Despite no-trade clauses and a change of heart (sort of) from their GM, Thornton and Marleau remain in the rumor mill…And could Arizona take advantage of other teams with salary cap problems?
As the San Jose Sharks prepare for the start of training camp next week, questions hang over the future of several players.
Though Sharks GM Doug Wilson backtracked somewhat from talk of making significant changes to his roster, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz still believes Wilson is open to moving Patrick Marleau for a deal agreeable to all sides.
Marleau and Joe Thornton are both starting three-year contracts containing full no-movement clauses. So far neither player has shown any indication they want out of San Jose, but the Sharks recently stripped Marleau of his alternate captaincy and Thornton of the captaincy, which generated speculation it was done to force the pair out of San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan, however, insisted it was done merely to start this season with a clean slate.
Kurz also believes Antti Niemi’s stint as the Sharks’ undisputed starting goaltender is over. Kurz expects the 31-year-old netminder will be challenged by backup Alex Stalock. With Niemi eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Kurz feels it’s time for the Sharks to “start phasing out” Niemi by shopping him once Stalock proves capable of handling the starter’s job.
Tyler Kennedy is another Shark who could be on the move. After struggling last season, Kurz feels Kennedy could be squeezed out of the lineup by a promising player.
The Sharks overall performance over the course of this season will determine if sweeping changes are required. If San Jose remains among the top teams in the Western Conference, it’s difficult to imagine Wilson shakes things up. Another early playoff exit or a poor performance during the regular season could see Wilson exert pressure on Thornton and Marleau to accept being dealt and Niemi will certainly be gone via trade or free agency.
COYOTES ON THE TRADE PROWL?
The limited cap space of the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins could provide an opportunity for the Arizona Coyotes to bolster their roster.
The Arizona Republic’s Ryan Winn notes the Bruins and Blackhawks are currently perched over the $69-million salary cap, while the Penguins have less than $1 million in cap space. He feels the Coyotes, with $11 million in cap space, could be in position to strike a deal with one of those teams.
Winn points to Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg as possible trade targets. He also lists Boston’s Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid, along with Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi, as other options.
Oduya, Sharp, Bickell, Boychuk, Kelly, Letang and Scuderi have full or modified no-trade clauses, so Arizona might not be on their respective lists of preferred trade destinations. It’s unlikely the Blackhawks move Sharp or Bickell, while he Bruins could retain Boychuk in hopes of re-signing him later this season. Earlier this summer, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford stated Letang wasn’t going anywhere. That leaves Versteeg and McQuaid as the most likely targets.
It appears, however, Coyotes GM Don Maloney is weighing more affordable options. The Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports the Coyotes will have defensemen Jamie McBain and Matt Smaby, along with forward Matt Kassian, in training camp on professional tryouts. She also claims Maloney is mulling a few others.
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.