Jumbo Joe As A Maple Leaf Just Doesn’t Make Sense
The Canadiens sign Brendan Gallagher and Jake Allen to contract extensions, Golden Knights owner believes 2020-21 season will begin on Feb. 1, an update on Joe Thornton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Brendan Gallagher and goaltender Jake Allen to contract extensions. Gallagher inked a six-year, $39-million deal while Allen’s is two years with an annual average value of $2.875 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s new contract came a day following a report claiming contract talks had broken down. The two sides wasted little time circling back and working things out. Cap Friendly indicates it’s an annual cap hit of $6.5 million, making the 28-year-old winger the Canadiens’ highest-paid forward. It also comes with a modified no-trade clause and a no-movement clause, ensuring he won’t be exposed to next year’s expansion draft.
It’s not surprising the Canadiens locked up Gallagher given his offensive consistency and his status as their heart-and-soul player. It should prove worthwhile through the first half of the deal but could become a salary-cap headache in the latter half as his performance declines.
The Allen deal was a bit of a surprise as it was expected he would only be with the Habs for a year and depart next year via free agency. His new contract is affordable but lacks no-movement protection, meaning he’ll be available in next year’s NHL expansion draft. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could attempt to cut a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Allen remains a Hab.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley told a Las Vegas radio station he sees the 2020-21 NHL season beginning on Feb. 1, a full month after the league’s official target date of Jan. 1. He also believes the schedule could be between 48 to 56 games. Foley feels the fate of next season relies on fans returning to the arenas, citing the NHL’s status as a gate-driven league.
Foley dismissed the possibility of the teams playing in quarantine cities as they did during the 2020 playoffs, calling it unfeasible over the course of a season. He instead mentioned the possibility of some sort of short-term divisional realignment, hinting at an all-Canadian division if the Canada-USA border remains closed by COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley isn’t saying anything that hasn’t already been speculated by fans and pundits. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could frown on Foley’s remarks. He usually doesn’t stand for owners talking that freely about the league’s plans. Officially, the NHL and NHL Players Association are aiming for a full 82-game regular-season beginning Jan. 1.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he’s been in frequent contact with Joe Thornton but declined to say if the long-time Sharks center would return with the club next season. Wilson’s comments, however, make it sound as though he’d welcome Thornton’s return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent rumors have tied Thornton with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there’s an ongoing belief he could return for another season with the Sharks.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins team president Cam Neely denied the club has imposed an internal salary cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million cap. Recent conjecture suggested financial losses suffered by team owner Jeremy Jacobs’ hospitality empire during the pandemic was behind the club’s limited activity in the free-agent and trade markets.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with forward Nick Paul by signing him to a two-year, one-way contract worth an annual average value of $1.35 million.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames recently signed free-agent goaltender Louis Domingue to a one-year, $700K contract.
Contract talks have broken off between the Canadiens and Brendan Gallagher, some “mutual interest” between the Leafs and Joe Thornton, three key Bruins underwent surgery last month, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Contract talks between Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens have broken off, Gallagher’s agent Gerry Johansson told Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday. The 28-year-old winger is eligible next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more about this later this morning in the Rumors section. There’s still plenty of time for the two sides to work out a new contract. Gallagher is considered among the Canadiens’ core players but this report casts early doubt over his long-term future in Montreal.
THE SCORE: cites The Athletic’s James Mirtle reporting of “some mutual interest” between the Toronto Maple Leafs and UFA center Joe Thornton in reaching an agreement on a contract. The discussions are at an early stage. The 41-year-old center is coming off a disappointing 31-point performance in 70 games last season, his worst output over a full season since his NHL debut in 1997-98.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The idea is Thornton would become the Leafs’ third-line center, allowing Alexander Kerfoot to play on the wing. The former Shark is among the greatest playmakers in NHL history and a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. However, the decline in his performance last season should be a concern. The Leafs might be better off looking elsewhere for a short-term third-line center.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and defenseman Charlie McAvoy underwent surgeries in September. Marchand underwent sports hernia surgery on Sept. 14 and is sidelined for four months. Pastrnak had a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16 with a five-month recovery period. McAvoy, meanwhile, had a right knee arthroscopy on Sept. 8 and is expected to be ready for training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins will be without Pastrnak and Marchand if the 2020-21 NHL season opens in January.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks signed Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto to one-year contracts. Cap Friendly indicates Marleau and Nieto will each earn $700K.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed goaltender Aaron Dell to a one-year, $800K contract.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators signed UFA forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $1-million contract.
NHLPA: The dates for salary arbitration have been announced:
OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle will undergo surgery to repair a broken hand suffered during training camp with the Mannheim Eagles. The recovery time is six-to-eight weeks. Stuetzle was the Senators’ first-round pick (third overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.
TSN: Speaking of the Senators, Eugene Melnyk has filed a defamation lawsuit against Ottawa Sun columnist Rick Gibbons regarding reports claiming the Sens owner was attempting to divert money from a club charity to his own charity and gouging the Ottawa Senators Foundation by charging exorbitant rent. The Sun subsequently published an apology and a correction of errors in Gibbon’s stories.
THE ATHLETIC: Multiple Dallas Stars employees will be furloughed for the second time this year. Team owner Tom Gagliardi is facing mounting financial difficulties as his core businesses (hotels and restaurants) continue to be affected by COVID-19.
The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, Canucks acquire Nate Schmidt, the Islanders sign Cory Schneider and trade Devon Toews to the Avalanche, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he will be keeping his goaltending tandem intact for next season and won’t be trading Marc-Andre Fleury. He also indicated Robin Lehner will undergo shoulder surgery but will recover in time for training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was the subject of trade speculation after Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs and signed a contract extension earlier this month. There was talk they were trying to move Fleury by getting a third team involved who would absorb part of his $7 million salary-cap hit. It was assumed he’d be moved to clear salary-cap space to sign Alex Pietrangelo, but the Golden Knights made another move (see below) to address that issue.
The coming season could be Fleury’s last in Vegas. He lacks a full no-movement clause and will likely be left unprotected in next year’s expansion draft.
THE PROVINCE: The Golden Knights found another way to shed some cap payroll after signing Pietrangelo yesterday, trading Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights shed Schmidt’s $5.95 million cap hit. They’re still above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $974K but that’s within the 10 percent allowable offseason cap overage.
The Canucks, meanwhile, find a suitable replacement for Chris Tanev, who signed with Calgary as a free agent. Schmidt is a good puck-moving defenseman who can log over 21 minutes per game and skate on the left or right side of the blueline. He’s got five years remaining on his contract, which could become a cap headache in the latter years, but he should be a welcome addition to the Canucks defense corps in the short term.
TSN: The New York Islanders signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a one-year, $700K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are expected to go with Semyon Varlamov and promising Ilya Sorokin as their goalie tandem next season. Schneider is an affordable insurance move in case Sorokin struggles to adjust at the NHL level.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche acquired defenseman Devon Toews from the Islanders in exchange for a second-round pick in 2021 and a second-rounder in 2022. They also re-signed defenseman Ryan Graves to a three-year, $9.5 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs were looking for a defenseman after shipping Nikita Zadorov to Chicago for Brandon Saad over the weekend. Toews, 26, is a fine replacement. Colorado GM Joe Sakic sang his praises as “a smart, two-way puck-moving defenseman” who logs over 20 minutes per game and is “excellent in transition”.
Graves’ new contract is worth an annual average value of $3.16 million. That’s a considerable raise over the $735K of his previous deal. He earned it with a career-best 26-point performance and a league-leading plus-minus of plus-40.
Speaking of the Avalanche, The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark took to Twitter reporting preliminary contract talks have begun with captain Gabriel Landeskog. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks signed center Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.25-million contract and center Lucas Wallmark to a one-year deal worth $950K.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to a two-year, $1.45-million contract.
NEW YORK POST: Alexis Lafreniere signed a three-year entry-level contract with the New York Rangers. The 19-year-old left-winger was the first-overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
THE ATHLETIC: Bill Shea reports talks are ongoing to extend the NHL’s 10-year, $2-billion broadcast rights contract with NBC Sports that expires at the end of next season. While the league’s playoff ratings were down due to the pandemic, it still helped NBCSN have one of its best-ever third quarters. ESPN, Fox Sports and Turner Sports are also interested in the NHL’s TV and streaming business.
Sportsnet and TSN report Alex Pietrangelo has agreed to a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. The annual average value is $8.8 million. Elliotte Friedman reports the deal comes with a full no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To the surprise of no one, the Golden Knights land the big fish in this year’s UFA pond. Pietrangelo, 30, is among the NHL’s elite defensemen who captained the St. Louis Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019. His experience, leadership and all-around skills will provide a significant boost to their blue line.
The contract is expensive and lengthy, with an annual cap hit and a no-movement clause that could become burdensome for Vegas should Pietrangelo’s skills decline over the latter half of the deal. In the short term, however, his presence should keep the Golden Knights among the Cup contenders.
Cap Friendly reports Pietrangelo’s contract pushes the Golden Knights above the $81.5 million cap ceiling by over $6.9 million. They can sit over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the 2020-21 season opens sometime next year.
The Golden Knights have reportedly been trying to shed salary by shopping goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million AAV through 2021-22) and defenseman Nate Schmidt ($5.95 million AAV through 2024-25). One of them, or perhaps someone else (Jonathan Marchessault?) could be playing elsewhere when the regular season begins.
**UPDATE** The Golden Knights didn’t take long to shed some salary, trading Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2021 third-round pick.