Update on the NHL UFA market, plus the latest on Kevin Shattenkirk, Jared Cowen, Leon Draisaitl, Brandon Sutter and more.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
Note: My comments are italicized.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates several useful NHL UFAs (“Brad Boyes, Christian Ehrhoff, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Cody Franson, Curtis Glencross, Jim Slater, Lee Stempniak and Scottie Upshall”) could be forced to wait until training camp to get signed to new contracts. He believes the limited depth in this summer’s UFA pool, a tightening salary cap and expensive new contracts for RFAs like Dougie Hamilton, Brandon Saad and Vladimir Tarasenko are to blame. Friedman also speculates NHL GMs could be saving their cap space for next summer, when the UFA pool will be deeper.
The number of notable UFA signings have slowed considerably in recent days. The last significant signing occurred a week ago, when the San Jose Sharks signed Joel Ward to a three-year, $9.75 million deal. Unless the remainder are willing to considerably lower their asking prices, they could indeed be waiting until training camp in September to get new contracts.
If UFA defenseman Johnny Oduya is unable to return with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars could have interest.
Potential moves involving Blackhawks wingers Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell may have stalled over what else GM Stan Bowman might have to include in the deal.
Rival clubs understand the Blackhawks need to shed salary, so they’re going to try and squeeze Bowman to include a good young player or high draft pick in any deal involving Sharp and Bickell. It could take until late-September before either guy gets dealt.
Once the Washington Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson, Friedman expects they could try adding another forward.
That’ll depend upon how much cap space they’ve got left after re-signing those two.
St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes trade rumors regarding defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk were media creations. Shattenkirk sees no reason to doubt Armstrong. Friedman thinks teams made inquiries about the defenseman because of the perception the Blues wanted to shake things up.
Shattenkirk won’t be dealt this summer, and I believe they want to keep him long term after his contract expires in two years time. However, their cap space could create difficulties re-signing him. Don’t be surprised if the Shattenkirk trade rumors resurface next summer.
The Montreal Canadiens were in on a few things (Matt Beleskey, Shawn Matthias, perhaps T.J. Oshie), but GM Marc Bergevin was leery of bidding too much. He’s also got a couple of promising young players (Daniel Carr, Sven Andrighetto) that he must determine if they’re NHL ready.
I think the acquisition of Zack Kassian could be Bergevin’s only significant offseason addition.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t planning on moving center Brandon Sutter.
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray doesn’t want to give up on young defenseman Jared Cowen.
A team making inquiries about Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draitsaitl was rebuffed. The Oilers could shift him to the wing.
I don’t expect the Oilers to trade Draisaitl. They’ll evaluate his performance as a winger next season, provided he cracks the roster.
There’s speculation the Oilers could buy out the final season of defenseman Nikita Nikitin’s contract following the arbitration period. Friedman notes the Oilers aren’t hurting for cap space, suggesting it makes more sense to let Nikitin play out that final year.
The new contract for Calgary Flames’ defenseman Dougie Hamilton (six years, $34.5 million) could affect the Anaheim Ducks efforts to re-sign Hampus Lindholm next summer.