NHL Rumor Roundup: What is Matt Duchene’s next move?
Duchene, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. As the best center available, he’ll garner plenty of interest. Still, he could re-sign with the Jackets if he enjoys playing for them over the remainder of this season.WINNERS & LOSERSBlue Jackets, Golden Knights go big; Flames go home empty-handedColumbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could be counting on that. Re-signing Duchene would counteract the expected departure of left wing Artemi Panarin, another pending UFA who’s indicated a willingness to test this summer’s free-agent market. The money Kekalainen would’ve invested in Panarin could instead go toward Duchene, who could cost around $9 million annually on a long-term deal.The Blue Jackets weren’t the only club pursuing Duchene near the trade deadline. Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette reported the Canadiens had interest in Duchene prior to his trade to Columbus. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple reported the Islanders also made a pitch for the center before the deadline. Cowan speculated the Canadiens could be among Duchene’s suitors this summer. Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is famously tight-lipped about his roster plans but could have Duchene in his sights if Brock Nelson departs as a free agent. GRADES: Blue Jackets turn to Senators for No. 1 center Matt DuchenePanthers planning summer spending spree?The Athletic’s George Richards reported Panthers GM Dale Tallon attempted to acquire Mark Stone from the Senators before Monday’s trade deadline. Stone was instead shipped to the Golden Knights, agreeing to sign an eight-year contract extension with them. Tallon may have struck out on Stone but Richards expects he’ll be busy shopping around for talent this summer. The Panthers’ plethora of draft picks (six in the first four rounds of this year’s NHL draft) and their salary-cap space for 2019-20 give Tallon the means to be an active player in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. Richards believes the Panthers need a top-end forward and a premier goaltender, as well as a defenseman. Speculation was rampant leading up to the trade deadline that Tallon was very interested in Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.With both likely to depart Columbus via free agency July 1, Tallon could pursue both this summer. NHL DRAFT 2019: SN’s mock draft 1.0 | Top 31 big boardFlyers looking toward offseasonFlyers GM Chuck Fletcher held off trading power forward Wayne Simmonds as long as possible leading up to the deadline. He wanted to give his club as much time as possible to get back into the playoff race. While the Flyers improved since the calendar flipped to 2019, they entered deadline day still seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fletcher then waited until nearly the last minute in hopes of landing a good return for Simmonds, finally settling on checking-line winger Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft from the Predators. NBC Sports’ John Boruk reported Fletcher will use the salary-cap money he would’ve invested in re-signing Simmonds to strengthen his roster via free agency this summer. The Flyers GM also told Dave Isaac of the Camden Courier-Post he intends to target clubs looking to shed salary. MORE: How every NHL prospect traded at 2019 deadline fits new organization The Flyers are well-positioned to become buyers this summer. They’ve got just $46.8 million tied up in 12 players, with youngsters Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim coming off entry-level contract without arbitration rights. If Fletcher seeks a replacement for Simmonds via the free-agent pool, perhaps he’ll target Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland. If Erik Karlsson doesn’t re-sign with the Sharks, maybe Fletcher will get into the bidding for the two-time Norris Trophy winner. The Lightning, Maple Leafs and Jets are three clubs facing potential salary-cap crunches this summer. Maybe Fletcher sets his sights on the Lightning’s J.T. Miller or Brayden Point, or the Leafs’ Michael Nylander or Kasperi Kapanen, or Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers or Jacob Trouba. Can’t get enough NHL rumors? Lyle Richardson’s Rumor Roundup column serves as a one-stop guide to the latest rumblings around the league.The Blue Jackets won the bidding for center Matt Duchene, shipping two prospects, a 2019 first-round pick and a conditional first in 2020 to the Senators days before the NHL trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen how long he’ll remain with his new club.