The trade winds that died down a day earlier were back up to gale force on Saturday with the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks in the eye of the storm.
While Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did not address it directly when he met the media, word leaked out that 21-year-old forward Tyler Seguin was available. Chiarelli is not holding an auction for the second overall selection in the 2010 NHL entry draft but he is listening to offers because he wants to get into the top 10 for Sunday’s draft, which has a bumper crop.
The Canucks’ goaltender saga took another turn with word that general manager Mike Gillis is now making Cory Schneider, 27, available. This comes more than a year after Schneider was given Roberto Luongo’s No. 1 job and Gillis vowed to trade Luongo.
Right winger Nathan Horton parted company with the Bruins, informing Chiarelli that he has simply decided to move on when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5. “It's not a financial issue, just a decision to move on," Horton’s agent, Paul Krepelka, told TSN. Chiarelli earlier announced he would not offer pending free-agent defenceman Andrew Ference a new contract and Jaromir Jagr, 41, is not expected back after he becomes a free agent.
Horton may have reached his decision because he did not sense any excessive desire from the Bruins to keep him. Chiarelli is wrestling with salary-cap problems, with just $5.8-million (all currency U.S.) in room under the $64.3-million cap. He still needs to negotiate contract extensions for goaltender Tuukka Rask, who will get something around $7-million per year, and centre Patrice Bergeron, who will likely sign for the maximum term of eight years for at least $6.5-million per year.
That is why there may have been a feeling something would have to give with Horton, who made $5.5-million last season. He was inconsistent during the regular season but caught fire in the playoffs along with linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Horton finished with 19 points in 22 games and will draw interest from other teams, although matching last season’s salary will be difficult with the cap going down nearly $6-million.
Salary and performance appear to be the reasons why Chiarelli is considering a move with Seguin. The youngster has six years left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.75-million. While the Brampton, Ont., native, had a breakthrough season in 2011-12 with 29 goals, he slipped badly this season. By the playoffs, Seguin lost his spot on the top line beside Bergeron and scored just one goal in 22 playoff games skating on the third line.
Another consideration is that Seguin is a natural centre who is playing right wing because he will not move ahead of Bergeron or Krejci on the top two lines. But there are a lot of NHL teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs who have a history with Seguin because he was taken with one of the picks surrendered in the Phil Kessel trade, who are desperate to land a top centre.
However, Seguin will not come cheap. The word around the draft on the weekend is that Chiarelli won’t make a deal unless he can get into the top three picks on Sunday and get another first-round pick as well. That price means the Leafs are out of the running.
Colorado Avalanche bosses Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are shopping their first overall draft pick but other team executives say the asking price is astronomical.
In other player news, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero continued to work on contract negotiations with defenceman Kris Letang’s agent, Kent Hughes. While there was no progress, Shero told reporters he still has not explored a trade because his preference is to sign him.
Hughes had a busy day and night Saturday with another client, Vincent Lecavalier, whose contract will be bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They entertained a string of interested teams at their New York hotel, including the Dallas Stars, Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings. The Montreal Canadiens are among the interested, too, although GM Marc Bergevin declined to say much about the veteran centre to reporters.
Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 29, told the Minnesota Wild, the only NHL team he has played for, that he will sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent on July 5.
The Montreal Canadiens told forward Colby Armstrong, whose contract is up, that he will not be signed again.
Finally, word out of Buffalo is that the Sabres’ two best players, goaltender Ryan Miller and winger Thomas Vanek, will probably not be traded after all.