Many wonder if the Leafs will ride out the two remaining seasons on Joffrey Lupul’s contract, package him in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.
TSN.ca’s Kristen Shilton recently listed five questions the Toronto Maple Leafs must still address this summer. Among them was what to do about right winger Joffrey Lupul.
The oft-injured Lupul, who turns 33 in September, has two seasons left on his contract at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause. Shilton wonders if the Leafs will ride out those remaining seasons, package Lupul in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.
While the Leafs successfully dealt away supposedly untradeable players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, Lupul won’t be easy to move. His trade value is low and few teams can afford his cap hit.
The Leafs could try shipping him off to a club with lots of cap space and no notable restricted free agents to re-sign, such as the Carolina Hurricanes ($16.7 million in cap room) or the New Jersey Devils ($13 million). However, these teams are all above the salary-cap minimum of $54 million and aren’t facing any pressure to take on another contract.
Given Lupul’s injury history, interested clubs would likely want a top prospect bundled into the deal. That’s something Leafs management could be reluctant to do.
Lupul underwent season-ending sports-hernia surgery last February. If he’s fully recovered and ready to play in 2016-17, putting him on LTIR isn’t an option.
It appears the Leafs will be stuck with Lupul for the coming season. The best they can hope for is he’s healthy and productive enough to attract the attention of a rival team seeking a short-term veteran scoring winger.
CANUCKS STILL LOOKING FOR SCORING WINGER
Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning hasn’t given up on his plan to add a scoring winger to his roster. On Friday, he told TSN 1040 he’s exploring all options, including the trade and free-agent markets.
Benning said he’s spoken to “a bunch of teams” regarding a trade. Though talks didn’t go very far, he isn’t ruling out revisiting those conversations. He declined to say if he’s pursuing a veteran free agent such as Jiri Hudler, Brandon Pirri or Antoine Vermette. Benning also isn’t ruling out inviting a free agent to training camp next month on a professional tryout contract.
In recent weeks, the Canucks were linked to troubled Buffalo Sabres left winger – and Vancouver native – Evander Kane. Given the 25-year-old Kane’s off-ice legal issues, his injury history, declining performance and $5.25-million salary-cap hit through 2017-18, Benning would be better off considering other options. The last thing his club needs is a player who could become an unwelcome distraction.
The free-agent market is thin on quality talent, but Hudler and Pirri could be affordable short-term options for the Canucks. Hudler, 32, reached a career-high 76 points in 2014-15. The 25-year-old Pirri is a younger option who reached 22 goals in 2014-15.
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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