Latest on the Lightning & Red Wings – September 4, 2016
Speculation on possible moves by the Lightning plus an update on Jimmy Howard in your NHL rumor mill.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper remain confident of getting restricted free agent forward Nikita Kucherov re-signed before the start of the upcoming season. The cost of re-signing him, however, could run from between $6 million per season (comparable to Nashville’s Filip Forsberg) to $7.5 million (similar to St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko).
While the Bolts currently have $6.2 million in cap space, that will shrink by re-signing defenseman Nikita Nesterov or if they add an affordable 14th forward. They will get some cap relief by placing Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) on LTIR at the start of the season until he returns in mid-November.
Smith points out the Lighting can free up some cap space by making a trade, “whether that’s goalie Ben Bishop ($5.95 million cap hit, partial no move clause), Valtteri Filppula ($5 million cap hit, no move clause), or defenseman Jason Garrison ($4.6 million, NTC). Dealing Brian Boyle ($2 million) or Erik Condra ($1.25 million) wouldn’t save them a ton.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After signing Kucherov, placing Callahan ($5.8 million) on LTIR is the most obvious way to address this in the short term. However, they’ll have to be cap compliant when he returns to action. A trade appears the likeliest route. Bishop, Filppula or Garrison could be on the move before the start of the season, but finding trade partners might not be easy. Bishop is the most valuable, but his partial no move and cap hit limits where he can be dealt. Filppula’s offensive stats have steadily declined in recent years. Garrison approved a trade from Vancouver to Tampa Bay in 2014. If his NTC remains in effect, will he approve another trade? Time will tell.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently profiled Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard for the upcoming season. He points out the Wings’ efforts to trade Howard this summer were thwarted by a limited trade market, his contract ($5.291 million per season) and inconsistent play over the last two seasons. Howard is expected to start this season backing up Petr Mrazek. Khan expects he’ll be exposed in next June’s expansion draft. If not selected by Las Vegas, the Wings could try to trade him. A buyout is also possible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another inconsistent season and it’s unlikely Las Vegas selects him in the expansion draft. Unless the Wings are willing to absorb a good chunk of his cap hit, they won’t find many takers via the trade market. A buyout could be their only option.