HURRICANES LOOK TO FREE AGENT MARKET OR TRADE ROUTE
Will the Carolina Hurricanes look at Matt Niskanen as an option to replace Joni Pitkanen who is lost for the season? Possible, but to this point there hasn’t been any substantive trade talks between the Penguins and Carolina about Niskanen, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports. The Penguins would like to hold onto Niskanen.
Even with Pitkanen, it was going to be tough sledding for the Hurricanes in the Metropolitan division and the buzz for a few weeks now has been that Carolina seeks a left handed top-4 defenseman to replace Pitkanen. Ron Hainsey has been linked to the Hurricanes and Bob McKenzie of TSN threw out Leafs RFA Cody Franson as a possibility. One intriguing option for the Hurricanes would be taking a gamble on Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaro who has one year left on his contract with a $4 million cap hit. The Flyers have been shopping Meszaro’s all summer.
*It appears Dan Cleary won’t be joining the Philadelphia Flyers after all. Cleary and the Flyers had reached a verbal agreement on a three year deal and Cleary was due to come into camp on a PTO until he could officially sign the deal. Now Elliotte Friedman reports that there is a complication and Cleary won’t be coming to Philadelphia. If this holds firm (nothing from Cleary camp yet) Brenden Morrow could re-enter the picture for the Flyers. Morrow who remains unsigned, had drawn interest from the Flyers who were considering both Morrow and Cleary prior to reaching an agreement with Cleary.
*Craig Custance of ESPN reported yesterday that former Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is close to making a decision. The Panthers are the one known team that has invited Thomas to camp but a great fit for Thomas would be with the New York Islanders. While Penguins GM Ray Shero tried to talk the Islanders up as the second coming of the 1980’s Edmonton Oilers this summer, New York has the look of a team that will struggle to finish in the top-4 in the division if the goaltending isn’t upgraded and it hasn’t been.
*The New York Rangers report to camp without leading scorer Derek Stepan. Katie Strang reports the two sides are believed to be far apart. Stepan emerged as the Rangers No. 1 center last year and led the team with 44 points. He will eventually get signed and the interesting thing with the Rangers is that they return pretty much the same team they ended with last year. Will new coach Alain Vigneault get this team to match the Stanley Cup expectations they had going into the lockout shortened season?