The New York Post's Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should get busy re-signing defenseman Marc Staal. The 27-year-old blueliner is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. His cap hit for this season is $3.98 million.
Barring another concussion for Staal, Brooks believes the blueliner could command at least a six-year deal worth $5.5 million annually. If the Rangers don't believe Staal's worth that much, Brooks recommends investigating his trade value.
The Carolina Hurricanes could be among the clubs willing to pursue Staal via trade this season or free agency next summer. Brothers Eric and Jordan are already on the Hurricanes roster. Perhaps the addition of Marc could provide extra incentive for Eric – whose contract expires in 2016 – to sign an extension next summer.
NO NASHVILLE FOR KANE
If the Winnipeg Jets decide to trade Evander Kane this summer, The Tennessean's Josh Cooper doesn't expect the Nashville Predators will come calling.
Cooper believes character is an issue for Kane, citing the winger's use of Twitter to post controversial pictures of himself and favoriting tweets advocating his trade out of Winnipeg. Having taken on what Cooper calls “reclamation projects” in James Neal, Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy this summer, he doesn't believe the Predators have room for another.
Jets management, meanwhile, remain silent on the issue of trading Kane. Given the 22-year-old's promise as a scoring winger, they're understandably reluctant to move him. As for Kane, until he forces the issue of a trade, the Jets will remain patient with him.
Kane should be in the Jets lineup when this season opens, as management evaluates his performance for a full season under coach Paul Maurice, who took over from Claude Noel midway through last season.
FRANSON A LEAF, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
The Toronto Maple Leafs avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Cody Franson, re-signing him on Monday to a one-year, $3.3 million contract. As the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby points out, it remains to be seen if he has a future with the Leafs beyond this season.
Hornby notes the Maple Leafs reportedly almost had a deal in place that would've shipped Franson to the Montreal Canadiens for blueliner Josh Gorges, but Gorges rejected the deal and subsequently accepted a trade to the Buffalo Sabres.
Franson acknowledged hearing the rumors but stated his intent to remain with the Maple Leafs. Given his UFA status next summer, however, it's possible the Leafs will try to trade him if they feel he doesn't fit into their long-term plans. If they struggle again this season, don't be surprised if Franson's name appears more frequently in the rumor mill close to the trade deadline.
WHERE WILL SOBOTKA PLAY WHEN HE RETURNS?
Whenever center Vladimir Sobotka decides to return to the NHL, it might not be with the St. Louis Blues. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Sobotka decided to sign with Kontinental League team Avangard Omsk after contract talks broke down with the Blues, who were unwilling to trade him.
Sobotka’s three-year, $12 million deal with Avangard Omsk contains an out clause at the end of each season if he decides to return to the NHL. He's already stated his intent is to play in Russia this season and return to the NHL.
The Blues took Sobotka to arbitration, where he was awarded a one-year, $2.75 million contract. Rutherford reports the contract will carry over until the 27-year-old returns to the NHL, be it with the Blues or another club. Upon completion of the contract he'll become a UFA.
Rutherford notes Blues management is taking the high road, hoping Sobotka will return to St. Louis for 2015-16. If he's still insistent about a trade, they'll have to shop his rights to another club.
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.