Speculation persists over the future of Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. An unrestricted free agent next July, his long-term future with the Hurricanes remains uncertain.
Sportsnet's Damien Cox reports Staal (who turns 31 on Oct. 29) and the Hurricanes have put contract negotiations on hold. He apparently wants to see how the club performs this season before deciding if he'll sign a contract extension. His current salary-cap hit is $8.25 million, while in actual salary he's making $9.5 million this season.
Other factors could come into play for the long-time Hurricanes star. He and his family are happily settled in the Raleigh, N.C. region. Brother Jordan is under a long-term deal with the club. If the Hurricanes show real signs of improvement, it could convince Eric to stay.
However, Staal's production has declined in recent years, which some observers believe is due to the poor quality of talent surrounding him. Now in his thirties, next summer's free-agent market could be Staal's best opportunity to land a lucrative deal with a contending club.
If Steven Stamkos re-signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anze Kopitar re-ups with the Los Angeles Kings, Staal will be the best player available in the 2016 UFA pool. He could also become the biggest star on the market leading up to the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline, ensuring the rebuilding Hurricanes receive a quality return rather than losing him for nothing to free agency in July.
It's assumed the Hurricanes will place Staal on the trade block if unable to reach an agreement on a new contract before the trade deadline. Putting negotiations on hold ensures his name continues to surface in this season's rumor mill.
RANGERS STUCK WITH BOYLE, AND HIS CONTRACT
Barely a week into this season, the play of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle is drawing criticism. The New York Post's Larry Brooks considers signing Boyle at the expense of losing skilled all-around blueliner Anton Stralman to Tampa Bay via free agency in 2014 to be “the most regrettable decision” of Glen Sather's final 10 years in the role of Rangers' general manager.
While Brooks acknowledged the 39-year-old Boyle's offensive contributions since joining the Rangers, he considers the veteran blueliner as “consistently dreadful” defensively and “far less than advertised as a puck mover.”
Usually such a player would find himself a potential trade candidate, but that's unlikely to happen in this case. Brooks points out Boyle's in the final season of a two-year, $9 million, over-35 contract with a full no-movement clause. Unless the veteran defenseman is willing to be dealt, and unless there's a team willing to take him on, there's little chance the Rangers can deal him.
Granted, players with no-movement clauses have agreed to waive them in the past, but it's not as simple as that in Boyle's case. His career is winding down, along with his chances of playing for another Stanley Cup champion.
If he stays with the Blueshirts this season, he has a shot at the Cup. He'll probably only agree to a trade if it's to another contender, but there's none willing to take on a fading veteran defenseman with a $4.5- million cap hit. For better or worse, Boyle and the Rangers are stuck with each other this season.
COYOTES LOOK TO IMPROVE AMID REBUILD
The Arizona Coyotes are committed to rebuilding with promising youngsters like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder. However, that doesn't mean GM Don Maloney isn't looking for ways to improve his roster.
Early last week, Maloney told The Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan he intends to look at waivers and trades for player to bolster his lineup. ESPN.com's Craig Custance reports the Coyotes have the cap space to add an impact player. As per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have over $12.4 million in cap space, currently the most among NHL teams.
Custance also notes Maloney isn't interested in taking on another team's salary-cap problems. In other words, don't expect him to take a fading, little-used Vincent Lecavalier and his $4.5-million annual cap hit off the Philadelphia Flyers' hands. And while the Coyotes have lots of cap space, it doesn't mean they intend to spend to the cap ceiling. Whoever they pursue must fit within the constraints of their self-imposed limit.
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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