Golden Knights Trade Fleury to Blackhawks

Golden Knights Trade Fleury to Blackhawks

TSN reports the Vegas Golden Knights have traded goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks for minor-league forward Mikael Hakkarainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. Darren Dreger reports no salary was retained in the deal.

Vegas Golden Knights trade Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

Bob McKenzie reports the Blackhawks weren’t on Fleury’s 10-team no-trade list. He wondered if the 36-year-old goaltender would report to the Hawks or contemplate retirement. His agent, Allan Walsh, said his client will be taking some time to discuss this situation with his family and evaluate his future.  CapFriendly indicates if Fleury retires the Blackhawks will not be charged with his cap hit.

Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, won the Vezina Trophy this season for the first time in his career. He’s third among the all-time wins leaders for goaltenders with 492. 

This had to be a difficult decision for the Golden Knights. Fleury quickly became their franchise player during their inaugural season in 2017-18, backstopping them to the Stanley Cup Final. Team owner Bill Foley had wanted him to retire as a Golden Knight.

The Golden Knights, however, had limited salary-cap space and a need to address their depth at center. With Robin Lehner finishing the first season of a five-year contract worth an affordable $5 million annually, something had to give. With Fleury off their books, there’s already speculation they could be clearing cap room to pursue a trade for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

It’ll be interesting to see what Fleury does. At this stage in his career, he could decide to pack it in rather than playing out the final season of his contract. The Blackhawks will then have to continue shopping for a goaltender.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2021

The remaining rounds of the 2021 draft are completed, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Seth Jones and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The remaining rounds (2 through 7) of the 2021 NHL Draft were completed yesterday. It was something of a family affair as the sons of several former NHL players were selected, continuing a trend that began during the first round when Tyler Boucher (son of Brian Boucher) was chosen by the Ottawa Senators (10th overall), Cole Sillinger (son of Mike Sillinger) was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets (12th overall), and Chase Stillman (Cory Stillman’s son) was taken at 29th overall.

Other sons who followed in their fathers’ footsteps this year as NHL draft picks include Josh Doan (Shane Doan) selected 37th overall by the Arizona Coyotes (his dad’s former team), Redmond “Red” Savage (Brian Savage) taken 114th overall by the Detroit Red Wings, Justin Robidas (Stephane Rodidas) selected 147th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes and Shane Lachance (Scott Lachance) chosen 186th overall by the Edmonton Oilers.

The second day saw its second brother act in this year’s draft as Colton Dach, the younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks center Kirby Dach, was chosen 62nd overall by the Blackhawks. Luke Hughes, the younger brother of New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, was selected by the Devils with the fourth-overall pick on Friday.

With the 2021 NHL Draft completed, some are gazing ahead to next year’s draft. OHL center Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs could be the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saturday also saw the Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Cam Atkinson, the Buffalo Sabres ship Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers, and the Colorado Avalanche re-sign Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension. You can get my take on those moves by following this link.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan remains confident of getting team captain Alex Ovechkin under contract before the unrestricted free agent market opens on Wednesday, July 28. “I think both parties want the same goal, and I think we will get it done by then,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Ovechkin will ink a three-year deal with the Capitals worth an annual average value of $9 million.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Seth Jones said he’s up for the challenge of meeting the high expectations he’ll face playing for the Blackhawks. The 26-year-old defenseman was traded on Friday to Chicago by the Columbus Blue Jackets and signed an eight-year, $76 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have been criticized for the trade and the contract signing because of Jones’ declining stats over the past two or three years. Hawks management is betting Jones’ stats will improve playing on a team with more scoring punch where he’ll get an opportunity to play a less restrictive style than what he faced in recent years.

SPORTSNET: The Kings re-signed forward Trevor Moore to a two-year, $3.75 million contract.

TSN: The New York Rangers officially bought out the final year of Tony DeAngelo’s contract. The 25-year-old defenseman is now an unrestricted free agent.

THE SCORE: After being chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round on Friday, defenseman Logan Mailloux addressed the November incident in Sweden that led him to renounce himself from the draft before being chosen.

Mailloux read from a prepared statement acknowledging he took a photo of a young woman engaged in a consensual sex act and sharing it without her knowledge among his teammates. He was fined by Swedish authorities for defamation and invasion of privacy. He admitted what he did was a “stupid and egotistical act”, that he showed a lack of judgment and had caused harm to the woman and her family.

Though Mailloux said he didn’t want to be selected in this year’s draft, he’s accepted the possibility of joining the Montreal Canadiens because he believes the organization will help him improve as a person and a player. He also said he’s participating in professional counseling.

Taking questions from reporters, Mailloux acknowledged he had work to do to regain the public’s trust. He also indicated he’d had no contact with the Canadiens from the time he renounced himself from the draft on Tuesday to when he was selected on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mailloux broke the law but he should have an opportunity to redeem himself as a person. As The Athletic’s Arpon Basu observed, he needs the time to get his house in order by making the self-improvements he claims he’s committed to doing and make amends to his victim’s satisfaction, not just his own. She claims all she wants from him is a heartfelt apology that she said she hasn’t received from him yet. That would be the best place to start.

The Canadiens haven’t done Mailloux any favors by selecting him just three days after renouncing himself from the draft. The same would apply for any of the rumored teams that intended to choose him in the second round had the Canadiens not taken him. It also applies to the NHL and NHLPA for not having a rule in place that honors a player’s request not to be part of a given draft.

Regardless of whatever round Mailloux might’ve been chosen in this year’s draft, this only makes his situation more difficult. As Basu also pointed out, it’s hard to see how this will put him in a position to improve as a person or a player.










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight, the league releases its 2021-22 schedule, Shea Weber’s career is likely over due to injuries, the Flyers send Shayne Gostisbehere to the Coyotes, the Hurricanes trade Alex Nedeljkovic to the Red Wings, plus much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.com: The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft gets underway at 8 pm ET tonight. Rounds two through seven will be held on Saturday. Like last year, it will be a virtual draft.

The 2021 NHL Draft begins on Friday, July 23. (NHL.com).

The Buffalo Sabres hold the first-overall pick. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is ranked this year’s top prospect but there’s no guarantee he’ll be selected by the Sabres. Power intends to return to university this fall but Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said that won’t affect his club’s decision. The Seattle Kraken holds the second-overall selection with the Anaheim Ducks holds the third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my 2021 NHL mock draft of the first round for Bleacher Report. I predict Power will be selected by the Sabres.

The NHL also unveiled its 82-game schedule for 2021-22. The season will begin Tuesday, Oct. 12 with the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning while the expansion Seattle Kraken plays their first-ever NHL game as they visit the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kraken’s first home game is Oct. 23 as they host the Vancouver Canucks

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he doesn’t expect team captain Shea Weber to play next season, adding the defenseman’s career is probably over because of injuries he tried to play through in recent years.

Bergevin confirmed goaltender Carey Price is in New York having his knee and hip examined with the possibility his knee could require surgery with a possible recovery period of 6-8 weeks. He also said he expects winger Jonathan Drouin will return to the team for training camp in September. Drouin took a season-ending leave of absence in March to deal with a personal matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin anticipates the league will allow him to place Weber ($7.8 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve for 2021-22. That would provide the Canadiens GM the flexibility to exceed the $81.5 million salary cap by the equivalent of Weber’s cap hit if necessary.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes acquired defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere plus a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick from the Philadelphia Flyers without sending anything back in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was purely a cost-cutting move by the Flyers to shed Gostisbehere’s $4.5 million annual cap hit. “Ghost Bear” struggled over the past two years and could benefit from a change of scenery.

This is the second deal involving the Coyotes where they acquired a player and draft picks without sending anything the other way. They recently swung a deal with the New York Islanders for Andrew Ladd and three picks. As with the Gostisbehere deal, it was done by the Isles to clear some cap room.

The Flyers and Islanders paid a price to get those contracts off their books by giving up those draft picks to the Coyotes. Gostisbehere remains a decent NHL player and is expected to be part of the Coyotes roster next season. Ladd’s spent most of the past two seasons in the minors and could do so again in 2021-22.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for goalie Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick in this year’s draft. Nedeljkovic signed a two-year contract with the Wings worth an annual average value of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move baffled most observers. Nedeljkovic is a promising young netminder and a Calder Trophy finalist this season. However, it appears the Hurricanes front office wasn’t that enamored with his overall performance. Rather than face a possible salary arbitration battle, they opted to trade him to the Wings.

It’s believed the Hurricanes will seek a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. Nevertheless, this could backfire on them if Nedeljkovic goes on to a solid NHL career with the Wings.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed forward Barclay Goodrow to a six-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.642 million. The deal also includes signing bonuses and a 15-team no-trade list. Goodrow was recently acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap hit is reasonable but the term seems long for a player of Goodrow’s caliber. The 28-year-old is a solid third-line forward but comparable players usually get three or four-year deals at most. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll receive $5 million in actual salary in 2023-24 and $5.1 million in 2024-25.

TSN: A former Chicago Blackhawks player described his alleged sexual assault by the club’s former video coach Bradley Aldrich in a recent court filing.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The attorney handling two negligence lawsuits against the Blackhawks said one of her clients was bullied by several Blackhawks teammates after he accused Aldrich of sexually assaulting him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman yesterday said he would cooperate with the internal investigation conducted by the legal team hired by the club. The Tribune reports he declined to comment on the specifics of the review or the events in 2010 citing the pending lawsuits.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames acquired forward Tyler Pitlick from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2022.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed Rudolfs Balcers to a two-year, $3.1 million contract.

CAP FRIENDLY: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed center Gemel Smith to a two-year, $1.5 million contract. The first year is a two-way deal with Smith earning $750K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Kiefer Sherwood to a one-year deal.

NHLPA: Matt Calvert announced his retirement from the NHL after 10 seasons due to a career-ending injury. He played 566 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche, tallying 203 career points.

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










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 18, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 18, 2021

Check out the latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Seth Jones, Martin Jones and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NOTE: The NHL expansion draft roster freeze went into effect at 3 pm EST on Saturday. It expires on Thursday, July 22 at 1 pm EST.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Calgary Flames are “open for business”. Everyone is keeping an eye on Matthew Tkachuk, who faces an uncertain future in Calgary. The St. Louis Blues are believed among several teams interested in the 23-year-old winger.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

There’s also talk Flames general manager Brad Treliving is trying to gauge the trade market for center Sean Monahan. The Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators are among teams seeking help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch said the Flames are seeking players who compete and work hard to fit coach Darryl Sutter’s system. Tkachuk would seem to be a good fit in that system but he was said to be unhappy about his reduced playing time after Sutter took over.

A St. Louis native, Tkachuk’s been tied to the Blues in recent rumors. Treliving firmly denied the winger was unhappy in Calgary and wanted out. Still, the Flames GM could be willing to entertain offers from around the league.

The rebuilding Senators could benefit from acquiring someone like Monahan but I’m not sure he’s a fit with the Hurricanes. They’re already deep at center with Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal.

The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to acquire Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets. To clear roster space, they’re attempting to move blueliner Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Scott Powers reports there’s a chance the Blackhawks won’t acquire Jones. A source also said they didn’t acquire Caleb Jones from Edmonton as bait to entice his older brother.

The Blackhawks also won’t be looking at signing Ryan Suter, who was bought out last week by the Minnesota Wild. Zadorov could be taken off their hands if left exposed in the expansion draft.

The San Jose Sharks addition of Adin Hill leaves staring goalie Martin Jones’ future uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz recently speculated the Sharks could buy out Jones. It’ll save them $3.8 million next season, $3.33 million the following season and $2.8 million in 2023-24. The final three seasons will count as $1.66 million annually against their cap. A trade would get his contract entirely off their books but Kurz considers that unlikely.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois is trying to package draft picks with bad contracts in the hope a team with cap space (Arizona, Buffalo) might take them off his hands. He’s also hoping the Seattle Kraken take Tyler Johnson and his $5 million annual cap hit in the expansion draft.

Sources told Garrioch Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was trying to move winger Mason Appleton before the trade freeze. Those talks could continue if he’s not selected by the Kraken.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2021

Will the Wild pursue Jack Eichel after buying out Parise and Suter? What’s the latest on Gabriel Landeskog and Jake Allen? Are big decisions coming for the Blackhawks, Predators and Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILD TO PURSUE EICHEL?

TSN: Darren Dreger talked about what could be next for the Minnesota Wild following their decision to buy out the contracts of winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. Re-signing restricted free agents Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala are priorities.

Dreger said the Wild would love to add a first-line center. He believes they’ll make a trade offer to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. However, general manager Bill Guerin won’t blow their cap space or overpay with trade assets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s buyouts of Parise and Suter give them over $26 million in projected salary-cap space for 2021-22. Nearly half of that could be invested in Kaprizov and Fiala.

They’ll have less room beyond next season when they’ll have between $12.7 million and $14.7 million in dead cap space from 2022-23 to 2024-25. I don’t think Eichel’s a fit in Minnesota unless Guerin convinces the Sabres to absorb a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLACKHAWKS FOLLOWING THE KEITH TRADE?

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined what could be in store for the Chicago Blackhawks after shipping Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week. They could attempt to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, especially after getting younger brother Caleb Jones as part of the return from the Oilers. They also have enough cap space to pursue Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton if he hits the open market on July 28.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Blackhawks are also open to improving their goaltending. He cited a league source saying they could be in play for Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. With just one season left on his contract, the Blackhawks can afford his $7 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is believed keen to add a top-pairing right-side defenseman. His preference could be for Jones if the Jackets blueliner is willing to sign a long-term contract extension. If not, that focus could shift to Hamilton.

The Golden Knights are pressed for cap space and probably won’t take back much salary if they decide to move Fleury. He could be had for a draft pick. That depends on whether Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has changed his mind about Fleury finishing his career in Vegas and if the Blackhawks are on Fleury’s list of trade destinations.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

COULD AVALANCHE PART WAYS WITH LANDESKOG?

Dreger said the Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog aren’t even close in their contract talks. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He pointed out it’s still early in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog is completing a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.57 million. He could seek over $7 million on a long-term deal. The Avalanche has over $25 million in cap room but they must also re-sign Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer and Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar. Both are in line for big raises.

Rival clubs will be ready to pounce if Landeskog hits the open market. The St. Louis Blues are reportedly preparing a “full pitch effort” to sign him. They have over $17 million in cap space but could be $7.5 million more if they can trade unhappy right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.

TOUGH DECISIONS AHEAD FOR PREDATORS?

Pierre LeBrun believes the Nashville Predators face some difficult decisions in the upcoming expansion draft. They’ve got five defensemen they really like in Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier.

He thinks the Predators have had a discussion about a side deal with the Seattle Kraken. They could also trade a defenseman to another club before the draft. They could opt to protect those five by protecting eight skaters but LeBrun doubts they’ll do that. He also speculated they could expose center Matt Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the side deal is trying to convince the Kraken to select Duchene. Given his declining production and $8 million annual average value for the next five seasons, they’ll have to toss in a significant sweetener.

LATEST ON THE PANTHERS

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked if the Florida Panthers would ask Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause for either a trade, buyout or exposure in the expansion draft.

Richards hasn’t been able to confirm if the Panthers have approached Yandle about it. He said he’d heard whispers of a handshake agreement between the two sides but nothing’s been substantiated. He thinks Yandle won’t be back with the team one way or another.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports half a dozen teams have contacted the Panthers with a serious interest in pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger. That level of interest could boost the cost of his next contract to $3.5 million per season. LeBrun believes the Seattle Kraken are among the interested parties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for teams to ask players to waive their NMCs was yesterday at 5 pm ET. Any players asked to do so have until Friday to reach a decision. We’ll learn by then if Yandle was among them.

Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $6.35 million. His full no-move becomes a modified 12-team no-trade list next summer. Buying him out would could as $2.3 million this season against the Panthers cap but it jumps to $5.3 million in 2022-23 before dropping to $1.2 million per season for the final two years of the buyout.

If Yandle won’t waive his clause for the Kraken (or they don’t take him if he does), the Panthers’ best option is to try to trade him to a team if he’s willing to waive his clause for certain teams. That’ll likely mean taking back a toxic contract or absorbing a chunk of his cap hit to facilitate a deal.

Keep an eye on Driedger. He could be traded before the expansion draft next Wednesday.

COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP ALLEN?

TVA SPORTS: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Montreal Canadiens could be tempted to trade Jake Allen rather than risk losing him for nothing to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. He’s starting a two-year, $5.75 million contract. The Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres are two clubs whose goalie issues have been well-documented.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin can convince his Kraken counterpart to pass over Allen for another unprotected Hab. Failing that, maybe Bergevin can swing a deal with a club seeking reliable goalie depth before the expansion draft.