UFA Tracker

Rumor Roundup: The latest on notable trade candidates and free agents

With the start of NHL training camps less than three weeks away, here’s the latest rumblings regarding this summer’s notable remaining free agents and trade candidates.

Matt Duchene: The 26-year-old Colorado Avalanche center remains a fixture in the offseason rumor mill. Avs GM Joe Sakic last week told the Denver Post‘s Mike Chambers he’ll continue listening to trade offers but expects Duchene to attend training camp next month.

Earlier this summer, the Columbus Blue Jackets reportedly made a pitch for Duchene with defenseman Ryan Murray as part of the offer. Sakic’s asking price, however, apparently remains high. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline last week reported Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment about potential moves but he didn’t rule out making one. Portzline believes the Jackets and Avs could be perfect trade partners.

Jaromir Jagr: During an appearance Monday on the NHL Network, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he thinks the Calgary Flames were among several teams looking at signing the 45-year-old winger. Friedman also looked into speculation linking Jagr to the Anaheim Ducks but was told the Ducks aren’t interested.

With New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac sidelined up to six months recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector wondered if they might bring back Jagr. Their recent PTO invite to winger Jimmy Hayes, however, suggests they’re considering younger short-term options.

Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla:  All remains quiet for the 40-year-old free-agent right wingers. Earlier this month, Hockey Canada contacted the duo to gauge their interest in skating for Canada’s Olympic hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Both players, however, remain hopeful of continuing their NHL playing careers. Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan, said they’re not dealing with the Olympic issue right now. A month ago, Doan’s agent Terry Bross said he talked to four or five teams about his client.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The 24-year-old center’s future with the Edmonton Oilers is in doubt after the club invested a combined $21 million of their long-term salary-cap payroll in forwards Connor McDavid ($12.5-million annually) and Leon Draisaitl ($8.5 million) starting in 2018-19.

It’s expected the Oilers could shed Nugent-Hopkins’ $6-million annual salary to free up some much-needed cap space. If so, Spector doesn’t expect that to happen until sometime in 2018.

David Pastrnak: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney recently dismissed the notion he might trade the 21-year-old right winger if unable to re-sign him. That hasn’t kept his contract negotiations out of the news.

The focus now shifts to the term of Pastrnak’s next contract. The Bruins reportedly want the winger signed to a six-year deal worth $6 million annually, while his representatives seek a lengthier term for more money. If a long-term term deal cannot be worked out, The Athletic’s Craig Custance suggests a bridge deal comparable to Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (three years, $14.3-million) might be necessary.

Thomas Vanek: On Wednesday, player agent Brian Bartlett told Buffalo radio WGR 550 there is increasing interest in the 34-year-old winger a new contract could be coming soon.

Vanek split last season between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. He was reportedly in touch last month with the Wings   but their lack of salary-cap space could prevent his return to Motown.

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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