The Vancouver Canucks made a notable splash in this summer's free-agent pool by signing right winger Loui Eriksson. They could still be in the market for an additional forward.
Jason Botchford of The Province reports the Canucks have been quietly trying to make a deal to land another impact player. He cites GM Jim Benning saying his club would like to acquire a gritty scoring winger.
Botchford claims the Canucks, on the opening day of free agency, were believed trying to package “an unappealing contract with a valuable asset” in hopes of clearing salary-cap room to pursue a forward. He wonders if Buffalo Sabres left winger (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane or Colorado Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog might be among their targets. Botchford also claims a trade involving defenseman Luca Sbisa was thought by some to be discussed.
A week into free agency, however, Benning's rumored efforts to bolster his scoring lines have so far come to naught.
With Kane currently facing non-criminal harassment charges stemming from a recent incident in a Buffalo nightclub, there's been some speculation the Sabres want to trade him. If so, the Canucks don't appear to be interested.
The Landeskog trade speculation surfaced in the days leading up to the start of free agency, but have since faded. It'll taken more than a bad contract packaged with either a quality player, a high draft pick or a top prospect to entice the Avs.
As for Sbisa, he's been an oft-injured disappointment on the Canucks blueline. Unless he's packaged as part of a bigger deal, they shouldn't expect to get much in return for him. Then again, shedding his $3.6 million cap hit in a straightforward salary dump frees up room to add another forward.
STARS STILL LOOKING TO UPGRADE IN NET
Since the Dallas Stars second-round elimination from this year's playoffs, it's been assumed they will attempt to shake up their goaltending. GM Jim Nill, however, stuck by his embattled tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, declining to shed either goalie during last month's two-week buyout period.
Still, that hasn't stopped speculation suggesting Nill could make a change between the pipes at some point. During the recent draft, there were rumors claiming the Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning discussed a deal involving Ben Bishop. However, the sticking point was the Bolts had to take back Lehtonen or Niemi.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News believes at some point in 2016-17 the Stars will move one of their goalies to make room for an upgrade. With both signed through 2017-18, he acknowledged such a move could come later in the season when they've burned through some of their salary. Improved performances by one or both could improve their trade value.
Responding to a reader's question about Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury as a trade target, Heika suspected there's concern Fleury's playoff woes are as significant as Lehtonen's. A comparison of their records, however, indicates Fleury is still the better of the two in playoff competition.
Whether Nill targets Fleury, Bishop or someone else remains to be seen. It's a storyline that could be worth following throughout 2016-17.
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.