In non–Kevin Durant sports news, the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks may not be done dealing, the Dallas Stars goaltending situation could still be in flux, and Kris Russell’s agent is gunning down Toronto Maple Leafs rumours on Twitter.
Keep it here for a roundup of the latest NHL whispers and conjecture.
Russell’s agent takes to Twitter
Of the league’s unrestricted free agents still remaining after the weekend’s madness, we expect defenceman Kris Russell to land the biggest contract.
Multiple teams have expressed interest in the shot-block czar, including the Maple Leafs, who did sign free agent Roman Polak.
Saturday night, CSSNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reported the Boston Bruins were bidding for Russell’s services, noting that Russell declined a four-year, $17-million-plus offer from the Maple Leafs.
Russell’s agent, Allain Roy, denied Haggerty’s report via Twitter on Sunday:
Canucks trying to trade for another impact winger
It’s no secret Vancouver is trying to get back in the playoffs, and the upgrade from Radim Vrbata to Loui Eriksson is a step in that direction.
Still, GM Jim Benning isn’t done trying to improve his club’s offence.
According to The Province, Benning has “quietly” been trying to add another impact player. (Aside: Quietly is probably the best approach for Benning at this point.)
“If I had a crystal ball, I would say we’d try to add a winger who had some grit and size to him, who can score,” Benning said.
Reporter Jason Botchford threw out a couple big names who might be available in trade.
“It’s believed the Canucks were looking to move a player on an unappealing contract along with a valuable asset in an attempt to clear more cap space to chase a forward,” Botchford writes.
“Could it be Evander Kane or the apparently available Gabriel Landeskog? That’s anyone’s guess.
Some around the league suggested a possible Luca Sbisa trade was being discussed this weekend.”
The Avalanche’s Patrick Roy called out his core at the end of the season but did defend captain Landeskog.
Buffalo GM Tim Murray’s patience is growing thin with Kane. He told The Associated Press on Friday that Kane needs to behave better whether or not he’s cleared of harassment complaints.
Edmonton still looking for a defenceman?
Adam Larsson won’t solve all of the Oilers’ defensive woes, so it makes sense that GM Peter Chiarelli is still trying to add top-end talent to his blue line.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes that “it’s evident” the Oilers are trying to figure out a trade to land Colorado’s Tyson Barrie.
Barrie, a restricted free agent, is unsigned and has been a rumoured trade target since Christmas. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said on June 16, however, that he will go to arbitration with the player if necessary but will not be trading him.
Upon trading star winger Taylor Hall for Larsson, Chiarelli said this: “If we were to start today with our D, I’d be quite happy. I’d be very happy. Yes, I’d like to try to get someone that can complement a power play and push the puck up to the forwards. That’s no secret. We will continue to look at. There’s still a couple that are out there. They are hard to find.”
Perron dreamed of being a Canadien
Free agent winger David Perron, a Quebec native who had fit in nicely with the Anaheim Ducks, ended up returning to the St. Louis Blues, but rest assured Montreal was a consideration.
“It would have been a dream to play [in Montreal], but St. Louis is really a place that’s close to my heart,” Perron told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I really missed playing in the city and I wanted to get another shot and hopefully make the best of it this time.”
Leafs didn’t call Martin until July 1
Crash-and-banger Matt Martin, one of free agency’s most sought-after role players, fielded interest from a number of teams over the courting period, but not the Maple Leafs.
Toronto didn’t contact the depth forward until the morning of July 1, Martin told Dean Blundell & Co. Monday morning.
Martin spoke to both GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock during his recruitment. Babcock’s ability to get the most out of athletes, a star-studded front office, and a return to his home province of Ontario, Martin said, were the main reasons he chose the Maple Leafs. The signing-bonus-heavy $10-million contract could not have hurt, either.
Watch his interview in full:
Dallas GM can’t say what he’s really thinking?
A nice piece by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News points out the political game Stars GM Jim Nill is forced to play regarding his goaltending tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, the most expensive duo in the league — at least until Detroit signs RFA Petr Mrazek.
All of the smoke in Dallas surrounds Tampa Bay Lightning No. 1 Ben Bishop, whose days are numbered unless he wants to take much less than he’s worth.
Imagine how good the Stars, already the best regular-season club in the West, would be with Bishop.
A tough deal to make, of course, but the Stars do have plenty of young, still-improving D-men whom they could dangle in a trade.
Leafs not too high on Lupul, we take it
We’re guessing — because that’s all you can do when it comes to the strategy of Lou Lamoriello — Joffrey Lupul was not bought out of his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs because he cannot pass a physical.
Lupul carries a cap hit of $5.25 million for two more seasons, making him the most cap-expensive player on the roster not named Nathan Horton.
The winger last played on Feb. 6. He was shut down for the season in late February due to a sports hernia and was not at the Leafs’ end-of-season team photo day.
“Joffrey is on our roster and that’s all I have to say,” Lamoriello said Friday.
Lupul spoke with the Toronto Sun‘s Steve Simmons in late June over phone from New York City.
“I’m playing the waiting game,” he said. “I’m trying to get healthy. That’s my focus right now.
“I haven’t heard anything [from the Leafs]. I really can’t tell you anything. I’m just playing the waiting game now.”
Lupul is only 32. He’s been a 20-goal scorer five times in his career, but his injury history makes him look almost cursed.
“It’s frustrating,” Lupul told the Sun. “I still want to play hockey. I still think I’m a hockey player.”