Figuring out how the Anaheim Ducks clear sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm is a hot topic among NHL followers. The Ducks recent re-signing of center Rickard Rakell to a six-year, $22.8-million contract ($3.8-million annual cap hit) leaves them only $365K in salary-cap room.
Lindholm, 22, is coming off a three-year entry-level deal worth an annual cap hit of just over $894K. He reportedly seeking a long-term deal worth over $6 million per season. Even if Ducks GM Bob Murray gets Lindholm re-signed for less, he must shed salary to accommodate the new contract.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports the two sides are $700K per season apart on a new deal. He believes they may be getting closer. Friedman acknowledges there's talk blueliner Cam Fowler ($4-million cap hit through 2017-18) might be moved as a cost-cutting measure. However, he said Murray prefers finding a way to get Lindholm signed without hurting his roster.
Murray has several options. Sidelined forward Nate Thompson (Achilles tendon surgery, $1.6 million) and defenseman Simon Despres (concussion, $3.75 million) could be placed on long-term injury reserve. Another $2.5 million in combined salary could be freed up by demoting waiver-exempt players such as Jacob Larsson, Nick Ritchie and Nick Sorensen. Emerson Etem ($775K), Mason Raymond ($675K) and Korbinian Holzer ($700K) could be placed on waivers and demoted.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch believes Murray prefers moving Kevin Bieksa ($4-million cap hit) or Clayton Stoner ($3.25 million). Bieska, 35, has a no-movement clause and his best seasons are behind him. There's unlikely to be much interest in the overpaid Stoner.
Garrioch also suggests the Ducks' limited cap space makes Lindholm a prime target for an offer sheet. That's unlikely to happen. The New Jersey Devils ($7.3 million in cap space), Florida Panthers ($9.7 million), Winnipeg Jets ($9.8 million) and Carolina Hurricanes ($15.7 million) are the only teams that can afford to send Lindholm an expensive offer sheet.
The Panthers addressed their blueline needs this summer by adding Keith Yandle and Jason Demers. The Jets are busy dealing with Jacob Trouba's trade request, while the Hurricanes are already deep in good young defensemen. The Devils could certainly use a defenseman of Lindholm's caliber, but GM Ray Shero has never gone down the offer-sheet path before and is unlikely to do so now.
SHATTENKIRK STILL DRAWING INTEREST
It's been several weeks since St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk surfaced in the NHL rumor mill. Trade chatter regarding Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba and Anaheim's Cam Fowler is overshadowing questions over Shattenkirk's future in St. Louis.
In late-June and early-July, the Blues reportedly entertained offers for Shattenkirk but failed to find a suitable deal. The 27-year-old is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency and could seek a significant pay raise over his current $4.25 million annual salary-cap hit. He could prove too expensive for the Blues to retain.
Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believes Shattenkirk could get over $6-million annually on his next contract, but probably not from the Blues. They're carrying two other top-quality blueliners in Alex Pietrangelo and the promising Colton Parayko. By re-signing Shattenkirk, Rutherford believes ice time would be taken away from Parayko. It would also keep young blueliners such as Jordan Schmaltz down on the farm for a longer period.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch hasn't forgotten about Shattenkirk's potential value in this season's trade market. He speculates a team in need of blue-line depth could offer up a forward as bait.
Arizona Sports' Craig Morgan reports the Coyotes remain in the market for a top-four, right-handed defenseman. He said they've had discussions with the Blues about Shattenkirk and with the Jets over Trouba.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong is apparently in no hurry to move Shattenkirk. With the season barely a week old, he's not under any pressure to deal away his most valuable trade chip.
That doesn't mean he won't listen to offers. Interest in Shattenkirk will increase as the season progresses, especially in the weeks leading up to the March 1 trade deadline.
Given Shattenkirk's UFA status next July, he'll only be a rental player unless he's willing to re-sign with whatever teams acquires him. The Coyotes may be interested in him, but they could be reluctant to part with assets for a blueliner who could depart via free agency next summer.
During the off-season, it was rumored Shattenkirk was only interested in Eastern Conference clubs. That significantly narrows the possible trade destinations. He was frequently linked this summer to the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Those clubs could come calling later in the season.
As for the Blues' asking price, that'll depend upon their performance and roster needs over the course of this season. The additions of David Perron via free agency this summer and Nail Yakupov via a recent trade with the Edmonton Oilers should bolster their depth on the wings. If Jori Lehtera and Patrik Berglund struggle this season, they could be in the market for an upgrade at center.
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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