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Rumor Roundup: All eyes on Steven Stamkos as free agency approaches

It's believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annuallY, but expect him to test the market. That and much more.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here's a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.

All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.

It's believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won't lack for suitors.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he'll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn't rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.

The Detroit Red Wings could pursue the Lightning captain. On Friday, they shipped Pavel Datsyuk's contract ($7.5 million salary-cap hit) to the Arizona Coyotes. LeBrun's colleague Darren Dreger suggests they're now in position where they could table a seven-year offer to Stamkos worth over $10 million per season.

Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray indicated his club “is going to chase the big fish” in free agency. That's a none-too-subtle hint that Stamkos is on his radar. Smith also notes the Toronto Maple Leafs can offer Stamkos a bigger contract and lucrative endorsement opportunities in his hometown.

Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning recently indicated his willingness to pursue Stamkos once the free-agent courting period opened on Saturday. Because he made that comment before that period officially began, he faces a tampering penalty from the league.'s Joe Haggerty reports Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney also plans to make calls to the Stamkos camp. He also didn't rule out the possibility of bringing power forward Milan Lucic back to Boston via free agency.

It's unlikely the Canucks and Bruins can successfully woo Stamkos, but it's worthwhile for those clubs to at least make inquiries. The Sabres, Red Wings and Leafs remain the front-runners for his services.

For Stamkos, the choice is clear. Accept less than market value to remain with a legitimate Cup contender, or put those championship dreams on hold to pursue top dollar on the open market.


The NHL draft ended with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk still a member of the St. Louis Blues. The 27-year-old was the subject of intense trade speculation entering the draft weekend. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong received several offers but none he considered worthwhile. Armstrong said he intends to remain patient, which suggests the possibility of a Shattenkirk trade this summer remains likely.

Armstrong didn't elaborate about his asking price, but Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press claims he sought Dylan Larkin from the Red Wings. Understandably, the Wings passed.

Interested clubs must also work out a contract extension for Shattenkirk, who's a year away from unrestricted free agency. He's earning an annual salary-cap hit of $4.25 million on his current contract. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch cites sources saying Shattenkirk will seek a seven-year deal worth around $7-million per season.

There's conflicting reports out of New York regarding the Rangers' interest in Shattenkirk. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News stated the blueliner (a native of New Rochelle, New York) is willing to accept a hometown discount from the Rangers. However, the New York Post's Larry Brooks said the Blueshirts aren't interested in acquiring a defenseman who's a year away from UFA status.

The Edmonton Oilers could still have interest in Shattenkirk. However, the fact they retained their first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year's draft to select Jesse Puljujarvi could make them less attractive to the Blues as a trade partner.


Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler was also a hot topic of trade chatter entering the draft weekend. The Orange County Register's Eric Stephens reports Ducks GM Bob Murray received calls about the 24-year-old but no offers worth acting upon.

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch said the asking price for Fowler is a first-round pick and a prospect. He claims the Sabres made a big push for Fowler and speculates the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens could also get into the bidding.

It's believed Murray wants to move out Fowler's $4-million annual cap-hit to clear room to re-sign restricted free agent Hampus Lindholm. With so few quality defensemen of Fowler's caliber available in the UFA market, a trade could be worked out before free agency begins on July 1.


Goaltenders Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins were also frequently mentioned in the draft weekend rumor mill. However, it appears both will stay put for now.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Calgary Flames' acquisition of Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues on Friday means there's no clubs willing to take on big-money goalies like Bishop or Fleury.

On Saturday, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Fleury will start 2016-17 with the Penguins. The same likely holds true for Bishop with the Lightning. However, that doesn't mean the pair will finish the season with their current clubs.


The Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild spent the draft weekend trying to hash out a deal. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli and Wild GM Chuck Fletcher were believed discussing a possible swap of center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a young Wild blueliner such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

Matheson said nothing came of those talks and Chiarelli declined to elaborate. However, Sportsnet's Damien Cox feels the chatter linking Nugent-Hopkins to the Wild seems to have some substance.

The's Michael Russo reports the Oilers wanted the right-shooting Dumba plus other pieces, including the Wild's second-round pick in 2017. However, the Wild no longer own that pick.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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