The Anaheim Ducks' efforts to re-sign pending UFA winger Matt Beleskey ended in failure. Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports the 27-year-old rejected the club's best offer and is headed to unrestricted free agency on July first.
Murray told media members at Tuesday’s GM meetings: "We made a really fair offer. God bless him."
Beleskey is coming off a career-best 22-goal season, along with eight goals in 16 playoff games. He's completing a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $1.35 million. Given the lack of depth in this summer's UFA pool, Beleskey could command more than $4-million annually on the open market.
It's possible the Ducks could shop Beleskey's rights before the July 1 free-agent deadline. If so, the Ducks could get a conditional draft pick if the winger signs with the team his rights were dealt to. It's not much, but it will be better for the Ducks than losing him for nothing.
KESSEL TO…THE PENGUINS?
Hearing word that the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the preferred trade destinations of Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Phil Kessel raised some eyebrows in Pittsburgh. Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review believes acquiring Kessel is something the Penguins should consider, though he acknowledges there are significant issues working against such a move.
The most obvious are Kessel's salary ($8-million annually through 2021-22), the Leafs' asking price and the 27-year-old winger's perceived reputation for being apathetic and out of shape. Starkey feels the latter could be sorted out by Kessel playing alongside Sidney Crosby. The other issues, however, are different matters.
With a considerable chunk of payroll tied up in a handful of players, the Penguins cannot afford to take on Kessel's full salary. Starkey believes the Leafs would have to absorb part of it or take back someone like Chris Kunitz ($3.85 million annually for two more seasons) or Rob Scuderi (two years, $3.38 million annually).
The Penguins have some assets to interest the Leafs. Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports GM Jim Rutherford seems willing (if not eager) to part with third-line center Brandon Sutter, though that would create a hole in the middle for the Penguins. Pittsburgh also has several promising young defensemen.
While Kessel would undoubtedly be a great fit on Crosby's line, the combination of his salary and the Penguins limited cap space makes a move to Pittsburgh difficult to imagine.
WOULD PHANEUF FIT WITH THE SHARKS?
Speaking of the Maple Leafs, the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby reports recent speculation suggests their new coach Mike Babcock believes captain Dion Phaneuf “can be salvaged.” Like Kessel, the 30-year-old Phaneuf remains a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. He also has an expensive contract ($7-million annually) that's a potential stumbling block in trade talks.
Hornby notes the Detroit Red Wings are no longer interested in acquiring Phaneuf, but adds the San Jose Sharks have been mentioned. With more than $17 million in cap space, the Sharks could afford his hefty salary. They also have depth in young players to tempt the Leafs.
If the Sharks are interested in Phaneuf, however, they could insist the Leafs take a salaried player in return. Unless that player is someone like Logan Couture, however, Leafs management likely doesn't want an older veteran.
As with Kessel, Phaneuf also had a modified no-trade list. It's possible the Sharks might not be among his preferred destinations.
NO RUSH TO MOVE TALBOT
New York Rangers backup goaltender Cam Talbot remains a hot topic in the rumor mill leading up to this weekend's NHL draft. TSN's Darren Dreger believes the 27-year-old Talbot could be dealt soon, noting the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks remain among the interested clubs.
Dreger also points out the Rangers aren't facing any pressure to move Talbot, noting he's under contract for 2015-16 at an affordable $1.45-million cap hit. That allows them the luxury of time to weight the offers and wait for the right one
The Rangers could attempt to use Talbot to move up in this year's draft order. Dreger claims they rejected an offer from one club of two second-round picks for Talbot. Perhaps the Blueshirts are attempting to land a high second-round selection or one in the first round.
IS A BLUE JACKETS-COYOTES DEAL IN THE WORKS?
The Arizona Coyotes are receiving considerable interest in their 2015 first-round pick, which is third overall. Sarah McLellan of The Arizona Republic reports Coyotes GM Don Maloney claims six teams have expressed interest in that pick, two of them aggressively so. Offers have “ran the gamut” of NHL-ready players, draft picks and prospects.
One of those very interested teams could be the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reports the Jackets, who hold the eighth overall pick, are keen to move up in the draft order. They'd like to select a top prospect blueliner and could have their eye on Boston College's Noah Hanifin.
The Jackets could be well positioned to make the best offer to the Coyotes, who are looking to load up on more prospect assets. Young forward Kerby Rychel could be in play, and Portzline notes the Jackets also have three picks (34, 38 and 58) in the second round.
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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