NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2018
Rangers re-sign Brady Skjei, list of remaining arbitration hearings, reviewing the Islanders offseason moves and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Brady Skjei as the two sides agreed to a six-year, $31.5-million contract. The annual average value is $5.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing reflects the faith Rangers management have in the 24-year-old Skjei, who has blossomed in just two seasons into a mobile top-four defenseman. He’s expected to start the coming season on the top pairing alongside Kevin Shattenkirk. If Skjei continues his anticipated development, this contract could turn into a bargain for the Rangers.
NHLPA.COM: Only nine players remain scheduled for hearings entering the final week of the 2018 NHL salary-arbitration period.
Calgary Flames winger Garnet Hathaway’s hearing is slated for July 30, Ottawa Senators defenseman Cody Ceci and Dallas Stars center Gemel Smith have theirs on August 1, New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes and Nashville Predators winger Miikka Salomaki are slated for Aug. 2, Senators winger Matt Stone for Aug. 3 and Vegas Golden Knights’ center William Karlsson, Colorado Avalanche blueliner Patrik Nemeth and Rangers forward Ryan Spooner on Aug. 4.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is getting mixed reviews for his offseason moves since taking over the role on June 5. He’s earned praise for overhauling the front office and coaching staff (including his hires of Barry Trotz as head coach and Mitch Korn as goaltending director) as well as his selections in the 2018 NHL Draft. However, his roster moves have drawn criticism, especially his free-agent signings of bottom-six forwards such as Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula, and his inability to bolster the blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the unhappiness over Lamoriello’s roster moves but he had little choice. John Tavares, the club’s franchise player, opted to sign with Toronto and there really wasn’t any viable options via the trade or free agent markets to replace him. The loss of Tavares means the Isles are now forced into a transitional period as Lamoriello evaluates the roster in 2018-19.
He‘s opted to bring in checking-line depth while promoting Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson into larger roles. The pickings were slim for decent free-agent defensemen and the cost of a top-four rearguard in the trade market was likely more than he was willing to pay right now. Bringing in goaltender Robin Lehner could improve the Isles between the pipes, especially under Korn’s tutelage.
The Islanders appear to be a long shot to reach the 2019 playoffs. Under Trotz’s coaching, however, they should be competitive in the coming season.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour is seeking $3 million for his North Raleigh home.