Free agent defenseman Kris Russell is in talks with as many as eight teams and could have a new home in the next few days, while veteran Alex Tanguay draws interest.
Defenseman Kris Russell remains the most notable available player in this summer’s NHL unrestricted free agent market. However, he might not remain unsigned for much longer.
During an appearance on the NHL Network last Wednesday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claimed Russell could make a decision within the next few days. TSN’s Darren Dreger subsequently reported the 29-year-old blueliner was in discussions with as many as eight teams and could be signed before training camp opens later this month.
Friedman also said Russell, a shot-blocking specialist, prefers to remain in the Western Conference. During last season’s trade deadline, the Calgary Flames shipped Russell to the Dallas Stars. Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if Russell wanted to return to the Flames. Unless they can clear some salary-cap space, however, he doesn’t see him as a fit on the Flames’ crowded blueline.
If Russell can’t find any suitors in the Western Conference, he’ll have no choice but to sign with an Eastern Conference club. The New Jersey Devils could be an Eastern club seeking someone with his experience and defensive skills.
ALEX TANGUAY DRAWING INTEREST
Left winger Alex Tanguay is also still looking for a contract. Marc-Antoine Godin of La Presse reports the 36-year-old’s agent claims two or three teams are interested in his client.
Godin said Tanguay isn’t interested in a professional tryout deal. Having netted 35 points in 70 games last season, the veteran believes he’s in a position to receive a contract offer. He’s willing to accept a one-year deal.
Tanguay played one season (2008-09) with the Montreal Canadiens and is willing to rejoin the Habs. He reportedly contacted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin earlier this summer, but they’re not believed among those three potential suitors. While Tanguay’s best seasons are well behind him, he’s only a year removed from a 55-point effort in 2014-15 with the Colorado Avalanche. After being shipped to the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline, he netted 13 points in his final 18 games. Under the right scenario, he could bring some experienced depth to a club seeking help at left wing.
Kris Versteeg, meanwhile, returns to the NHL UFA market after insurance complications nullified a deal with Switzerland’s SC Bern. Darren Dreger reports the 30-year-old right wing will be back in North America this week.
In 77 games last season split between the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings, Versteeg tallied 15 goals and 38 points. He also has Stanley Cup Final experience, helping the Chicago Blackhawks win two championships in 2010 and 2015.
The Province’s Patrick Johnston notes the Vancouver Canucks still need help on the wings this season. He suggests Versteeg could be a good fit.
With just over $2.7 million in cap space, the Canucks can’t afford to spend very much via free agency on a winger. Versteeg, however, might be an affordable acqusition for one year and around $1 million.
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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