Although we're still two months away from being immersed in the next NHL season, teams are still working toward improving their roster enough to be properly equipped to chase the Stanley Cup.
The biggest flurry of NHL offseason moves are behind us, but shoring up specific holes in lineups and working toward a friendlier salary cap figure will be huge points of emphasis for every franchise during the current downtime in hockey action.
Our latest batch of rumors concerns the Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
From potential trades to player signings, check out the sections below to see what kind of rumors are currently powering the mill as we continue to churn toward the upcoming season.
Jordin Tootoo Back to Nashville?
Jordin Tootoo was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2001. He signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 2012, but could soon be heading back to where his professional career began.
According to Art Renger of FoxSportsDetroit.com, the Red Wings and Predators have discussed a trade that would send Tootoo back to Music City prior to the 2013-14 season.
The right winger had a career high in points (30) during his final season in Nashville. Detroit noticed, and signed the 30-year-old to a three-year, $5.7 million contract last July.
Although he had just three goals and five assists in 42 games for the Red Wings during the lockout-shortened season, Tootoo brings a physicality that is evident each time he steps on the ice. Never afraid to drop the gloves, he had 78 penalty minutes last season.
That being said, he played in just three games for Detroit during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
According to Renger's report, the Wings are looking for salary cap relief. Finding a way to move the $1.9 million owed to the Tootoo next season would allow the franchise to accomplish that goal. Per Renger, Detroit is also shopping Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi and Cory Emmerton.
It appears that nothing is imminent, but Nashville is familiar with Tootoo after he spent the first eight of his nine seasons (486 games) with the Predators. He would add depth and a veteran presence to the roster, and likely wouldn't cost his former franchise much in terms of giving up future assets.
San Jose Sharks' Future Plans
Since the 2003-04 season, the San Jose Sharks made the playoffs each time they were eligible to do so. Not coincidentally, they drafted Joe Pavelski just prior to the beginning of that campaign.
The Sharks locked up Pavelski on a five-year, $30 million contract extension on Tuesday. As reported by Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, Pavelski and Logan Couture signed identical extensions this offseason, and both figure to be a big part of the team's future plans.
The Sharks' official Twitter account also had a report of the Tuesday signing:
The Pavelski deal is an example of general manager Doug Wilson doing everything he can to help San Jose stay relevant in the Western Conference. According to NHL.com's Dan Rosen, more moves to help the Sharks avoid the uncertainty of free agency with their players might be coming:
Couture, Pavelski and the trio mentioned above were all scheduled to hit the free-agent market in 2014. Per CapGeek.com, goalkeeper Antti Niemi and forward Tyler Kennedy will hit free agency in 2015.
If you look back at Wilson's comments to CSNBayArea.com's Kevin Kurz in June, it isn't hard to infer that the Sharks are more concerned with keeping their current core together over the price it's going to take to do so:
We’re not a team that’s going to miss the playoffs for five or seven years and go into a rebuild. We don’t believe in that. We want to reset on the fly, and it only works when you have players that understand what it is we’re trying to accomplish, and participate in it.
Wilson doesn't have unlimited flexibility, but finding a way to keep the club's current stars on long-term contracts would appear to be a priority moving forward.
After ironing out identical deals for Couture and Pavelski, Wilson and the Sharks could very well be working toward having all of their key players locked up before next season begins.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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