YAHOO! SPORTS: cites St. Louis-based NHL insider Andy Strickland reporting Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog seeks a big raise on his next contract. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28, the 28-year-old left-winger could be asking for an annual average value of $9 million to $10 million on the open market.
Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).
Landeskog is willing to give the Avalanche a hometown discount. However, they’ll have to come up from their offer of between $5 million to $6 million on an eight-year deal.
As always, I don’t fault any player for seeking the best contract they can get as a free agent. Landeskog is a terrific first-line left-winger and a key part of the Avalanche roster.
However, I doubt Landeskog will find many offers between $9 million and $10 million with the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million next season. He certainly won’t get it from the clubs listed by Strickland. They’ve all got limited cap space and pending free agents of their own to deal with. They’d have to shed considerable cap space to sign him.
Landeskog earned $5.57 annually on a seven-year deal. If the Avs are offering five years at $7 million per he should jump on that. It’s a reasonable raise that keeps him on a potential Cup contender through the remaining years of his playing prime. The Avs also need room to re-sign Cale Makar and Philipp Grubauer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings also retained half of Panik’s $2.75 million salary. He’s signed through 2022-23. Leddy has one year remaining on his deal worth $5.5 million.
This move provides some flexibility for the cap-strapped Islanders, freeing up over $4 million in payroll. It also provides the rebuilding Red Wings with an experienced puck-moving defenseman who can log top-four minutes.
The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan speculates the Wings could pair Leddy with promising rookie Moritz Seider. They could also use him as a trade chip if they become sellers at next season’s trade deadline. His addition could also mean they don’t re-sign pending UFA Marc Staal.
THE PROVINCE: Alex Edler’s 15-season NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks could be coming to an end. The veteran defenseman is going to test the free-agent market on July 28. His agent indicated the 35-year-old has never tested the free-agent waters before and he might never get the chance to do so again.
TSN: cited a report by The Athletic’s Adam Vingan indicating the Nashville Predators and pending UFA Erik Haula are discussing a new contract. He’s coming off a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Laval Rocket coach Joel Bouchard denied any rift or animosity with the Canadiens. Bouchard recently joined the Anaheim Ducks as head coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard insists he made the change because he wanted to try something different elsewhere.
The latest on the Canadiens, Charlie Coyle undergoes surgery, key offseason dates, latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reported Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin admitted the past year was difficult for him mentally as he thanked his players for pulling through a tough season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL Images).
Bergevin has one year remaining on his contract. He indicated his intention to honor that but declined to say if he would sign an extension if presented to him. That’s generated speculation over whether he wanted to continue in the job after nine seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin may simply be exhausted after a trying year in which he made several notable roster additions, replaced most of his coaching staff midway through the season, saw his club sidelined for 10 days by a COVID-19 outbreak, watched them struggle to clinch a playoff berth and overcome long odds to reach the Cup Final.
Perhaps his comment was a subtle way of angling for better terms on an extension. Or maybe he’s truly burned out after nearly a decade in one of hockey’s highest-pressure markets and intends to move on after next season.
Whatever the reason, his future with the Canadiens will become a hot topic for conjecture in Montreal throughout this offseason.
Speaking of uncertain futures, pending unrestricted free agent Phillip Danault expressed his wish to remain with the Canadiens. He also admitted he rejected a six-year, $30-million contract offer last fall, adding it affected his game during the regular season when the story was leaked to the press. He also said he was worried about losing ice time to younger centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault should be commended for his honesty. Most players in his situation would just mumble cliches to dodge the question. His strong defensive play throughout the postseason earned him the most ice time among Habs forwards. He garnered praise for shutting down his opponents’ top offensive players. He’s in line for a big raise, either with the Habs or another club via free agency.
Defenseman Jeff Petry revealed the reason behind his bloodshot eyes during Game 2 of the semifinal series against the Vegsa Golden Knights. It was tied to the broken pinky finger suffered during Game 3 of the previous series with the Winnipeg Jets. Petry said he passed out when his finger was being set in place before putting it in a cast, causing the blood vessels in his eyes to burst.
Petry jammed the finger into a photographer’s hole in the glass in a freak accident, which turned his finger sideways. He played the remainder of the playoffs with two fingers taped together. He hopes to avoid offseason surgery but will learn more when he revisits the doctor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry faced surgery that would’ve sidelined him six to eight weeks. He instead opted to immobilize the finger and rest for one-to-two weeks and return to action.
Canadiens captain Shea Weber could require surgery on his left thumb to repair damaged ligaments. If he goes under the knife it’s expected he’ll be ready for the start of next season.
Corey Perry hopes to return to the Canadiens next season. He joined them on a one-year, $750K contract and was placed on waivers earlier in the season to be placed on the taxi squad. There were three teams hoping to put in a claim for Perry but his agent advised them against it because he wanted to stay in Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the superstar he was a decade ago but he was an invaluable and respected part of the Canadiens’ lineup this season. He had 21 points in 49 regular-season games and finished fourth among their postseason scorers with 10 points in 22 contests. He should be an affordable re-signing for the Habs. If they don’t bring him back he’ll draw plenty of interest from other playoff contenders.
NBC SPORTS: It’s still unclear if the Canadiens will lift the interim tag off Dominique Ducharme and make him the full-time head coach next season. Bergevin indicated it’s one of the first things he intends to sort out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme was criticized by many observers (including me) for the Canadiens’ struggles over the second half after he replaced Claude Julien. That tune changed with the Habs’ march to the Final.
I expect Ducharme will return as the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. Still, there are legitimate questions about whether he belongs in that role. Much of their playoff success was due to Carey Price returning to his dominant form. Ducharme also seemed reluctant to give more ice time to his younger players, especially promising defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Habs also played well under assistant coach Luke Richardson when Ducharme was sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks hired Joel Bouchard as the new coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Canadiens AHL club in Laval.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens received some criticism for not retaining Bouchard, who did a fine job developing their promising players. They offered him the opportunity to remain in Laval or become one of their assistant coaches. But he opted to go to San Diego.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Charlie Coyle recently underwent two surgeries on his left knee. His agent said the 29-year-old Bruins center is recovering well and expects to be ready in time for training camp in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Coyle struggled throughout this season.
SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL offseason are as follows:
July 8:NHL buyout window opens (24 hours after Stanley Cup is awarded). Window closes July 27. July 17:Deadline for teams to submit protected lists for Seattle Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET). July 18-20:Seattle’s exclusive window to interview teams’ unprotected pending free agents. July 21:Seattle Expansion Draft (8 p.m. ET). July 23:2021 NHL Draft, Round 1. July 24:2021 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7. July 28:NHL free agency opens. RFA & UFA signing period begins (noon ET).
NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to a two-year, $2.25 million contract.
The Rangers signed restricted free agent forward Brett Howden to a one-year contract worth $885K.
SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken will play six preseason games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The three home games will be played in Spokane, Everett, and Kent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good way for the expansion club to make itself known throughout the state of Washington. It will also be the first games they’ll play against their regional NHL rivals.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away on Thursday at age 78. He played 1,009 NHL games from 1963 to 1978 with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Watson’s family, friends and former teammates and associates.
Latest on the Oilers and Stars plus updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Brett Pesce, Chris Kunitz, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TRADE TIDBIT FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS” COLUMN.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers “checked in” on Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but a couple of sources “threw cold water on that.” The Capitals are seeking “a couple of mid-to-high” draft picks for Burakovsky. Friedman also said the Oilers like speedy Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou but there’s no guarantee the Wings will move him, plus the asking price would be expensive.
There’s also speculation they were talking to the Chicago Blackhawks “about something bigger” and could be trying to shed winger Tobias Rieder to free up salary-cap space. A rumor suggesting a team was interested in Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard went nowhere. Friedman also suggests Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen’s new contract could be used as a comparable by Calgary Flames netminder David Rittich.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson recently said his club won’t peddle the future for quick fixes, which likely means they won’t be making significant moves before the trade deadline. Burakovsky could cost the Oilers one or two of those assets to acquire. Interesting that the Capitals apparently seek a couple of draft picks as earlier speculation suggested they wanted a player who could help their roster right away.
Athanasiou is poised for a 30-goal, 55-point performance. He would be costly to acquire and I don’t see the Wings moving him now. The time for that was during his contract standoff during the summer of 2017. Seems like he and Wings management are on better terms now.
Rieder carries a $2-million cap hit on a one-year deal. Maybe a playoff contender will take a chance on him regaining his form.
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky won’t comment on his future plans (Photo via NHL Images).
While there’s an understanding Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would “consider other situations”, there’s a theory he and his agent haven’t committed them to paper yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Bobrovsky might be willing to waive his no-trade clause but he may not have submitted a written list to Jackets’ management. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky isn’t commenting on his future plans.GM Jarmo Kekalainen maintains they’re hoping to convince Bobrovsky and fellow UFA Artemi Panarin to re-sign, though acknowledging they could face difficult decisions if keeping them beyond this season isn’t possible.
Friedman speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs were watching Brett Pesce, not Dougie Hamilton, during their recent scouting of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed the Hurricanes seek a scoring forward in exchange for one of their right-shot rearguards. Friedman said, however, the Leafs aren’t willing to part with Kasperi Kapanen or blueline prospect Rasmus Sandin.
While contract negotiations are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Friedman said there doesn’t seem to be much discussion with winger Ryan Dzingel. He could fetch a decent return if the Senators decide to shop him.
Friedman believes a few playoff contenders are considering Chicago Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz. He suggests the Calgary Flames would be a good fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kunitz’s performance has steadily declined since 2013-14. The Flames already have one fading veteran on the roster in James Neal. They don’t need another.
Friedman cited BSN’s Adrian Dater reporting the New York Rangers were scouting the Colorado Avalanche. While it could be tied to Rangers like Kevin Hayes or Vladislav Namestnikov, New York’s interest could be in a top prospect like Shane Bowers or much more. The Avs, however, will “zealously protect” their best draft assets. Friedman also believes the Avs will explore defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation out of Colorado suggesting Hayes would be a good fit for the Avalanche, who need secondary scoring. But if the Avs won’t part with a good young asset, the Rangers could look elsewhere for a suitable trade partner.
Friedman reports the Dallas Stars are dangling Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin and Mattias Janmark.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are in need of secondary scoring. Perhaps one or two of those guys will be used as trade bait to address that issue.