While nothing is imminent, the New Jersey Devils’ decision to buy out Dainius Zubrus has set the table for them to make a trade or free agent signing.
“It really wasn’t about Dainius himself,” Devils GM Ray Shero told The Record. “It was more about the roster spot/flexibility moving forward. … If something comes along and we don’t have a roster spot – not so much the 23-man roster, but up front in terms of let’s say you’re carrying 13 forwards, 14 forwards and you don’t have any spots – then you can’t do anything.”
It certainly wasn’t about freeing up cap space given that Zubrus’ $3.1 million cap hit for 2015-16 will count fully against the team’s books even after the buyout because he was a 35-and-over signing. The Devils are still saving roughly $1 million of this way, but Shero insisted that this wasn’t a financial decision.
There are still teams that are looking to get into a better cap position, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, that Shero might have his eye towards as he clears some room on the team’s roster. There’s also some noteworthy free agent forwards left, including Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Tomas Fleischmann, and Jiri Tlusty.
Failing that it gives the Devils an opportunity to have one of their younger players on the roster as New Jersey looks to show signs of progress offensively after spending three straight seasons in the bottom-five in the NHL in terms of goals per game.
It appears Anaheim Ducks’ forward Matt Beleskey could be headed to the open market.
The 27-year-old set a career-high in goals (22) and points (32) during the 2014-15 season.
His two-year, $2.7 million contract is set to expire on July 1 making him an unrestricted free agent and, according to GM Bob Murray, the two sides aren’t close.
“It’s a bumpy road right now,” Murray told The FAN 590 on Monday. “I’m not going to lie. We’re going to take one more shot at it, and then we’ll have to move on.
“You gotta protect yourself. It’s not just the contract this year; it’s what it does to your team in future years. You’ve gotta be looking one, three, five, seven years out. You gotta see what that contract does to you, the term of it. There’s lots of things that go into this that people don’t see right off the bat.”
Prior to last season Beleskey scored just 35 goals total in parts of six seasons with the Ducks.
Beleskey has expressed his desire to remain in Anaheim, but the Ducks have decisions to make with Emerson Etem and Jakob Silfverberg both set to become restricted free agents.
Murray also has to make a decision on Tomas Fleischmann who is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month.
“The organization has some very difficult decisions coming up in the next two or three months,” Murray said.
On the blue line Francois Beauchemin is schedule to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
After spending much of the 2014-15 season in the American Hockey League, Dany Heatley is considering offers to spend next season in the KHL.
The Hockey News cites Championat.com, which is reporting that CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg have contacted Heatley about playing in the KHL next season.
Heatley signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Anaheim last summer, but found himself on waivers after just six games with the Ducks.
In February the Ducks sent Heatley along with a 2015 third-round pick to the Florida Panthers for Tomas Fleischmann.
The 34-year-old had a minus-3 rating in six NHL games during the 2014-15 season. He added eight goals and 12 assists in 43 AHL games split between the Norfolk Admirals and San Antonio Rampage.
Heatley spent part of the 2004-05 lockout in Russia with Ak Bars Kazan scoring three goals and an assist in 11 games.
The Anaheim Ducks did a bit of line juggling during the team’s morning skate at the Honda Center on Saturday.
After sitting out Game 6, it appears Tomas Fleischmann will enter the Ducks’ lineup tonight in place of Emerson Etem. The 31-year-old practiced on the team’s fourth line with Kyle Palmieri and Rickard Rakell.
Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau has a history with Fleischmann, which dates back to when the two were with the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals.
“There’s a real good chance that he’s in,” said Boudreau. “I just think an experienced guy, he’s been through these wars, he’s played in Game 7s, he’s been in championship games.
“When I was with Hershey, it was a while ago, but he was the MVP in the playoffs. So he knows what to do in these situations.”
Fleischmann played 10:19 in Game 5 after sitting out four games as a healthy scratch.
In five playoff games this spring, Fleischmann has one assist.
With Palmieri on the fourth line, Jiri Sekac moves up to the Ducks’ third line along side Nate Thompson and Andrew Cogliano. Sekac has a plus-1 rating and two penalty minutes while averaging 11:14 in ice time in six games this spring.
Puck drop tonight is at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
Though he wouldn’t commit to anything, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is contemplaing mixing up his bottom-six forward group for tomorrow’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against Chicago.
Right winger Kyle Palmieri — who has spent most of this series on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Nate Thompson — was replaced by Jiri Sekac on the third line, moving Palmieri onto the fourth with Rickard Rakell and Tomas Fleischmann. Fleischmann had taken the place of Emerson Etem on the bottom line, which has happened on a few occasions this postseason (including Game 5 of this series).
The moves were a chemistry test, according to Boudreau, who suggested he might use these new units as Anaheim looks to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in eight years.
“I wanted to see it in practice today,” Boudreau said, per NHL.com. “We tried that a little bit. I wanted to make sure that if that’s the route we’re going to go, then I wanted to see if they at least had sort of some good chemistry together. We talked about it and we’ll talk about it again [Saturday] morning.
“By no means are those set in stone, those lines today.”