Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021
Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.
The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.
The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.
Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.
Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.
The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.
I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.
The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.
In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup: Seth Jones will reportedly test next summer’s free-agent market, the Wild face some big offseason decisions, plus some more Penguins speculation.
JONES TO TEST UFA MARKET PUTS JACKETS IN A TOUGH SPOT
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported Seth Jones recently informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The 26-year-old defenseman has an annual average value of $5.4 million on his contract with a modified no-trade clause.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).
Friedman said he doesn’t want to deal in absolutes but it appears Jones will test free agency “and we’ll see how Columbus decides to handle this over the next little while.”
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Jones and his agent declined to comment. Nevertheless, this is a devasting blow for the Jackets. The blueliner would be the latest among several notable players to depart the organization in recent years via free agency or trades.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen indicated earlier this month he intended to keep Jones into next season without a contract extension in the hope the blueliner would change his mind. With John Davidson returning as team president, Portzline wonders if Kekalainen will attempt to trade Jones this summer.
Trading Jones could lead to a roster rebuild. It would also raise questions over the future of Jones’ defense partner Zach Werenski (a restricted free agent next summer) and Cam Atkinson, who turns 32 next month and might not wish to be part of a rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline believes the Jackets would’ve made Jones their highest-paid player, as well as offering him the captaincy if he agreed to stay. His decision to go to market next year could signal the beginning of the end of the Jackets’ current roster.
The Jackets can’t afford to let him walk next summer for nothing. Kekalainen could wait until the trade deadline to move him but that comes with the risk of an injury to Jones or being forced to accept a lesser deal. It would also create an unnecessary distraction overshadowing their efforts to contend for a playoff spot.
Despite a decline in his performance this season, Jones remains among the NHL’s top defensemen. The Jackets won’t lack for trade partners if they decide to move him this summer, though those suitors will want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension.
If they trade Jones, they must determine Werenski’s future this summer. He has arbitration rights next summer and will be a year away from UFA eligibility. He could end up getting shopped by next summer if he doesn’t want to stick around.
Atkinson, meanwhile, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.875 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Moving him if he wants out would be a little more complicated but not impossible if it comes to that.
If Guerin protects seven forwards he risks losing defenseman Matt Dumba to the Seattle Kraken. Protect eight skaters to protect Dumba and they could lose a forward like Jordan Greenway. He must also decide between exposing veteran goalie Cam Talbot or promising Kaapo Kahkonen. Perhaps Guerin swings a side deal with the Kraken to protect a player.
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani also weighed in on Guerin’s expansion draft plans. If the Wild GM could convince one of his players with NMCs (such as Suter) to waive their clause, it would allow him to protect Dumba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could pass on Suter or Parise if they waive their movement clauses. Both are aging veterans with each carrying annual cap hits of over $7.5 million for four more years. It’s no certainty, however, either guy will agree to it.
Wyshynski and Mizutani also wondered what the future holds for Parise, a frequent healthy scratch this season who saw mostly fourth-line duty. A buyout is unlikely because it would put the club in salary-cap hell for the rest of the decade. It could be difficult to find a team willing to acquire the remainder of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mizutani’s colleague John Shipley believes Parise showed he could still be a contributor for the Wild with two goals and an assist when he finally got back into the roster against the Golden Knights. Finding a suitable role for him on the roster for next season will be challenging if a trade cannot be worked out.
If the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel decide to part ways this summer, Wyshynski suggests the Wild has the depth in promising prospects and young players to make a competitive bid. They have a longstanding need for a top center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, they do, and as long as they don’t sell the whole farm to get Eichel, he could prove a worthwhile addition to their lineup. That’s assuming, of course, he’ll be put on the trade block this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Guentzel for a power forward would be a significant move by the Penguins. It would address Brian Burke’s desire to add some skilled toughness and size to their lineup. However, it could also backfire by robbing the Penguins of a significant part of their scoring punch.
Recaps of Monday’s action, the Leafs acquire Alex Galchenyuk, three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves for the shutout while Clayton Keller scored the only goal as the Arizona Coyotes blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0. The Coyotes took four of the seven games in this series. Blues defenseman Torey Krug left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored and Josh Bailey collected two assists for the Islanders while Victor Olofsson tallied for Buffalo. It was the Sabres’ first game since their schedule was paused after Jan. 31 due to COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff adversely affected the Sabres’ performance in this contest. They had nine shot attempts in the third period but none of them reached the net.
Evgenii Dadonov scored the tying and winning goals as the Ottawa Senators roared back from a 5-1 deficit to upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs while teammate Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his return after missing 10 games to a rib injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators deserve credit for not giving up after falling behind by four goals. However, the Leafs were their own worst enemies as complacency seemed to set in after they took that big lead.
Speaking of the Leafs, they acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk is on the move just two days after being acquired by the Hurricanes from the Senators. He’s now on his seventh team since 2018 and is expected to join the Leafs’ farm club because he already cleared waivers before the trade went down. He also doesn’t have to quarantine because he was still in Ottawa preparing to head to Carolina when this deal went down.
The Leafs were in the market for a depth forward. Acquiring Galchenyuk is an affordable move to bring in some additional experience.
And speaking of the Hurricanes, they tallied six unanswered goals to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and set up two others, Brock McGinn had a goal and three assists, Jordan Staal netted two goals and James Reimer made 37 saves for the win.
The Florida Panthers held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, handing the latter their first home loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. Alexander Volkov tallied twice for the Lightning.
Dominik Kubalik scored twice, including the winner in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Wings overcame a two-goal deficit to force the extra frame.
The Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 as Blake Wheeler tallied the winning goal in the third period. Jets center Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson each scored twice for the Oilers as they overcame 4-2 and 5-3 deficits.
Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Brock Boeser force overtime with a shorthanded goal late in the third period.
San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 14.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars postponed their game last night against the Nashville Predators at the request of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson as a severe winter storm left hundreds of thousands of Dallas residents without power.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers canceled practice on Monday at the request of the NHL as a measure of caution. The club has seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list. They are still scheduled to practice today. They’ve been shut down for a week now.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril are still nursing injuries and are questionable for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin believes prospect forward Cole Caufield will turn pro at the conclusion of his college season with the University of Wisconsin. It’s uncertain if Caufield will play any games with the Canadiens this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield’s offensive exploits in college play and in the 2021 World Juniors have generated plenty of anticipation among Habs fans. Time will tell if he can successfully make the jump into the NHL.
THE ATLANTIC: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ken Dryden believes oversized upper-body goaltending equipment has changed the game and not for the better. He feels expanding the net is a viable solution.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dryden makes a compelling case. He points to golf-club technology making championship courses longer, how a lighter soccer ball now makes it possible for players to curve or drop shots around a goaltender, and how the three-point shot eventually improved scoring in basketball.
A milestone game for Nicklas Backstrom, another big night for Jonathan Huberdeau and Noel Acciari, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Jason Zucker, Darcy Kuemper, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom reached 900 points with two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. He and Alex Ovechkin were playing in their 900th game together. Ovechkin scored and set up another. Devils defenseman Andy Greene played in his 900th career NHL contest.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom reached his 900th career point in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images).
A five-goal second period powered the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 7-4. For the second straight game, Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected four points (one goal, three assists) while teammate Noel Acciari tallied his second straight hat trick. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars while teammate Joe Pavelski played his 1,000th career NHL game. Stars winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Mitch Marner and William Nylander each scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 6-3. Auston Matthews collected two assists for the Leafs.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 26 saves in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson each picked up two assists for the Penguins. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held scoreless. Edmonton has won only three of their last 12 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers (42 points) have slipped to third place in the Pacific Division. They’re one point ahead of the Calgary Flames, who hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel returned to practice yesterday but is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. It’s uncertain if he’ll be in the lineup for today’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Center Johan Larsson (upper body) is expected to miss the next two games.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker will miss the next four-to-six weeks following surgery to repair a fractured right fibula.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will turn to Antti Raanta with Adin Hill as his backup.
TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson will miss at least the next two games with a lower-body injury. The club also placed defenseman Ryan Murray (lower body) on injured reserve.
The Ottawa Senators placed goaltender Anders Nilsson on injured reserve after he suffered a concussion. Veteran goalie Craig Anderson has returned from injury and is ready to go. The Senators also announced defenseman Ron Hainsey will miss a week to 10 days with a lower-body injury.