NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2016
Updates on free agents Nikita Kucherov, Dmitry Orlov and Dennis Seidenberg in your NHL rumor mill.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman remains hopeful of getting restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov re-signed before the start of the upcoming season. Kucherov’s agent declined to comment on the status of his client’s negotiations.
Smith speculates the sticking point could be salary. Kucherov’s performance in recent years could warrant between $6 million to $7.5 million, comparable to recent contracts signed by wingers such as Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues. A report out of Russia claims KHL team CSKA Moscow made an offer to Kucherov, but there’s been no real contract discussions.
Smith notes the Lightning have around $6.2 million in salary-cap space for next season, but that could shrink to $5 million if RFA defenseman Nikita Nesterov is re-signed, or if James Wisniewski (who’s on a tryout contract) makes the team, and if a 14th forward is added. He speculates the Lightning would have to free up salary cap room for Kucherov’s new contract, “whether that’s goalie Ben Bishop ($5.95 million cap hit, partial no-move clause), forward Valtteri Filppula ($5 million cap hit, no-move clause) or defenseman Jason Garrison ($4.6 million, no-trade clause).” Smith points out, however, Yzerman recently said he envisions a scenario in which Bishop remains with the club for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s participation with Russia in the World Cup of Hockey is undoubtedly causing further delay in his contract talks. Even if the Lightning manage to get get Kucherov to accept a little less than $6 million per season, they’ll still be squeezed for cap space.
Smith points out Yzerman hoped to re-sign Kucherov and Nesterov before having to free up cap space, as the Lightning are allowed to go over the $73 million cap ceiling by 10 percent in the offseason, but they must be cap compliant when the season begins. Once Kucherov is re-signed, however, Yzerman could be forced to make a cost-cutting move before re-signing Nesterov. It’ll depend upon what Kucherov ultimately receives. I don’t see the Lightning parting ways with Kucherov via trade and I doubt he’ll get an offer sheet from another NHL club at this point.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports there’s uncertainty over the future of RFA defenseman Dmitry Orlov as his contract negotiations with the Washington Capitals drag on. In a recent interview, Orlov seemed uncertain where he’ll be playing this season. Currently skating for Team Russia in the World Cup of Hockey, he said he’s putting his focus on that for now.
CSKA Moscow owns Orlov’s KHL rights and GM Sergei Fedorov is interested in signing the blueliner, but said Orlov’s intent is to play in the NHL. Khurshudyan anticipates Orlov will get a one- or two-year contrac with the Capitals. Washington currently has around $3.45 million in cap space.. However, they cannot commit all of it to Orlov, as they’ll need around $875K for a 14th forward and some roster flexibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Lightning with Kucherov, the World Cup of Hockey tournament and limited salary-cap space is affecting the Capitals contract talks with Orlov. He earned $2 million per season on his last contract and is in line for a pay bump.
And like the Lightning, the Caps could face shedding some salary via trade or demotion to create more room. Unfortunately, there’s not many options here. If they trade or demote a forward such as Daniel Winnik ($2 million), Jay Beagle ($1.75 million), Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly or Stanislav Galiev (each earning under $900k), it will affect their depth at forward. Shipping out another defenseman or backup goalie Philipp Grubauer could also weaken the Caps at those positions.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports former Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is hoping his participation in the World Cup of Hockey with Team Europe will help his efforts to land a new NHL contract. The Bruins bought out Seidenberg earlier this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent. At 35, age is starting to catch up to him. He struggled in Team Europe’s 7-4 loss to the younger, swifter Team North American on Sunday.