Have The Toronto Maple Leafs Turned The Corner At Last?
8:30 pm ET: St. Louis Blues sign Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.
7 pm ET: Toronto Maple Leafs sign T.J. Brodie to a four-year contract ($5 million AAV).
4 pm to 5 pm ET: Calgary Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million contract.
3 pm to 4 pm ET: Anaheim Ducks sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year contract ($3.9 million AAV)
Washington Capitals sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8 million contract.
2 pm to 3 pm ET: Florida Panthers sign Alexander Wennberg to a one-year $2.25 million contract.
New York Rangers sign Jack Johnson to a one-year, $1-million contract.
Nashville Predators sign Mark Borowiecki to a two-year, $4-million contract.
In other contract news, the Ottawa Senators sign Matt Murray to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. The Senators acquired Murray, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
1 pm to 2 pm ET: Vancouver Canucks sign Braden Holtby to a two-year deal ($4.3 million AAV)
Minnesota Wild sign goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million contract.
Dallas Stars sign Anton Khudobin to a three-year contract ($3.5 million AAV)
Edmonton Oilers sign center Kyle Turris to a two-year contract ($1.65 million AAV)
12 pm to 1 pm ET: Washington Capitals sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a full no-movement clause.
Detroit Red Wings sign winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1-million contract.
Winger Pat Maroon (two years, $900K AAV) and defenseman Luke Schenn (one year, $800K) are returning with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Florida Panthers sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year contract ($2.5 million AAV).
In other news, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract with a $5 million annual cap hit and a full no-trade clause.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain with the Arizona Coyotes. His deadline to be traded to either Boston or Vancouver came and went without a deal.
The NHL’s free-agent market opens at noon ET today. Check out the latest speculation on Alex Pietrangelo, Taylor Hall, Torey Krug and many more in today’s rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was ready to go to market as of yesterday afternoon. He’s up to visiting with interested clubs that are willing to have him travel. It could take a couple of days until he reaches a decision on his destination and next contract. The Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs could be among the interested parties.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports it could take moving a high-profile Leaf or two, such as William Nylander or Frederik Andersen, to free up cap space to sign Pietrangelo. He feels general manager Kyle Dubas has hinted that’s not going to happen, giving Andersen a vote of confidence while staying out of the Matt Murray trade market.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi expects Pietrangelo will be too costly for the Philadelphia Flyers. He suggests more affordable options like Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Boston’s Torey Krug or Calgary’s T.J. Brodie.
TSN: Darren Dreger said the Arizona Coyotes might not be able to meet the Friday trade deadline set by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’ll only waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report the Canucks appear the more interested buyer for Ekman-Larsson.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the parameters of a deal with the Canucks would include “a draft pick of some magnitude, an inefficient contract from their bottom-six and a prospect.”
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: cites TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Bruins don’t like Arizona’s asking price. The Coyotes are believed to prefer the Bruins’ prospects over the Canucks.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report there’s some talk Coyotes winger Taylor Hall would consider a reunion with the Edmonton Oilers. It would be difficult to achieve that unless the Oilers shed some salary.
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers suggests Hall would be a perfect fit for the Colorado Avalanche’s second line. He’s open to a short-term deal, perhaps a one-year contract that could pave the way for a longer contract in free agency after next season.
THE ATHLETIC: With the Columbus Blue Jackets shedding salary yesterday, Aaron Portzline wonders if they might get into the bidding for Hall. Other options could include Florida’s Mike Hoffman or Evgenii Dadonov or Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the Vancouver Canucks remain confident of re-signing Jacob Markstrom despite persistent rumors linking the goaltender to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Oilers are among the teams that could be interested in Markstorm if he goes to market today.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman reported the Flames, Detroit Red Wings and Oilers (despite their salary-cap constraints) could pursue Markstrom.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples doesn’t see how the Oilers could afford Markstrom, who could seek $6 million annually on a long-term deal.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson believes Markstrom should be the Flames’ top target in the UFA market. He feels Markstrom could become the high-end goalie they’ve been missing since Miikka Kiprusoff retired.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks listed the Minnesota Wild as a possible destination for Markstrom if he goes to market.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan also included Markstrom among possible Wild UFA targets. Other options could include Washington’s Braden Holtby and Chicago Corey Crawford.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights have put trading goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on the side burner for now. His no-trade clause and $7 million annual average value makes him difficult to move.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is garnering interest from the Oilers.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild could be interested in Holtby.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report of increased chatter suggesting the Red Wings could pursue Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. He was raised in a Detroit suburb and seeks long-term security. The Wings have the cap space to make a lucrative offer.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman would like to address his blueline issues with one or two defenseman signings. It remains to be seen if he’ll pursue Krug. Yzerman said he expects to be “relatively conservative” in the free-agent market.
TSN: Goaltender Anton Khudobin is heading to market after talks broke off with the Stars. The Flames could be interested, along with the Canucks if they fail to re-sign Jacob Markstrom or the Golden Knights if they can move Marc-Andre Fleury.
TOFFOLI AND TANEV
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Chris Tanev are heading to market.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Toffoli tops Brian Witt’s list of possible free-agent targets for the San Jose Sharks.
BRODIE AND HAMONIC
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Flames renewed contract talks with defenseman T.J. Brodie. Dreger also believes Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic would sign with his hometown Winnipeg Jets but there’s not a lot of interest at the moment. The Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Oilers could be among Hamonic’s suitors.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman reported the Oilers could have an interest in Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie as a short-term replacement for sidelined blueliner Oscar Klefbom.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss could draw interest from the Canucks if they fail to re-sign Markstrom or Vegas if they trade Fleury.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggested Greiss or Cam Talbot could be a fit with the New Jersey Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The opening hours of the free-agent period tend to be very busy with the best available players being quickly signed. However, it will be interesting to see how the flattened salary cap affects the market and the pace of the signings.
In today’s NHL rumor mill, we examine the latest on the Flames and Oilers, plus how the elimination of the UFA interview period could be a win for the players.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES AND OILERS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Cruickshank recently examined the effect of a flat salary cap ($81.5 million) on the Calgary Flames for next season. With nine forwards, four defensemen, and one goaltender under contract, they have less than $17 million to work with.
Of their restricted free agents, Cruickshank assumed the Flames will retain Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington. He suggested shopping Mark Jankowski’s rights or letting him become an unrestricted free agent by not qualifying his rights.
Cruickshank doesn’t expect the Flames can afford to keep both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic. Both are unrestricted free agents at season’s end. He suggested re-signing Brodie and letting Hamonic walk or shopping his rights for a pick at the 2020 NHL Draft. Trade deadline acquisitions Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort are unlikely to be re-signed. Cruickshank expects UFA goalie Cam Talbot could seek a starter’s job elsewhere, leaving the Flames in need of an affordable backup (like Anton Forsberg) for David Rittich.
That won’t leave much room to pursue a free-agent star such as winger Taylor Hall unless they make a couple of significant cost-cutting moves.
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis also speculated the Flames will retain Brodie during a recent mailbag segment. He was also asked if the Flames might replace Talbot and winger Johnny Gaudreau with Robin Lehner and Hall. Francis felt there’s a remote possibility to sign Lehner but it made no sense to dump Gaudreau to sign the more expensive Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis also noted the trade speculation dogging Gaudreau over the past year-and-a-half, expecting such a move will eventually happen. The 26-year-old has fallen out of favor with Flames fans since a disappointing performance in last year’s playoffs followed by sub-par production during this season.
Another dissatisfying postseason effort on Gaudreau’s part will ramp up the trade speculation during the off-season. He lacks no-trade protection for next season, but his $6.75-million annual average value could be difficult to move under a flat cap.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently examined the Edmonton Oilers’ cap situation. For next season, they could use their leverage to re-sign Ethan Bear (no arbitration rights) to a cheap one-year contract. Trade deadline acquisition Andreas Athanasiou (restricted free agent) could return at his current salary ($3 million) while veteran goalie Mike Smith (UFA) should return.
Willis speculates winger James Neal and defenseman Kris Russell could be bought out, though the latter could be shopped with 50 percent salary retention (in real dollars worth only $750K to his new team).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect most of Willis’ scenario for next season will play out as expected. Smith is in the twilight of his career and could accept another one-year, bonus-laden deal with a $2 million base salary.
ELIMINATION OF UFA INTERVIEW PERIOD COULD BE A WIN FOR PLAYERS
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the recent elimination of the five-to-seven day window for clubs to interview pending UFAs in the CBA extension is a win for the players. With little time for general managers to prepare, it could spark a return to the opening-day bidding wars of the past.
Larkin suggests it will be the end of media leaks leading up to the noon ET start of free agency. It could also mean fewer signings on opening day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While this isn’t a rumor, this will affect the UFA market going forward. The absence of the interview period means there will be more intrigue leading up to the start of the free-agency period. It will also mean we could see some notable UFAs taking several days to sign.
The flat cap could also affect the market value for the top UFA. Larkin speculates that could change in a year or two as hockey-related revenue improves, thus raising the salary cap.