Updates on the Blackhawks and Flyers, plus the latest on Travis Zajac and Magnus Paajarvi.
Something’s gotta give in Chicago.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Following the Chicago Blackhawks re-signing defenseman Brent Seabrook to an eight-year, $55 million contract extension, Edward Fraser observed the club now has over 62 percent of their payroll ($44.7 million) tied up in just six players for 2016-17. He suggests next season’s roster will either have a lot of cheap prospects and reclamation projects, or they’ll have to shed salary. While winger Patrick Kane seems the obvious choice because he’s under investigation for sexual assault, management will have a difficult time justifying that move if he isn’t charged. Fraser suggests trading winger Marian Hossa and/or goaltender Corey Crawford.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looking ahead to the summer of 2016, the Blackhawks have over $66 million invested in 17 players for 2016-17. Their only notable UFA is an aging Michal Rozsival. Their RFAs include Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp. Assuming the cap rises to $74 million, they’ll have less than $8 million in cap space. It’ll be tight, but there’s enough room to re-sign Shaw and Kruger for sure, leaving sufficient room for depth signings. At some point, the ‘Hawks might have to ship out a core player, but unless ownership wants to dump Kane even if he’s cleared of wrongdoing, I doubt that move happens by next summer.
Updates on Travis Zajac and Luke Schenn.
SPORTSNET: Stephen Burtch weighs in on the recent speculation linking New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac to the Toronto Maple Leafs, suggesting that move would only add to the club’s ongoing issues. He cites Zajac’s contract (six years remaining at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million) and declining production as key reasons why he wouldn’t help the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since the “Zajac to Toronto” speculation popped up a week ago, I’ve yet to hear or see any comments from Leafs fans, bloggers and pundits supporting that move. The only substantiation seems to be speculation that Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello, the former Devils GM, would love to acquire Zajac. If true, I can’t see that proposal passing muster with the Leafs hierarchy.
PHILLY.COM: Jeff Neiburg reports the Philadelphia Flyers have only one more cut to make to reach the 23-man roster limit. They’re currently carrying eight defensemen, all of whom are on one-way contracts. GM Ron Hextall wouldn’t discuss any trade talks. Neiburg feels Luke Schenn seems like a potential trade chip, but his $3.6 million salary-cap hit is difficult to move. He speculates Radko Gudas, acquired at last year’s trade deadline from Tampa Bay, could be a trade candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Flyers pick up part of Schenn’s cap hit, it seems unlikely they’ll find any takers right now.
Paajarvi a worthwhile waiver claim?
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox observes the St. Louis Blues placed winger Magnus Paajarvi on waivers yesterday, suggesting he could be a worthwhile pickup for offense-starved teams like the Carolina Hurricanes or New Jersey Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn by noon ET today if someone takes a flyer on Paajarvi.