NHL Rumours: Sabres GM will ‘chase the big fish’

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford comments on whether the Pens are going to trade Evgeni Malkin.

Steven Stamkos is finally free to talk to everybody.

Yes, the negotiating window for the NHL’s unrestricted free agents opened Saturday, and the trickle of trades that began Friday night at the Draft continued on Day 2 in Buffalo as all the general managers gathered at First Niagara Center.

The draft is complete, but business continues. Keep it here for the latest trade and signing gossip.

5:32 p.m. Flames may explore buyout options

The Calgary Flames made a splash landing goaltender Brian Elliott via trade Friday night and selecting forward Matthew Tkachuk with the sixth overall pick. Shedding salary cap commitments may be up next for the club.

34-year-old defenceman Deryk Engelland is due $2,916,666 in the final year of his inflated contract, while Ladislav Smid is set to earn $3.5 million against the cap in 2016-17. The Flames are currently sitting under the salary cap floor, although young stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are both due for significant pay raises as restricted free agents.

2 p.m. Stamkos, Lightning at standstill; Sabres ready to chase

Steve Yzerman told reporters he and the Stamkos camp are both very clear on their positions, and nothing has changed.

If you didn’t already, make sure to count the Buffalo Sabres all in here:

Count the Boston Bruins in on the Stamkos sweepstakes as well. A Lucic return to replace the departing Loui Eriksson? That could be interesting.

Sabres GM Tim Murray also addressed the Evander Kane crime report. Buffalo will take a wait-and-see approach.

“It’s frustrating. If it’s true, we’ll deal with it,” Murray told reporters. “I don’t know all the details. I don’t know what’s right or wrong.”

1:48 p.m. Canucks tell Hamhuis to test the market

Trevor Linden expects to hear from the NHL about a possible tampering charge on Monday.

1:18 p.m. Dallas confident it will keep Benn

Jim Nill, GM for the Dallas Stars, told reporters he plans on signing captain Jamie Benn to a long-term contract when the player is allowed to be extended after July 1.

“Jamie’s not going anywhere,” Nill said of the best UFA of the 2017 class. “We’ll get something done.”

Nill also reiterated that he is comfortable starting next season with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi in net, despite the Ben Bishop rumours (more below).

12:20 p.m. Pens’ Rutherford adamant about Evgeni Malkin trade rumours

“Let me make this easy on everybody: We’re not trading Malkin, OK?” Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford told the NHL Network during the broadcast (watch above). “We’ve never talked about it. We don’t want to do it. So that’s the end of that.”

That, Marc Bergevin, is how you shoot down a trade rumour.

In other Penguins scuttlebutt, as of now the plan is for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury — a target of the Calgary Flames earlier this month — to start the season in Pittsburgh.

John Shannon learned this bit of information when he ran into Rutherford near the chocolate chip cookies:

12:15 p.m. Sounds like Shaw will sign with Montreal easily

Andrew Shaw reportedly came close to re-signing with the Chicago Blackhawks before they dealt the agitator to Montreal Friday night.

“I know Marc [Bergevin] pretty well and I’m really happy and excited to be a part of his team,” Shaw, a restricted free agent, told reporters Saturday.

Shaw said Bergevin “likes the rat in me.”

The Habs, who had an idea of the forward’s price, will have an easier time fitting Shaw under their cap than the Hawks did.

11:20 a.m. Okposo will surely get wined and/or dined

We know Kyle Okposo, arguably the best winger on the open market, is not returning to the New York Islanders.

Six teams have already approached Okposo’s camp with interest in signing him, Sportsnet’ John Shannon reported on-air.

According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Detroit are five of those teams.

11 a.m. Stammer in demand

Meeting with reporters Friday night, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he would consider a sign-and-trade for Stamkos if he’s unable to get his captain under contract. The last known offer to Stamkos by the Lightning was $8.5 million per season. But, hey, it’s state tax free!

Although Stamkos is now free to speak with whomever he chooses, until July 1 he can only re-sign with Tampa, which is the only club able to offer him an eight-year contract. After July 1, Stamkos’s term will max out at seven years.

Stamkos is not in Buffalo this weekend to meet with GMs face to face.

By moving Pavel Datsyuk‘s $7.5-million salary cap hit to Arizona, the Detroit Red Wings are expected to make a strong pitch for Stamkos, believed to be in the ballpark of $10 million per season.

Toronto, Buffalo, Montreal and Vancouver are among the many clubs expected to pitch Stamkos.

Starting goalie market dries up? Or could Bishop still move?

With St. Louis trading Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames mid-draft Friday, the market for a No. 1 goaltender is essentially non-existent.

James Reimer is the top UFA goalie on the market, but unless something in the goalie landscape changes, he could be looking at another 1A/1B situation or a pure backup role. You have to wonder if the Elliott trade (not to mention Frederik Andersen’s trade to the Leafs and Cam Ward’s re-signing in Carolina) just took a dent out of Reimer’s payday.

As for St. Louis, GM Doug Armstrong says he will waste no time trying to sign Jake Allen to a long-term deal. Allen is set to enter a contract year in 2016-17. the Blues will be in the market for a backup, but Allen now has the No. 1 job all to himself.

“I feel like this is going to be a real good opportunity for me to showcase what I can do,” Allen told NHL.com’s Lou Korac, “and I’m looking forward to it.”

This one could be complicated.

The Dallas Stars investigated a trade for Lightning starter Ben Bishop Friday night, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. Bishop will become a UFA on July 1, 2017, and is expected to price himself out of Tampa at that point.

Calgary also kicked tires on Bishop before acquiring Elliott at a more reasonable price. Dallas has the most expensive goaltending tandem in the league and would need to get rid of Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen in order to make space for Bishop. To do that without retaining salary might be the greatest trick Jim Nill has ever pulled.

The Lightning would prefer to move Bishop to the Western Conference, so Dallas does fill that criterion.

Price too high for Shattenkirk trade?

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reported that the Bruins, Flyers or Rangers would end up with St. Louis defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has one year remaining on his contract and zero trade protection.

Early Saturday morning, Haggerty wrote that St. Louis had set the trade price too high.

THe Bruins, for one, were unwilling to include David Pastrnak in a Shattenkirk trade.

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some… the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney told the beat reporter.

“There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am. “

9:30 a.m. Minnesota Wild make RFA decisions

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher announced that he made qualifying offers to the following restricted free agents: Zac Dalpe, Mat Dumba, Tyler Graovac, Darcy Kuemper, Zach Palmquist, Jordan Schroeder and Jason Zucker.

Minnesota did not make qualifying offers to Brett Bulmer, Raphael Bussieres, Brody Hoffman, Jared Knight and Scott Sabourin.

9 a.m. Hedman’s agent speaks

Don’t expect Yzerman to go through the same gauntlet with Victor Hedman — a free agent in 2017 — as he did with Stamkos.

“I would be shocked if this would go for the whole year,” Hedman’s agent, Peter Wallen, told the Tampa Bay Times Saturday night. “When [the Lightning] is ready to talk, we’ll be here.”

Hedman is on target to be the most coveted UFA defenceman of July 1, 2017, and if Keith Yandle’s $44.5-million deal with Florida is any indication, the man will be getting paid huge.

Senators trying to trade Chiasson

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