Roberto Luongo faces an uncertain future with the Vancouver Canucks, but Henrik and Daniel Sedin hope to stick around for a while.
The twins are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, but Henrik recently told the Vancouver Sun's Iain MacIntyre they've started contract extension talks with hopes of re-signing before the regular season opens.
Considering the Sedins remain among the league's elite players plus the expensive contracts signed by lesser players this summer, MacIntyre doubts the twins (who each earn an average annual salary of $6.1 million) will accept a pay cut.
Time, however, will be a factor. The twins turn 33 in September and since they had their career-high seasons (Henrik's 112-point season in 2009-10, Daniel's 104-point performance in '10-11), their combined production has slowly declined.
MacIntyre believes if the duo departs via free agency next summer, the Canucks will be forced to stage a significant rebuild.
The Sedins' critics might embrace that idea, but there's no one in the Canucks system or next summer's free agent market who can replace the two. Even if they're traded this season, the Canucks won't get equal value in return.
A rebuild for the Canucks appears inevitable, but management could prefer a gradual one to a major overhaul. To remain competitive during that process, they'll need the Sedins.
WILL LOOMING KESSEL CONTRACT BECOME A DISTRACTION?
Phil Kessel recently expressed uncertainty over his contract status.
Like the Sedins, Kessel is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Unlike the Sedins, however, contract extension talks haven't begun, leaving the winger unsure about how things will play out.
Kessel insists he loves playing for the Leafs, but doubts there will be much contract discussion during the upcoming season, since it will be too much of a distraction.
Being bombarded daily with contract status questions by hockey-mad Toronto pundits could prove a bigger distraction for Kessel, especially if he remains among the league's top scorers.
VANEK DIDN’T REQUEST TRADE, BUT MAY GET ONE ANYWAY
Thomas Vanek returned to Buffalo this week and took some time to discuss his future plans with WGR 550's Paul Hamilton.
Vanek denied rumors he requested a trade earlier this summer. While the 29-year-old winger isn't seeking a contract extension, he didn't dismiss the idea either.
An unrestricted free agent at season's end, it's expected Vanek (along with goaltender Ryan Miller) will be shopped by the March trade deadline if the Sabres are out of playoff contention.
Speculation earlier this year suggested the Minnesota Wild would be a trade destination for Vanek, given his ties to Minnesota and the recent trade history between the two clubs. However, the Wild's limited salary cap space and Vanek's hefty cap hit ($7.14 million) makes such a move unlikely.
If the Wild have interest in Vanek, their best bet would be to wait until next summer, when he's a free agent and they have more cap space.
PLENTY OF UFAs LEFT TO BE HAD
Mikhail Grabovski's recent signing with the Washington Capitals failed to produce a flood of other signings.
The only notable UFA news this week came from Yahoo! Sports' Dmitry Chesnokov, who reported KHL team SKA St. Petersburg remains interested in signing former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Other available free agents include Teemu Selanne, Tim Thomas, Brenden Morrow, Ron Hainsey, Damien Brunner, Brad Boyes, Ryan Whitney, Vinny Prospal and Mason Raymond.
Selanne, of course, is expected to reach a decision soon on returning with the Anaheim Ducks. As for the rest, interest in their services should pick up through September as clubs evaluate their rosters during training camp and pre-season play.
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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