During the summer of 2014, there was considerable trade speculation regarding San Jose Sharks’ veteran stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. The Sharks were still reeling from their opening-round playoff elimination by the Los Angeles Kings. General manager Doug Wilson promised significant changes, stoking the rumors Thornton or Marleau would be dealt.
The trade chatter about the duo fizzled out when both made it clear in media interviews they weren't waiving their respective no-movement clauses. With the Sharks going on to miss the playoffs this season, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz speculates over the possibility Thornton or Marleau will be part of a blockbuster move this summer.
Kurz wonders if one of those aging veterans might waive his no-movement clause for an opportunity to join a team that has a better chance of winning. He also ponders the respective futures of center Logan Couture and defensemen Brent Burns and Justin Braun.
The same question about “joining a winner” was asked about Thornton and Marleau last season. While the Sharks appear further away from a championship now than they were a year ago, it's doubtful the pair feel more accepting about moving on to a Cup contender.
Even if they were amenable to the notion this time around, their respective annual cap hits ($6.75 million for Thornton, $6.66 million for Marleau) make the possibility of moving either player remote. Factor in the marginal increase of the salary cap to $71.4 million, and it becomes more unlikely.
Couture is a player to build around, so it'll be surprising if he gets traded. Burns or Braun might be trade options, but unless the goal is to stage a rebuild, dealing either guy would only weaken the Sharks.
ERIKSSON, SPURGEON, GILBERT IN TRADE CROSSHAIRS?
The combination of a poor free agent market and several NHL clubs in need of shedding salary for 2015-16 has sparked anticipation several notable players will be traded this summer. It’s also prompted several NHL pundits to put up lists of the top trade candidates.
While most of these lists contain the usual suspects (Chicago's Patrick Sharp, Toronto's Phil Kessel, Carolina's Eric Staal), SI.com's Allan Muir includes a few names who haven't received as much traction in the rumor mill as trade candidates. Notable among Muir's list were Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and Montreal Canadiens blueliner Tom Gilbert.
Eriksson, 29, hasn't had a particularly happy experience with the Bruins. Injuries limited him to 37 points in 61 games in 2013-14, and this season the Boston media frequently suggested he wasn't a good fit. While Eriksson's 70-plus-point days are behind him, he still tallied 22 goals and 47 points in 2014-15. Though his $4.25-million cap hit is pricey and he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2016, perhaps a club seeking a playmaking winger will take a gamble on him.
The undersized Spurgeon (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) collected 25 points in 66 games this season with the Minnesota Wild, while finishing third in blocked shots. With Matt Dumba expected to take on a larger role with the Wild, who are also stretched for cap space this summer, Spurgeon, 25, and his $2.66-million cap hit could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal.
Cap constraints could also result in the Canadiens moving Gilbert, 32. The Habs have roughly $66 million invested in cap payroll for 2015-16 and restricted free agent forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Flynn need new deals. Freeing up Gilbert's $2.8-million annual cap hit will provide sufficient wiggle room to re-sign those players and leave some space for other additions as required.
NO LACK OF INTEREST IN CANUCKS GOALIES
It's widely assumed the Vancouver Canucks will trade a goaltender leading up to the NHL draft. Starter Ryan Miller isn't going anywhere, but for weeks there have been rumors backup Eddie Lack or the promising Jacob Markstrom will be on the move.
The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks are reportedly in the market for goaltending depth. While Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes Lack, 27, would be a good fit with those clubs, he doesn't believe Canucks GM Jim Benning will ship him to a division rival.
A likely trade target could be the Buffalo Sabres, who have a dire lack of skilled goaltending depth. The Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders might also seek more reliable backups for their starting goalies.
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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