Big roster changes could be in store for “Big D” this summer.
Long-time starting goaltender Marty Turco appears certain to depart via free agency, Stars all-time leading scorer Mike Modano could face retirement at season’s end and management is believed to be in the market for blueline depth.
Modano admitted retirement’s been at the back of his mind, but won’t make any plans on his future until he’s met with team management after the season.
In a recent interview, GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he’ll meet with Modano in the off-season and didn’t fully close the door on a potential return of Turco, saying he’s “open to all situations.”
However, it appears doubtful Turco will be back, as the club reportedly tried to move him in February following the acquisition of Kari Lehtonen from the Atlanta Thrashers.
Unless Modano is willing to accept an inexpensive, one-year contract and a lesser on-ice role, he’ll likely announce his retirement later this summer, possibly to accept a front office job with the Stars.
Dallas Morning News hockey columnist Mike Heika recently looked at the Stars’ possible blueline options, noting this year’s free agent pool isn’t particularly deep and the best available players will be too expensive for the now cost-conscious team.
Heika suggested Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek, Colorado’s Brett Clark, Tampa Bay’s Kurtis Foster and Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg as possibilities.
• The Philadelphia Flyers’ never-ending goaltender woes figure to be a hot topic for the club and its followers this summer.
Losing Ray Emery and backup Michael Leighton to injuries has not only cast this season’s playoff hopes into jeopardy, but also fuelled rumors of future goaltending options.
Some suggest going the unrestricted free agent route, where Turco, Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore, Dan Ellis, Chris Mason and Vesa Toskala are scheduled to be available.
Others point to the trade market, where the Montreal Canadiens might be willing to part with Carey Price this summer now that Jaroslav Halak has secured the starting role.
The Flyers will also consider re-signing Leighton, who played well in relief of Emery before a high ankle sprain put him on the sidelines for six-to-eight weeks. It’s believed the Flyers want to keep Leighton, but given the uncertainty over how he’d perform over the course of a full season and in the playoffs, an agreement would be difficult if the Leighton camp seeks a substantial raise.
Factoring into this process will be the salary cap. According to capgeek.com, the Flyers head into next season with more than $48.6 million committed to 16 players, with Dan Carcillo, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent up for contract renewals.
The trade route will be difficult as several Flyers (Daniel Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen) have expensive contracts with no-trade or no-movement clauses.
• Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan didn’t suffer from the sophomore jinx, scoring more than 30 goals for the second consecutive season.
Ducks management hopes to re-sign Ryan, a restricted free agent July 1, although talks stalled during the season and have been postponed until the off-season.
That’s led to speculation Ryan will be shopped if his salary demands turn unreasonable or if he has a falling out with the club similar to that of Phil Kessel with the Boston Bruins last summer, which led to Kessel’s trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s possible the Ducks will shop Ryan, but by no means is it a certainty. They’ll have nearly $20 million in available cap space and with 17 players under contract for next season that should leave plenty to re-sign Ryan, fellow RFA James Wisniewski and still fill out the rest of the lineup.
Re-signing Ryan, however, will be an expensive proposition. He’s certainly not as under-appreciated as Kessel was at times in Boston and Ryan’s offensive numbers over the past two seasons are comparable to Kessel’s, so he’ll likely request a similar salary of $5.4 million per season.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.