The Maple Leafs haven’t yet come to a decision on the future of aging, oft-injured winger Joffrey Lupul, who played only 46 games in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are looking for a top-two defenseman and the Islanders have a tough choice to make in goal.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons praises the ability of Maple Leafs management to ship out contracts considered untradeable. He observes they’ve shed over $23 million in salary-cap space in the last 18 months by dealing away Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier.
That prompted Simmons to speculate their next trick will be making winger Joffrey Lupul’s contract disappear. Lupul, 32, is signed through 2017-18 at an annual average salary of $5.25 million. He also holds a modified no-trade clause listing 14 acceptable trade destinations.
Since joining the Leafs, Lupul’s continually been sidelined by injuries. He missed 31 games in 2015-16 to a sports hernia. As a result, his name is frequently surfacing in trade rumors.
In late-June, Lupul told Simmons he’s playing the waiting game, uncertain over where he fits into the Leafs plans going forward. GM Lou Lamoriello remains silent on the matter. During a recent media scrum, he declared Lupul “is on our roster and I think that’s all I have to say.”
Lupul’s lengthy injury history makes him difficult to trade. His salary-cap hit is another problem, though the Leafs could offer to retain a portion of it. They could demote Lupul, though they’ll only see $950K of savings by doing so.
Finding a way to shed Lupul’s contract will be among Lamoriello’s biggest tests as Leafs GM.
RED WINGS SEARCHING FOR TOP-PAIRING ‘D’
The Detroit Red Wings’ pursuit of a top-pairing defenseman could carry on for some time. Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News reports GM Ken Holland admitted the search could stretch into training camp.
It’s believed Holland will draw upon his depth in forwards for trade bait. However, Krupa points out the Wings GM is reluctant to part with his young prospects or veterans such as Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar.
To land Shattenkirk or Fowler, however, will almost certainly cost a good young prospect and/or a winger like Nyquist or Tatar. The asking price isn’t likely to decline come September.
ISLANDERS COULD SEND HALAK PACKING
At some point in the near future, the New York Islanders must address their crowded crease. They recently re-signed J-F Berube to a one-year deal. With Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss also under contract next season, they’ll have three goalies jockeying for two spots next season.
ESPN.com’s Joe MacDonald suggests the Isles at some point could trade Halak to clear some salary-cap space. The 32-year-old netminder carries a $4.5-million cap hit through 2017-18. Newsday’s Arthur Staple speculates Berube’s signing doesn’t automatically mean Halak’s on his way out, but the Isles will have to address the logjam in goal.
Greiss’ solid performance down the stretch and into the playoffs last season generated considerable speculation over Halak’s trade status. While he lacks a no-trade clause, his frequent absences to injury could make him a tough sell.
The Isles could assess the play of Halak, Greiss and Berube through training camp and preseason before reaching a decision. During that period, a rival club could develop a pressing need for goaltending help.
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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