Latest on the Flyers, Lightning and Avalanche – April 13, 2017
Steve Mason open to re-signing with the Philadelphia Flyers plus a look at possible offseason moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio recently reported goaltender Steve Mason is open to re-signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, but prefers a quick decision from the club. Mason is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He also told Flyers general manager Ron Hextall he doesn’t believe the club’s current system of platooning their goaltenders is working and wants no part of it if he returns.
PHILLY.COM: Mike Sielski reports Mason indicated Hextall left the door open for his possible return, but the goalie hopes they reach a decision quickly and not string him along through the summer. The Flyers have several issues to consider regarding their goaltending, including the salary cap and which goalie to protect in the June expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if the Flyers bring back Mason. I expect Hextall will be busy in the trade market in the final two weeks of June. He could target teams that risk losing a goalie to the expansion draft, such as the New York Rangers (Antti Raanta) or Washington Capitals (Philipp Grubauer). He could also acquire the contract rights for a pending UFA, such as the LA Kings’ Ben Bishop or Chicago Blackhawks’ Scott Darling, in hopes of re-signing them before July 1,
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently examined possible offseason moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have three key restricted agents to re-sign (Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat) and around $18 million in salary-cap space. GM Steve Yzerman said he expects to re-sign the trio. They will lose a player to the expansion draft in June.
Smith also speculated they’ll continue their search for a top-four defenseman via the trade market. He suggested they could speak to the Nashville Predators regarding Ryan Ellis or possibly target one of the Anaheim Ducks’ young defensemen. Yzerman must also add a backup goalie (possibly by re-signing Peter Budaj) and filling out the bottom-six forward spots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman’s done a fine job convincing his key free agents to re-sign for usually less than market value. I expect he’ll re-sign Drouin to an affordable two- or three-year bridge deal with the promise of long-term riches after that.
Johnson and Palat, however, both have arbitration rights. Each earned over $3 million annually on their current contracts and will seek substantial raises. The rise of young center Brayden Point could turn Johnson into a possible trade candidate. It could take someone like Johnson to land the right-handed top-four rearguard they seek.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently looked at what could be in store this summer for the Colorado Avalanche. Unless ownership cleans house, Joe Sakic will remain as general manager and Jared Bednar will return as head coach. Frei expected restricted free agents Nikita Zadorov and Sven Andrighetto will be re-signed but felt it’s time to part ways with Mikhail Grigorenko. He doubted Patrick Wiercioch and Matt Nieto will be back. Pending UFAs Fedor Tyutin, John Mitchell, Cody Goloubef and Rene Bourque won’t be back.
Committing to a youth movement would mean buying out the final season of veteran blueliner Francois Beauchemin’s contract. “Because of his age, the Avs still would be on the hook for his entire salary and it wouldn’t provide any cap relief, but it would open a roster spot,” wrote Frei. Disappointing forward Joe Colborne could also be a buyout candidate.
He considered oft-injured goalie Semyon Varlamov untradeable and doubted the Vegas Golden Knights will select him if left unprotected in the expansion draft. Frei also considered Carl Soderberg’s contract ($4.75 million cap hit) as their biggest contract albatross but a buyout would stretch six years.
Mike Chambers recently reported University of Denver defenseman and Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Butcher isn’t interested in signing an entry-level deal with the club yet. The 22-year-old wanted to speak with his parents, as well as Sakic, before deciding on when he’ll sign a new contract.
Chambers suggested Butcher could become the second straight Hobey Baker Award winner not to sign with the NHL club that drafted him. Jimmy Vesey last summer decided not to sign with the Nashville Predators, forcing them to trade his rights to the Buffalo Sabres. He ultimately opted for unrestricted free agency and signed with the New York Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frei didn’t get into the possibility of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog being shopped this summer, preferring instead to focus on other potential moves. A buyout of Beauchemin or Colborne is possible. A recent report out of Denver claims the Avs intend to protect Varlamov. If Butcher won’t sign, Sakic could end up peddling his rights. Perhaps he could toss him into a package deal along with Duchene or Landeskog in hopes of swinging a blockbuster move.