The big name players potentially heading to free agency, such as Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar, have overshadowed some of the veterans who could make an impact elsewhere, such as the Oilers’ Teddy Purcell and Senators’ Chris Neil. Meanwhile, expect teams to continue to shop their high-priced AHLers.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch published his list of potential free agents to watch in 2015-16. Among the usual suspects like Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Garrioch included Edmonton Oilers right wing Teddy Purcell and Ottawa Senators winger Chris Neil.
With the Oilers and Senators rebuilding with young players, Garrioch doubts there’s room for Purcell and Neil on their respective clubs after this season. Purcell, 30, is earning $4.5 million this season. The 36-year-old Neil has a salary-cap hit of $1.9 million, for 2015-16, though in actual salary he’ll collect $1.5 million. Unlike Purcell, Neil has a modified no-trade clause that gives him control over where he can be dealt.
Garrioch claims if Neil hadn’t broken his thumb last season, there’s a “good chance” he would’ve wound up with the Nashville Predators. He feels Neil’s low salary is a reason why teams are still calling about him. His experience and toughness are also likely factors.
Purcell enjoyed several seasons of offensive success with the Tampa Bay Lightning, including a career-best 65-point effort in 2011-12. Acquired by the Oilers in June 2014, he struggled in Edmonton last season, tallying only 12 goals and 34 points in 82 games.
Even if Purcell regains his offensive touch this season, the Oilers depth in talented young forwards likely means he doesn’t have a future in Edmonton. If they’re out of playoff contention by the New Year, expect his name to surface in the rumor mill.
Performance will also be a factor for Neil. He’s at an age where his physical style takes almost as much of a toll upon him as it does on his opponents. Should he end up losing playing time to his younger teammates, Neil could hit the trade block before the December trade freeze.
NOTABLE NAMES CLEARING WAIVERS
Several notable NHL veterans recently cleared waivers and were demoted. Among them were Edmonton Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin and goaltender Ben Scrivens, Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Andrew MacDonald and Calgary Flames winger Mason Raymond.
They all carried significant salaries. Nikitin and Scrivens’ combined cap hits are $6.8 million, MacDonald’s $5 million and Raymond $3.15 million. Their teams only get $950K each in cap relief, so that’s a lot of money riding the buses in the minors this season.
The Oilers and Flyers are paying for the sins of their previous management. Nikitin and Scrivens are both eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, so there’s a chance at some point one or both could end up on the trade block. MacDonald and Raymond, however, still have term remaining on their contracts, making it difficult to shop them.
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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