Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/20/13 at 10:39 AM ET
from Ken Warren of Senators Extra at the Ottawa Citizen,
If there was ever any doubt, it’s again clear the NHL doesn’t really have an off-season. Once Boston and Chicago wrap up the season, the off-ice fireworks will begin. Buyouts begin 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is presented. The entry draft goes June 30. Free agency arrives July 5. Expect trades.
The level of intrigue is higher this year, given that the league’s biggest spenders need to dump salaries to get under the $63 million salary cap.
With that in mind, let’s look at the buzz around the Ottawa Senators and the rest of the hockey world.
1-NEAL AND NEIL IN OTTAWA?: Welcome to the financial squeeze play for Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero. Kris Letang is in line for an annual salary of $6 million-$7 million when he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2013-14 season. Yet on a team where Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury all own lucrative long-term deals – and with Pascal Dupuis (this year) and Chris Kunitz (next year) waiting in the UFA wings – how can it be done?
If the Penguins don’t re-sign Letang, they’ll trade him. If they sign Letang, something else has to give.
Senators GM Bryan Murray should be one of many calling about Neal, the 26-year-old who has five years and $25 million remaining on his deal. The Senators bargaining chips in a possible trade include young prospects Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel and Shane Prince.
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