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PRINCE OF PUCKS: Pre-draft NHL rumors

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At home in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he's known as Lyle Richardson. But around these parts, he's known as Spector, FOXSports.com's Prince of Pucks. Check in with Spector for the latest NHL rumors from around the league. With the Stanley Cup playoffs now drawing to a close, the attention of most hockey fans will soon shift to the upcoming June entry draft. While draft day is usually a time to speculate as to what promising young junior stars will be drafted, it is also a time when trades are made by clubs either jockeying for a higher pick in the draft, or by those seeking to move potential free agents.
  • In the aftermath of the Philadelphia abrupt playoff exit, there's been a lot of talk regarding how much longer goaltender will remain with the club. Various media outlets have him bound for Boston, New York, Vancouver and Toronto in possible trades. However, Chuck Gormley of the Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post reports new head coach Ken Hitchcock spoke with Cechmanek, and claims the goalie wants to return to the next season. Could it be that Hitchcock has the power to smooth things over between Cechmanek, his teammates and GM Bob Clarke? Or, more likely, could it be the realize they won't land Toronto's or New York's in the free agent market, decided to take a pass on the and former Star , and changed their opinion of the grumpy Czech goalie?
  • While on the topic of the , Clarke dismissed rumors he'll trade for Dallas blueliner , who was a "favorite" of Hitchcock's during his tenure with the . Speculation continues to grow about a potential draft-day deal between the Philadelphia and Edmonton . Both the Edmonton Journal and Philadelphia Inquirer have published reports of the shipping disgruntled Czech center Jiri Dopita to the in exchange for two-way forward .
  • Forget those rumors of the Ottawa shopping team captain — and restricted free agent — this summer. Both sides are discussing putting a new, long-term deal in place before the end of June.
  • With the Toronto falling short yet again in their 35-years-and-counting quest for the Stanley Cup, the Ottawa Citizen reported Leafs GM Pat Quinn wasn't happy with some of his players complaining about his coaching style in this year's postseason. Apparently, the targets for Quinn's rage were forwards and Tie Domi. It's not surprising to read of Tucker stirring up trouble in yet another dressing room. His attitude led to his being dealt by the Montreal and Tampa Bay thus far in his career, and it could see him moved again in the near future if he doesn't watch his step. It is surprising, however, to see Domi's name mentioned, as he's been long considered a "character guy" in the Leafs room. This won't bode well for Domi's hopes of re-signing with the Leafs this summer, even though he claims he'll take less money to remain with the club. Other Leafs who could find themselves shopped are under-achieving forwards and Robert Reichel.
  • The Sporting News reported the Dallas might move center this summer. Supposedly, Turgeon didn't fit in well with the last season, and might waive his "no-trade" clause to be dealt back to the Montreal . Why is it that, whenever there are reports of Turgeon being "unhappy" the media automatically assumes he wants to return to Montreal? I remember hearing the same nonsense a few years ago, when he was up for a new contract with the . The people responsible for Turgeon's unhappy departure from Montreal — former coach Mario Tremblay and GM Rejean Houle — are long gone, but I doubt that's a impetus for him to return there.
  • Could the recent financial woes of the Buffalo spell a free agent "fire-sale?" The Buffalo News reports the have nine restricted free agents to sign this summer, including , , , , , Slava Kozlov, , and . Only Afinogenov, Connolly and Noronen are ineligible for arbitration. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the summer. You can bet there will be more than one NHL team looking to play "let's make a deal" with GM Darcy Regier.
  • The St. Petersburg Times reported the Calgary may consider dealing blueliner , both to free up payroll and to make room for U.S. college sensation Jordan Leopold. There's speculation the Bolts might offer up their first round pick (the fourth overall) to the , plus throw in a forward like or , to get Morris. The need offensive depth for their second line, so an offer like this might tempt them. Speaking of Morris, there probably isn't much to the rumors from a month ago of the Boston offering up winger for him. Should the be unsuccessful in re-signing impending unrestricted free agent forward , they may wish to keep Samsonov around.
  • On the subject of the , there was an unsubstantiated report by Mathias Brunet of La Presse that the Bolts promised they would trade him this summer. Apparently, Lecavalier "closely followed" the playoff run of the and would "love" to play in Montreal. Don't hold your breath on this one, Habs fans. The reason Rick Dudley is no longer the 's GM is because team ownership wouldn't let him move Lecavalier unless he could get a deal that would make them an instant contender. As promising as Vinny is, that's just not going to happen. And while the Habs made a lot of progress this season, there isn't enough on their current roster that would tempt the Bolts into moving him.
  • And speaking of the Habs, the Toronto Star's Web site claims GM Andre Savard is dangling goaltending prospect Mathieu Garon in a proposed package deal to the Atlanta for their first round pick, which is the second overall. The thinking here is the would then use that pick to draft promising forward Rick Nash. Only problem here is, Savard offered up Garon in a package offer for the first rounder last June, which was first overall. GM Don Waddell wanted instead, so the deal fell through and Atlanta drafted Ilya Kovalchuk instead. If Waddell wasn't interested in Garon last season, why would he want him this time around?
  • Still with the , the Tampa Tribune reported GM Jay Feaster denied a report in the Ottawa Sun that he was looking to swing a deal for slumping winger .
  • The Dallas Morning News reported the will be seeking a veteran netminder to play backup for new starter , who inherited the role when the club decided not to offer impending UFA goalie a new contract. Among the names being kicked around as Turco's new goaltending partner are Anaheim's , Montreal's , Columbus's , Atlanta's , Florida's , St. Louis's and L.A.'s . Depending on whom they sign in the free agent market this summer, I'd say look for the to sign a free agent netminder, rather than trade for one. One guy who might be the perfect fit is Washington's , who's unrestricted and a life-long backup who certainly won't make waves about wanting to move up in the pecking order.
  • Finally, what does it say about the depth of this year's draft, when up to a dozen teams are believed interested in dealing their first round picks? Among those listed as supposedly willing to unload their picks for "impact players" are the Edmonton , Nashville , Pittsburgh , Dallas , Tampa Bay and yes, the Atlanta , who have the second pick overall. Check out Spector's hockey page and buy his book.
  • Tagged: Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Oilers, Hurricanes, Kings, Stars, Canadiens, Rangers, Senators, Flyers, Blues, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Capitals, Ducks, Jets, Blue Jackets, Sergei Samsonov, Bill Guerin, Tim Connolly, Rhett Warrener, Martin Biron, Eric Boulton, Maxim Afinogenov, Mika Noronen, Derek Morris, Todd Marchant, Sergei Zubov, Marty Turco, Ed Belfour, Pierre Turgeon, Jose Theodore, Shawn McEachern, Daniel Alfredsson, Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal, Darcy Tucker, Curtis Joseph

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