- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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Bryan McCabe remains unsigned and the stars would really have to align for him to pack his bags at this point.
That's not to say it's not going to happen, but he's settled in South Florida with his family and the kids are in school, so it would need to be a really tempting offer.
A source told ESPN.com that a Western Conference team showed interest within the past week, but it wasn't something that interested the defenseman. He's made plenty of money in his career and has nothing to prove to anyone. If he does sign with a club this season, it has to be a super fit for him.
A source told ESPN.com Wednesday that the New York Rangers are scouring the market looking for help at defense, but they're not interested in bringing back McCabe at this point.
Predators' contract talks
Netminder Pekka Rinne and defenseman Ryan Suter are slated to become unrestricted free agents July 1 and the Predators have no interest in seeing that happen. GM David Poile met with Suter's agent, Neil Sheehy, last weekend and Rinne's agent, Jay Grossman, last week in New York to move talks along on an extension. The Preds will be aggressive in trying to get a deal done on both fronts.
Just like Ilya Kovalchuk's contract talks with Atlanta two years ago were an ongoing story, this has the potential to be the same in Nashville. And that's not even to mention franchise blueliner and captain Shea Weber, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He can't walk free like Rinne and Suter, but it remains a hugely important negotiation that will also draw lots of attention.
Because he signed a one-year deal last summer after going to arbitration, Weber can't sign a new contract until January at the earliest. In the meantime, Weber and his agent, Kevin Epp, will sit back and see how things play out with Suter/Rinne, as well as look at how the team fares this season. All will be factors in Weber's next move.
There haven't been any talks between the Kings and Drew Doughty's veteran agent, Don Meehan, since the eve of camp. But given owner Tim Leiweke's comments to Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times this week and the urgency behind them, it's our guess the NHL club will likely reach out soon to Newport Sports (Meehan's firm) and try to take one last stab at it.
The Kings don't have a choice to try again. It's a big season for them; they want to contend and they need Doughty to do that.
Burke on Simmonds ruling
When asked about it after a recent preseason game, Rangers forward Sean Avery said Simmonds used a homophobic slur toward him on the ice.
"It's like banned substances; you can't suspend a player for using a drug that isn't among the list of banned substances," Burke told ESPN.com. "In this case, we didn't have a rule about homophobic slurs, so you can't suspend Simmonds. But now that the league put out that statement and put players on notice that any future homophobic slur will be punishable, I think that was a real important day for the NHL. It has to stop."
Burke also said he would address the issue with his own players before the regular season begins next week.
Leafs' trade talk
The Leafs' newfound depth, especially on defense, has the club working the phones to see if there's any interest in some of their players. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and center Tyler Bozak are among the names that have been discussed, but as of Wednesday, we're told nothing was close with any team. The Leafs could also start the season with eight defensemen on their roster.
Kronwall and the Red Wings
Contract talks are well under way between the Red Wings and star blueliner Niklas Kronwall, who is eligible to become UFA on July 1. Both camps spoke this week. My colleague at TSN, Darren Dreger, also reports the Kronwall camp is looking for a long-term, front-loaded deal similar to what Christian Ehrhoff signed with Buffalo.
Sabres' front-loaded deals
We've encountered some grumbling from a few NHL team executives about the Buffalo Sabres' front-loaded contracts with Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers.
Ehrhoff will earn $18 million of his $40 million, 10-year deal over the next two years. Similarly, Myers' new extension calls for him to earn $12 million of his $38.5 million, seven-year extension in the first year.
"I'm sorry, but that's killing this industry," one NHL GM, requesting anonymity, told ESPN.com. "We have to stop those front-loaded contracts in the next system."
The Sabres didn't break any rules. Other well-heeled clubs have done the same, but mid- to small-market clubs are frustrated, feeling that front-loaded deals have squeezed them out of the free-agent market.
NHLPA's fall tour
Union chief Donald Fehr has begun the NHL Players' Association's annual fall tour. Over the next two months, he'll meet with all 30 teams with the CBA at the top of the agenda. He began his tour last week and so far has met with players on the Flyers, Islanders, Lightning, Panthers and Canadiens.
Ray Emery is slated to get his first full start of the preseason Friday. His performance will go a long way in helping the Blackhawks decide whether they sign the camp invite to a one-year NHL contract to be their backup this season or cut ties and give youngster Alexander Salak the job instead.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault asked Derick Brassard for more, and the center delivered with three goals and two assists.
Lightning D-man Victor Hedman is turning heads around the world with his play this season -- including earning the praise of legend Nicklas Lidstrom.
It comes down to a best-of-three affair to determine the Western Conference champion, and the Ducks and Blackhawks are both feeling confident.
The Western Conference finals between the Ducks and Blackhawks are turning into a classic. How so? Let's count the reasons.