With the NHL season officially over, the rumors are already popping up around the league regarding a certain few players who could potentially be on the move from their current teams.
Free agency will begin on July 1, with unrestricted free agents looking to either come back to their old teams or strike a deal with a new one. There have been plenty of big free agent signings in recent memory, from the Boston Bruins signing Zdeno Chara in 2006 to the Chicago Blackhawks bringing in Marian Hossa in 2009.
Teams will be looking to add key pieces to make a run at next year's Stanley Cup, so let's take a look at some of the most recent rumors popping up around the NHL.
Maple Leafs Interested in Joe Thornton
San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton will be a future Hall of Famer, but as he approaches his 35th birthday, he may be moving teams for just the second time in his career.
Mike Zeisberger from the Toronto Sun wrote that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be interested in acquiring the talented center from the Sharks, saying:
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Leafs are among at least six NHL teams who have kicked tires concerning Thornton’s availability. And why wouldn’t they? With centre being a position of need for the Leafs ever since Mats Sundin left, why not make an inquiry if someone of Thornton’s ilk might possibly come on the market?
Thornton is said to have a no-movement clause, but might be willing to waive it, especially if the Sharks were to strip him of his captaincy as some have suggested.
Center is definitely a position the Maple Leafs need help with if they want to improve upon a 38-36-9 season. Even at 34 years old, Thornton was an extremely productive player last season, putting up 76 points with 11 goals and 65 assists, making him an ideal addition for the Maple Leafs.
With a career plus-minus of 178, it's clear that Thornton is able to help his team win games when out on the ice. However, if the Maple Leafs are going to have a chance at acquiring the future Hall of Fame center, he's going to have to be willing to waive his no-movement clause, and Toronto is going to have to be willing to give up quite a bit to get him.
David Pagnotta from the Fourth Period believes that it is highly unlikely that the Sharks end up trading Thornton.
Still, if the pieces fall in place and the Maple Leafs do end up grabbing Thornton, they could be a legitimate playoff contender in the Atlantic division.
Ryan Callahan Likely To Hit Free-Agency Market
After just 20 regular season and four postseason games played with the Tampa Bay Lightning, winger Ryan Callahan may already be heading to a new team.
The 29-year-old had spent his entire career with the New York Rangers before being traded to the Lightning, where he finished out the remainder of his three-year, $12.8 million deal (h/t Spotrac). Now, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Callahan is in talks with the Lightning about a new deal, but it's unlikely that he'll be back.
This past season, Callahan put up 17 goals and 19 assists with a plus-minus of just one. He's historically been a physical winger who can rack up over 200 hits a year, yet he's always stayed healthy. However, those hits could take a toll on his body as he gets older, making it a potentially risky move to sign him to a long-term deal.
Callahan's asking price may also scare off some teams. According to McKenzie back in March, Callahan was asking for a deal around six years worth $6.5 million per year.
It's unlikely that Callahan will get that big of a deal, but if he's willing to drop his asking price a bit, he could find a good fit with a team in need of another wing.
Calgary Flames Trying To Acquire Ottawa's Jason Spezza
The Calgary Flames haven't been to the playoffs since the 2008-09 season, but it appears that the team is going to try to make moves to become a postseason contender once again this year, although it may be hard to convince players to come to Calgary.
One name that the Flames are trying to acquire is Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza. According to Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun, the Flames have made a pitch to Ottawa, saying:
League sources say the Calgary Flames have made a pitch to the Senators for their top centre but what they're offering and the destination itself make the chances of a deal happening slim.
While Flames' GM Brad Treliving deserves credit for trying to make a splash and rebuild, sources say Spezza has no desire whatsoever to stay in Canada and has told the Senators as much.
Spezza is heading into the final year of his seven-year deal worth $49 million, according to Spotrac, which means that he may be ready to find a new team that will be willing to give him another long-term deal. According to USA Today's Kevin Allen, the 31-year-old has officially requested a trade.
While Spezza put up another 66 points this past season, he also had a career-low plus-minus of minus-26, which was his worst by 12 points. He also had a career-low shooting percentage, scoring on just 10.3 percent of his shots on goal.
The former No. 2 overall pick may be slowly starting to wear down, or he could just be ready for a change of scenery. The Flames will try to add the center, but they'll have to do a lot of convincing if they want to have a chance at acquiring the 31-year-old.
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