NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

A look at Sportnet’s list of possible contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist top Luke Fox’s list of 14 players who might be considered for contract buyouts.

Will the New York Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images)

Buying out Neal would free up $3.83 million if the Oilers need room to go shopping in the trade or free-agent markets. The Rangers, meanwhile, don’t intend to carry three goalies as they did this season, making Lundqvist a possible buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alzner has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million. The Habs have kept him buried in the minors and could afford to do so again for 2020-21. Cap Friendly indicates buying him out would only give them over $666K in cap savings next season, though that increases to $2.66 million in 2021-22.

The first buyout period runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers could wait until the 24-hour second buyout window following the settlement or award on filings by any one of their arbitration-eligible restricted free agents. That would allow some additional time to determine if there’s a trade partner for Lundqvist once the goalie market carousel slows down.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Vancouver Canucks forwards Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi are also on Fox’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks would see substantial savings buying out Maatta, as the annual cap hit over the next four years would be over $680K. I believe the Golden Knights will attempt to trade Fleury if they re-sign Robin Lehner. A buyout could be the option of last resort.

Fox points out an Eriksson buyout wouldn’t provide much cap relief for the Canucks, but they would get $1.7 million in relief by buying out Baertschi. Canucks GM Jim Benning could prefer the trade route for one or both, even if it meant absorbing some salary.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman are other possible buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Turris has four years at $6 million annually on his contract, Ladd has three years with an AAV of $5.5 million, while Abdelkader has three years at $4.25 million annually remaining on his deal.

Because buyouts are at twice the remaining tenure, their respective teams could be reluctant to go that route. The Isles won’t get much immediate cap relief buying out Ladd. Stralman has two years at $5.5 million annually left. A buyout would provide $3 million in cap savings for next season.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, and Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore round out Fox’s list. It was subsequently noted the Ducks informed Backes they’ll keep him for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo and Moore each have three years remaining on their contracts. The Sabres have gone the buyout route in the past so we can’t dismiss the possibility they’ll do it again. However, an Okposo buyout would count as $4 million against their cap for next season and $5 million in 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA ratify the return-to-play plan and the CBA extension, two players opt-out, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA yesterday ratified the return-to-play plan and the extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

NHL and NHLPA ratify return-to-play plan and CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA vote wasn’t close. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports 79 percent of the players were in favor (502 to 135). So much for suggestions that a majority wouldn’t approve the plan.

The 24-team playoff tournament will begin on Aug. 1 in Edmonton and Toronto. Training camps will open in each team’s local markets on Monday, July 13.

Critical dates for the tournament and the off-season are as follows:

July 13 – Training camp begins

July 26 – Teams arrive in hub cities

July 28-30 – Exhibition games

August 1 – Best-of-five qualifying round begins

August 10* – Phase 2 of the draft lottery

August 11 – First round of the playoffs begins (all playoff rounds are best-of-seven)

August 25* – Second round of the playoffs begins

September 8* – Conference Finals begins

September 22* – Stanley Cup Final begins

October 4* – Last possible date for playoffs

Oct. 9 – 10* – NHL Draft

*Subject to change

The league has released the tournament schedule. The Eastern Conference qualifier kicks off with the New York Rangers vs the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers vs the New York Islanders, and the Montreal Canadiens vs the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Western Conference opens with the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets vs the Calgary Flames. Broadcast times TBA.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the players will have until 5 pm ET Monday, July 13 to opt-out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan for any reason without penalty. They must do so in writing to the NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic has exercised his right to opt-out, citing the health of his young daughter.

TSN’S Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi has also opted out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said, we shouldn’t judge any player who decides not to participate. These are trying times and we should respect their decisions.

NHL.COM: The main details of the CBA extension include:

The salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and increasing incrementally in the following years if hockey-related revenue reaches certain thresholds,

Escrow deductions from players salaries will be capped at 20 percent for 2020-21, gradually dropping to 6 percent for each of the final three seasons of the agreement,

A year will be added to the CBA (to 2026-27) if the players’ escrow debt for this season exceeds $125 million but is less than $250 million,

Players defer 10 percent of their salaries (including signing bonuses) for 2020-21, which will be repaid in equal installments over three seasons beginning in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s my understanding this will not reduce a team’s salary-cap hit for next season. It’s a reduction in actual salary, not the cap hit.

The one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents has been permanently eliminated,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, back to the old frenzy of general managers negotiating with player agents starting at noon ET on the opening day of the free-agent market.

All no-trade and no-movement clauses will carry with the player if he agrees to waive it to be traded. Previously, those clauses became inactive once a player agreed to waive it and was moved.

Teams won’t carry a cap charge for a player who signs a 35-and-older contract and subsequently retires before that contract expires.

Teams will no longer include conditions in trades involving the signing of the traded player to a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no conditional draft picks included in the deal. It’s also still to be determined how that might affect conditional trades made before this season’s schedule was interrupted by COVID-19.

Most of the main points were previously reported and duly noted on this site. You can get the full details on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the CBA extension by following this link. There are, however, several other interesting tidbits:

Teams no longer need to wait until after the trade deadline to re-sign a player to an eight-year contract extension.

Qualifying offers for restricted free agents are no longer equal to the final year’s salary. It will instead be based on the average annual value of the contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For example, if the player’s AAV was $5 million but the final year of the contract paid him $7.5 million in actual salary, the team only has to tender a QO of $5 million.

Teams can begin to sign restricted free agents and draft picks to contracts for 2020-21 starting Monday, July 13. They can also extend players who are on contracts that expire after the end of the 2020-21 season.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports teams that incur a performance bonus overage can distribute that penalty over the next two seasons.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance reports of a significant change to salary arbitration. Once an arbitration hearing begins, a settlement is not allowed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In previous years, teams and players could settle following the hearing and before the arbiter reached his decision. This change should encourage both sides to hammer out an agreement before the hearing starts.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the MOU contains a paragraph indicating the NHL has the power to pro-rate or cancel salaries outright if forced to cease or reduce operations from conditions arising from a state of war or other causes beyond the league’s control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli believes it’s likely not the league’s intention to use that clause. Nevertheless, it could go into effect if it is forced to reduce next season’s planned 82-games schedule. Something to keep in mind if that should come to pass given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Red Wings, Coyotes, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED FREE-AGENT TARGETS FOR THE RED WINGS

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently listed some possible goaltending and blueline free-agent targets for the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t expect they’ll have a shot at top-tier options like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Boston’s Torey Krug, or Vegas’ Robin Lehner.

Could the Detroit Red Wings target Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot as a free-agent option? (Photo via NHL Images)

The goalie targets could include Calgary’s Cam Talbot, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, or San Jose’s Aaron Dell. Defense choices could include someone like Calgary’s TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, or Erik Gustafsson.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James suggested several affordable short-term free-agent forward options. They include Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, and the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.

SPECTOR’S HOCKEY. According to Cap Friendly, the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. They have the cap room to pursue a big-name free agent.

These reports suggest, however, general manager Steve Yzerman could prefer cost-effective secondary talent to augment his roster as it transitions toward younger players. Nevertheless, the Wings will have to overpay a bit to entice second-tier players to join their rebuilding club. 

LATEST ON THE COYOTES AND CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan addressed a recent rumor suggesting former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli might be hired by the Arizona Coyotes for a senior management role. “I don’t think Chiarelli will be joining the organization,” he said.

Morgan shed no light on the status of free agent Taylor Hall, saying he had no gut feeling or best guess about the winger’s status. Regarding the conditional draft picks involved in the trade that brought Hall to the Coyotes, Morgan reported GM John Chayka indicated they don’t have anything to discuss yet because the season remains paused. Chayka also indicated he has multiple plans for dealing with his club’s limited salary-cap space for 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 16 players next season. They must shed salary to re-sign or replace Hall and fellow UFAs Brad Richardson and Carl Soderberg, as well as restricted free agents like Christian Fischer and Vinnie Hinostroza. 

TSN: Sven Baertschi faces an uncertain future with the Vancouver Canucks. The 27-year-old winger spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate in Utica while GM Jim Benning attempted to trade him. Baertschi is hopeful he’ll be shipped to another NHL club in the off-season. “I don’t want to be back in the minors,” he said.

Bartschi is a year away from UFA status and carries an annual average value of $3.36 million. He missed most of last season to concussion and felt he wasn’t considered part of the Canucks’ future plans. “I don’t think Vancouver expected me to come back and play,” Baertschi explained. “That’s my personal opinion.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baertschi showed 20-goal potential but injuries hampered his performance. The Canucks might not be able to move him unless they pick up part of his annual cap hit, or package him with another asset, or take back a contract of equal value. 

 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2020

Check out the recent Canucks, Penguins, and Red Wings’ speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vancouver Canucks need a lot of help on defense. He also pointed out they’re top-heavy on offense. Starting goalie Jacob Markstrom is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, while backup Thatcher Demko is only signed through next season.

O’Brien believes general manager Jim Benning will try to use the draft and the trade market to bolster the supporting cast around Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. He also wondered if they’ll break the bank to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli or sign 30-year-old pending free agent blueliner Chris Tanev to a risky contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance think Tanev, Jordie Benn, and Sven Baertschi are the Canucks most likely to move on. Moving Benn and Baertschi would free up valuable salary-cap space. They also suggest Brandon Sutter could be a realistic ordinary course buyout candidate. Moving veteran winger Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) could be difficult, while it’s uncertain if the Canucks can re-sign Toffoli.

Will the Vancouver Canucks re-sign goaltender Jacob Markstrom? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how the Canucks struggled when Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, re-signing him should be their priority, followed by boosting their blueline corps. With over $63.4 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, they’ll have around $18 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million next season. There’s enough to re-sign Markstrom, but it will cut deeply into their available payroll.

A couple of cost-cutting moves will help, but finding a suitable deal under a flat cap won’t be easy. It’ll certainly make the chances of moving Eriksson more difficult, even with his actual total remaining salary dropping to $5 million after his signing bonus is paid out on July 1. A compliance buyout would help here, but there’s no certainty the league and the NHLPA will implement that measure in the off-season.

PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh recently examined the Pittsburgh Penguins’ free agents. He feels it wouldn’t be unreasonable for RFA goalie Matt Murray to seek a hefty contract extension comparable to Tampa Bay’s Andrej Vasilevskiy ($9.5 million AAV) or Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16 million AAV) because he’s had better postseason success. However, it’s also not unreasonable for the Penguins to consider a more affordable option such as re-signing fellow RFA Tristan Jarry.

Rorabaugh doesn’t expect UFA winger Patrick Marleau to return to the Penguins after this season. Justin Schultz‘s difficult 2019-20 season and the emergence of rookie defenseman John Marino likely signals the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Rorabaugh doesn’t rule out the Pens re-signing Conor Sheary if the price is right.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.2 million tied up in 15 players for next season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Murray and Jarry.

Ideally, GM Jim Rutherford would probably sign both to short-term contracts and take more time to evaluate their performances before settling on which one should be their starter. With both goalies carrying arbitration rights, that might be possible, but all concerned might prefer avoiding that route. If they have to part with one or the other, Casey DeSmith is ready and able to step into the backup position.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports acquiring a new starting goaltender is among the off-season tasks facing Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. The Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby is the best of this summer’s UFA goalies, but St. James believes he’d be reluctant to join a rebuilding club like the Wings.

More realistic options could include the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot, the Boston Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot and Markstrom have more recent starter experience. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are better backup options for clubs with a skilled starter. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap room ($46.2 million committed to 11 players) to make a substantial bid for one of them. Whether they’ll accept it, or if Yzerman intends to go the UFA route to boost his goaltending, remains to be seen.










NHL Gold & Mold: The Duke Reigns Supreme, Flames Fired Up Under Ward

NHL Gold & Mold: The Duke Reigns Supreme, Flames Fired Up Under Ward

 










Potential Western Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL’s 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze

Potential Western Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL’s 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze