NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2019
Details of several anticipated free-agent signings leaked, Zaitsev-for-Ceci trade expected today, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
The NHL’s free-agent period begins at 12:01 PM ET today. However, details leaked last night regarding new contracts for several noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Here’s a summary of what was reported:
Matt Duchene is expected to sign a seven-year, $56-million contract with the Nashville Predators
Joe Pavelski will sign a three-year, $21-million deal with the Dallas Stars. They’ve also signed Corey Perry to a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a base salary of $1.5 million.
Mats Zuccarello is heading to the Minnesota Wild. His contract is expected to be for five years and worth $6 million annually.
Richard Panik is joining the Washington Capitals on a four-year deal believed to be worth over $2.5 million per season.
Cam Talbot returns to Alberta with the Calgary Flames. The former Edmonton Oilers goaltender will sign a one-year, $2.75-million deal.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev has waived his no-trade clause, setting the stage to ship him to the Ottawa Senators for blueliner Cody Ceci. Winger Connor Brown will also be heading to Ottawa. Other players and/or draft picks will also be part of this swap. The trade is expected to be finalized later today after the Leafs pay Zaitsev his $3 million signing bonus.
**UPDATE** As per Cap Friendly:
To Ottawa #Senators:
D Nikita Zaitsev
F Connor Brown
F Michael Carcone (RFA)
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 1, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas deserves kudos for finding a taker for Zaitsev and his $4.5 million AAV through 2023-24. No surprise, however, that he had to include a sweetener (Brown) in the deal.
Ceci, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was qualified at $4.6 million for 2019-20. He was said to be seeking a five-year deal worth between $5 – $5.5 million per season. It remains to be seen if the Leafs will pay that much, take him to arbitration, or flip him to another club. I think he’s marginally better than Zaitsev but maybe his performance will improve with the Leafs. If the Leafs re-sign Ceci, they’ll still need replacements for Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey. Both are unrestricted free agents.
Zaitsev could also benefit from a change of scenery. Senators head coach D.J. Smith reportedly vouched for the blueliner, having worked with him when Smith was an assistant coach with the Leafs. Getting the versatile Brown in the deal is a nice boost to the Senators forward depth.
In other Leafs and Senators news, Toronto plans to sign winger Kenny Agostino to a two-year, one-way contract. The Senators, meanwhile, hired former St. Louis Blues coach David Payne as an assistant coach.