The Boston Bruins' limited cap space for 2014-15 continues to fuel speculation the club could ship out a player or two to free up dollars for other moves.
Though Bruins management claims their roster only needs tweaking, Joe Haggerty of csnne.com reports sources claim they will be very active in the trade market leading up to the start of this year's unrestricted free agency period July 1.
Haggerty observes the Bruins only have about $9 million in cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Reilly Smith, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, plus re-sign or replace pending UFAs Jarome Iginla, Shawn Thornton and Chad Johnson. He suggests winger Brad Marchand ($4.5-million annual cap hit) and/or defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($3.36 million) are trade candidates.
Of the two, Haggerty believes the Bruins should retain Boychuk. Though the blueliner is entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for UFA status next July, Haggerty cites his durability, physical style and overall playoff record among the reasons for his retention.
Boychuk also plays a more disciplined game than Marchand, who was a disappointment in this year's division final against the archrival Montreal Canadiens. Despite Marchand's chaotic style, he would draw interest from clubs in need of a top-six scoring winger.
The start of the NHL's UFA period is less than three weeks away, sparking increased interest in the status of negotiations of notable pending free agents.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports long-time New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur intends to test this summer's free agent market. Though Brodeur claims he's had some good talks with the Devils, he's not inclined to return at this point. He wants to play one more year and anticipates looking at what's available via free agency. Brodeur would accept being a No. 2 goalie with a club that has a shot at winning the Stanley Cup.
Brodeur also joked about the possibility he might go unsigned. While there will be interest in the future Hall of Famer, it will likely be as a mentor to a promising young starter. Most Cup contenders appear to have addressed their goaltending needs.
LeBrun additionally writes that agent Steve Bartlett, who represents Ryan Callahan, Thomas Vanek and Brian Gionta, will be a busy man in the coming weeks. Bartlett claims contract talks are ongoing with the Tampa Bay Lightning regarding a new deal for Callahan, while the Montreal Canadiens have reached out about re-signing Gionta. Vanek, meanwhile, remains intent on jumping into the free agent pool on July 1.
If Callahan still seeks a six-year, $39-million contract, which forced his trade by the New York Rangers to Tampa Bay at the March trade deadline, the Lightning could let him walk. Gionta, 35, is coming off a five-year, $25-million contract. He'll have to accept a shorter-term (two or three years) for less money (probably between $3.5 to $4 million annually) to remain the Canadiens' captain.
Haggerty cites reports out of Montreal claiming the Bruins were engaged in negotiations with winger Jarome Iginla. Haggerty believes the B’s want to re-sign Iginla, who turns 37 on July 1, to another one-year, incentive-laced contract with a $1.8-million base salary.
Iginla might get a slightly longer term for a higher base salary elsewhere, but he might not get a better opportunity to play with a Cup contender than he currently has with Boston.
The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reports contract talks between the Colorado Avalanche and center Paul Stastny aren't likely to start before June 20. Dater believes the Stastny camp is hoping to garner leverage in negotiations. The Avalanche remain optimistic in getting a deal done before July 1.
Back in March, Stastny told Dater's colleague Terry Frei he was willing to consider accepting a hometown discount from the $6.6 million annual salary he earned on his expiring contract. Holding off talks until less than two weeks before the start of free agency suggests otherwise.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.