It didn’t take long for speculation to begin over the two Stanley Cup finalists’ off-season plans.
Following the end of the 2016 Stanley Cup final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, it didn’t take long for speculation to begin over the Cup finalists’ off-season plans.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance suggests the Penguins trade goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With Matt Murray taking over as the starter during the playoffs and the Penguins carrying limited salary-cap room, they could consider moving the 31-year-old’s $5.75-million cap hit.
Custance believes Fleury could be “a great fit” with the Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes. Both clubs need depth between the pipes and have depth in young talent and prospects to entice the Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari notes the Penguins could also move Fleury this summer in order to protect Murray in a possible expansion draft next June. He also speculates the veteran netminder could request a trade.
Fleury has a no-movement clause but it only applies to waivers and demotions. He carries a partial no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. It’s unknown if the Flames or Hurricanes are on that list.
As the Sharks head into the offseason, veteran forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau told Jon Wilner of the Mercury News they intend to return next season.
The long-time Sharks both have a year remaining on their contracts with full no-movement clauses. Wilner notes Marleau reportedly made a trade request last November, listing the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers as acceptable destinations. Over the course of the season, however, his name fell out of the rumor mill.
CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports the 36-year-old Marleau’s intent to stay didn’t sound “overly convincing.” Kurz notes Marleau at times didn’t seem to see eye-to-eye with coach Peter DeBoer.
Custance believes it’s time for the Sharks to part ways with Marleau. They might have to absorb part of his $6.6 million cap hit for 2016-17, but Custance thinks it’ll be worth it in order to invest the savings elsewhere in the lineup.
Unless Marleau changes his mind, a trade seems unlikely. If he agrees to be dealt, he’ll have to widen his list of destinations. The Ducks, Kings and Rangers cannot afford an aging forward with an expensive cap hit. Even if the Sharks picked up part of it, those clubs will likely consider younger, cheaper options.
BROWN TOUGH TO MOVE
The NHL’s buyout period begins June 15 and runs until 5 pm ET on June 30.
On Tuesday, The Hockey News compiled a listing of possible buyout candidates. Among the notables was Los Angeles Kings left winger Dustin Brown.
It was recently reported the Los Angeles Kings relieved the 31-year-old Brown of the team captaincy, though it’s yet to be officially confirmed by the club. That sparked speculation the Kings could attempt to trade him this summer.
Brown’s declining production, hefty contract ($5.875-million annual cap hit through 2021-22) and modified no-trade clause makes him a tough sell on the trade market.
Buying out Brown is easier, but will count against the Kings cap hit for a long time. Buyouts for players 26-and-older are calculated at two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining term.
For Brown, a buyout will count against the Kings’ cap through 2027-28. In the first season, it counts as only $680K against the cap in 2016-17, rising to $1.18 million for 2017-18, $2.18-million per season for 2018-19 and 2019-20 and $3.68-million per season for 2020-21 and 2021-22. For the remaining years, it falls to $1.805-million per season.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.