The contract status of Boston Bruins' right wing Loui Eriksson continues to draw media attention. Eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, the Bruins hope to re-sign the 30-year-old right wing, who's been among their best two-way players this season. Doing so, however, could cost more than they're willing to pay.
Eriksson's current annual cap hit is $4.25 million. Given his value to the Bruins over the past two seasons, The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa believes the veteran right wing is justified in seeking $6 million per season. The Bruins will have the cap space to accommodate that, but not if he's seeking a lengthy extension.
CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty doubts Bruins GM Don Sweeney will hand Eriksson a five- or six-year deal at $6 million per. Eriksson is represented by agent J.P. Barry, and Haggerty points out Sweeney last year traded away Barry clients Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton.
Shinzawa and Haggerty agree Eriksson could fetch a first-round pick and a top prospect, but the Bruins need a return that helps them now and in the future. They speculate Sweeney could offer up Eriksson to the Minnesota Wild for a young defenseman like Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba. Haggerty also suggests the Anaheim Ducks or Winnipeg Jets as potential destinations.
The Wild and Ducks could be the best fit. Both clubs are deep in young blueliners and need scoring punch to remain in the Western Conference playoff chase. The Jets, however, are fading in the postseason race and are unlikely to acquire a rental player.
JETS FOCUSING ON SIGNING BYFUGLIEN, TRADING LADD
With the Winnipeg Jets mired near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, there's growing speculation over GM Kevin Cheveldayoff 's plans for pending UFAs Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd. As their playoff hopes fade, Cheveldayoff could re-sign one and shop the other by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Recent reports suggests the focus is shifting toward re-signing Byfuglien. TSN's Gary Lawless claims contract talks between the Jets and Ladd recently broke off. He suggests uncertainty over the contract status of their captain is contributing to the Jets' struggles this season.
It's believed Ladd, 30, seeks a six-year deal worth over $6-million annually, which Lawless doesn't believe the left winger will get from the Jets. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman guesses Cheveldayoff won't go over $6 million.
If the Jets part ways with Ladd, his leadership, experience and Stanley Cup pedigree (championships with Carolina in 2006 and Chicago in 2010) makes him an attractive playoff rental. TSN's Pierre LeBrun suggests the Florida Panthers as a good destination, though he's unsure if the Panthers have the assets to swing it.
Ladd carries a modified no-trade clause, but maybe he'll be receptive to joining the Panthers. They're surging in the standings and he knows Panthers GM Dale Tallon from their days with the Chicago Blackhawks. It was Tallon who brought Ladd from Carolina to Chicago at the 2008 trade deadline.
LEAFS TRYING TO DEAL BERNIER, WINNIK
The Toronto Maple Leafs' trade candidate guessing game continues. While it's anticipated the Leafs will peddle most of their pending UFAs, The Globe and Mail's James Mirtle reports players with term remaining on their contract could be shopped. He claims forward Daniel Winnik and goaltender Jonathan Bernier are available.
Winnik, 30, has one season remaining on his contract at a salary-cap hit of $2.25 million, while the 27-year-old Bernier carries $4.15 million for 2016-17. Mirtle acknowledges their poor performances this season makes those contracts difficult to move.
Bernier's fate could also depend upon the Leafs' contract talks with pending UFA James Reimer, who's been superb this season but plagued by injuries. If the Leafs can't reach an agreement with the 27-year-old Reimer before Feb. 29, they'll likely listen to trade offers.
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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