NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2019

The latest speculation on Joe Pavelski, Sam Bennett, and Rasmus Ristolainen in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

PAVELSKI HOPEFUL OF RE-SIGNING WITH SHARKS

NBC SPORTS: Chelena Goldman reports Joe Pavelski remains confident he’ll return with the San Jose Sharks. The 34-year-old Sharks captain is eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 1. He wasn’t concerned that contract negotiations haven’t taken place yet. Pavelski is coming off a 38-goal, 64-point performance in 2018-19. 

Joe Pavelski remains confident he’ll return with the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the Sharks’ limited salary-cap space is one reason why contract talks haven’t begun yet. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $58 million invested in 15 players.

Pavelski isn’t their only noteworthy free agent. UFAs include long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton, defenseman Erik Karlsson, and wingers Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi. Their restricted free agents include wingers Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc.

Re-signing most of them will eat up the bulk of their $24-million in salary-cap space. Nevertheless, I anticipate Pavelski will be re-signed, perhaps for around the same annual average value ($6 million) as his current deal, but with a shorter term.

COULD BENNETT BECOME AN OFFER-SHEET TARGET?

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis suggests Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett could be a tempting offer-sheet target. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights requiring a $2.14-million qualifying offer from the Flames. Calgary has over $14 million in salary cap room but most of that will be taken up re-signing power forward Matthew Tkachuk. They must also re-sign goalie David Rittich and re-sign or replace UFA netminder Mike Smith. 

Francis wondered if a club with plenty of salary-cap space, like the Vancouver Canucks, might try to take advantage of the situation. He suggests signing Bennett to an offer sheet in the range of $1.82-million to $3.65 million. If successful, the compensation to the Flames would only be a second-round draft pick. The Flames could match that offer, but it would squeeze their limited cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis’ theory is intriguing but it’s also based on the premise of Bennett being receptive to an offer sheet. Remember, the player has to be open to offers from other clubs and willing to sign one.

If he’s not interested or doesn’t get any offers worth accepting, the Flames have nothing to worry about. I’m guessing it would take much more than Francis’ proposed numbers to entice Bennett into signing an offer sheet. 

UPDATE ON RISTOLAINEN

WGR 550: TSN’s Darren Dreger recently weighed in on the status of Rasmus Ristolainen. The 24-year-old Buffalo Sabres defenseman has been the subject of considerable trade speculation. Dreger, however, doesn’t think general manager Jason Botterill intends to trade him. While he could be open to offers, trading Ristolainen isn’t a critical move. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Zach Bogosian sidelined five-to-six months by hip surgery, moving Ristolainen wouldn’t be a wise option right now. Perhaps he could be shopped for a scoring forward and Botterill replaces him in a separate deal. Depending on this summer’s trade market, however, that could prove too complicated to pull off. 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 26, 2019

Updates on Phil Kessel, Brett Pesce, Erik Karlsson, Anders Lee and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST “31 THOUGHTS” TRADE SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggests it won’t be easy for the Pittsburgh Penguins to trade Phil Kessel. He believes the 32-year-old winger vetoed a trade to the Minnesota Wild last week and both teams are unhappy. Kessel knows he’s going to be moved this summer but it will be on his terms. Friedman guesses the Arizona Coyotes would be among the winger’s trade preferences. It won’t be an easy fit because the Penguins want some scoring in return. The Coyotes were 28th in that category this season.

It won’t be easy for the Pittsburgh Penguins to trade Phil Kessel (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman also thinks Wild winger Jason Zucker can’t be pleased. He was nearly sent to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline and a deal that would’ve sent him to Pittsburgh for Kessel fell through. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has an eight-team trade list. The Athletic’s Rob Rossi believes Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might not be pleased with any offers from those clubs. He also suggests perhaps those clubs aren’t interested in Kessel at Rutherford’s asking price.

Rutherford needs to free up salary-cap room and bring in younger, cheaper scorers, which is why Kessel’s on the block. The winger might be receptive to a move but his modified no-trade will complicate thing.

If the Penguins can’t find a deal from one of the clubs on his list, Rutherford could be forced to take a lesser offer. He could use the savings and the return to address his scoring in a separate deal with another club. 

Following the Eastern Conference Final, sources told Friedman some in-season frustration from defenseman Brett Pesce could force the Carolina Hurricanes to trade him. GM Don Waddell said the issue was resolved. Pesce was unhappy with his playing time earlier in the season but it climbed significantly since New Year’s Day. If the Hurricanes shop a blueliner, Friedman thinks Haydn Fleury could be a candidate as he’s no longer waiver-exempt. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce’s name surfaced in the rumor mill a few times this season. I believe the Hurricanes will retain him. The 24-year-old is a good young rearguard coming off a career-best 29-point season.

It’s believed San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson wants to see if the Tampa Bay Lightning try to sign him this summer. Karlsson is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Last summer, then-Lightning GM Steve Yzerman attempted to acquire him. ” Is there any reason Julien BriseBois would think differently?”, asks Friedman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space was among the reasons the Bolts failed to land Karlsson last summer. It will be the biggest factor preventing them from signing him this summer. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $74.4 million invested in 17 players. Center Brayden Point is coming off his entry-level contract and a 92-point season. He’s going to get a significant raise.

Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois could re-sign him to an affordable bridge deal with the promise of a bigger, better deal down the road. He could also find a taker for aging winger Ryan Callahan and his $5.8 million annual average value. Even then, that’s not going to leave much room to sign Karlsson to the lucrative deal he’s bound to pursue via free agency. Another player, perhaps one lacking no-trade protection like J.T. Miller, will have to be moved to make room.

I’m not suggesting the Lightning won’t try to sign Karlsson. It just won’t be easy to do. 

Friedman believes the Ottawa Senators will consider bringing back Jason Spezza. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza spent all but five of his 16 NHL seasons with the Senators. The 35-year-old center’s best years are well behind him. Still, he could provide leadership and experienced depth at center for the rebuilding Sens. He could have other plans, like trying to sign with a potential contender. 

Friedman also reports the Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, and Chicago Blackhawks could be among the clubs interested in Kevin Hayes. The 27-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is slated to become a UFA on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes had some good seasons with the New York Rangers but struggled after being shipped to the Jets at the trade deadline. Finding the right team could be better for him than finding the most expensive contract.

The Vegas Golden Knights will try to move the contract of permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson. The deal has one year remaining at an annual average value of $5.25 million. However, the actual salary is $3.25 million. Friedman also anticipates they’ll make a move on defense. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights already have over $83 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. They must also free up cap room to re-sign William Karlsson. They’re reportedly looking at trading defenseman Colin Miller. He carries a $3.875-million AAV through 2021-22. Center Cody Eakin ($3.85 million AAV) is another rumored trade option. 

UPDATE ON THE ISLANDERS

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports contract term could be a sticking point in Anders Lee’s contract negotiations with the New York Islanders. Lee could seek a seven-year deal but Cyrgalis said GM Lou Lamoriello doesn’t want to be more than four. He also feels the two sides could compromise at $7 million per season. If a deal can’t be reached, Cyrgalis suggests the Minnesota Wild could pursue Lee, a Minnesota native. 

Cyrgalis suggests Robin Lehner’s comfort level with the Islanders, and the opportunity they gave him to resurrect his career, could factor into his contract negotiations. ” Anything less than five years around $5 million per probably makes sense for both parties.” Cyrgalis also feels Lamoriello could let winger Jordan Eberle test the free-agent market and see what happens. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see Lamoriello offering between $7 million to $7.5 million on a four-year deal for Lee. Time will tell if the latter will accept it. Lehner’s Vezina-worthy campaign will affect his contract talks with the Isles. Still, I expect the two sides will worth something out. 

BUYOUT FOR NICHUSHKIN?

SPORTSDAY: In a recent live chat with Dallas Stars fans, Matthew DeFranks wondered if the club might buy out winger Valeri Nichushkin. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth $2.95 million. That would make him their sixth-highest paid forward next season. Nichushkin failed to score any goals this season (10 assists) and skated in just one playoff game. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season marked the once-promising Nichuskin’s return from a two-year stint in the KHL. The 24-year-old hasn’t been the same since undergoing hip surgery in 2014. A buyout would count as only $700K against next season’s cap payroll and $450K for 2020-21. Seems a likely course of action for the Stars. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2019

Six potential salary-cap casualties plus updates on the Jets and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

KOVALCHUK, TURRIS,  AMONG POSSIBLE COST-CUTTING CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon lists Los Angeles’ Ilya Kovalchuk and Nashville’s Kyle Turris among six potential cost-cutting candidates this summer. 

Will the Los Angeles Kings try to trade Ilya Kovalchuk this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kovalchuk, 36, has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. Dixon noted there was speculation near the trade deadline suggesting a team in “win-now” mode might take a chance on the left winger.

Turris ($6 million annually) has five years left on his contract. The 29-year-old center is coming off a difficult, injury-shortened campaign. 

Olli Maatta (three years remaining at $4.1 million per season) has fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh. Dixon believes another club could give the 24-year-old Penguins defenseman another chance. 

Dixon suggests the Edmonton Oilers could attempt to move Andrej Sekera. The 33-year-old blueliner has two years left on his deal with a $5.5-million annual salary-cap hit. His injury history, however, could make him difficult to move. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning need to free up cap space to re-sign Brayden Point. Right wing Ryan Callahan (one year, $5.8 million) seems an obvious trade candidate. He carries a modified no-trade clause. 

If the Florida Panthers pursue goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency, they could shop backup James Reimer. He’s got two years remaining at $3.4 million per season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Kovalchuk has a full no-movement clause. He and his family seem happily settled in the Los Angeles area. He might consider waiving his clause to join a Cup contender but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Predators general manager David Poile is among the shrewdest executives in the game. However, I doubt he’ll find a taker for Turris without including a sweetener in the deal or picking up part of that cap hit. Even then, Poile could find it tough drumming up interest.

Maatta’s had his struggles with the Penguins. Nevertheless, there’s a market for young, puck-moving, defensemen. Of those on Dixon’s list, Maatta seems the most likely to move. 

Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new GM, could consider peddling Sekera to free up some cap space. On the other hand, he could retain him to buy time for the younger blueliners in their system.

Callahan’s best seasons are well behind him now. The one positive is he only has a year left on his deal. If the Lightning includes a quality prospect or draft pick in the deal, a club with cap room seeking veteran leadership could consider it. 

The Panthers will pursue an upgrade between the pipes via trade or free agency this summer. If Roberto Luongo doesn’t retire, Reimer will be on the move. Teams looking for an experienced backup could show interest in him. 

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe expects Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could attempt to recoup some draft picks leading up to next month’s NHL Draft. The Jets currently have spots in the second, fourth, and fifth rounds. Trade-deadline acquisition Kevin Hayes is expected to depart via free agency. That could put the Jets in the market for a second-line center. They need someone who can establish chemistry with left wing Patrik Laine. 

Wiebe also suggests defenseman Jacob Trouba could be traded during the draft weekend. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. What could complicate things is it’s unknown if he’s interested in signing a long-term contract when he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.  If Trouba is moved, the Jets could attempt to re-sign pending UFA blueliner Tyler Myers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff will be busy in the coming weeks. With Laine and Kyle Connor due for big raises, they probably can’t afford to re-sign Trouba. The Jets GM won’t have difficulty finding trade partners for the 25-year-old blueliner. Suitors could include the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers. 

To address the Jets’ second-line center position, Wiebe suggests Cheveldayoff target Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He calls the 28-year-old center “a hard-nosed player with plenty of skill.” The Leafs could be forced to move Kadri’s $4.5-million annual salary-cap hit to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Wiebe suggests offering up Jack Roslovic in a package deal for Kadri. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sticking point is Kadri’s modified no-trade clause. The Jets could be on his 10-team no-trade list. If they’re not, a package offer containing Roslovic could tempt the Leafs. 

RECENT FLAMES SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving must make addressing his goaltending a priority this summer. One option could be re-signing pending UFA Mike Smith, who’s interested in returning. Failing that, Treliving will have to find an affordable option to split the duties with David Rittich.

Francis suggests St. Louis Blues former starter Jake Allen ($4.35 million annually through 2020-21) might be available via trade. So could New York Islanders backup Thomas Greiss, who’s got a year left on his deal at $3.33 million. Free-agent possibilities include Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov or Carolina’s Curtis McElhinney. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space will hamper Treliving’s efforts. With over $68.5 million invested in 19 players, he’s got $14 million available for next season. Most of that will be taken up re-signing Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett. Maybe a dollar-for-dollar swap for Allen or Greiss is possible. Failing that, he’ll have to go cheap for goaltending help.

Varlamov’s frequent injury history could drive down his value in the UFA market. As Francis noted, that could make him an affordable gamble. McElhinney will probably re-sign with the Hurricanes. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2019

The Penguins and Wild discussed a deal involving Phil Kessel and Jason Zucker. Get the details in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

KESSEL TO WILD FOR ZUCKER?

TSN: cited a report by The Athletic’s Josh Yohe claiming the Minnesota Wild made a trade proposal for Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel. Winger Jason Zucker is believed to be part of the Wild’s offer. Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson and Wild center Victor Rask were also discussed as part of the deal. Kessel would have to agree to the trade, as the Wild aren’t on his eight-team list of preferred trade destinations.

Will Phil Kessel agrees to be traded to the Minnesota Wild? (Photo via NHL Images)

Pierre LeBrun reports Kessel isn’t leaning toward waiving his no-trade clause to join the Wild but  LeBrun isn’t ruling out the possibility. Yohe also said the Arizona Coyotes could be in the mix. Kessel had a good relationship with Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet during the latter’s tenure on the Penguins’ coaching staff. However, the Coyotes uncertain ownership situation is preventing them from making an offer. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Matt Vensel reports the swapped salaries would be a close match. Kessel and Johnson carry a combined annual average value of $10.1 million. Zucker and Rask combine for $9.5 million. If this deal doesn’t take place, Vensel believes it’s an indication of the asking price the Penguins are setting for Kessel. Jonathan Bombulie considers the inclusion of Johnson as evidence the Penguins also wish to move a defenseman this summer. 

THE ATHLETIC: Before Yohe’s report, his colleague Michael Russo examined possible trade targets for the Wild. Kessel was on that list. Other options could include Toronto’s William Nylander or Kasperi Kapanen and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This proposed swap of Kessel and Johnson for Zucker and Rask makes the Penguins a little younger and frees up some cap space. I’m puzzled, however, why Wild general manager Paul Fenton would make this pitch.

He’s supposedly rebuilding the Wild with young, cheaper players. That’s why he swapped Nino Niederreiter for Rask, Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato, and Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala this season.

Bringing in Kessel would provide a welcome short-term boost of experience skill to the Wild’s offense. However, he turns 32 in October and approaching the point in his career when a decline in production is inevitable. He’d also be under a much brighter spotlight in Minnesota where he’ll have a bigger profile than he does in Pittsburgh.

Taking on Johnson makes no sense. While he’s got an affordable cap hit ($3.25 million) he’s also got four years left on his contract. Factor in the 32-year-old’s diminished play and that’s a bad contract the Wild would be adding to their payroll.

Rask carries a bigger cap hit ($4 million) and struggled this season. However, he’s under contract for just two more years. At 26, he still has room for improvement.

This deal depends upon Kessel waiving his no-trade clause. If he passes on Minnesota, he could be saving Fenton from making his first bad trade as Wild GM. Whether or not he agrees to join the Wild, we’ve probably seen the last of Kessel in a Penguins sweater.

If that proposal falls through, Fenton will look at other destinations for Zucker. He nearly traded the winger to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline and could revisit that deal. 

Nylander supposedly won’t be dealt as long as Kyle Dubas is Leafs GM. Kapanen, however, could become available if the Leafs can’t afford to re-sign him.

The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign center Brayden Point. Johnson, however, has a full no-trade clause and could refuse to waive it. Bolts forward J.T. Miller lacks no-trade protection but might not provide that offensive boost the Wild need. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2019

Updates on the Sharks and Capitals plus another list of potential buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman speculates the San Jose Sharks roster could undergo “a dramatic transformation” this summer. He suggests re-signing restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could cost a combined $10 million. That will put a significant dent into their salary-cap space. 

Does Joe Pavelski still have a future with the San Jose Sharks? (Photo via NHL Images)

Wegman doesn’t think defenseman Erik Karlsson’s recent injury history will prevent him from getting top dollar on the open market in July. He doubts the Sharks can afford to re-sign both Karlsson and captain Joe Pavelski. It’s also unlikely they can afford to re-sign pending UFA forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi.  Nevertheless, they could keep their championship window open if Pavelski and Joe Thornton don’t return and they find a way to retain Karlsson.

NBC SPORTS: Joey Alfieri also looked at what’s next for pending UFAs Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. While the 34-year-old Pavelski is a durable all-around player, Alfieri wonders if they can afford to bring him back at any cost. Still, he expects the Sharks will find a way to keep their captain. As for Thornton, he could be an effective third-line center if he’s up to it. 

Karlsson’s recent injury woes make re-signing him to a lengthy, expensive contract a huge risk. It’s uncertain if he wants to return with the Sharks or not. Alfieri believes there’s no certainty Karlsson will accept a discount to stay in San Jose. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The status of Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton will dominate the Sharks’ rumor mill leading up to the start of free agency on July 1. Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. If the cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $24 million in cap space.

Assuming it takes $10 million to re-sign Meier and Labanc (and I agree with Wegman that it could cost that much), they’ll have only $14 million left. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. Of those three, I expect Pavelski will be re-signed. Thornton, too, if he decides he’s got one more season left in the tank.

Of course, general manager Doug Wilson could pull a swerve, cut ties with Pavelski and Thornton, and re-sign Karlsson. But as Wegman and Alfieri noted, the 28-year-old defenseman’s health is now a concern. If Karlsson is intent on a lucrative long-term deal, we’ve probably seen the last of him in a Sharks sweater. 

RECENT CAPITALS TRADE CHATTER

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: In two recent mailbag segments, J.J. Regan addressed questions from Capitals fans regarding the club’s possible offseason moves.  He believes that’ll depend upon the cost of re-signing RFA winger Jakub Vrana.

Regan doesn’t expect GM Brian MacLellan will make an extreme move like trading goalie Braden Holtby to free up salary-cap space. Holtby is slated to become a UFA next summer. He sees defenseman Matt Niskanen as a possible cost-cutting trade candidate. That move could come leading up to next month’s NHL Draft weekend. It could free up space to pursue forward depth in July via free agency. 

Regan doesn’t see the Capitals pursuing big-ticket UFAs like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson. Winger Carl Hagelin is most likely to depart via free agency this summer. Regan wonders if Brett Connolly will consider re-signing him for less than market value. He also suggested the Capitals could decide not to qualify RFA winger Andre Burakovsky’s rights and convince him to accept a lesser deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.9 million tied up in 16 players, the Capitals will have around $10 million in cap space. Niskanen, 32, is earning $5.75-million per season and carries a 10-team no-trade list. However, he’s also a skilled defenseman with a right-handed shot with just two seasons remaining on his contract. Those factors could make Niskanen enticing for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth. 

With Niskanen’s salary off their books, the Capitals could have room to re-sign Vrana to perhaps an affordable bridge deal. That could leave enough to retain Connolly and Burakovsky if they’re willing to accept less money to stay put. 

MORE POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed 10 potential buyout candidates, examining the pros and cons for each. Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson were the notable names on his list. Carolina’s Scott Darling, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera, Los Angeles’ Dion Phaneuf, Montreal’s Karl Alzner, and the Rangers’ Brendan Smith also made Fox’s list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox details the cost for each club of these buyouts and whether they’re worthwhile to do. Darling, Phaneuf, and Callahan seem the most likely to be bought out. The Lightning could prefer trading Callahan. If they can’t find any takers they’ll probably go the buyout route to free up cap space to re-sign Brayden Point.

Perry may look like a buyout candidate but I wonder if Ducks GM Bob Murray is willing to go that route. The former Hart Trophy winner’s production has declined in recent years but, as Fox points out, injuries took a toll on his performance. Murray could give him one more season before deciding if a buyout is justified. 

I have my doubts the Oilers will buy out Sekera. Injuries sidelined him for long periods over the past two seasons. Still, new GM Ken Holland might prefer keeping him around to buy time for some of their younger blueliners to crack the lineup. 

The contracts of Lucic and Eriksson are structured in such a way that buyouts won’t result in much savings in the short term. I don’t rule out a buyout for either guy but their respective clubs could instead try to trade them. 

The length of a buyout is another sticking point. Lucic and Abdelkader have four years remaining on their respective deals, Eriksson and Alzner each have three. At twice the remaining tenure, their buyouts would be on the books for six or eight years. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2019

The Sharks have several decisions to make this summer, plus the latest on Jacob Trouba, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Callahan in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SHARKS?

ESPN.COM: Figuring out the futures of Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski are among Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters’ keys to the San Jose Sharks offseason. Karlsson, Thornton, and Pavelski are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer. It’s expected Pavelski, 34, and the 39-year-old Thornton will be re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Thornton will get another one-year, bonus-laden deal from the Sharks. Pavelski will be re-signed, perhaps to a two- or three-year deal with an annual cap hit similar to his current $6 million. 

Will the San Jose Sharks re-sign Erik Karlsson? (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson’s status is less certain. He managed 45 points in 53 regular-season games and 16 points in 19 postseason contests. However, he was hampered by nagging groin injuries. It’s believed he enjoys living and playing in San Jose but there’s speculation he could return east via free agency. Earlier this season, there was talk the Sharks wanted to re-sign him to an eight-year deal. That chatter cooled off by February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Karlsson had a healthy season the Sharks probably would’ve re-signed him by now. They could still do so but his recent injury history is cause for concern.

The Sharks won’t be the only team leery of investing big money in Karlsson over a lengthy period. A year ago, it was believed he sought a deal similar to Drew Doughty’s eight-year, $88-million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. I doubt he’ll get that now. 

The Sharks could also invest in a reliable backup for starting goaltender Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling at times throughout the regular season, Jones redeemed himself with a solid postseason performance. As Wyshynski and Peters point out, Jones is signed through 2024 so he’ll be back next season. Coach Pete DeBoer lost confidence in backup Aaron Dell this season. 

LATEST JETS SPECULATION

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe ponder Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA status.

Wiebe points out players of Trouba’s caliber tend to get traded in June. He also notes the Jets lack a first-round pick in next month’s draft, suggesting that could create some excitement leading up to the opening round.

If the Jets decide to move Trouba, perhaps they’ll consider a sign-and-trade agreement with another club, as that would improve the return. They could attempt to move him on his own or package him in a larger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will consider all his options. He’d probably love to re-sign Trouba but that depends upon the blueliner’s asking price and if he sees his future in Winnipeg.

As Wiebe observes, Cheveldayoff won’t trade Trouba for just anything. He’ll want a good return, one that could include a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

A sign-and-trade scenario would be best. Cheveldayoff has plenty of time to work that out between now and the draft weekend. The Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers are among the clubs linked to Trouba in the rumor mill. 

 

TSN: cites a report by The Athletic’s Joe Smith noting Ryan Callahan believes his days are numbered with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 34-year-old winger has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $5.8 million. With the Lightning facing a cap crunch, Callahan could become a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Smith believes they’ll have to sweeten the pot by including a draft pick or prospect. Callahan’s agent hasn’t discussed his client’s future with Lightning management but he said the winger will submit his 15-team trade list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith also listed the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers as possible trade candidates. Those clubs have plenty of salary-cap space and could use some veteran leadership. If any of them are on Callahan’s list, maybe one of them will go for it if they get a suitable sweetener in the deal.