Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enters this season facing an uncertain future. He's an unrestricted free agent in July, and new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford didn't believe this summer was the right time to discuss a contract extension.
Fleury told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Josh Yohe he pondered what life would be like playing elsewhere, but that he prefers staying with the Penguins. Since signing a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Penguins in July 2008, Fleury backstopped them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009. In recent years he struggled in the playoffs, but he rebounded last season with a solid effort under goalie coach Mike Bales.
It's apparent, however, Rutherford intends to take a wait-and-see approach with Fleury, who turns 30 in November. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM has no contract history with Fleury and seems reluctant to offer another lengthy, expensive contract to an inconsistent netminder. It's up to Fleury to prove his worth this season as a reliable starting goaltender.
Should Rutherford lose confidence in Fleury, he could shop the goalie by the March trade deadline. Fleury has a limited no-trade clause in which he provides a list of acceptable destinations. A strong performance in his contract year, however, will put pressure on Rutherford to re-sign him, especially given the limited goalie options available next summer.
LEAFS HAVE NO SAFETY NET FOR BERNIER AND REIMER
The Toronto Maple Leafs enter training camp with the goaltending tandem of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer but lack experienced depth behind that duo. The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons points out the Leafs have no third veteran NHL or American League goaltender in camp. If anything happens to Bernier or Reimer, Simmons believes the Leafs will have to find an experienced netminder.
Former New Jersey Devils starter Martin Brodeur could be an option. He is willing to be a backup on a playoff club but is still awaiting a call. Leafs president Brendan Shanahan reached out to the veteran netminder earlier this summer. Brodeur was also recently linked to the Montreal Canadiens, but the Habs appear content with Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski backing up starter Carey Price.
Other free agent options for the Leafs include Tim Thomas, Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Vokoun, though the latter's agent claimed he's rejected a couple of contract offers and training camp invitations.
CARL SODERBERG THE LATEST RUMORED CAP CASUALTY IN BOSTON
Speculation over Johnny Boychuk's future with the Boston Bruins has overshadowed the possible difficulty management could face retaining third-line center Carl Soderberg. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reports Soderberg, like Boychuk, is an unrestricted free agent next July. Given the Bruins need to re-sign Dougie Hamilton and perhaps Torey Krug and Reilly Smith next summer, they could lack sufficient cap space to retain Soderberg.
Soderberg will earn $1 million in actual salary this season and could triple that on the open market. The Bruins currently have more than $54 million invested in just 11 players and must also re-sign or replace Gregory Campbell, Adam McQuaid and Daniel Paille.
Shinzawa notes Soderberg, 28, won't replace Krejci and Patrice Bergeron on the Bruins' top two lines. If the Swede's performance this season matches or exceeds last season's 16-goal, 48-point output, he will attract interest from clubs seeking a second-line center. Shinzawa cites Washington, Nashville and Ottawa as possible destinations.
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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