NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2018
Does Mark Stone’s one-year deal with the Senators set the stage for his departure next summer? What’s the latest on the Blue Jackets’ Artemi Panarin? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CAN THE SENATORS RE-SIGN STONE TO A LONG-TERM DEAL?
TSN: Ian Mendes believes Mark Stone’s new one-year, $7.35-million contract with the Ottawa Senators raises more questions over the club’s future than it answers. Because he signed a one-year deal, the Senators cannot open contract extension talks until Jan. 1, 2019. Leverage will shift with each passing day to Stone, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The one-year deal also raises questions over whether Stone wants to be with the Senators for the long term. He joins Erik Karlsson and Matt Duchene as the Senators’ notable pending UFAs next year. “The Senators could be poised for the mother of all rebuilds if they choose to move all three of those players in the coming months,” writes Mendes.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren also agrees the Stone signing raises uncertainty over the winger’s future with the Senators. Noting the UFA status of Stone, Karlsson and Duchene next summer, he speculates they could become potential trade candidates before next year’s trade deadline.
Warren points out only three players (Bobby Ryan, Marian Gaborik and Zack Smith) “have contracts that extend beyond the 2019-20 season.” He noted Ryan’s been attached to the Karlsson trade rumors while Gaborik could be bought out of the remainder of his contract.
Warren also noted there’s a theory among Senators fans that has owner Eugene Melnyk chopping salary in order to sell the franchise. However, Melnyk has consistently denied any intention to hang out the “for sale” sign.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy speculates the state of the Senators’ organization leaves Stone, Karlsson and Duchene little incentive to stick around any longer than they have to. If the Senators shop these assets, GM Pierre Dorion must get the best return possible.
The asking price will be significant for a superstar like Karlsson, who has the skills (when healthy) to put any playoff club over the top. Kennedy believes Stone and Duchene, while they won’t attract as much as Karlsson, would also be attractive to playoff contenders. He feels the Senators shouldn’t let either guy go “for anything less than a first-rounder and something else (either a prospect or more picks)”, assuming the team acquiring them is confident of re-signing them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s difficult to find many observers confident in the Senators’ ability to re-sign Stone to a long-term extension next year. I think it’ll take a significant reversal of the club’s fortunes to convince Stone (and Karlsson and Duchene, for that matter) to stay put. This is a franchise lacking long-term stability with no indication they’re going to be a perennial playoff contender in the near future.
Stone could be taking a “wait-and-see” approach but another horrible season by the Sens could convince him to test the free-agent market next July. That will in turn force the Senators to shop him – as well as Karlsson and Duchene – before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
PANARIN MIGHT WELCOME A RETURN TO THE BLACKHAWKS.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers cites a source claiming Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin would be interested in returning to the Chicago Blackhawks if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The source claims the Blackhawks would be “very seriously considered” by Panarin. His agent, Dan Milstein, declined to comment on anything about his client’s future plans.
The Blackhawks traded Panarin last summer to the Blue Jackets. The 26-year-old winger has been reluctant thus far to discuss a contract extension with the Blue Jackets and recently told the club he doesn’t wish to discuss a new deal after Sept. 13.
Powers acknowledges the Blackhawks would have to do “some serious cap managing” to afford Panarin but doesn’t consider it impossible. “Whether it’s realistic for Panarin to return to the Blackhawks may not be known until next offseason, and obviously a lot can happen between now and then.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Panarain is interested in returning to the Blackhawks as a free agent they could be willing to sign him However, making the dollars work and the effect upon other areas of their roster could derail that opportunity.
Powers assumes Panarin could get $9 million annually on a long-term deal when looking at the possibility of the Blackhawks signing him under a potential salary-cap ceiling of $82 million for 2019-20, using Cap Friendly‘s “armchair GM” feature. That also assumes a $6-million annual cap hit on Nick Schmaltz’s next contract. While that move would reunite Panarin with Patrick Kane and bolster the Blackhawks’ offense, their defense corps wouldn’t be any different than it is right now.
Another 80-plus point season on Paranin’s part will push him into the $10 million annually club. Maybe he would be willing to leave money on the table to return to Chicago. Time will tell.