NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2018
Updates on the Lightning, Predators and Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
LIGHTNING FACING SALARY-CAP CRUNCH.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith recently examined the coming salary-cap crunch facing Julien BriseBois, the new general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have over $67 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20 with forwards Brayden Point (restricted free agent) and Yanni Gourde (unrestricted free agent) due for new contracts next summer, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2020.
One agent speculates Point could get $6-$7 million annually on a long-term deal and around $5 million annually on a bridge contract. Another, however, believes Florida’s low taxes means the Lightning could get him on a light deal. Smith suggests Gourde could get between $4-$6 million on the open market. One agent isn’t sure if the Lightning can afford to re-sign him, suggesting he could get $6 million annually if he hits 25 goals again.
The Lightning cannot open contract talks with Vasilevskiy until next July at the earliest, but Smith feels it would be wise to lock him up as soon as possible.
Smith speculates veteran forward Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million salary-cap hit through 2019-20) could become a cost-cutting candidate via trade or contract buyout next June. He carries a modified no-trade clause. Callahan frequently surfaced in this summer’s rumor mill with speculation linking him to his former club (New York Rangers) and his hometown team (Buffalo Sabres) but he was never approached about waiving his clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois doesn’t have to make any significant roster cuts this season unless his club falls out of playoff contention by the February trade deadline. He could perhaps make a move or two that improves his club while shedding salary but that type of deal could be difficult to pull off during the season.
The Lightning must also re-sign or replace pending UFA defensemen Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, and Anton Stralman, which could also complicate efforts to re-sign Point and Gourde. That increases the likelihood of Callahan being traded or bought out. Even then, they could let Gourde walk if he proves too expensive to keep. They don’t want to risk complicating efforts to re-sign Vasilevskiy.
PREDATORS UNLIKELY TO TRADE A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Elliotte Friedman appeared on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 on Friday and was asked if the Nashville Predators might shop one of their top-four defensemen this season for depth on the wing. He pointed out the Predators remain focused on winning the Stanley Cup and don’t have to trade a blueliner now. He noted they can open contract extension talks next summer with Roman Josi, who’s slated to become a UFA on July 1, 2020. If they decide to move a defenseman, they could do it in a year or two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Toronto pundits speculated the Predators could be a good destination for Maple Leafs restricted free agent William Nylander, suggesting he could fetch Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm. I believe that’s wishful thinking on their part. Predators GM David Poile isn’t afraid to make bold moves but I don’t see him jumping on this one.
As Friedman pointed out, the Preds are focused on the Stanley Cup this season and believe they can win with their current top-four blueliners. Unless their season goes wildly off the rails, they won’t peddle Josi, Ekholm, Ellis or P.K.Subban.
DON’T EXPECT BIG CHANGES YET FOR RED WINGS
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently noted the Detroit Red Wings slow start and acknowledged some changes may be needed. However, he doesn’t believe firing head coach Jeff Blashill will reverse their fortunes.
As for trades, Kulfan doesn’t expect any significant moves until the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. Pending UFAs Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Vanek could be shopped as playoff rental players. Defenseman Trevor Daley has a year left on his contract but he could also draw some interest. The emergence of Christoffer Ehn could make Luke Glendening available.