Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
The old interweb is alive with reports that Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has refused to waive his no-trade clause to any place other than his old team, the Florida Panthers.
While it’s certainly true Luongo would look kindly on a return to South Florida, and Canucks GM Mike Gillis most certainly knows that, it’s far too early in the process to suggest he won’t go here or there, with here or there obviously including the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Luongo is a pragmatic, intelligent man. He knows if he wants out of Vancouver, and that’s certainly his preference, he can’t close the door on too many places because, right now anyway, there aren’t too many places that want or can afford him and his contract.
Florida and Toronto appear to have the greatest interest in Luongo, but not so great that either team is at this point willing to meet what they say is a steep asking price from Vancouver.
Florida won’t give up a blue-chip prospect and their offer most certainly includes a contract they’d like to get rid of.
The Leafs just think the current asking price is exorbinant and do not consider themselves to be in the mix until it’s lowered.
Brian Burke returns from the NHL draft with a power forward he covets in James van Riemsdyk, six picks including first-rounder Morgan Rielly and perhaps a different view of the free-agent landscape.
In April, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager said he would address the team’s positional trades “the old fashioned way” through trades, not free agency.
But that could change Monday when U.S. collegiate defenceman Justin Schultz, a player Burke drafted in the second round in 2008 while GM of the Anaheim Ducks, becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Schultz, 21, and his representative, Newport Sports Management in Toronto, found a loophole in the soon-to-be-expired collective bargaining agreement that allows the player to test free agency because he played an extra year of major junior hockey in British Columbia Hockey League before attending the University of Wisconsin.
Schultz is considered an elite offensive defenceman who many observers believe could step into the NHL next season as a top-four blue-liner. He reportedly will be in Toronto on Tuesday and can begin to field offers Wednesday.
“The competition for Schultz will be every bit as intense as the competition for [unrestricted free agents Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise,” former NHL forward-turned broadcaster Ray Ferraro told a Canadian sports radio station recently.
Schultz is a six-foot-two, 185-pound right-handed shooting defenceman fresh off a strong season with the U. of Wisconsin Badgers in which he scored 16 goals and 44 points in 37 games.
How highly did the Blue Jackets value defenseman Ryan Murray before taking him with the No. 2 overall pick in Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft? Enough to turn down an eye-opening offer from the New York Islanders, who, according to numerous NHL sources, offered all of their picks — one in each round — for the right to move up from No. 4 to No. 2 for Murray.
That’s right, for the Jackets’ No. 2 pick, the Islanders offered pick Nos. 4, 34, 65, 103, 125, 155 and 185. The bounty would have given the Jackets the following picks: 4, 31, 34, 62, 65, 95, 103, 125, 152, 155, 182 and 185. And if that weren’t enough, the Jackets could have had the Kings’ No. 30 if they wanted it.
Next week’s development camp would have required two sheets of ice.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson offered a “no comment” when reached by The Dispatch late Sunday. After Friday’s first round, he did mention a “very attractive” trade offer the Blue Jackets declined before selection Murray, a precocious prospect whom many think could play in the NHL this season.
The first act of the Wild’s summer is over. They made seven selections in the NHL draft over the weekend, taking Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick and adding a 17-year-old defenseman whose high-wire style of play could make him a fan favorite.
But the most interesting act of the Wild’s summer is just about to begin.
It will start on Sunday, July 1, when a crowded field of suitors can officially begin chasing New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter — the two biggest prizes on the free-agent market and two players who could do nothing less than change the Wild’s future should they wind up in St. Paul.
Making that happen would require a convincing sales pitch, a little luck and lots and lots of cash. The Wild have the third one. They’ll soon see if they have the first two.
“You can’t control what happens on July 1,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said Sunday. “You can have your list. You can have your game plan. You can do a great job with presenting your situation. But the players have earned the right on July 1 to choose where they want to go.”
The question in light of Rangers general manager Glen Sather’s declaration yesterday that the Blueshirts intend to be “as aggressive as possible” in the free agent market essentially can be distilled to this:
Do the Blueshirts necessarily believe Devils captain Zach Parise meant what he said on his team’s breakup day — less than 48 hours after losing in the Cup finals to the Kings — when the impending free agent three times renounced interest in crossing the Hudson, once using the words, “No way”?
Stymied thus far in his attempts to acquire the offensive force the Rangers likely need in order to take the next step following their so-near-and-yet-so-far 2011-12, Sather indicated his team would dive into the free agent pool that isn’t all that deep.
“The closer to the top you are, you have to be a little more aggressive if you want to get better,” the GM said. “If you trade, you have to give away assets, but in free agency you’re just giving away money and [taking] the chance the cap might shrink.
“I think we’re going to try to be as aggressive as possible in the free agent market.”
The Blueshirts appear to have approximately $20 million available in summer cap space, some of which would be devoted to re-signing restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto and impending unrestricted free agent goaltender Martin Biron.
Parise is the lone elite forward coming up on unrestricted free agency, and the Devils have vowed to attempt to sign him before the market opens on July 1. The Penguins, who cleared cap space by dealing Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, are expected to make a strong bid, as are the Red Wings, Wild and several other clubs.
Alexander Semin is perhaps the most skilled sniper on the market but it’s difficult to imagine the Rangers engaging in the type of long-term deal the impending Capitals free agent is believed to be seeking.