Boston’s new GM Don Sweeney could bring big changes to Beantown in his first off-season and will have to decide what to do about the Bruins’ lack of scoring. Meanwhile, Ottawa’s future in goal is uncertain, as the Senators will have to move out one of their three NHL goaltenders and the Columbus Blue Jackets shop young winger Kerby Rychel.
Lost amid news of the Toronto Maple Leafs hiring Mike Babcock were reports of the Boston Bruins hiring a new GM. Over a month after firing Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins promoted assistant GM Don Sweeney.
The Boston media wasted little time dreaming up “to-do” lists for Sweeney. Along with re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton and deciding if Claude Julien stays or goes as head coach, The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa and the Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris agreed a decision must be reached over left winger Milan Lucic’s future with the Bruins.
Coming off one of his worst NHL seasons, the 26-year-old Lucic carries an annual cap hit of $6 million and will earn $6.5 million in actual salary for 2015-16. He’s also eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Harris believes the power forward could seek a long-term deal worth over $7-million annually. Shinzawa cites an agent suggesting Lucic could command $8 million per season on the open market.
Considering the Bruins’ limited cap flexibility and the need to re-sign Hamilton and other key players, Sweeney could test Lucic’s trade value leading up to the NHL Draft weekend (June 26-27) in hopes of securing a solid return while freeing up some much-needed cap space.
Despite his salary, UFA status and consistency issues, Lucic will certainly attract considerable attention if he hits the trade block this summer. Finding suitable destinations could be a sticking point, as he carries a modified no-trade clause.
Shinzawa suggests the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could be interested. Former Bruins GM Chiarelli is now the Oilers GM, whilst Canucks GM Jim Benning was Chiarelli’s assistant up until last summer. The Canucks, however, have cap issues of their own, while Chiarelli could seek assurances Lucic will re-sign with the Oilers before agreeing to a deal.
SENS CROWDED CREASE WILL RESULT IN TRADE
The Ottawa Senators re-signed season-savior Andrew Hammond to a three-year, one-way contract worth $4 million. This move also increases the likelihood the Senators will be trading a goaltender.
With Hammond, starter Craig Anderson and backup Robin Lehner under contract for 2015-16, it’s looking less likely the Sens will carry all three goalies into next season. Considering Hammond’s late-season heroics and Anderson’s solid performance (when healthy), Lehner appears the odd man out.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports sources say the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks made inquiries about the 23-year-old Lehner before Hammond was re-signed. Garrioch claims there’s more interest in Lehner because he’s younger and has more upside. Of the clubs cited by Garrioch, he feels the Sabres and Oilers would be a better fit, owing to the respective youth on their rosters.
Lehner does have an injury history, with his most recent being a season-ending concussion suffered in February. He has reportedly made progress and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
BLUE JACKETS SHOPPING RYCHEL
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Columbus Blue Jackets could move left winger Kerby Rychel in the off-season. Friedman claims the Jackets seek defensemen and are loaded with good, young forwards.
Rychel, the 20-year-old son of former NHL’er Warren Rychel, was selected 19th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. Friedman claims the Montreal Canadiens could be among the suitors for this promising power forward. Despite concussion issues last season, Friedman reports Rychel is now clear of symptoms.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch followed up on Friedman’s report, saying he wouldn’t be shocked if Rychel gets dealt. Considering the high number of promising forwards in the Jackets system (which includes Alexander Wenneberg, Marko Dano, Josh Anderson and Sonny Milano), Portzline believes Rychel could fetch the best return.
The Canadiens need offensive depth, though they’d likely prefer more established options. Still, if there’s an opportunity to land an affordable forward with size and strength like Rychel, they could pursue it.
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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