The hockey world is waiting to see what the Winnipeg Jets do with restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba, who requested a trade two weeks ago. But that's not the only issue the club has to deal with as the season approaches.
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports the Jets have a logjam in goal with veteran Ondrej Pavelec, backup Michael Hutchinson and promising Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets took a big, somewhat surprising, step in clearing that logjam on Monday by placing Pavelec on waivers. That clears the way for the Jets to start the season with Hutchinson and Hellebuyck between the pipes.
NBC Sports' Joe Alfieri earlier listed trading Pavelec or Hutchinson among several possibilities to address the situation. Pavelec, 29, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. If he clears waivers and is placed on the trade block, his $3.9-million salary-cap hit ($4.75 million in actual salary this season) and history of inconsistent play won't attract many suitors.
Hutchinson carries a more affordable contract ($1.15-million annual cap hit through 2017-18) and is a decent backup. Hellebucyk, 23, showed starter potential in 26 regular-season games last season.
The goalie situation in Winnipeg will remain worth keeping an eye on over the course of this season.
FLAMES HAD EYES ON KRIS RUSSELL
Prior to the Edmonton Oilers signing free-agent defenseman Kris Russell on Friday, there was talk the Calgary Flames were interested in bringing him back. Last week, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Flames were among four teams pursuing the 29-year-old blueliner.
It's believed the Flames wanted to get restricted free agent winger Johnny Gaudreau under contract before pitching an offer to Russell. With $7.9 million in salary-cap space, the cost of re-signing Gaudreau would have determined how much they had left to offer Russell.
To clear additional space, LeBrun's colleague Bob McKenzie reported on the possibility of trading defenseman Ladislav Smid. Sidelined for the season by a neck injury, the 30-year-old Smid carries a $3.5-million salary-cap hit, though he'll earn $4 million in actual salary. McKenzie said there's no certainty that deal gets done.
With Russell now off the market, it remains to be seen if the Flames will try to move Smid's contract and add another blueliner. The pickings are slim in the UFA market, with James Wiesniewski, Nicklas Grossmann, Mike Weber, Eric Gryba and Matt Bartkowski the most notable still available.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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