-year-old should attract teams seeking a skilled puck-moving defenseman with a right-handed shot. He could command over $6.5-million annually on a seven-year deal.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Lightning reached out Sunday to the Shattenkirk camp. NorthJersey.com’s Andrew Gross speculates the New Jersey Devils could make a pitch. The Buffalo News‘ John Vogl believes the Sabres have sufficient salary-cap space to pursue him, if they wish.
For months, there was considerable media chatter suggesting the New York Rangers might pursue the New Rochelle, N.Y., native. However, the New York Post‘s Brett Cyrgalis suggests their recent re-signing of blueliner Brendan Smith to a four-year deal likely takes them out of the Shattenkirk sweepstakes.
Joe Thornton: LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen reported Monday the Kings spoke with Thornton. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman includes the Kings with the Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens on his list of potential suitors for the long-time Sharks center.
Thornton, who turns 38 on July 2, could be using their interest as leverage in his contract discussions with the Sharks. But if he keeps insisting on a three-year deal, he could be on his way out of San Jose.
Alexander Radulov: The Montreal Gazette‘s Pat Hickey reports term is the sticking point between the Canadiens and Radulov. The right winger, who turns 31 on July 18, netted 54 points in his NHL comeback in 2016-17.
Radulov apparently seeks a seven-year contract worth $42 million, which he won’t get from the Habs or any other NHL club. If he hopes to remain in Montreal, he’ll have to accept a four- or five-year deal.
Patrick Marleau: The 37-year-old Sharks forward tallied 27 goals in 2016-17, marking the 14th time he’s reached the 20-goal plateau in his long career. According to The Athletic’s Craig Custance, the Sharks, Kings, Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators are in the mix for the veteran winger’s services.
Marleau’s likely preference is to finish his career in San Jose, but he could test the market for a better deal. His fate could be tied to that of Thornton’s.
Karl Alzner: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets have strong interest in Alzner. The 28-year-old shutdown blueliner hasn’t missed a regular-season game since 2010-11.
Alzner’s stay-at-home skills could make him an invaluable addition to both clubs. He’s reportedly seeking around $5-million annually.
Justin Williams: Despite his age, the 35-year-old Williams remains a reliable second-line scoring right winger. Dreger believes the Dallas Stars could have some interest.
Radim Vrbata: The veteran right winger was the Coyotes’ leading scorer (55 points) in 2016-17. While the Coyotes could attempt to re-sign him, he’s also linked to the Boston Bruins.
The Boston Globe‘s Kevin Paul Dupont cites a source close to the 36-year-old Vrbata claiming he could be open to joining the Bruins. Dupont adds the Bruins were rumored to have an interest in him before the March 1 trade deadline.
Andrei Markov: The Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowen reports the long-time Canadiens defenseman seeks a two-year, $12-million contract.
Having dealt away Nathan Beaulieu and lost Alexi Emelin to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, the Habs cannot afford to lose another blueliner. However, they could be leery about investing that much in the 38-year-old Markov.
Nick Bonino: After helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win two consecutive Stanley Cup titles, the 29-year-old center could be moving on.
Dreger reports as many as 10 teams have interest in Bonino. Among them are the Blue Jackets, according to Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch. The Predators could also come calling.
Steve Mason: Given the limited depth of quality goaltenders in the free-agent pool, the 29-year-old Mason is garnering attention from clubs seeking help in the crease.
The Winnipeg Sun‘s Ken Wiebe reports the Jets are among several clubs speaking to the former Flyer.
Sam Gagner: After signing a one-year, $650,000 deal with the Blue Jackets last August, Gagner netted a career-high 50-points in 2016-17. He’ll seek considerably more this summer.
The Athletic’s Scott Powers reports there’s mutual interest between Gagner and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ryan Miller: The 38-year-old netminder could finish his NHL playing career in California.
According to Friedman, Miller could ink a one-year deal worth $1 million with the Anaheim Ducks. Friedman isn’t sure if bonuses will also be included in that deal.
Thomas Vanek: There’s talk the Detroit Red Wings could consider bringing back Vanek. The 33-year-old played well in Motown during his brief tenure there in 2016-17.
NorthJersey.com’s Andrew Gross also suggests he could be an option for the Devils.
Brian Elliott: After washing out last season as the Calgary Flames’ starting goalie, Elliott will look for a bounce-back performance elsewhere in 2017-18.
CSNPhilly.com reports the Flyers could be an option for the 32-year-old netminder.
Trevor Daley and Dan Girardi: The two veteran blueliners appear to have new destinations already lined up.
Friedman reports Daley could have a deal in place with the Detroit Red Wings. He also said Girardi may be close to signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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 and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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