NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2019

by | Jul 24, 2019 | News, NHL | 21 comments

The Leafs reacquire David Clarkson’s contract, the Predators re-sign Colton Sissons to a seven-year deal, and an arbiter awards Jets forward Andrew Copp a two-year contract. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs reacquired the contract of David Clarkson from the Vegas Golden Knights last night in exchange for goaltender Garret Sparks. The Leafs also received a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

The Toronto Maple Leafs reacquired the contract of permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas continues to juggle his limited salary cap space. By taking back Clarkson’s dormant contract, Dubas can allocate his $5.25-million cap hit, and that of permanently sidelined Nathan Horton ($5.3 million), toward re-signing restricted free agent Mitch Marner by placing both on long-term injury reserve.

Some suggest the cap-strapped Leafs could start the season without Marner, place Clarkson and Horton on LTIR on the opening day of the regular season, and then re-sign the winger. It’ll be interesting to see how Dubas plays this. 

As for Sparks, he’ll likely start this season with the Golden Knights’ farm club. Having lost the confidence of the Leafs coaching staff, this move gives the goaltender a chance to get his career back on track with Vegas.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Soon after trading Clarkson’s contract to Toronto, the Golden Knights signed defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. He’ll earn a base salary of $700K with performance bonuses that could take him up to $1.5 million. The move gives the Golden Knights a projected $1.025-million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have restricted free agent Nikita Gusev to re-sign, but it sounds like they’ll instead try to trade his rights. Shedding Clarkson’s cap hit makes it easier for them to make other minor salary moves if necessary without the LTIR hassle.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators yesterday avoided salary arbitration with Colton Sissons, re-signing the winger to a seven-year, $20-million contract. The annual average value is $2.857 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile praised Sissons work ethic, versatility, and leadership when announcing this deal. While the cap hit is reasonable, it’s an unusually long term for a role player. Some observers wonder why Sissons would agree to such a lengthy deal with that low cap hit. Perhaps it’s because he’s playing in a city where there’s no state tax. It could just be because he loves living and playing in Nashville.

TSN: An arbiter awarded Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp a two-year, $4.56-million contract. The annual average value is $2.28 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Copp sought a one-year, $2.9-million contract while the Jets pitches a two-year deal worth $1.5 million annually. The arbiter split the difference. This will affect the Jets’ efforts to re-sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. I’ll have more later today in the Rumors section.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Anton Lindholm to a two-year, two-way contract.

TWINCITIES.COM: Former NHL forward Alex Tanguay is joining the Iowa Wild as an assistant coach.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers added Brian Wiseman to their coaching staff. Wiseman spent several seasons as an assistant coach with the University of Michigan.


  1. Gotta love Dubas, finding ways to create more cap space! This also creates a future trading partner with the Golden Knights. Once Horton and Clarkson are placed on LTIR, this’ll give Dubas $10.55M to work with. I think he’ll do more before the Season starts, so that he can fill the roster to 25. Whether that’s making a trade to cut some more cap, or to somehow re-sign Marner for less than what people expect he deserves. Even if it’s less than what he deserves, Dubas will still have to be creative in staying under the cap and filling the 25 man roster.

    • You can only carry 23 players. Horton and Clarkson don’t get added since they’re both on LTIR.

      • Randy, yes, Horton and Clarkson do get added. They will be on the initial 2019-20 roster, leaving only 21 available spots. Then they are immediately placed on LTIR and replaced with 2 call-ups from the Marlies. Both contracts also count towards the maximum of 50.

    • LeafsAdvocate, this was Pridham thinking, not Dubas; Kyle is the hockey guy, not the numbers guy.

      Usually LTIR is not available during the summer, so the plan is not self evident. Maybe there is an agreement in place to sign Marner on the first day of the season. Echos of the Raptors – Stanley Cup or bust.

      • As we found out in discussions recently you can actually place players on LTIR before the season begins as long as you can prove they won’t be healthy 10 days into the season.
        I doubt the Leafs want Marner to miss training camp.

        *Question for others* Does anyone know how taking on this cap hit helps the Leafs, since they have a lot of money on LTIR does that increase their available cash?
        How is this more than just Sparks for a 4th?

      • Yes tax… does this really only clear sparks salary from their current situation? This is what I don’t get.

  2. With regard to Sissons, once again the tax issue is raised. I believe that to be an exaggerated issue and I believe that this years signings bear that out. It came down to a simple thing for Sissons. He’s a role player who will never be a top 6 forward. Those type of players tend to get squeezed out and often live year to year, especially as they approach 30 years of age. I think he simply wanted the security of a long-term deal.

  3. He’s just 25, big and a 2nd round piuck and did have a season last year (15g 15a 30 pts) that have gotten others with similar stats a lot more than that – not long-term mind you, but bigger $.

    If he continues to improve his output that contract is going to look real good for Nashville down the line.

    • He’s pretty much the same as Joel Armia. A solid third liner with size. I don’t see him being a big point producer. Like I said. Those type of players normally end up being squeezed out and bouncing around after age 30. So this contract gives him additional years into his 30s.

    • I think the big piece there is the length of the contract. Its security for him.

      3rd and fourth liners are having a tough time finding deals in the offseason. I mentioned a few days ago that the League is moving to a very polarized salary structure. Elite players get the big bucks, then there are ELCs and the rest of the fols are fighting for a few spots on reduced salary. I get why he did it

  4. Reacquiring an LTIR contract while cleaning up the goalie knot and acquiring a draft pick too is creative to say the least.

    Still say somebody on TML is likely going to be traded before Sept rolls around

    • If that happens Joey, the only odd man out is Nylander. Because everyone else’s contract cap hits are low and very manageable. If that’s the case, he’d probably go to a team in need of a Top 6 winger and in turn, receive a very good prospect…or very good young winger whose cap hit is very low. Maybe…unlikely…but maybe:

      To TOR: Vilardi + 2020 2nd
      To LAK: Nylander

      • @LeafsAdvocate: As much as I agree on Nylander, I believe Dubas wants to see what version of Nylander he’s got of him once the season begins before deciding what to do with him long term.

  5. @ Taz..since the Leafs can now exceed the cap by the combined LTIR values of Clarkson and Nathan Horton by $10.5 million, right here, right now, it offers, on paper at least, a guard against any potential offer sheet.

    It also implies, barring any further cap reduction moves they make that Marner won”t be resigned until opening day when those LTIR contracts then come into play.


    • Just watched it. Thanks!
      Wondering why you think the Leafs can’t sign Marner before the season starts? If they can exceed the cap by 10.5 and they can place both Horton and Clarkson on LTIR before the season starts, why can’t they just sign Marner now?

      • @ Taz..Well from all indications made public at least, Marner wants $11.5 a season thereabouts and the Leafs, even with yesterday’s moves, still fall short of that number not factoring in term either.

        They can’t place Hyman or Dermott on IR until the season starts.

        I believe before Sept rolls around, somebody on the current roster will get traded for space if at all possible.

      • @joey, thanks!
        I agree, more moves coming

      • I think they can sign him before the seasons start because if a team can prove a guy won’t be “healthy” enough to dress 10 days before opening night, they can put or use that LTIR for the players that replaces those that will go on LTIR to reach that 23 man roster for opening night.

        This was a move that sets up more and more importantly allows the Leafs cap flexibility…they can ice a team with a cap hit of $91m and still be in the rules. Odd.

  6. The only way to get full cap relief is:
    1. you exceed the cap by the amount of the one(5.3 million, or two contracts combined (10.5million)and put those two contract on LTIR.
    2. wait until the season starts and put the contracts on LTIR.

    IF you put a contract on LTIR before the season starts, only the amount to get you to the cap limit can be used. Wings did this last year with one of the two contracts of Zetterberg and Fransen.

    • Here is along but pretty well explained write up

      Mirtle from the Athletic:

      One of the most important things to keep in mind is that it really matters when you go into LTIR and how much space you have under the cap at that point. Using LTIR does allow teams to exceed the cap, but only to the extent they need to in order to compensate for that contract.

      The end result of that formula is the closer you are to the cap when you go into LTIR, the better.

      The Leafs were not actually that close to the cap prior to acquiring Clarkson from Vegas. The biggest reason is they are holding cap space for Mitch Marner for whenever that stalemate finally gets resolved.

      Leaving that big open space, however, made using LTIR to its full potential more difficult.

      What Pridham needed to find was a way to temporarily add cap space that wasn’t ultimately going to cost them against the cap.

      CapFriendly illustrates this pretty well with the current Leafs roster they have up. Without Clarkson’s $5.25 million cap hit, that group of 21 players listed would be $76.98 million – or roughly $4.5 million under the cap – entering the year.

      If the Leafs put Nathan Horton’s $5.3 million contract on LTIR under those circumstances, that would free up only another $800,000. (They could theoretically recall a few more players and expand that figure by a million or two, but not use LTIR to its full potential.)

      That LTIR-created space would not be enough to accommodate Marner’s deal, which could be north of $11 million a season.

      And the Leafs would be leaving money on the table because of where they were in relation to the cap when Horton was placed on LTIR.

      Now, the Leafs do have other options. Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott are currently injured and could easily begin the year on LTIR. That would free up additional room to accommodate Marner’s contract. They weren’t in a completely desperate situation without having Clarkson on the roster.

      But the addition of another big cap hit that can be placed on LTIR whenever they want gives them more options, increasing Pridham’s flexibility in terms of how (and when) he shifts these pieces around.

      There is zero danger at this point they will leave cap space on the table. And they can handle a very big offer sheet (or contract decision) on Marner at any point between now and Dec. 1.

      So that’s why they wanted the contract.

      • Marner’s not getting much, if anything, over 10 (imo). But at that price, can they convince him to sign for more than 5 years?