The Toronto Maple Leafs recently avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Jake Gardiner and goaltender James Reimer. Gardiner re-signed a five-year, $20.25-million contract, while Reimer inked a two-year, $4.6-million deal.
Both players were frequently mentioned in trade rumors last season. While their new deals suggest the Leafs won't be peddling either player soon, it's done little to fully dampen trade speculation.
Gardiner's new deal indicates the Maple Leafs see him as part of their defense corps for the long term, but his new contract lacks a no-trade clause. Should he continue to struggle under coach Randy Carlyle, trade rumors will continue to dog the 24-year-old blueliner.
Of the two, Reimer remains the most likely to be moved. Though he re-signed with the Leafs, Reimer did ask GM Dave Nonis back in June to explore trade possibilities. The Toronto Star'sKevin McGran suggests this summer's limited trade market was among the reasons the Leafs re-signed Reimer.
The Toronto Sun'sSteve Simmons wonders if the 26-year-old netminder can comfortably adjust to being a full-time backup behind Jonathan Bernier. Simmons also believes Reimer's struggles late last season is why no club sought to acquire him. Simmons’ colleague Lance Hornby notes Reimer's new salary is “trade friendly” if interest from other clubs in the netminder improves down the road.
Reimer was tied to the Winnipeg Jets in trade rumors earlier this year, but they are intent to stick with their current tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson. That could change, however, if the pair struggles to start this season. Reimer's new cap hit ($2.3 million) would make him an affordable fit with the Jets, but Winnipeg would have to find a way to shed Pavelec, who is under contract through 2016-17 at an annual cap hit of $3.9 million.
FROLIK WANTED LONG-TERM SECURITY
Speaking of the Jets, they recently avoided salary arbitration with winger Michael Frolik, re-signing him to a one-year, $3.3-million contract. Frolik is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, and his performance this season will determine his future in Winnipeg.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Pressreports the two sides discussed a five-year deal before reaching an agreement on the current deal. Lawless believes salary was the sticking point.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can revisit contract negotiations after January 1. If unable to make progress with Frolik, Cheveldayoff could move him at the trade deadline. Lawless speculates it will take a five-year, $25-million deal to keep Frolik out of next summer's free-agent market.
CAPITALS NEED TO BEEF UP PORT SIDE
CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley recently noted the Capitals have around $1.1 million in cap space remaining. He wondered if they'll stand pat between now and the start of training camp (Sept. 18) or make a move to bolster their lineup.
Gormley suggested the Capitals' weakness at forward isn't at center but left wing, where centers Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson are playing out of their natural position. He cited feisty free-agent winger Dan Carcillo as an option.
If they should decide to add a center, Gormley noted free-agent center Saku Koivu remains available, though at 39 he is considering retirement. As for trade targets, Gormley proposed Arizona's Antoine Vermette, who has a year remaining on his contract, though the Capitals would have to move salary to acquire him.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman recently reported opponents will be eyeing Vermette, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney hopes to re-sign the 32-year-old center. The Capitals may have to wait until the trade deadline to have a chance of landing Vermette.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.