It's Canada Day, up Canada way, and it's also the annual start of the NHL's free-agent period. Here's a last-minute look at the notable players available and their rumored destinations.
Milan Lucic. With Steven Stamkos off the market, Lucic becomes the biggest name in the UFA market. Unconfirmed reports out of Edmonton claim the 28-year-old power forward could have a deal in place with the Oilers. The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins are also believed among his suitors. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens also made inquiries.
Kyle Okposo. Several teams are pursuing the soon-to-be former New York Islanders right winger. A two-time 60-plus point performer, he's been linked to the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild.
David Backes. His strong performance in this year's playoffs proved the 32-year-old still has plenty left in the tank. If the St. Louis Blues fail to re-sign Backes, he should attract considerable attention as a free agent. The Bruins, Red Wings, Panthers, Wild and Islanders could get into the bidding.
Loui Eriksson.The Kings and Anaheim Ducks had interest in Eriksson at this year's trade deadline. Perhaps they'll take another shot at landing him via free agency. The Red Wings, Panthers and Canucks could also make pitches for him.
Frans Nielsen. Perhaps the most underrated player in this summer's UFA market, Nielsen should receive offers from clubs in need of a skilled two-way center. The Islanders were trying to re-sign him, but if they fail, the Red Wings and Wild could be in touch.
Andrew Ladd. TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Islanders, Canadiens and Nashville Predators were among those interested in Ladd. The Tampa Bay Lightning were also on Dreger's list, but their re-signing of Stamkos means they're no longer in the picture. The Maple Ridge, B.C. native could also be chased by the Canucks.
Eric Staal. While Staal's stock tumbled significantly, there could be a couple of teams willing to take a chance on him regaining his form. Michael Russo of StarTribune.com reports the Wild spoke with Staal's agent. He won't be returning to the Carolina Hurricanes. GM Ron Francis shot down that notion.
Mikkel Boedker. Teams seeking a speedy playmaking winger can't go wrong with the 27-year-old Boedker. The Canadiens, Ducks, Kings, Panthers and Canucks are among the possible destinations.
Brian Campbell. It's believed Campbell, 37, could accept returning to the Chicago Blackhawks for a discount. He could also be a short-term option for the Bruins if they fail to pry Kevin Shattenkirk out of St. Louis or Cam Fowler away from Anaheim. The New Jersey Devils could also kick the tires on Campbell.
Troy Brouwer. The gritty winger's stock shot up because of his strong playoff performance with the Blues. The Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, Bruins and Canucks could come calling.
Dan Hamhuis. Though getting long in the tooth, the 33-year-old Hamhuis can bring veteran experience and leadership to a young D-corps. He could be of interest to the Stars and Maple Leafs.
Jacob Trouba (RFA). On Tuesday, CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty cited a source claiming the Bruins were mulling over an offer sheet for the Winnipeg Jets restricted free agent defenseman. However, Haggerty follows up claiming the Bruins could be getting cold feet.
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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