NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers re-sign Kevin Hayes and acquire Justin Braun, the Lightning re-sign Braydon Coburn, plus updates on Joe Thornton, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN/SPORTSNET: Bob McKenzie and John Shannon report the Philadelphia Flyers re-signed forward Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50-million contract. The annual average value is $7.14 million. Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets earlier this month, Hayes was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay more than a few NHL general managers are cursing Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher for this one. Fletcher gave up very little (a fifth-round pick) to acquire Hayes but gave up way too much re-signing him. The 27-year-old is a versatile forward who’s tallied over 40 points in four of the past five seasons, but he’s not worth over $7 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher continues to bolster his blueline, having shipped Radko Gudas to Washington last Friday for Matt Niskanen. Braun, 32, is an experienced shutdown defenseman. He and Niskanen bring experience and leadership to a young Flyers defense corps. With the Braun addition and Hayes signing, Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $60 million invested in 16 players.
The Sharks, meanwhile, free up over $3 million in salary-cap space. Those savings could be put toward re-signing captain Joe Pavelski.
Speaking of the Sharks, Joe Thornton expressed his desire to return with the club next season. Like Pavelski, Thornton is slated to become a UFA. “I’m a Shark,” he said. “There’s one team, and it’s here.”
ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a two-year, $3.4-million contract extension. He was slated to become a UFA on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Lightning. Coburn was a reliable presence on the Bolts blueline this season. The 34-year-old is taking a significant pay cut from his previous $3.7-million per season. As his career winds down, the Lightning is his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
TSN: David Clarkson submitted his 16-team no-trade list to the Vegas Golden Knights, who hope to shop his contract this week. All but retired due to injury, Clarkson has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $5.25 million. The cap-strapped Golden Knight must free up salary-cap room to re-sign free agents such as William Karlsson.
NEW YORK POST: Goaltender Robin Lehner remains hopeful of re-signing with the New York Islanders. An unrestricted free agent on July 1, Lehner is up for the Vezina and Masterton trophies at tonight’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the mutual willingness on both sides to get a deal done, I expect Lehner to be re-signed before his UFA eligibility date.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko suffered a shoulder injury during his club’s Stanley Cup run. It’s unclear if it’s the same shoulder that required surgery last year.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Forward Charles Hudon rejected the Canadiens’ qualifying offer. The club still retains his NHL rights.
TSN: Trent Yawney joins the Los Angeles Kings’ coaching staff.
SPORTSNET: The NHL salary cap for next season could be lower than projected. Elliotte Friedman believes the league and the PA will agree to tighten the cap for the next two seasons as they work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. A new US television agreement in 2021 could also factor into this decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap was projected to reach $83 million. There’s now talk it could be around $82 million. That will affect the efforts of cap-strapped clubs to retain key players this summer.
Game recaps, injury updates, fighting continues to decline, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: After missing three games with a lower-body injury, New Jersey Devils rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 32 saves as his club edged the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. Teammate Nico Hischier had a goal and an assist. Flyers forwards Sean Couturier and James van Riemsdyk also had two-point performances.
The New York Rangers picked up their first-ever victory at Barclays Center by defeating the New York Islanders 2-1. Mats Zuccarello tallied the winner late in the third period for the Rangers, who lost defenseman Fredrik Claesson to an apparent right shoulder injury.
Three unanswered third-period goals by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Callahan lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Kucherov, the NHL’s scoring leader, collected three points and now has 75 in 45 games.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak’s late second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as his club nipped the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Sean Kuraly had a goal and two assists while Tuukka Rask turned aside 30 shots.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price kicked out 28 shots to pick up his third shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Phillip Danault had two assists for the Canadiens, who vaulted over the Islanders and Sabres into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Columbus Blue Jackets downed the Washington Capitals 2-1 on an overtime tally by Artemi Panarin, after which he and his teammates mimicked Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov’s “bird dance” goal celebration. Capitals starter Braden Holtby left the game after being struck in the left eye with a stick in the second period. He was originally expected to return to action but team doctors felt it better that he remain out of the game. Holtby will be re-evaluated later today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The blade of Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson’s stick somehow slipped through Holtby’s mask during a scrum in front of the Capitals’ net. Here’s hoping the injury isn’t serious.
Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi picked up his first career NHL hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Thomas Vanek also scored twice and Dylan Larkin collected three assists. Following the game, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau called the loss the worst he’s experienced since taking over as Minnesota’s bench boss. “Effort, compete, I don’t know where it was,” said Boudreau.
Boudreau wasn’t the only coach to rip his team’s performance as Jim Montgomery of the Dallas Stars expressed his unhappiness over his club’s effort in a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. “It’s everybody. Unfortunately, I’m very frustrated that I have not been able to gain consistency in our performance, and I haven’t been able to change the culture of mediocrity,” said Montgomery. Vladimir Taransenko scored twice for the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Stars possess the talent to be higher than they currently are in the standings. They’re starting to turn underachievement into an art form.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch set a franchise record with a nine-game points streak as his club beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on an overtime goal by Shea Theodore. Tuch and Max Pacioretty each had two points. Alex DeBrincat scored twice for the Blackhawks.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their sixth straight victory by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson has yet to score against his former club. The Sharks activated blueliner Justin Braun off injured reserve but lost winger Joonas Donskoi to an upper-body injury.
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick’s 38-save performance carried his club to a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, snapping the latter’s six-game road winning streak. It was Quick’s 301st career victory, tying him with Mike Richter for fourth all-time among American-born netminders. Anze Kopitar scored two goals and Jeff Carter had a three-point game. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel netted both of his team’s goals.
Arizona Coyotes rookie Conor Garland scored twice, with the first deflecting in off his face, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Garland left the game for stitches and returned to score the winner in the third period.
THE SCORE: Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t take kindly to a reporter’s question about his job security following the club’s 10th straight loss on Friday. He abruptly ended the media scrum, calling the reporter “a jerk” and complaining about being asked “dumb questions”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carlyle certainly seems to be feeling the heat right now. Remains to be seen if Ducks general manager Bob Murray intends on replacing him. Despite the long losing skid, the Ducks are only one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. However, they risk tumbling further out of contention if they fail to find a way to pull out of their tailspin.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fighting continues to decline in the NHL. At the mid-point of this season, the number of fighting majors is down to 0.38 per game.
Possible offseason moves for the Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks & New Jersey Devils in your NHL rumor mill.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators face some tough decisions this summer. He speculates pending UFA forward Viktor Stalberg could be re-signed. Tommy Wingels was little used in the playoffs and could be purely a rental player. They also have to reach a decision on backup goalie Mike Condon, while it’s doubtful veteran forwards Chris Kelly and Chris Neil will be re-signed. Restricted free agent center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s solid playoff performance will help him get a raise but the Sens won’t want to over-pay for his services.
Regarding their expansion protection list, Garrioch notes Bobby Ryan’s no-movement clause only covers him for the minors and thus he can be exposed, but his playoff performance could give them pause. However, his colleague Don Brennan believes Ryan’s playoff efforts merits protecting him. Garrioch also wonders if Sens GM Pierre Dorion will ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his NMC to protect another defenseman in the expansion draft. Dorion could then cut a side deal with the Vegas Golden Knights not to select Phaneuf.
SPECTOR’S NOTE:The draft rules state that players with effective no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive it. However, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported last November that Ryan can be exposed in the draft because his no-movement clause actually applies only to demotion to the minors. Leaving Ryan unprotected could be risky, but his big contract ($7.25 million annually for five more season) could be unpalatable for the Golden Knights.
Dorion faces some interesting decisions regarding the expansion draft. If Phaneuf doesn’t waive his NMC and Dorion protects three blueliners, they risk losing Marc Methot or Cody Ceci to Vegas. Should Dorion opt to protect four defensemen, a forward such as Derick Brassard, Kyle Turris, Ryan Dzingel or Jean-Gabriel Pageau could be exposed.
CSN BAY AREA: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked which players on the San Jose Sharks are most likely to be traded this summer. He suggests they draw upon their blueline to bolster their offense. He believes Justin Braun, who carries a reasonable $3.8 million salary-cap hit for three more seasons, could be intriguing to clubs with depth at forward.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent live chat, Mike Heika speculated Sharks forward Patrick Marleau or Los Angeles Kings winger Jarome Iginla might be interested in playing for the Dallas Stars next season. Both players are eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kurz has called for Sharks GM Doug Wilson to shake things up with a blockbuster move this summer. It remains to be seen if Wilson follows his advice and if Braun becomes part of the deal. He and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are a solid, reliable defense pairing for the Sharks and Wilson could be reluctant to break that up.
As for Marleau, he could prefer signing with a good Western Conference club if he and the Sharks part ways. However, I have my doubts he’d be a good fit with the Stars, who could prefer adding a younger forwards.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Andrew Gross recently chatted with New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero regarding his offseason plans. He’s obviously not tipping his hand as to his plans with the first-overall selection in next month’s NHL draft. Shero isn’t closing the door on the possible return to the Devils of Ilya Kovalchuk, though that decision rests with the veteran winger.
There’s no plan to move goaltender Cory Schneider, who wants to stay and the club wants to keep him. While Shero noted anything can change with one phone call, Gross doesn’t see many destinations (Calgary?) for Schneider this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Schneider getting dealt this summer. If Shero’s willing to entertain offers for his starter or the first-overall pick, he’ll want a significant return. Kovalchuk could decide to return to the Devils, but the overall consensus among the punditry is a sign-and-trade scenario on July 1 appears likely.
Latest Stanley Cup Final reports, Rick MacLeish passes away and more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines. (more…)