While the Toronto Maple Leafs made progress in the first season of their rebuild, they still lack a quality starting goaltender. The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons notes the only reason for Jonathan Bernier's return next season is the year remaining on his contract. He thinks the Leafs could accelerate their rebuild with an upgrade in the crease.
Finding a good goalie this summer won't be easy. There are slim pickings via unrestricted free agency, with former Leaf James Reimer the best of the bunch. It's unlikely they'll bring him back.
Options are also few in the trade market. Last month, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello scouted Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks.
Andersen, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who's a year away from UFA eligibility. If the Ducks are committed to John Gibson as their starter, Andersen could be shopped this summer. The Leafs could face competition for his services, as the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could also come calling.
Should the NHL decide to stage an expansion draft next June, Simmons believes that could increase the available goalies for the Leafs in the trade market. Teams with depth between the pipes might prefer to trade one of their netminders rather than lose them for nothing to an expansion club.
RED WINGS OR SENATORS TO PURSUE STAMKOS?
Surgery to remove a blood clot may have knocked Tampa Bay Lightning center, Steven Stamkos out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks recently wondered if the Detroit Red Wings might take run at Stamkos via free agency in July. Brooks suggested the Wings lack of marquee signings in recent years, their aging stars and lack of post-season success might entice Wings GM Ken Holland to court the Lightning star.
Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun believes the Senators should make Stamkos an offer he can't refuse. He feels it's a necessary move that could win back the goodwill of Senators fans disenchanted with heavy-handed team owner Eugene Melnyk and the club's direction in recent years.
The Wings could be the most likely to head down that path. Holland made big-name free-agent signings in the past and has the deep pockets of team owner Mike Ilitch at his disposal. If center Pavel Datsyuk opts to play in Russia next season, Holland could bundle the final year of his contract ($7.5-million against the salary cap, $5.5 million in actual salary) with a young player or a top prospect to a cost-conscious club in need of reaching the salary-cap minimum. That would free up considerable cap room to pursue Stamkos.
The Senators, on the other hand, usually tend to keep their payroll well below the league ceiling. With over $53 million invested in 17 players for 2016-17, Melnyk could be reluctant to tie up over $11 million annually on a long-term deal for just one player, even for a superstar like Stamkos.
RANGERS HAVE WORK TO DO
New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton will have a busy summer once the playoffs are over. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa believes Gorton faces “years of grunt work” to keep his club competitive and to make them younger.
With the Rangers lacking a first-round selection in this year's draft, Shinzawa believes Gorton could be interested if a club deep in picks (like the Maple Leafs) is willing to shop one of them. He also feels the Blueshirts GM must move defenseman Dan Girardi and his $5.5-million cap hit through 2020.
Trading Girardi, however, is easier said than done. In addition to his salary and age (he turns 32 next week), he carries a full no-movement clause. Even if he agrees to waive it, there will be limited trade destinations. Interested parties could also squeeze Gorton to either pick up part of Girardi's cap hit or accept another toxic contract in return.
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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