Long after the global spotlight has turned away, the NHL rumor mill continues to churn out info.
The offerings pale in comparison to the half a billion spent during the opening frenzy, but there are still nuggets of info and whispers in normally quiet corners of the league fans will want to pay attention to as contenders round out rosters.
The names that follow are far from the most important. They will not sell tickets on their own, nor will they carry a team on their shoulders. What they are, is little pieces to a larger puzzle that combines to form the landscape of the league.
Here is the latest.
The Joffrey Lupul Storyline
We are to the point in the offseason when a name such as Joffrey Lupul becomes a hot commodity.
The 30-year-old winger is quite the interesting story, as his contract is a bit costly—it pays him $5.25 million each of the next four seasons, per Spotrac.
Pay for past production is a dangerous game in any league, but the thought process with such a cost has to formulate around the fact that Lupul can still post 20 or more goals in a season when healthy, as his last three years clearly show:
This hint at production has been enough to drum up Lupul's market, at least according to Elliotte Friedman, via HopeintheBigSmoke.ca:
It should be noted that any interest is great interest for the Maple Leafs, a franchise in a cap quagmire at the moment. The need for financial breathing room does not necessarily mean the front office would let Lupul walk for just any cost, though.
The dynamics make for a tightrope act if two sides come to the table. Lupul has an injury history and a lofty contract, but the potential for a sound performance from the second line and volume shooting may outweigh the negatives.
Ottawa Senators Wheelin' and Dealin'
Ottawa has a lot of work yet to do this offseason in order to improve upon its 37–31–14, fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Division last season.
Much of the work simply has to do with figuring out how in the world all of the moving pieces fit together.
For example, 2009 fifth-round pick Mike Hoffman has made it clear to the organization that he plans on being around for the entirety of next season, rather than in Europe, as captured by Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:
This is what I wanted. I don't want to go anywhere else like Europe. I'm still young, and I want to play in the NHL and here for Ottawa. At this point in my career, I'm not really thinking about going anywhere else.
Of course, this poses some logistical problems, which would explain why Garrioch hears that the team has made both Erik Condra and Colin Greening available in trade talks: "Several teams have told the Sun that wingers Colin Greening and Eric Condra are both being made available."
The news is not all that unexpected. Condra has plenty of value after appearing in 76 games last year and posting six goals and 10 assists. That's about par for the course with regard to his output over his four-year career.
Greening is a rather similar story—76 games, six goals and 11 assists over four years, although he did manage to tally a superb 2011 campaign with 17 goals and 20 assists.
It makes sense for the Senators to make room for Hoffman in exchange for one of the above names, as in theory that the franchise could free up some cap space and remove some of the headache that comes with the roster shuffling each night.
It also gives Hoffman more assured playing time, which is nothing but a good thing.
The Eric Staal Saga
It has been a rather chaotic month for the 29-year-old Eric Staal.
First it was new Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters publicly calling out the man who has spent the last decade with the team for his lone goal on power plays last season, as captured by Chip Alexander of The News & Observer:
Peters, 48, was blunt in some of his team and player assessments Saturday. Noting Eric Staal scored one power-play goal last season, he called it “unacceptable” and discussed in some detail how the power play would change. He talked of being a better organized, more competitive team and said a lack of overall team size didn’t have to be a detriment.
As if that is not bad enough, Staal also suffered an injury and had to undergo surgery to correct the issue, as general manager Ron Francis told Terrell Williams of Hurricanes.com.
"Eric notified us of the injury late last week and flew to Raleigh and then Philadelphia to be evaluated," Francis said. "By having this procedure now, Dr. [William] Meyers believes Eric will be able to return to action for training camp and be at full health for the start of the regular season."
Ready for the cherry on top? According to ESPN's Doug Mittler (subscription required), Staal's name continues to come up in trade rumors, as it has for months.
If Peters' comments are any indication, this should not come as a shock, with Staal no longer the cornerstone he once was. Even worse, he is quite the expensive commodity, as he represents a cap hit of $8.25 million in each of the next two seasons, per Spotrac.
Mittler mentions that the New York Rangers had interest earlier in the offseason, but it appears things may now be at a standstill after the injury revelation.
How the new top dog in Carolina proceeds with one of his best players will be quite intriguing to monitor, to say the least.
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