NHL Rumour Tidbits, July 20: Leafs cap space auction, Ehrhoff Watch

The Maple Leafs are one of the few teams who are both willing and able to take on a bad contract in return for picks and prospects. So some are wondering: why haven't they done that yet? The Leafs are essentially conducting a bidding war right now - as in, who wants to shed salary the most? How much are you willing to give us in return for that sweet, sweet cap space? The ultimate pressure point, which should smoke out the best offers, is the opening of NHL training camp when teams are once again required to be cap compliant. At that point, I think, you'll see a few moves of this sort. There is no shortage of teams carrying dead weight on their salary cap who would be willing to sacrifice assets to get rid of it.

At the same time, the Leafs have their fair share of big contract players they'd like to move. Center Tyler Bozak is getting the most traction, but winger Joffrey Lupul and defensemen Roman Polak and Stephane Robidas are trade possibilities as well. The CBA limits each NHL team to retaining salary on a maximum of 3 players, which means the Leafs are somewhat stuck right now: the team is already paying Carl Gunnarsson and Phil Kessel to not play for the team.

  • I've been connecting defenseman Christian Ehrhoff with the Blue Jackets for weeks on Twitter and the Rumour Board, but it now looks like they've become one of the frontrunners. Cap space remains an issue for many teams interested in Ehrhoff and is probably one of the only reasons he's still available. The Jackets have been after Ehrhoff ever since the window to talk to pending free agents opened up. Other teams remain in the mix
      Sorry, I have to pump my own tires now and then:
    • A lot of RFAs are being re-signed this week and that will spill over into next week. Once the bulk of these signings are out of the way, teams will be free to add UFAs and talk trade again. Late July should see a renewal of activity on the signings front.
    • Once Ehrhoff and Franson are gone, who are the next best defensemen available? Some teams have targeted veteran Marek Zidlicky, and depth guys like Mike Weaver, Jan Hejda, Jordan Leopold and Bryan Allen are sure to find new teams eventually. And what about Lubomir Visnovsky? He's gotten a lot of interest in Europe, but an NHL team might come calling.
    • On the trade front, some wonder whether the Minnesota Wild might part with defenseman Jared Spurgeon. He's believed to have come up in trade talks, but Minnesota is in no rush to move their smart young blueliner.


    Nothing too dramatic has changed on the Rumour Board (it's that time of the season), but veteran centerman Matt Cullen is starting to generate a bit of interest as the free agent crop thins out.

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