NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2022

Patrice Bergeron reportedly returning with the Bruins, the Golden Knights close in on a new contract for Reilly Smith, the Senators win a bid to construct a new arena in downtown Ottawa, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron is returning for another season with the Bruins. Longtime Bruins beat reporter Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette tweeted last night that the 36-year-old Bruins captain is set to sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract worth a potential total of $6.8 million.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Earlier this month, Bergeron won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward for a record-setting fifth time. He’s spent his entire 18-season NHL career with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s re-signing is good news for the Bruins, ensuring they’ll have their best center back for one more season. It also buys management time to find his potential replacement as well as add a second-line center.

We won’t know until Bergeron’s new contract is officially announced what the potential cap hit will be. The estimated $6.8 million would be roughly what he earned as the annual average value of his expiring contract. Whatever the amount, it could force management to make a cost-cutting trade or two. Cap Friendly shows them with just $2.83 million in cap space with 22 players under contract for 2022-23.

Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the regular season begins on Oct. 11. The Bruins can remain over the cap ceiling by placing sidelined stars such as Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy on long-term injury reserve but they must be under the cap when those players are ready to return to action.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights are closing in on a three-year contract extension for Reilly Smith. Seravalli said it’s a verbal agreement for now and won’t be officially announced until the Golden Knights address their salary-cap issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the annual cap hit of Smith’s new contract. The Golden Knights are currently above the $82.5 million cap by over $2.6 million with 16 players signed for 2022-23.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators’ hope of building a new arena in downtown Ottawa is closer to becoming a reality. The club and its partners have a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission to construct an arena complex on LeBreton Flats. Construction on the project could begin in late 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the culmination of several years of stalled negotiations and lawsuits for the Senators. A downtown arena will make it easier for fans to attend their games, providing a big boost to their hockey-related revenue.

There’s still more work to be done before this becomes a reality. Nevertheless, it’s a big, positive step in the right direction.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to extend the 2022 Stanley Cup Final with a win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 on Friday in Denver. The back-to-back defending champions hope to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win the Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The odds are against the Lightning. Teams that are down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final are 1-35. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to accomplish that feat and they were down 3-0 in their series with the Detroit Red Wings.

THE DENVER POST: A solid bounce-back performance by goaltender Darcy Kuemper in Game 4 was a crucial factor in the Avalanche winning that contest.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars are working toward a contract extension with general manager Jim Nill.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers signed goaltender Felix Sandstrom to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $775K.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets have extended their affiliate agreement with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

The latest on the Avalanche and Lightning ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, an update on the Coyotes’ efforts to build a new arena, Gary Bettman addresses Joel Quenneville’s future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano are each making progress in their recoveries from thumb surgeries. Kadri has been skating on his own and practicing his stickhandling while Cogliano took part in a full team practice on Friday with the fourth line.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche remains hopeful both players will return to action at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, there is no timetable for when that might happen.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning will attempt to generate more traffic in front of Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. While the Lightning was outshot 38-23 in Game 1, they felt they didn’t create more havoc around the Avalanche net, especially in hunting down rebounds for scoring chances.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, expect the Lightning to try and get more bodies in front of Kuemper for screened shots while attempting to pounce on rebounds he can’t control.

TSN: The Arizona Coyotes have received approval to open negotiations with the city of Tempe to build a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix. The club hopes to have a deal for the 46-acre tract of land worked out by the end of this year, but Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez acknowledged it could take longer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A new NHL-style arena will ensure the Coyotes’ long-term future in Arizona. Until it’s built, they’ll be playing in Arizona State University’s 5,000-seat venue for the next three seasons.

NEW YORK POST: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he doesn’t know if Joel Quenneville will be returning to pro hockey. Quenneville stepped down as head coach of the Florida Panthers last October when an investigation revealed his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, mishandled sexual abuse allegations made by former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach.

Bettman didn’t rule out the possibility of Quenneville one day returning to the NHL coaching ranks. However, it would require the commissioner’s approval. He said Quenneville has indicated he’d like to be part of the game again at the appropriate time. “I don’t think this is the time,” said Bettman. “But we’ll see what happens in the future.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quenneville is among the most successful coaches in NHL history. However, he put the Blackhawks’ pursuit of the 2010 Stanley Cup over the protection, safety and well-being of Beach.

Bettman may have left the door open for Quenneville to come back but his comments indicate it won’t happen anytime soon. The argument can be made that Quenneville deserves a second chance, but one can counter that he hasn’t paid a full enough price for his role in the Blackhawks’ cover-up of Beach’s allegations.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Florida Panthers have interviewed multiple candidates for their head coaching job in recent weeks. They include Barry Trotz, Pete DeBoer, Rick Tocchet, Travis Green and potentially Paul Maurice.

Meanwhile, interim coach Andrew Brunette is still awaiting his fate. He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, guiding the Panthers to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand the Panthers conducting due diligence given the number of highly-qualified coaching candidates currently available. Nevertheless, it’s an awkward look to be talking to applicants when your interim bench boss was a finalist for coach of the year. Should Brunette win the Adams Award, one has to wonder if they’ll continue interviewing contenders for the job.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed Liam Foudy to a two-year contract extension on Friday. The first year is a two-way deal with a salary worth $725K at the NHL level and the second year is a one-way deal worth $775K. The 22-year-old forward is a former first-round pick (18th overall) in 2018.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2022

The Lightning tie the Eastern Conference Finals at two games apiece, P.K. Subban wins the King Clancy Trophy, new contracts for the Blue Jackets’ Jack Roslovic and the Stars’ Denis Gurianov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Eastern Conference Finals is now a best-of-three as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the New York Rangers 4-1 to even the series at two games apiece. Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves and Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Pat Maroon also scored for the Lightning. Artemi Panarin replied for the Rangers. The series returns to New York for Game 5 on Thursday.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by the Lightning, who have recovered their footing after dropping the first two games of this series. Their puck possession and defensive game have improved plus they’re doing a better job staying out of the penalty box.

The Rangers entered this game down one center with Ryan Strome still day-to-day with a lower-body injury. This lost another when Filip Chytil left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury following a hard hit from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant expects Chytil will be fine but is still awaiting further word on his condition.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is this year’s winner of the King Clancy Trophy for his commitment to racial and social justice, underserved youth and COVID-19 relief. Subban is the first player in Devils history to win this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Subban for his well-deserved and long-overdue recognition of his off-ice contributions to his community. He was also active in charity work during his time with the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed Jack Roslovic to a two-year, $8 million contract. The 25-year-old center was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value of Roslovic’s contract is $4 million, leaving the Blue Jackets with $22.8 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. He got off to a slow start to this season but steadily improved to finish with a career-best 22 goals and 45 points. Roslovic will eligible for unrestricted free agent status following this deal.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars inked Denis Gurianov to a one-year, $2.9 million contract. The 25-year-old winger will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have $14.6 million in cap space with 17 players under contract next season.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Cogliano could miss the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said the veteran forward is “out for now” with an injury similar to Nazem Kadri, who suffered a broken thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Bednar said the club isn’t really sure on the timeline of return for both players.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair a torn MCL suffered while playing for Canada in the 2022 IIHF World Championships. His estimated timeline of recovery is seven-to-nine months.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Marie-Phillip Poulin as a player development consultant. It will be a part-time position over the next four years for the three-time Women’s Olympic gold medalist as she continues her playing career with the goal of pursuing her fourth Olympic gold at the 2026 Turin Games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2022

The Oilers tie their series with the Flames while the Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead over the Rangers. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Calgary Flames 5-3 in Game 2 to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Connor McDavid started the rally with a goal and finished the game with two points while Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each had a goal and two assists. Johnny Gaudreau collected two assists for the Flames. The series shifts to Edmonton for Game 3 on Sunday.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ solid defensive play of the regular season and their first-round series against the Dallas Stars has abandoned them thus far in this series, as they’ve given 11 goals in two games to the Flames. They got away with it in Game 1 with a wild 9-6 win but it cost them in this game against an Oilers club determined not to fall behind 2-0 heading back home to Edmonton.

A shorthanded goal by Brendan Smith was the game-winner as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Antti Raanta made 21 saves for the shutout while Sebastian Aho also tallied for the Hurricanes. The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are struggling against the Hurricanes’ suffocating defensive play. They’ve been held to just one goal thus far with their leading scorers (Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin) yet to make their mark in this series. If they don’t find a solution soon, they’ll be packing up their gear for the season by the middle of next week.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse and New Jersey Devils blueliner P.K. Subban are this year’s finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy honoring players who show leadership on and off the ice and make a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness announced Friday he was stepping down from his role. The club also announced assistant coaches Derek Laxdal, John Stevens and Todd Nelson would not be returning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s talk Bowness isn’t done coaching in the NHL but could seek opportunities elsewhere. In his three seasons with the Stars, he guided them to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final and got them back into the playoffs this season after missing the cut in 2021. While the Stars were among the best defensive teams under his watch, they were also among the lowest-scoring. His replacement will likely put more emphasis on offense.

Speaking of coaches, Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter Jay Zawaski reports the club has reached out to former New York Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz. However, he’s likely not interested in coaching a rebuilding club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz has been interviewed by the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers thus far. The Blackhawks are among what’s believed to be six or seven clubs that have reached out to him.

TSN: Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment (lower-body injury) is unlikely to be available for Games 3 and 4 of his club’s series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He hasn’t played since Game 4 of their first-round series against the Washington Capitals on May 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchment’s absence is among the reasons the Panthers find themselves down 2-0 in this series with the Lightning. He’s a valuable spark-plug player who netted 47 points in 54 games during the regular season.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is joining Sweden for the remainder of the 2022 IIHF World Championship in Finland.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Joonas Korpisalo won’t be testing this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. On Friday, the 28-year-old goaltender signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract extension with the Blues Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant pay cut from the $3.4 million in actual salary ($2.8 million annual average value) he earned this season. Korpisalo lost the starter’s job to Elvis Merzlikins and struggled with injuries this season. Nevertheless, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen praised his professionalism. He also has a good relationship with Merzlikins.

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, pending free agent defenseman Dean Kukan intends to spend next season playing in Switzerland. The ZSC Lions are considered the front-runners for his services.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Scott Walker won’t be returning with the club next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2022

The Leafs, Hurricanes, Blues and Kings go up 3-2 in their respective series, the Canadiens win the 2022 NHL draft lottery, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews snapped a 3-3 tie to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of their first-round series. Toronto rallied from a 2-0 deficit and held a 3-2 lead until Ryan McDonagh tied it for Tampa Bay before Matthews netted the game-winner. William Nylander had a goal and two assists and John Tavares had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who hold a 3-2 series lead over the Lightning as the series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining game of this series. The Lightning dominated the opening period but the Leafs rallied in part thanks to a motivating between-period speech by center Jason Spezza. Their biggest test comes on Thursday as they must finally get the monkey off their backs and win the franchise’s first playoff series since 2004.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko tallied a natural hat trick in the third period to lead his club to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington picked up his second straight win by stopping 32 shots. Kirill Kaprizov scored both Wild goals. The series heads back to St. Louis on Thursday for Game 6 with the Blues holding a 3-2 lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues showed their mettle by overcoming a 2-1 series deficit to put themselves in the driver’s seat heading into Thursday’s contest. We’ll find out if the Wild can do the same to force a seventh and deciding game back home in Minnesota on Saturday.

The Carolina Hurricanes atoned for their undisciplined Game 4 loss against the Boston Bruins with a 5-1 victory in Game 5. Seth Jarvis scored two goals, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Tony DeAngelo each had three points and Antti Raanta made 33 saves for the win. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy returned to the lineup after spending Game 4 in COVID protocol. The Hurricanes lead the series three games to two heading back to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first and spent the next two periods falling further behind as they tried to play catch-up. They need more from their secondary scorers such as Taylor Hall, Jake DeBrusk and Craig Smith or this series will be over on Thursday.

An overtime goal by Adrian Kempe lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of their series. The Oilers overcame a 4-2 deficit in the third period on two goals by Leon Draisaitl to force the extra frame. Kempe and Draisaitl each finished the night with two goals and an assist. The Kings hold a 3-2 series lead heading home to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings are poised to pull off the first upset of the 2022 NHL playoffs unless the Oilers can win Game 6 and return home to Edmonton to take Game 7 on Saturday. The Oilers haven’t won a playoff series since 2017 so it’s gut-check time for Draisaitl, fellow superstar Connor McDavid and their teammates.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens will select first overall in the 2022 NHL Draft after winning the draft lottery on Tuesday evening. The New Jersey Devils won the second-overall selection while the Arizona Coyotes will get the No. 3 pick. The draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal on July 7-8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link above for the full list of the draft order from selections 1 through 16. The remainder of the order will be determined by the outcomes of the four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The top prospect in this year’s draft is Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright. However, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes played coy over which player he’ll select on July 7, indicating he and his staff will continue to evaluate the prospects before making their final decision.

Winger Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS Finland and center Logan Cooley of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) are also ranked among the top three in this year’s prospect pool.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will conduct due diligence but they’ll likely take Wright, who was ranked this year’s top prospect throughout this season. While the 18-year-old center isn’t a generational talent, he’s drawn favorable comparisons to Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. If Hughes chooses Wright, Canadiens fans will be thrilled if he becomes a multiple Selke Trophy winner.

Hughes’ son, Jack, is also among this year’s top-32 prospects. However, the Canadiens GM joked he wouldn’t be taking him with that selection.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks wound up with the sixth-overall selection. However, that pick goes to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the terms of last year’s Seth Jones trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could work in the Blackhawks’ favor. Had this year’s pick landed among the top two, the Blue Jackets would’ve received the Hawks’ first-rounder in the 2023 draft, which is considered to be deeper in talented prospects.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights wound up with the 16th overall pick but that selection goes to the Buffalo Sabres as part of last November’s Jack Eichel trade. The Sabres also own the ninth-overall pick.

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames’ Jacob Markstrom, Nashville Predators’ Juuse Saros, and New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin are the 2022 finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three are certainly worthwhile candidates. Shesterkin is considered the favorite as he led all starters during the regular season with a 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Patrick Marleau officially announced his retirement as an NHL player on Tuesday. He spent 21 of his 23 seasons with the San Jose Sharks and holds the league record for most games played with 1,779. Marleau is also the Sharks’ all-time leader with 1,607 games played, 522 goals and 1,111 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Marleau and his family in their future endeavors.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for a dangerous trip on Calgary Flames forward Trevor Lewis during Game 4 on Monday.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel played the final six weeks of the regular season with a broken finger.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

The latest on John Klingberg’s contract talks with the Stars, a difficult postmortem could face the Predators if they’re swept by the Avalanche, and the Blue Jackets’ offseason focus in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STARS GM STILL HOPES TO RE-SIGN KLINGBERG

NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill would love to re-sign John Klingberg. However, he understands the 29-year-old defenseman has to look out for himself as he approaches eligibility for unrestricted free agent status this summer. Nill said he intends to speak with Klingberg’s representatives once the playoffs are over.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Klingberg felt underappreciated by Stars management and expressed his frustration over the lack of progress in earlier contract discussions during an interview in January. However, he’s now indicated he refocused on his game since the All-Star break and has been happy with his performance. Nill is also happy with Klingberg’s play, claiming he’s had many discussions with the blueliner and the two have “a great relationship.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the two sides have patched things up from where they were in the first half of the season. However, it will still come down to what Klingberg seeks on his next contract and whether the Stars are willing to meet his expectations.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek last fall indicated Klingberg sought an eight-year deal worth between $62 million and $68 million. That’s between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes the Nashville Predators could face “a tough postmortem” if they’re swept by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night in Game 4 of their first-round series. They face losing the fifth consecutive postseason series.

The Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg in hopes of a playoff run. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Considering how overmatched the club has been against the Avalanche, it should mean more questions for the roster beyond Forsberg.

Head coach John Hynes’ contract expires at the end of this season. Estes suggested he could be retained given the Predators exceeded expectations this season but wondered why it hasn’t been announced yet. He also doubted a healthy Juuse Saros would’ve significantly altered the course of this series with the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile last summer indicated his club was undergoing a “competitive rebuild”. If he meant remaining in playoff contention while making changes to his roster with a long-term goal of returning to Cup contender status, then it’s mission accomplished for this season.

Whether Forsberg will be part of that process beyond this season remains to be seen. He’s completing a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $6 million and is coming off a career-best 42-goal, 84-point performance in 69 games. That could push the annual average value of his next contract to well over $8 million per season.

There were reports prior to the March trade deadline that there wasn’t much progress in contract talks between the two sides. Unless that changes, we could be seeing the last of Forsberg in a Predators jersey.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BLUE JACKETS THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets face heightened expectations for next season after overachieving in 2021-22. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen must get restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine under contract and shed some salary to make room for the younger players set to join the lineup next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and has arbitration rights this season. Portzline indicated the 24-year-old winger wants to stay with the Jackets. However, Kekalainen will have to pony up some big bucks to keep him in the fold long term.

The Laine camp could seek over $9 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal. They could also prefer a short-term deal to take their client up to UFA eligibility and a shot at a major contract on the open market.

Laine’s new contract will also bite deeply into the Jackets’ cap space. Cap Friendly shows them with over $54 million committed to 15 players.

A likely trade candidate is Gustav Nyquist. The 32-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. He enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season with 53 points. Perhaps a playoff contender seeking offensive depth on the wing would be interested in his services.