Following the New York Rangers' re-signing goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a seven-year contract extension, the team turned its focus turned to re-signing captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi. Despite the projected increase of the salary cap to $71.1 million for 2014-15, there's concern the Rangers lack sufficient space to retain the duo and still pursue free agent talent.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks noted Callahan and Girardi haven't played up to expectations, but will still seek lucrative extensions. If the Rangers haven't re-signed the duo by the March 5 trade deadline, Brooks advocates trading them for draft picks and prospects.
USA Today's Kevin Allen examined the consequences of trading or re-signing Callahan and Girardi. He speculated the Rangers could get a veteran and a prospect/draft pick for either player, but noted moving either guy hurts the Blueshirts' chances to remain a playoff contender.
Adjusting to coach Alain Vigneault's style has affected both players, while injuries have also hampered Callahan. It's what they'll seek for new contracts that will determine their respective futures.
Assuming the projected cap increase, the Rangers have $31.2 million in space. Callahan has a hit of $4.3 million per season on his current contract, Girardi $3.3 million. Management must either re-sign or replace Derick Brassard, Michael Del Zotto, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Mats Zuccarello, Benoit Pouliot and John Moore.
Assuming it costs a combined $11 million to retain Callahan and Girardi, that leaves $20.2 million to re-sign other key players and pursue free agent talent. That will fuel talk of the Rangers using their remaining compliance buyout in June to dump Brad Richards' $6.7-million annual cap hit.
WHO WILL BE THE ODD GOALIE OUT IN CAROLINA?
For the past two weeks there's been anticipation the Carolina Hurricanes will trade one of their goaltenders before the Christmas trade freeze.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford dismissed speculation starter Cam Ward is on the block. It's believed Justin Peters or Anton Khudobin will be moved.
Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer feels Peters' performance (1.38 goals against average, .951 save percentage in December) gives him higher trade value than Khudobin, who's been sidelined since October with an ankle injury. Peters' numbers explains Rutherford's unwillingness to place him on waivers.
Rutherford could postpone a trade for a couple of weeks by sending Khudobin to the minors on a two-week conditioning stint. That would give the Hurricanes GM time to wait for better offers on either goalie.
DO THE JETS NEED TO MAKE A TRADE OR FIRE THE COACH?
The Winnipeg Jets' ongoing inconsistency has led to calls for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to shake things up with a trade or a coaching change.
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reported Cheveldayoff acknowledged his club's shortcomings and the fans' growing impatience over the lack of progress, but he won't be pressured into a rash decision.
Cheveldayoff's patience is commendable, but it doesn't change the fact 10 points separate them from a playoff berth in the very tough Western Conference. If the Jets fail to make progress early in the new year, Cheveldayoff could have little choice but to make a trade or a coaching change
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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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