As I wrote recently, the Penguins' top priority is to sign Sidney Crosby and Staal to contract extensions this summer -- both centers are UFA-eligible on July 1, 2013 -- but if they can't get both done in a cap-sensible manner, it could open the door for Staal to be dealt.
Several teams have already expressed an interest regarding Staal, but I believe the Hurricanes will be aggressive in trying to trade for him, with the idea to have him on same team as his brother, Hurricanes captain Eric Staal.
If the Penguins decide to open the trade market on Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh could get more out of Carolina in a traditional hockey deal than from other teams.
Why? While other teams might point to the fact that Staal has only one year left on his deal and won't want to give up too much for a pending 2013 UFA, the Hurricanes may be willing to take more of a long-term gamble that, given the sibling tie-in, they could re-sign Staal.
Either way, the Hurricanes are going to be an interesting team this summer. I believe they're going to add to their payroll and want to upgrade with one or two forwards.
Speaking of Crosby, no surprise that the Penguins have already begun talks with the captain's camp on an extension.
"Yes, we've had preliminary discussions with the Penguins. I've talked to [GM] Ray Shero about a contract extension for Sidney," Crosby's agent Pat Brisson told ESPN.com on Friday. "It's early in the process. Hopefully we're able to make some progress, obviously."
Deals can't be officially signed before July 1.
Tim Thomas certainly chilled his trade value with his decision not to play next year. Or did he?
As one NHL team executive told ESPN.com, there is perhaps one solution still out there for the Bruins. There will be a few teams struggling to get to the minimum payroll floor -- expected to be around $54 million -- and they might be willing to pick up Thomas' $5 million cap hit just for that reason alone. As a suspended player next season, they wouldn't have to actually pay him his $3 million salary, but they would get his cap hit. Pretty good deal for a low-payroll team looking to make up the gap to $54 million.
Having said that, there will be a new collective bargaining agreement starting next season (whenever that is). What that new system entails in terms of the salary cap and the payroll floor remains unclear -- not to mention the rules governing cap hits on suspended players, etc.
Still, it might be something to keep an eye on.
Sens interest in Kuba
Senators GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com on Friday that he has touched base with Filip Kuba's camp (including agent Richard Evans) and hopes to do so again in a week or so.
Kuba played most of the season alongside offensive machine Erik Karlsson in Ottawa and is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"We're interested in keeping him, but obviously it has to make sense for us financially," Murray said.
Kuba, 35, just finished a three-year deal that paid him $3.7 million per season. My guess is that Ottawa would want him back for south of that figure.
Karlsson, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent July 1. Murray said there was nothing new on that front at this point.
No news on the Ryan Suter front in the wake of his daylong meeting in Madison, Wis., on May 31. But here is what I believe is going to transpire: UFA-to-be-Suter goes to July 1 and explores what's out there on the market while keeping Nashville in the mix. Two years ago, Ilya Kovalchuk did this with New Jersey and ended up re-signing with the Devils.
Whether the Predators could match the kind offer Detroit is likely to lay out there, well, that's another question.