With the trade deadline passed, Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster and his staff have turned their thoughts toward the team’s pending unrestricted free agents.
Brendan Morrison, Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross and Anton Babchuk are eligible for UFA status this summer and have played key roles for the Flames during their second-half resurgence this season.
Feaster said he and his staff have begun identifying the players they'd like to keep and the needs that must be addressed, but declined to provide details. It's believed Glencross is seeking a four- or five-year deal, but it is not known how much he's seeking in salary.
Complicating things for Feaster is his limited salary cap space for 2011-12.
According to capgeek.com, the Flames have nearly $54 million committed to 17 players next season and that's without taking into account Ales Kotalik's $3 million salary. He was playing in the American League before being recalled Wednesday. If the AHL is his future with the Flames, he may opt to play overseas next season.
If the salary cap rises to $62 million as predicted, that'll leave a little more than $8 million for Feaster to work with, which means he won't have enough room to re-sign all his key free agents and still leave a suitable cap cushion for call-ups or other additions next season.
BLUES OWNERSHIP WILL PLAY ROLE IN OFF-SEASON PLANS
Last month, the St. Louis Blues got an early start on this summer's rebuilding program, shipping out Erik Johnson, Brad Boyes and Eric Brewer in separate deals.
In return the Blues got what BND.com's Norm Sanders described as “two potential franchise cornerstones” in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, plus draft picks they could use to either add prospect depth or as a bargaining chip in trades this summer.
Team president John Davidson believes if the Blues have a smart off-season they could have a pretty good team next season, but added they will have to work within their budget.
With 75 percent of the franchise up for sale, the ownership situation will have an impact on the team’s plans to sign free agents or re-sign players to long-term extensions - such as restricted free agents T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka.
Fortunately for the Blues, who have $33.7 million tied up in 12 players next season, none of those guys will be seeking huge raises, so re-signing them to affordable new contracts shouldn't be a big issue.
However, adding more talent via free agency will be a different story, especially if they don't want to spend much more than the $44.7 million they spent this season.
BERGFORS AUDITIONS FOR PERMANENT HOME
Having been traded two years in a row, right winger Niclas Bergfors is hoping to stick with the Florida Panthers beyond this season.
Bergfors, who scored 21 goals as a rookie last season, was dealt from New Jersey to Atlanta in 2010, only to be moved to the Panthers at this year's deadline.
He's a decent scorer, but has been dogged by inconsistency, which explains why he's played for three teams in two seasons. He was also a healthy scratch in several December games with Atlanta.
As Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted, the remainder of this season is an audition for Bergfors, who is a restricted free agent this summer, to earn a new contract.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.