Since NHL free agency commenced on July 1, the initial wave of open-market movement has passed. With much of that top-tier talent gone, there are rumors circulating about teams seeking improvement through trades or other avenues.
A defenseman in the midst of his prime, a prodigy whose future with his current club is at stake and an aging All-Star comprise the notable buzz. This provides a diverse blend of players at various stages of their careers and adds further intrigue to the offseason
Here is a look at the top developments, which involve Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen and Vincent Lecavalier of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Capitals Seeking Cap Relief By Moving Mike Green
A surplus of defensemen, combined with Green's injury history and salary, make the 28-year-old star a dispensable asset. According to Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner, the Detroit Red Wings are interested in acquiring Green:
"According to a team source, the Detroit Red Wings have determined Washington defenseman Mike Green is their top trade target," writes Regner. "The source says the Wings have reached out to the Capitals regarding Green's availability."
Brad Galli of WXYZ-Detroit certainly would endorse such a move—even with Green's contract set to expire after the 2014-15 season:
Green is due to make $6.25 million entering a contract year, where he'll be determined to prove his durability and that he has some of his best hockey ahead. Given that it took a valiant effort just for the Red Wings to make the playoffs last year, they could use some help on both ends of the ice.
What makes Green such an attractive option, despite his inability to stay healthy in recent years and history of concussions, is that he's an exceptional two-way player. Not only can he defend, but he's also a threat to generate offense, peaking in the 2009-10 campaign with 76 points in 75 games.
For a Detroit team that was in the middle of the NHL pack in goals for and against this last season, Green is an ideal fit to provide a spark. Meanwhile, the Capitals can perhaps gain a forward to balance out their roster a little better, making this prospective deal a logical one for both parties.
Ryan Johansen To Leave Columbus?
An NHL franchise could do worse than to build around Johansen at this point, but the Blue Jackets may not be able to retain the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports that the discussions for a new contract aren't going so well:
This isn't an encouraging update, as Johansen certainly wasn't pleased with the initial offer, per a June 30 report by Portzline:
We’re not even close. They say "We want to sign you to a 'bridge' deal." We say "We don’t want to do a 'bridge,' and that’s the end of it. [...] I’ve earned more than a two- or three-year deal with my play. It seems a little disrespectful, to be honest. I want to play in Columbus, and I want to be a Blue Jacket, but I want to get this done. It seems like a slap in the face.
Since Johansen is a restricted free agent, it appears Columbus may be reluctant to match an offer sheet from another team in order to keep him. Given that Johansen had six points in six postseason games and is just coming off his first full season with the club, there is a dilemma created by this situation.
The Blue Jackets may want to see more from Johansen before they pay him too handsomely, while the youngster likely feels he is on the cusp of breaking out into a true Blue Jackets cornerstone.
If there is another suitor willing to gamble on Johansen's upside and he lives up to the hype, Columbus could lose big. Letting such a talented player with so much development still left leave town without any compensation would be a crushing blow.
There is a fine line the Blue Jackets must walk, and this gridlock could end with a more lucrative, short-term deal that will give Johansen his desired salary and afford Columbus the chance to see how he progresses.
Vincent Lecavalier Drawing Interest From Multiple Teams
One veteran generating some buzz is Lecavalier, and rightly so. Although he isn't the electrifying player he once was, Lecavalier can still be a contributor on a Stanley Cup contender.
The Ottawa Senators appear keen on bringing Lecavalier in, though it does involve one key caveat, per CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio:
Philadelphia has enough firepower at center, headlined by Claude Giroux, along with developing youngsters Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. That makes Lecavalier especially movable, and Philly.com's Frank Seravalli reported recently that the Nashville Predators are in the running for Lecavalier.
That seems all the more possible in light of this update from Seravelli regarding Nashville's current personnel up front:
What's hurting Lecavalier's trade value is that he's in the sixth year of an 11-year contract worth $85 million. It isn't a detrimental cap figure, but for what the Predators or Senators would be getting in return, that may not be a worthwhile investment.
Green, Johansen and Lecavalier are all at critical crossroads. Lecavalier doesn't loom quite as large, but following this season, this may be the last chance Green has to cash in one more payday. With the danger of head injuries, he may not have much time left in the NHL. That makes his future, be it in Washington or elsewhere, all the more complex.
Though he doesn't have complete say in where the next, critical stage of his career takes him, Johansen is the most important piece in all of this. The Blue Jackets have encountered peril time and again in their brief history, and legacies are at stake for both sides. It's a monumental decision for Columbus and Johansen to make as to whether they want to stick together.
Note: Salary information is courtesy of CapGeek.com.
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