NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

Carey Price enters the league’s player assistance program, the USA, Finland and Czech Republic name their first players to their respective Olympic men’s hockey teams, Blake Coleman suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price entered the NHL’s player assistance program. The 34-year-old had been recovering from offseason knee surgery. General manager Marc Bergevin said Price could be absent from the team for at least 30 days but didn’t rule out a longer absence.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Bergevin said Price has the support of the club and his teammates. “Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will miss Price between the pipes while some fans are wondering why he’s reached out for assistance. None of that is important and the latter is none of our business. What matters is Price gets the help and time he needs to get his life and health back on track.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Jonathan Drouin missed Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a non-COVID-related illness.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens don’t intend on providing any updates on GM Bergevin’s contract situation until the end of the season. His deal is slated to expire at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read more about Bergevin’s contract status in today’s Rumor Mill. 

TSN: Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones to their 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team on Thursday.

Finland named Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen to their men’s Olympic squad.

NHL.COM: The Czech Republic named Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek to their Olympic team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF requested countries submit the names of their first three players several weeks ago. Canada and Sweden submitted theirs earlier this week.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman was suspended for the club’s final preseason game and their first regular-season contest for boarding Winnipeg Jets forward Jansen Harkins during Wednesday’s preseason game.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. He also suffered a lower-body injury in the 2020 playoffs and missed all of last season. The Avs also announced head coach Jared Bednar tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the club’s final two preseason games. It’s unclear when he’ll return behind the bench.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Colin White requires surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder. He’s expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. Meanwhile, the club announced they’ve signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $900K contract.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Noel Acciari could miss significant time with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian struck his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks’ Zack MacEwen in last night’s preseason game between the two clubs. Kassian had to be helped from the ice but was reportedly talking to teammates in the dressing room and in good spirits.

NEW YORK POST: A power failure in part of the Prudential Center led to the cancellation of the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.










Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.










Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Be sure to check in regularly throughout the day for today’s notable free-agent signings and trades.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 6 pm ET.

New Jersey Devils sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract ($9 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign winger Mike Hoffman to a three-year, $13.5 million contract ($4.5 million AAV).

Anaheim Ducks sign center Ryan Getzlaf to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

Detroit Red Wings sign center Pius Suter to a two-year, $6.5 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign winger Nick Foligno to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Ottawa Senator sign defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a two-year, $4 million deal ($2 million AAV).

SIGNINGS: (Updated: 4 pm ET)

Tampa Bay Lightning re-sign center Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract ($9.5 million AAV).

Vegas Golden Knights sign forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 2:45 pm ET):

Seattle Kraken sign goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year, $35.4 million contract ($5.9 million AAV).

Seattle Kraken sign winger Jaden Schwartz to a five-year, $27.5 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign center Phillip Danault to a six-year, $33 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign defenseman Alex Edler to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

Boston Bruins sign forward Erik Haula to a two-year, $4.75 million contract ($2.375 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Ian Cole to a one-year, $2.9 million contract.

San Jose Sharks sign center Nick Bonino to a two-year, $4.1 million contract ($2.05 million AAV).

SIGNINGS (UPDATED 1:30 PM ET)

Nashville Predators re-sign forward Mikael Granlund to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Minnesota Wild sign defenseman Alex Goligoski to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Calgary Flames sign forward Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract ($4.9 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign goalie Frederik Andersen to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million AAV.

Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Boone Jenner to a four-year $15 million contract ($3.75 million).

New Jersey Devils sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a two-year, $8.25 million contract ($4.125 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign David Savard to a four-year, $14 million contract ($3.5 million AAV).

Edmonton Oilers sign defenseman Cody Ceci to a four-year, $13 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Travis Hamonic to a two-year, $6 million contract ($3 million AAV).

Columbus Blue Jackets sign forward Sean Kuraly to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million cap hit)

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Tucker Poolman to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million AAV)

Philadelphia Flyers sign goalie Martin Jones to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Braden Holtby to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers sign defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year, $950K contract.

SIGNINGS AND TRADES PRIOR TO NOON ET. 

Edmonton Oilers sign Zach Hyman to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract ($5.5 million annual average value).

Edmonton Oilers re-sign defenseman Tyson Barrie to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million per season.

Vegas Golden Knights re-sign defenseman Alec Martinez to a three-year deal worth $5.25 million annually.

Seattle Kraken sign forward Alexander Wennberg to a three-yeae contract worth $4.5 million annually.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a three-year contract worth $3.8 million.

Dallas Stars sign defenseman Ryan Suter to a four-year contract worth $3.65 million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Antti Raanta to a two-year deal worth $2 million annually.

Vancouver Canucks sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million in base salary.

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $1 million contract.

TRADES

Edmonton Oilers trade defenseman Ethan Bear to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Warren Foegele.

Ottawa Senators trade winger Evgeni Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Nick Holden and a third-round draft pick in 2022.

Chicago Blackhawks trade defenseman Nikita Zadorov to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022. The pick originally belonged to Toronto.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Jonathan Toews reveals the illness that sidelined him this season, Tom Dundon takes over full ownership of the Hurricanes, the latest coaching hires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. They hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it shifts to Montreal for Games 3 and 4.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves while Blake Coleman broke a 1-1 tie with a diving buzzer-beater goal in the second period. Ondrej Palat put the game out of reach with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. Nick Suzuki tallied the Canadiens’ only goal.

The Lightning played without winger Alex Killorn. He suffered a suspected leg injury in Game 1 after blocking a Jeff Petry shot and is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 is Friday night at 8 pm ET in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens outplayed the Lightning in this contest but the few mistakes they made wound up in the back in their net. They blew an opportunity to open the scoring in the first period by failing to capitalize on a 4-on-3 power play. Joel Edmundson was the goat on the Lightning’s third goal as his behind-the-net back pass went directly to Palat.

Vasilevskiy was solid in this game for the Lightning but the Canadiens still didn’t generate enough high-quality scoring opportunities. Carey Price, meanwhile, wasn’t bad for the Canadiens but he hasn’t been at his best thus far in this series.

The Lightning have a great opportunity to take a commanding lead in Game 3. The Canadiens cannot afford to fall behind 3-0 against a powerhouse like the Bolts. They’ll need a better effort on Friday or risk watching the Lightning skate away with the Stanley Cup on Monday night.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens request to allow more than 3,500 fans for Games 3 and 4 was rejected by the Quebec government and health officials. The Habs hoped to expand that number to 10,500.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews revealed he was diagnosed with chronic immune response syndrome. The condition sidelined him for the entire 2020-21 season. He indicated he’s feeling much better now and intends to rejoin his teammates next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews in his recovery.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Tom Dundon is now the full owner of the Carolina Hurricanes. He’d been the majority owner of the club since January 2018 but bought out all the remaining shareholders, including those of former owner Peter Karmanos Jr. The sale of the shares was unanimously approved by the NHL board of governors.

NJ.COM: Scott O’Neil, the CEO of the parent company that owns the New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, is stepping down to pursue other interests.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports the Arizona Coyotes have called a news conference for today where they’ll announce the hiring of Ottawa 67s head coach Andre Tourigny as their new bench boss.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings have hired Alex Tanguay as an assistant coach. The former NHL player spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Iowa Wild.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks’ poor performance over the last two seasons saw their season-ticket sales drop from 10,500 in 2019 to 9000 for 2021-22.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2021

More proposed destinations for Seth Jones plus the latest on the Predators and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PROPOSED DESTINATIONS FOR SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston listed the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible destinations for Seth Jones. The 26-year-old defenseman recently informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s free-agent market.

Speculation persists over possible destinations for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

The Kings are considered early favorites, given their extra second and third-round picks and impressive depth in young forwards and prospects to offer up as trade bait. The Blackhawks also have extra picks and depth in prospects plus they hold the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Johnston suggests the Oilers could feel pressure to add a defenseman if Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie depart this summer via free agency. Lacking extra draft picks, GM Ken Holland might have to part with one of his young players. The Flyers, meanwhile, would have to move a few bodies to free up cap space.

The Canadiens have extra picks and several players coming off the books this summer. Johnston suggests Jones would be an ideal replacement for Shea Weber if the Habs could find a way to move his $7.75 million annual cap hit. The Red Wings have the draft capitals to do it with 12 picks in this year’s draft, seven of those in the first three rounds.

As for the Leafs, the comments of GM Kyle Dubas and winger Mitch Marner suggest he’s not going anywhere. Nevertheless, Johnston wondered if he’d be off the table for a defenseman like Jones.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito could shoot for a reunion with Jones. Zito was the Blue Jackets former assistant GM before taking the full-time gig with the Panthers.

Brennan, however, thinks the Colorado Avalanche could make a pitch for Jones. They’re bound to lose a good defenseman to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft. He also believes the Leafs will have to get creative to land Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The team with the depth in draft picks, prospects and young players plus the cap space to ink Jones to a long-term extension is the most likely to pry him away from the Jackets in this summer’s trade market. The Kings and Blackhawks seem to be the favorites but that depends on their willingness to meet what’s bound to be an expensive asking price by the Jackets.

One of those other teams mentioned by Johnston and Brennan could surprise us with some intricate wheeling-and-dealing. The key remains the willingness of Jones to sign an extension with the acquiring club. If he’s noncommittal that will narrow the field of potential suitors, making it difficult for the Jackets to get a significant return.

LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina made several bold predictions regarding possible offseason moves by the Nashville Predators. He thinks aging goalie Pekka Rinne could be brought back for one more season, Matt Duchene and/or Ryan Johansen could be left exposed in the expansion draft. Juuse Saros and Mikael Granlund will be re-signed while Viktor Arvidsson could be traded to make room for a young winger.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes it’s time for the Predators to shake up their core. He also suggests they consider trading the oft-injured Arvidsson. While Arvidsson’s contract isn’t prohibitive, the $8 million annually being earned by Duchene and Johansen could leave the Predators eating part of their salary or adding a draft pick in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Arvidsson would be easier if he were healthier, but if he were healthier, the Predators would have little reason to move him. His $4.25 million AAV isn’t expensive but he’s signed through 2023-24. It could be difficult finding suitors with the salary cap remaining flat for next season.

Moving Duchene and Johansen will be very difficult given their contracts and poor performance. GM David Poile could attempt to get a third team involved to broker a deal but that could still mean he’ll still have to absorb part of their salaries to make it work.

I doubt the Kraken will select Duchene or Johansen if they’re exposed in the draft. It would take a significant sweetener to convince them. Even then, I think they’d balk at paying out $8 million annually for a player with several seasons remaining on his contract.

WILL THE CANUCKS ADD A FORWARD VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently examined possible free-agent forward targets for the Vancouver Canucks. They have holes to fill at center and right wing but a tight budget could hamper efforts to address those needs.

Florida Panthers forward Alexander Wennberg would be an interesting option but he’s not going to be cheap coming off a 17-goal season. The same goes for Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman, who tallied 14 goals. More affordable options could include Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, Chicago’s Vinnie Hinostroza or Carolina’s Steven Lorentz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Canucks GM Jim Benning can find a way to shed some burdensome contracts, he’ll have to go to the bargain bin this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

Are the Oilers making progress in Nugent-Hopkins’ contract talks? Will they trade or buy out Mikko Koskinen or James Neal? Could Oscar Klefbom be exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Oilers general manager Jim Matheson faces a long to-do list this summer. Topping that list is signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay but Matheson wondered if Holland will go higher than $6 million per season or $5.5 million and over five years. He also feels the Oilers see him now as a top-six left-winger rather than a center and want to pay him as such.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson’s colleague David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming Nugent-Hopkins contract talks haven’t gone well and his status remains uncertain. They were apparently close to a deal before the season began but things fell apart at the last minute.

Plenty of time for the two sides to work things out. I’d get concerned, however, if they haven’t gotten any closer when the calendar flips to July. Nugent-Hopkins will draw plenty of interest around the league if he goes to market on July 28. Someone will pay him what he wants.

The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old goaltender Mike Smith. As for Mikko Koskinen, Matheson believes his return is less than 50-50. They might not buy out Koskinen but Matheson wondered if they’d absorb part of the goalie’s $4.5 million cap hit to facilitate a trade or include a player or draft pick to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples noted Friedman said buying out Koskinen was a possibility. He also cited NHL insider Brian Lawton telling Oilers Now show host Bob Stauffer the Oilers shouldn’t bring Koskinen back. However, Staples suggests finding a suitable replacement this summer won’t be easy.

Koskinen, 32, struggled at times this season and wasn’t a reliable backup for Smith. He has just one year left on his contract. I think Holland will try to trade him, even if it means eating some of his salary. Failing that, he’ll probably go the buyout route at a cap hit of $1.5 million for 2021-22 and 2022-23 as per Cap Friendly.

Turning to the blueline, Matheson wondered if Holland will leave Oscar Klefbom unprotected in the expansion draft. He’d be taking a chance on the Kraken being scared off by the defenseman’s season-long absence with a shoulder injury.

Pending UFA blueliner Tyson Barrie is looking at a long-term deal and will see what’s out there. Matheson expected Holland will re-sign Adam Larsson, perhaps around the same $4.1 million range of his current deal. The question is whether it’s three or four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign Darnell Nurse to a contract extension. He’s slated to become a UFA next summer but contact talks can begin this summer. If Klefbom is selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft it’ll free up $4.1 million from their cap payroll, giving Holland extra room to sign Nurse or make other moves.

Matheson considers it likely Holland will buy out veteran winger James Neal. Doing so would free up $3.83 million in each of the next two seasons to target an unrestricted free agent winger such as Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Toronto’s Zach Hyman. If Neal is bought out, Matheson sees him returning to Pittsburgh where he had his best seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector believes Holland should buy out Neal, considering him dead cap space already at $5.75 million annually and barely playing. It would count as $1.92 million over the next four years against the Oilers cap.

He also suggests Holland should explore trading Neal, absorbing half his salary for the final two years of his contract to make it work. However, he feels there would have to be something else included in the deal.

A trade is possible. A buyout is more likely. And no, he won’t be returning to Pittsburgh even if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin like him. He’s a fading star who won’t address the Penguins’ need for a better starting goalie and more skilled toughness in their lineup.

Matheson also suggested St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Vegas Golden Knights versatile forward Mattias Janmark and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth as possible free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland would have better luck landing Janmark and/or Nemeth than Schwartz. The Blues hope to re-sign him. Failing that, he’ll draw considerable interest in the free-agent market. The Oilers might not win a bidding war for his services.