NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2019
The latest on Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, an update on the Sabres, and some waiver options for the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HOW LONG UNTIL LAINE AND CONNOR RE-SIGN WITH THE JETS?
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre weighs on in what he considers a game of chicken regarding contract talks between the Winnipeg Jets and restricted free agent forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. The young scorers are due for significant raises but how much, and for how long, remains to be determined.
McIntyre notes Laine and Connor are among several young NHL stars still unsigned this summer. While they have some degree of leverage right now, that’ll change once they start missing paycheques. Josh Morrissey missed the start of training camp last September but soon re-signed with the Jets.
The December 1 deadline to sign RFAs swings leverage back to the team. It would be a nightmare scenario for the Jets if a standoff with Laine and/or Connor goes to Dec. 1, McIntyre would be shocked if it goes that far.
The Jets have around $14.5 million in cap space to sign the duo. If more cap space is required, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could be forced to make a cost-cutting trade. The threat of an offer sheet remains a possibility but McIntyre considers it unlikely.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $17.5 million in cap space. However, they have just 17 players under contract. Once Laine and Connor are re-signed, they’ll need another four players to fill out the 23-man roster. Those could come from promotions from their farm team or cost-effective free-agent signings. It could cost between $13-$14 million to re-sign the duo.
Forwards Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million annually) and Mathieu Perreault ($4.125 million) surfaced this summer as cost-cutting trade candidates. However, I think Cheveldayoff prefers to avoid that option.
The standoff with Laine and Connor probably won’t be resolved this month. Once we get into September and training camp approaches, that’s when we could see more activity in contract negotiations.
SABRES IN NO RUSH TO MAKE COST-CUTTING TRADE
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said he doesn’t have to make a trade to become cap compliant before the start of the season. The Sabres currently sit $1.1 million over the $81.5-million salary cap. Botterill said he could place an injured defenseman (Zach Bogosian, Lawrence Pilut, Matt Hunwick) on long-term injury reserve or send a player on a one-way contract to the minors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill has plenty of options at his disposal. He could also use his second buyout window to free up some salary, though Lysowski noted the Sabres GM didn’t go that route during his first buyout opportunity in June. If Botterill goes the trade route, it could be to bolster his roster rather than becoming cap compliant.
POTENTIAL WAIVER OPTIONS FOR THE OILERS
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell examined some potential waiver options for the Edmonton Oilers to add a forward before the start of the season. Possibilities could include Columbus’ Sonny Milano, Tampa Bay’s Carter Verhaeghe, Toronto’s Nick Shore or the Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang.