While there's considerable attention on the contract status of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, the Lightning's goaltending could also be worth watching during the upcoming season.
NHL.com's Corey Long wonders how long Ben Bishop will remain the Lightning's starting goalie. While the 28-year-old enters this season as the top dog between the Tampa Bay pipes, Long suggests Bishop is among their most valuable trade assets.
Bishop's stock certainly rose after backstopping the Lighting to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. He's currently entering the first season of a two-year contract worth $5.95-million annually. The deal also comes with a full no-movement clause.
Long, however, believes a new contract for Stamkos could force Lightning management to shed salary to ensure sufficient room to re-sign other notables in the near future. Those include defenseman Victor Hedman and forwards Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn. He believes Bishop could become expendable if backup Andrei Vasilevskiy shows sufficient potential in 2015-16.
Should Vasilevskiy blossom into a starter this season once he returns from a blood clot that will sideline him for 2-3 months, the Bolts will likely keep their goaltending tandem intact for the playoffs. Under that scenario, the earliest Bishop could be shopped is at the 2016 NHL Draft next June. Even then, it'll depend up whether Stamkos is under contract by that point.
CHICAGO HASN’T ASKED KANE TO WAIVE NO TRADE CLAUSE
Recent rumors claiming at least five NHL teams are interested in Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane provided an early-September jolt to an otherwise slow NHL rumor mill. Kane, 26, is currently under investigation by Hamburg, N.Y., police for sexual assault, though no charges have been filed.
The uncertainty over this situation's outcome leaves Kane's immediate future with the Blackhawks murky at best. It's unknown if Kane will attend training camp while the investigation is ongoing, let alone if he'll be in the lineup when the season opens next month.
If the Blackhawks brass is thinking about trading Kane, they haven't taken it up with him yet. He's entering the first season of his eight-year, $84 million contract, which also contains a full no-movement clause. ESPN.com's Scott Power reports a source close to Kane claims he hasn't been approached about waiving that clause.
For now, it appears the Blackhawks are awaiting the outcome of the investigation before deciding on a course of action. Until then, don't expect Kane to hit the trade block anytime soon.
THORNTON WISHES TO STAY A SHARK
During the summer of 2014, a feud between San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson and center Joe Thornton spilled out into the media. The spat reached its height when the Sharks announced Thornton was being stripped of the captaincy, fuelling considerable speculation over the big center's future in San Jose.
Armed with a full no-movement clause, Thornton repeatedly stated he had no intention of requesting a trade. As last season began, the war of words between the two eventually died down.
CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz briefly revisited that squabble during a season-preview profile of the former Sharks captain. He points out the 36-year-old Thornton's chance for winning a Stanley Cup are fading. With the Sharks missing the playoffs last season, Kurz wonders if the aging center might reconsider waiving that clause if the club falls out of postseason contention in 2015-16.
Thornton and his family have set down roots in San Jose. Earlier this year, he stated his wish to retire a Shark. If he still feels that way over the course of this season, he probably won't accept a trade to a Cup contender by the trade deadline.
TRADE DEADLINE ANNOUNCED
One of the most popular dates on the NHL calendar was revealed this week for the upcoming season. TVA Sports' Renaud Lavoie reports the trade deadline for the upcoming season is Monday, February 29, 2016 at 3 pm ET.
Mark your calendars now and start planning your excuses for skipping work or school on that date, hockey fans. And don't forget to follow THN.com for the latest rumors and trade news leading up to the big day.
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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