Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to remain with the Vegas Golden Knights, Alec Martinez played through injury, Canadiens coach Ducharme should return during Stanley Cup Final and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to end his playing career with the Vegas Golden Knights and hopes Robin Lehner does too. He said he’s developed a good relationship with Lehner and is proud of what they accomplished this season. The duo combined to win the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed (124) during this season.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Lehner also said he and Fleury have grown closer, adding it’s been a privilege to play alongside him. Fleury is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury surfaced again as a cost-cutting trade candidate following the Golden Knights’ playoff elimination. He has a 10-team no-trade clause, giving the club some flexibility if they wish to shed his $7 million cap hit. Lehner, meanwhile, just completed the first season of a five-year contract.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said he played through a broken foot for over a month. He still averaged over 22 minutes per game and has a playoffs-leading 72 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. That performance will boost his stock in the free-agent market. It could also earn him a new contract with the Golden Knights if they can free up sufficient cap room to re-sign him.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme expected to return for Game 3 of his club’s Stanley Cup Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ducharme’s been in self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test before Game 3 of the semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some wonder if Ducharme’s return behind the bench could upset the coaching dynamic since the Canadiens advanced to the Final under assistant coach Luke Richardson. They forget it was his coaching that got the Habs to the semifinal in the first place. He’s been in regular contact with his coaching staff and players through videoconferencing between games.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin denied a report claiming contract talks with winger Kirill Kaprizov have gone cold. He said both sides continue working toward a new deal.

TSN: Former Chicago Blackhawks associate coach John Torchetti confirmed a meeting took place during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to discuss the alleged sexual assault of two of their players. One of those players recently filed a lawsuit against the team alleging he and a team were sexually assaulted by then-video coach Bradley Aldrich.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final if it goes that far. He’ll be in Rhode Island as his son is getting married the following day.

CBS PITTSBURGH: Former Penguins forward Beau Bennett announced his retirement. A first-round pick of the Penguins in 2010 (20th overall), he spent four seasons (2012-13 to 2015-16) with the organization followed by one with the New Jersey Devils and another with the St. Louis Blues. In 200 NHL games, Bennett tallied 20 goals and 64 points and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bennett in his future endeavors.










NHL Playoffs: Panthers will be without Sam Bennett for highly anticipated Game 2

NHL Playoffs: Panthers will be without Sam Bennett for highly anticipated Game 2

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

The Bruins tied their series with the Capitals, the Avalanche and Hurricanes draw first blood in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s goal 39 seconds into overtime lifted the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 4-3 to even their best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece. Boston winger Taylor Hall scored the tying goal late in the third period to send the game into the extra frame. Garnet Hathaway scored twice for Washington, who got a 44-save performance from goaltender Craig Anderson. Capitals center Lars Eller left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Questionable officiating saw this game deteriorate into a sloppy contest. Game 3 goes Wednesday evening in Boston.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and set up another in a series-opening 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues. Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche broke the game open with three goals in the third period. Jordan Binnington kicked out 46 shots for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was the only reason this game was tied through two periods before the Avs blew it open in the final frame. This series will end quickly if he doesn’t get more help from his teammates. Games 2 is on Wednesday evening.

The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Game 1 of their first-round series. Nino Niederreiter tallied the game-winner by snapping a 2-2 tie early in the third period. Juuse Saros turned aside 33 shots for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators defeated the Hurricanes in the final two games of the season but the latter took six of eight in their regular-season series. The Canes dominated the play through the final two periods of this one. The two sides face off again in Game 2 on Wednesday.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher played in the Laval Rocket’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Marlies last night. Price and Gallagher were on a long-term injury conditioning stint with the Habs’ farm club before their opening-round series against the Maple Leafs. Price allowed two goals on 15 shots while Gallagher had two shots on goal and a double-minor penalty for high-sticking.

ESPN.COM: The NHL department of player discipline handed a one-game suspension to Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Blake Coleman in Game 1 of their series on Sunday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to senior director of player development and Danielle Goyette has joined the department as a director.

Speaking of the Leafs, TSN’s Kristen Shilton reports defenseman Ben Hutton has a non-COVID, non-hockey-related medical issue that is being monitored by the team.

NEW YORK POST: ESPN hired Leah Hextall as the first woman to do play-by-play as a regular part of a national NHL TV package. She did play-by-play of an NHL game last season for Sportsnet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall previously worked for CTV Winnipeg, NESN and Sportsnet. Hockey runs in her family. She’s a cousin of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall and her grandfather was Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall. 

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: Veteran NHL reporter Frank Seravalli has decided to leave TSN after six seasons. Speculation suggests he might join ESPN or Turner Sports ahead of their coverage of the NHL starting next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have offered up Canadian Tire Centre to the city and the province of Ontario as a mass vaccination site.

TSN: A civil lawsuit has been filed against Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen alleging he sexually assaulted a young woman in 2017.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A lawyer representing a former Chicago Blackhawks player in a sexual assault lawsuit against the team intends to call a former teammate to the stand as a witness in the case.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Tanner Kero to a two-year, two-way contract.










NHL Trades – Monday, April 12, 2021

NHL Trades – Monday, April 12, 2021

Check out the details of all the significant trades that took place on deadline day:

Buffalo Sabres trade forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins for winger Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. The Sabres retain half of Hall’s $8 million cap hit.

Los Angeles Kings trade forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2022 third-round pick and a conditional fourth in 2023. The Kings retain half of Carter’s $5.273 million cap hit.

Washington Capitals trade Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-rounder to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for winger Anthony Mantha.

Calgary Flames trade Sam Bennett to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 second-round pick and prospect winger Emil Heineman. 

Philadelphia Flyers trade forward Michael Raffl to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Ottawa Senators trade defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Nashville Predators for a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

Montreal Canadiens acquire defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2022. 

Colorado Avalanche re-acquire center Carl Soderberg from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for minor-league center Josh Dickinson and prospect winger Ryder Rolston. 

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire defenseman Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2022. 

Chicago Blackhawks trade Mattias Janmark and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a second-round pick in 2021 and a third-round pick in 2022. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will receive a fifth-round pick from the Golden Knights for brokering the deal. The Blackhawks and Sharks retain 50 percent of Janmark’s salary. 

Edmonton Oilers acquire defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. The pick becomes a third-rounder if the Oilers win a playoff round (as per TSN’s Gord Miller and Bob McKenzie)

Vancouver Canucks trade defenseman Jordie Benn to the Winnipeg Jets for a sixth-round pick. 

Chicago Blackhawks acquire forward Adam Gaudette from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for center Matthew Highmore.

Carolina Hurricanes trade defenseman Haydn Fleury to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Jani Hakanpaa.