With the NHL draft only a week away, the Jason Spezza rumor mill is heating up. TSN reports Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said he's received two serious offers for his captain. It's believed his asking price for Spezza is a top-six forward, a highly rated prospect and perhaps a first-round pick.
Though Murray didn't name the teams, it's rumored the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are be the front-runners. Mike Johnston of Sportsnet cited a rumor from St. Louis claiming the Blues were Spezza's destination of choice.
Johnston's colleague Mark Spector believes the Ducks could land Spezza, suggesting their depth in “sub-22-year-old talent” along with their two first round picks (one of them acquired from the Senators last summer in the Bobby Ryan trade) could tilt the scales in Anaheim's favour.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch notes Murray said he won't make a move until he gets the right offer, which could happen leading up to the draft next weekend in Philadelphia. Garrioch also claims the Tampa Bay Lightning could have interest in the Senators captain. But given the Lightning's depth at center (Steven Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, Calder nominee Tyler Johnson) and their need to bolster their blueline depth, Spezza doesn't seem a good fit there.
It's believed Murray prefers not to deal Spezza to an Eastern Conference club. The center's 10-team no-trade list includes the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders. Spezza didn't bother to include Toronto or Montreal on the list because he knows Murray won't ship him to either club.
TEAMS INTERESTED IN LEAFS D-MEN?
While the focus of the rumor mill is on the Senators and Spezza, there were a couple of reports regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs this week.
Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke denied rumors suggesting his new club was interested in bringing Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf back to Calgary. Burke, of course, traded for Phaneuf while GM of the Leafs and the two remain friendly, so naturally some rumormongers suspect he might try to swing a move for the blueliner.
Burke claimed there's been no discussions between the two clubs regarding Phaneuf, adding he was happy to diffuse trade rumors when he can. Given Burke's reputation for straight talk, there's little reason to doubt his word. Besides, the Flames are busy rebuilding with youth and have no reason to add Phaneuf or his expensive new seven-year, $49 million contract.
Meanwhile, TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Leafs have received trade offers for blueliner Cody Franson, who's due to become a restricted free agent. Dreger claims the offers were unacceptable for the Leafs, who hope to re-sign the 26-year-old.
HAS PARENTEAU BECOME TRADE BAIT?
As the Colorado Avalanche attempt to work out new contracts with pending unrestricted free agent center Paul Stastny and RFA winger Ryan O'Reilly, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports they're shopping winger P.A. Parenteau.
While the Avalanche have around $25 million in projected cap space for 2014-15, there's no certainty they'll spend up to the cap ceiling. Re-signing Stastny and O'Reilly will be prove expensive, RFA Tyson Barrie is due a raise, plus they've re-signed Jamie McGinn to a two-year, $5.9-million deal. Trading the 31-year-old Parenteau, who has two years left at $4 million per season, could free up cap space for other signings.
Parenteau could also be shopped for a defenseman. Though he managed only 33 points in 55 games through an injury-shortened 2013-14, Parenteau tallied 43 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign and is only two years removed from a career-best 67 points. He could attract interest from clubs seeking a top-six winger.
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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