NHL free agency is starting to wind down, with most of the top free agents having signed new deals. Although teams are running out of options, there is still value to be had this summer.
The pickings are becoming somewhat slim in terms of free agents, which means the trade market may start getting exciting.
Below are the latest rumors surrounding three players who could be on the move in the near future.
On June 29, Cam Fowler told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun he was surprised the Anaheim Ducks didn't trade him before the NHL draft:
It's been an interesting week or so, that's for sure. You hear your name tossed out there. I've heard that before even at recent trade deadlines, but this time with the position the Ducks are in and some of the salaries, it just seemed like it was pretty real. I was 100 percent prepared for something to happen and was honestly pretty surprised when it didn't.
It's one of those things where I want to be prepared for it to happen, obviously I love playing in Anaheim and being a Duck, I feel like I have a great relationship with [GM] Bob [Murray]. I just know that his hands are tied a little bit with what he needs to do. I just have to sit and be patient and see what happens.
But on Friday, the Fourth Period's David Pagnotta reported the trade market for Fowler may be heating back up again.
The Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James speculated the Detroit Red Wings could be one of the teams angling to acquire the veteran defenseman. St. James added the Red Wings would likely need to part ways with one of Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist and a second-round draft pick in order to entice Anaheim.
Whether it's Fowler or the St. Louis Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk, the Detroit News' Gregg Krupa argued Detroit should take the chance on trading for a top defenseman:
The cost is high. But a bit of patience might reduce it, and a willingness to take big risk by moving a fairly significant player for a defenseman who can move the puck and quarterback the power play would likely pay enormous dividends.
That additional move, in the context of all the parity in the NHL, might make for a long playoff run.
Unlike Shattenkirk, Fowler is signed for the next two seasons, which may make him more attractive for other teams. At the least, he won't be a one-year rental like Shattenkirk could potentially be.
The Ducks are right to hold out for the best deal possible since they still have a lot of time before Fowler hits free agency. Given the lack of talented defensemen readily available, somebody will likely meet Anaheim's asking price sooner rather than later.
Kris Russell is still a free agent, but it's not for a lack of suitors. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reported the Boston Bruins are weighing up whether to offer a deal to the 29-year-old. Haggerty also spoke to a source who said the Toronto Maple Leafs offered Russell a four-year, $17 million offer, which he declined.
Russell's agent, Allain Roy, refuted the report:
Waiting a little longer to sign a contract is always risky. A team may get desperate enough it meets whatever Russell's demands are. He could also end up having to sign for well below what he had hoped to get so he at least has a team for the 2016-17 season.
Haggerty used Cody Franson as a bit of a cautionary tale. Franson overestimated his value and wound up signing with the Buffalo Sabres for a little over $3.3 million a year.
The free-agent signing period only began on July 1, so it's far too early for Roy and Russell to begin panicking that they've yet to agree to a deal. Going off this tweet from Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, overpaying for Russell could be a distinct possibility:
Russell isn't anything more than an average NHL defenseman, so paying him upward of $4 million a year would be foolhardy. If that's the value being discussed, general managers should run away as quickly as possible.
Teams are much better off playing the waiting game with Russell. Either somebody else spends far more on the 29-year-old than he's actually worth or the market corrects itself and his value drops closer to what he actually provides on the ice.
The Colorado Avalanche may be reaching a point where they have to make a difficult decision about Tyson Barrie. The 24-year-old is a restricted free agent this summer.
Bleacher Report's Adrian Dater reported the two sides may need arbitration to settle their financial differences. Dater also said a long-term contract for Barrie is "looking like distant prospect."
CSN Chicago's Charlie Roumeliotis wrote the more Barrie's contract situation drags out, the higher the chances the Avalanche will look to trade him. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples concurred, writing Barrie's future looks to be elsewhere until Colorado definitively says otherwise.
On Friday, TSN's Ryan Rishaug reported Barrie is a top priority for the Edmonton Oilers. However, Rishaug questioned whether the Avalanche are seriously looking to trade him since they'd then need to add another defenseman to take his spot on the roster.
Barrie collected 102 points over the last two years, and he's beginning to enter the prime of his career. Even though he'll come with a massive financial commitment for whichever team trades for him, the Avalanche should be able to get a nice return if they send him packing.