The Toronto Maple Leafs acquisition Sunday of goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings could be the first of several moves by the club this summer.
TSN's Darren Dreger reported Leafs GM Dave Nonis could be busy on the trade front this week, because he’s “eager” to add a young center and top-four defenseman.
Following the Bernier trade, it was reported the Leafs had spoken with the Edmonton Oilers regarding center Sam Gagner, a restricted free agent whom it was thought the Oilers would have difficulty re-signing. A subsequent report in the Edmonton Journal, however, claimed the Oilers and Gagner may be close to a new contract.
Dreger also claimed there's some talk Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is “in play,” though Nonis said no one has yet contacted him about the blueliner's availability.
Given Phaneuf's eligibility for unrestricted free agency next summer, it wouldn't be surprising if Nonis floated his captain's name in the trade market to gauge his value.
Phaneuf's come under criticism for his defensive miscues. His salary for next season is $5.5 million, but his cap hit is $6.5 million, which could be tough to move under a declining salary cap this summer.
READ-ING THE GOALIE MARKET
With Bernier off the market, the Philadelphia Flyers will have to consider other options.
A compliance buyout of Ilya Bryzgalov was reportedly contingent upon the Flyers landing a replacement goaltender.
CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio cited a source claiming the Flyers will continue looking at other goalies, including those eligible for free agency. They'll have to move quickly, however, as the compliance buyout period begins 48 hours following the end of the Stanley Cup final and expires at 5:00 pm ET on July 4.
It was reported the Flyers offered up winger Matt Read to the Kings in their failed bid for Bernier. Read, 27, will become an unrestricted free agent next summer and could still be used as trade bait for a goalie.
LETANG COULD MOVE, OR CONTINUE AS MENTOR
Should the Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign defenseman Kris Letang, Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen speculated James Neal and his $5-million per season salary could be shopped to free up cap space.
Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dismissed this, reporting the Penguins have no intention of trading Neal.
Rossi also acknowledged the possibility Letang would be dealt this summer if he and the Penguins fail to agree on a contract extension, but noted GM Ray Shero has the option of letting the blueliner play out the final season of his contract as a Penguin.
That would allow Letang to mentor promising blueliner Simon Despres next season, just as Letang was mentored by Sergei Gonchar, who departed as a free agent in 2010.
Still, the perception around the league is Letang will be shopped at this weekend’s draft if he's not re-signed by then.
SHAWN HORCOFF: TRADE OR BUYOUT CANDIDATE?
Looks like Shawn Horcoff's days with the Edmonton Oilers may be ending.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday the Oilers had given Horcoff permission to speak with other clubs to gauge interest in acquiring him.
Horcoff, 34, has two seasons left on his contract (at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million) and has a no-trade clause that comes into effect July 1.
Craig MacTavish, the new Oilers GM, promised bold moves this off-season, prompting speculation Horcoff would be among them.
While MacTavish would prefer to trade Horcoff, the player’s contract, age and declining production are stumbling blocks that could instead make the Oilers captain a compliance buyout candidate.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson, meanwhile, still believes the Oilers will pursue Buffalo Sabres winger Drew Stafford. Matheson's colleague David Staples mused about swapping Ales Hemsky for Stafford.
Staples acknowledged the struggles and expensive contracts (Stafford's two years at $4 million per; Hemsky's one year at $5 million) of both players, but suggested they are be due for “an uptick in performance.”
What works against this move, however, is Hemsky's age and injury history. The Sabres have embarked on a rebuilding program with young players. As much as they'd like to move Stafford, they'll want a younger, affordable, healthier return.
KHL’S AVANGARD PREYS ON PREDATOR
A recent report out of Russia claimed Nashville Predators winger Sergei Kostitsyn was in contract talks with Avangard Omsk of the Kontentinal League and that the Predators wouldn't object to his departure.
Given Kostitsyn's poor performance this season and his $3-million salary for next season, the Predators may well wish to be rid of him, but if the KHL sticks to its player transfer agreement with the NHL, he'll have to play for the Predators.
If Kostitsyn does play in Russia next season, the Predators will suspend him, ensuring his salary for 2013-14 doesn't count against their cap. That's what they did with Alexander Radulov when he bolted for the KHL in 2008.
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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