Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have developed a strong chemistry on Team Canada's top line at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The pair meshed so well together that Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press ponders the possibility of them as NHL teammates in the near future.
Marchand, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. If he hits the open market, Whyno considers the scoring winger an intriguing option for the Penguins. By shipping out goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and his $5.75-million annual salary-cap hit before next June's NHL expansion draft, Whyno believes they'll have money to spend, especially if they pass on re-signing UFAs such as aging winger Chris Kunitz.
That's assuming, of course, the Bruins don't re-sign Marchand, whose current annual cap hit is $4.5 million. He'll likely seek over $6 million per season on a long-term deal. Earlier this month, Bruins president Cam Neely signalled his club's intent to re-sign Marchand, preferably before the start of the upcoming season.
Should Marchand decide to test next summer's free-agent market, there's no guarantee the Penguins can land him. Assuming they move out Fleury's cap hit before next summer, they'll have roughly $50 million invested in 12 players.
Among their notable free agents are goaltender Matt Murray, center Nick Bonino, left winger Conor Sheary and blueliners Trevor Daley, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot. Murray will obviously seek a starter's salary, perhaps over $5 million per season. Retaining Bonino, center of the “HBK Line” that includes wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, is a must. Stronger performances this season from Daley, Dumoulin, Sheary and Schultz could put them in line for significant raises.
The Penguins could still have enough space to pursue a big-ticket free agent such as Marchand, but they won't be the only clubs with interest if he's available next July. A bidding war could push his next contract much higher than the Pens are willing to pay.
DON'T EXPECT KANE TO BE DEALT
The legal troubles of Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane resulted in the 25-year-old becoming a frequent fixture in the off-season trade rumor mill. Kane faces misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in a Buffalo bar in June. He's also launched a counter-claim against a woman who filed a civil suit claiming he sexually assaulted her in a Buffalo hotel last December.
A former 30-goal scorer, Kane was linked to the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. Both clubs lack offensive depth on the left side.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun, however, doubts Kane will be dealt anytime soon. Appearing on TSN 1040, LeBrun doesn't believe there's interest in the winger at this time. If the Sabres hope to move Kane, LeBrun feels their best hope is for things to quiet down for him away from the rink while his on-ice performance improves.
STARS MAY LOOK TO TRADE NUCHUSHKIN'S RIGHTS
Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin's decision to sign a two-year deal with KHL team CSKA Moscow raises questions about his long-term future with the Stars. Selected 10th overall by the Stars in the 2013 NHL draft, the 21-year-old struggled through injury and inconsistency in his brief NHL career.
The Stars still hold Nichushkin's NHL rights while he's in Russia. If the two sides appear no closer to a resolution down the road, TSN's Darren Dreger speculates Stars GM Jim Nill could consider trading the young forward.
A report out of Russia earlier this year claimed Nichushkin was unhappy playing for Stars coach Lindy Ruff. Nill dismissed that story , while Ruff points out young forwards Matthias Janmark and Radek Faksa outperformed Nichushkin. Ruff also said he hopes to coach Nichushkin again one 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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