- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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NEWARK, N.J. -- The Boston Bruins appeared ready to shake things up Saturday on the eve of the NHL draft.
All confirmed by sources:
• Nathan Horton's camp informed Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli on Saturday afternoon that the unrestricted free agent winger was leaving the organization.
“Nathan Horton has informed the Bruins that he is going to explore his options via unrestricted free agency," agent Paul Krepelka reiterated to ESPN.com, a statement that he first gave to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
• Tyler Seguin’s name was making the rounds in trade chatter, with the Bruins willing to listen.
• The Bruins would like to move up in the draft.
• And add Boston to the long list of teams that have inquired about UFA center Vincent Lecavalier.
The Bruins have a lot of balls in the air, a rival team executive told ESPN.com, and they are talking to a lot of teams about a lot of things. Chiarelli was spotted at one point Saturday chatting closely with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Could it have been about Seguin? Hard to say. Maybe Chiarelli was getting a scouting report on Lecavalier. Or maybe they were making a dinner date.
Meanwhile, Lecavalier and agent Kent Hughes were in the process of reducing their list of suitors. The expectation was that they would have a short list by the end of the night or early Sunday.
Hughes was also meeting with interested teams Saturday. Aside from Boston, other confirmed teams that have expressed varying degrees of interest for Lecavalier include the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues. As reported Friday, some 15 teams have called.
Don't sleep on Dallas. The Stars have serious interest in Lecavalier. They want to make the playoffs next year, and new GM Jim Nill sees Lecavalier as a perfect addition.
But you can scratch the Chicago Blackhawks off that list. A source told ESPN.com on Saturday that the Hawks are not interested. Some fans may have dreamed of having Lecavalier fit in as the team’s No. 2 center, but the Hawks aren’t going to enter the fray, instead focusing on trying to re-sign winger Bryan Bickell. The Hawks and Bickell’s agent, Todd Diamond, have had constant dialogue throughout the week and spoke again Saturday.
The reasoning behind the Lecavalier camp wanting to produce a short list in quick order is that the teams involved need to know as soon as possible. For whichever teams are seriously in the hunt, it could have a domino effect on what needs to be done with the rest of their rosters and potentially in the draft.
So in fairness to that reality, the Lecavalier camp is keen to try to expedite the process this weekend.
He can’t officially sign with a team until July 5, but all the leg work can be done now.
Schneider in play
Saturday got off to quite a bang in NHL circles with my colleague Darren Dreger of TSN breaking the story via Twitter that the Canucks were suddenly putting Cory Schneider in play.
After trying without success for a year to unload Roberto Luongo and his monster contract, could it be the Canucks figured they had to move the younger goalie instead?
“To be honest, it makes sense in a way,” a rival GM told ESPN.com on Saturday after the news broke.
With a lack of trade interest in Luongo, the thinking is that if a team pays big for Schneider, the Canucks can improve and still have a world-class goalie in net.
Another player who generated a lot of calls toward Vancouver is defenseman Alex Edler. His no-trade clause kicks in July 1, but teams are already calling.
“He’s definitely in play,” an agent told ESPN.com on Saturday afternoon.
Schneider has two years left on his deal at $4 million per season.
Thing is, dealing away Schneider wouldn’t necessarily solve the Luongo mess. I believe Luongo wants out regardless. Trading Schneider, I don’t think, would change his feelings on that.
Oye, stay tuned ...
• Hearing positive vibes out of the talks between pending UFA netminder Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes. GM Don Maloney and some of his staff met with Smith in Vancouver last week to have a heart-to-heart session. Still a factor is the future of the franchise, so I wouldn’t expect Smith to be willing to sign until after that July 2 Glendale lease vote. But the re-signing of coach Dave Tippett was an important move in terms of Smith wanting to stay. If he does sign, I believe it will be a six-year deal.
• Hughes, the agent for Kris Letang, was slated to meet with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero on Saturday afternoon in the N.Y./N.J. area. In the wake of Letang rejecting Pittsburgh’s $56 million, eight-year offer Thursday, sources around the league confirm that Shero made some calls to other teams Friday to lay the groundwork for potential trade talks. But Saturday’s meeting, I think, is being viewed by both sides as a chance to salvage the situation and find common ground on keeping Letang in Pittsburgh. We shall see.
• The Canadiens hold the 25th pick in the first round Sunday. I’m told they would like to move up and have made some calls to that effect. But I think the Habs will wait until the draft has begun and see how it progresses before making a move in that regard. It will depend on whether certain prospects they have circled on their scouting list are still available.
• The Flyers are taking calls on blueliner Braydon Coburn, multiples sources confirm. He has three years on his deal with a $4.5 million cap hit.
• USA Hockey announced its coaching staff for the Olympics on Saturday, and the Penguins’ Dan Bylsma gets the nod as head coach. If the NHL and NHLPA can wrap up the Olympic deal at Monday’s meeting with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation, the plan is for Hockey Canada to announce its coaching staff shortly thereafter, perhaps within a day or two. As I reported in April, the Canadian coaching staff will have Mike Babcock at the helm again, along with Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and newcomer Claude Julien (who replaces the retired Jacques Lemaire).