Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators acquired DeBrincat this summer from the Chicago Blackhawks. A two-time 40-goal scorer, the 24-year-old winger is in the final season of his contract with an average annual value of $6.4 million.
DeBrincat earns $9 million this season in actual salary, which is what it’ll cost the Sens to qualify his rights. He will also be a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility next July.
With New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal recently signing an eight-year contract worth an AAV of $9.15 million, DeBrincat could get something between $9 million and $9.5 million. However, his camp could prefer waiting to see how this season plays out. Another 40-goal campaign could push DeBrincat into the $10 million AAV range.
The Senators have $60.9 million invested in 11 players for 2023-24. A new deal for DeBrincat will take a big bite out of their $22 million in cap space.
HOW WILL THE RANGERS FREE UP SALARY-CAP SPACE?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple wondered if there are any ways the New York Rangers can give themselves extra cap room now. They have just over $1 million in projected space to start the season.
They could attempt to acquire the contract of a player on permanent long-term injury reserve such as the Vancouver Canucks’ Micheal Ferland or the Arizona Coyotes’ Andrew Ladd. However, they can only exceed the cap by the equivalent of the sidelined player’s AAV. Doing so also means the Rangers won’t be able to accrue salary-cap space throughout the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple doesn’t see the Rangers going this route at the present time. They don’t have a need to add that much cap space right now unless they’re about to acquire someone via trade and that player’s cap hit fits within the LTIR amount. He concludes it’s too complicated right now.
Recapping notable news from Saturday’s preseason games, the Canadiens sign Jake Allen to a contract extension, the Jets unveil a statue of Dale Hawerchuk, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
PRESEASON HIGHLIGHTS AND NOTABLE HEADLINES
NHL.COM: Alex DeBrincat scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Ottawa Senators overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Those goals were DeBrincat’s first with the Senators since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in July.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (NHL Images).
Speaking of the Canadiens, they signed Jake Allen to a two-year contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Allen is also getting a pay raise, going from an average annual value of $2.875 million to $3.85 million. He also gets a seven-team no-trade list for 2023-24 and a three-team no-trade for 2024-25.
Allen told reporters he’s happy to stay with the Canadiens and help them with their rebuilding program. He sees himself as a mentor to goalies Cayden Primeau and Sam Montembeault.
And speaking of the Senators, goaltender Cam Talbot missed this game with an undisclosed injury. He’s listed as day-to-day and isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets unveiled a statue honoring the late Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk prior to Saturday’s preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers. Hawerchuk was drafted by the original Jets in 1981 and spent nine seasons with the club, becoming one of the greatest players in franchise history. He died of stomach cancer in 2020.
Two goals by Brent Burns (including the game-winner) enabled the Carolina Hurricanes to nip the Florida Panthers 4-3. Burns was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in July.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Taylor Hall and Fabian Lysell suffered minor injuries during the Boston Bruins’ 4-0 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. They’re expected to be sidelined for only one or two days.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: As for the Flyers, their injury woes continue as goaltender Felix Sandstrom left the game with a lower-body injury. Starter Carter Hart is currently out with an injury but is expected to be ready for the Flyers’ season-opener on Oct. 13.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Jeff Carter and Teddy Blueger remain listed as day-to-day with injuries suffered scrimmages last week.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes signed Calvin de Haan to a one-year, one-way, $850K contract. The 31-year-old defenseman had been in camp on a professional tryout offer.
Nathan Beaulieu’s PTO with the Anaheim Ducks earned the 29-year-old blueliner a one-year, one-way deal worth $850K.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken unveiled Buoy, a blue scraggly sea-troll as their new mascot.
NHL.COM: Dominik Zrim is among several new hirings by the San Jose Sharks. Zrim founded the website CapFriendly in 2015 and becomes the Sharks’ director of salary cap management/CBA compliance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Dominik, and good luck with your new job.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).
Kane, 33, told reporters he was disappointed that the club traded winger Alex DeBrincat in July. However, he dismissed the rumors that swirled about him during the offseason, saying a trade wasn’t something he’d thought about this summer.
The 34-year-old Toews, meanwhile, admitted he’d had some discussion with his family and his agent about a trade. However, those talks were not serious.
It’s apparent Kane and Toews will start the season with the Blackhawks. However, the focus could shift toward the March 3 trade deadline as the next opportunity when they could be moved. Pope reminds us that both players carry full no-movement clauses for the coming season, giving them complete control over this situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and Toews are both eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer, hence the offseason media trade chatter. General manager Kyle Davidson has said he will leave it up to them to decide if they’ll request a trade.
I don’t doubt that some teams have contacted the Blackhawks about either guy but it sounds like Davidson won’t be approaching Kane and/or Toews with trade offers. He could instead tell the interested clubs that he’ll get back to them if one or both players ask to be moved.
THE ATHLETIC: Whether Alex DeBrincat will sign a contract extension was among Ian Mendes’ burning questions for the Ottawa Senators going into training camp. The 24-year-old winger is due to become a restricted free agent next summer and will be a year away by that point from UFA eligibility.
DeBrincat carries an average annual value of $6.4 million but will earn $9 million in actual salary for this season. That will have to be the Senators’ minimum qualifying offer if they want to keep him on a one-year deal.
Mendes believes DeBrincat’s situation could be among the interesting storylines for the Senators this season. His camp will want him to be the highest-paid player on the Senators if he fits in well and reaches the 40-goal plateau again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another 40-goal performance could see DeBrincat’s representatives seek $10 million annually on an eight-year contract, especially if he helps the Senators reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and captain Bo Horvat have been quiet of late but those discussions stretch back several months. Lots of time remains to get a deal done and it’s the club’s priority to get the 27-year-old center under contract.
LeBrun feels the Canucks feel a little less pressure to get Horvat signed after recently re-signing J.T. Miller. However, they have a delicate cap situation into which to fit his new contract. If he’s not signed by the March 3 trade deadline, there’s a possibility he could be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Horvat is slated to become a UFA next summer and carries a $5.5 million AAV for this season. He could seek over $7 million annually on his next deal.
Miller was the subject of considerable trade speculation before signing his new contract. While Horvat could get shopped at the trade deadline, I think negotiations would have to go downhill pretty fast to reach that point. We’ll see how the season plays out.
General manager Don Sweeney could trade or waive players at the start of the season but that would leave the Bruins shorthanded. Shinzawa speculated he could wait until November or December to address that issue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shinzawa seemed to hint that defenseman Mike Reilly or winger Craig Smith could be trade candidates.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary also put out a listing of his notable 2023 UFAs with most of the same names as Dixon’s. This was published before Jonathan Huberdeau’s signing with the Flames, which explains why he’s on that list.
O’Leary’s defensemen include the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg, the Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin, the New York Islanders Scott Mayfield, Florida Panthers’ Radko Gudas, Washington Capitals Dmitry Orlov and the Flames’ MacKenzie Weegar.
The noteworthy goaltenders include the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick, the Red Wings’ Alex Nedeljkovic, the Ottawa Senators’ Cam Talbot and the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slow day for trade and free-agent rumors as we endure the dog days of the NHL offseason. So it’s a good time to review these lists and offer up my two cents on which players will hit the open market next summer and which ones won’t.
I don’t see MacKinnon, Pastrnak, O’Reilly, Severson, Larkin, Horvat, Pavelski, Orlov and Weegar being available by next July. They’ll likely sign contract extensions with their current teams.
Jarry, Pacioretty, Bertuzzi, Dumoulin, Mayfield, Nedeljkovic, Talbot and Allen fall into the “maybe” category for me. Much will depend on their respective performances in the coming season, what they’ll seek on their next contracts, and whether their current clubs can afford to sign them.
I anticipate the remainder will become UFAs. There will still be enticing talent available such as Kane, Miller, Dumba, Tarasenko, Klingberg, and Quick for teams to pursue. Toews could sign with another club but I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires. Monahan’s hip surgeries could bring a premature end to his playing career.
O’Leary also published a list of next summer’s notable restricted free agents. His top forwards include the Senators’ Alex DeBrincat and Tim Stutzle, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, the Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Canadiens’ Cole Caufield, the Stars’ Roope Hintz, the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, the New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere and the San Jose Sharks’ Timo Meier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but DeBrincat, Dubois and Meier will be re-signed. The trio will be a year away from UFA status next summer. They could hit the trade block if they’re unwilling to make a long-term commitment with their current clubs.
Notable RFA defensemen include the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller, the Edmonton Oilers’ Evan Bouchard, the Seattle Kraken’s Vince Dunn, the Hurricanes’ Ethan Bear, and the Ducks’ Jamie Drysdale.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but Bear seem certain to be re-signed by their current teams. He struggled last season with the Hurricanes partly because of the effects of COVID-19. However, a healthy bounce-back performance this season could ensure a longer term for him in Carolina.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov has to make a good impression with the Leafs this season or he could be traded or cut loose next summer. Another solid performance by Swayman this season should ensure he receives a contract extension.
Knight’s situation, however, could be tricky. On the one hand, I expect the Panthers want to re-sign him. On the other, they’ve got Sergei Bobrovsky eating up valuable cap space and playing time. The Panthers can afford to re-sign Knight but maybe he’ll be open to an offer sheet. His situation will be worth monitoring.
The aftermath of a chaotic first round of the 2022 Draft, Joe Sakic was named GM of the Year, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens surprised the hockey world and made history by selecting winger Juraj Slavkovsky with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, making him the first player from Slovakia to go first overall. The Canadiens bypassed center Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, who had been ranked as the top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.
Further history was made when the New Jersey Devils chose defenseman Simon Nemec with the second-overall selection. Slavkovsky and Nemec are the first Slovakians to become the top-two players selected in an NHL draft.
Center Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) was selected by the Arizona Coyotes with the third-overall pick. Wright was chosen fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken.
The Canadiens also chose Slovakian winger Filip Mesar with the No. 26 pick. Meanwhile, the Coyotes selected center Conor Geekie (11th overall) from the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and Maveric Lamoureux from the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs at No. 29.
After starting Thursday with no picks in the first round, the Chicago Blackhawks wound up with three after shipping winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators, center Kirby Dach to the Canadiens and acquiring goalie Petr Mrazek as part of a return from the Toronto Maple Leafs. They chose defenseman Kevin Korchinski from the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds at No. 7, center Frank Nazar from the USNTDP at No. 13 and defenseman Sam Rinzel from Chaska High School at No. 25.
With two picks in the first round, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Czechia defenseman David Jiricek sixth overall and blueliner Denton Mateychuk from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors with the No. 12 pick.
The Buffalo Sabres had three selections in the first round, choosing Winnipeg Ice center Matthew Savoie ninth overall, Swedish center Noah Ostlund with the No. 16 selection and Czechia center Jiri Kulich at No. 28.
With two first-rounders, the Anaheim Ducks selected Pavel Mintyukov of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit at No. 10 and center Nathan Gaucher of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts at No. 22. The Minnesota Wild used their two first-round picks to choose Swedish winger Liam Ohgren at No. 19 and Russian winger Danila Yurov at No. 24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the full results from the first round by following the link above.
That was one of the wilder drafts regarding surprising selections and player movement via trades. You can read my take on those moves involving NHL players here.
Slafkovsky was as surprised as most in the Bell Centre by his selection as the first-overall pick. The big winger has the potential to become a scoring star in the NHL. He was named tournament MVP in the 2022 Beijing Olympics helping Slovakia win its first-ever medal (bronze) in men’s hockey with a tournament-leading seven goals.
Wright, meanwhile, admitted he’ll have a chip on his shoulder from this outcome which he intends to use as motivation in the future. His style of play drew comparisons to Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. The Kraken will have a future Selke Trophy center on their hands if he plays up to projections.
Rounds 2 through 7 will be held today at the Bell Centre in Montreal at 11 am ET.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Center Jagger Firkus of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, defenseman Ryan Chesley of the USNTDP and blueliner Calle Odelius of Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League are among Tony Ferrari’s top-five prospects remaining after the first round. Center Jack Hughes of Northeastern University in the NCAA and winger Julian Lutz of EHC Munchen in Germany round out his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Sakic who did a fine job building the Avalanche into the 2022 Stanley Cup champions.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said he’s given defenseman Duncan Keith until Saturday whether he intends to play next season or retire. Keith, 38, has one year remaining on his contract. His retirement would free up $5.54 million in salary-cap space.
TSN: The Los Angeles Kings hired former goaltender Manon Rheaume as a hockey operations advisor focusing on prospect development. She’s among several women hired to prominent positions among NHL teams in recent weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers need to shed salary to acquire a starting goaltender and have enough space to re-sign or replace winger Evander Kane. It cost them two draft picks and dropped them down three places in the remainder of the first round but it sheds Kassian’s $3.2 million annual salary-cap hit through 2023-24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such is the price necessary for the Leafs to ship out Mrazek and free up his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. They’ll put those savings toward finding a suitable replacement for starting goalie Jack Campbell if they fail to re-sign him before the free-agent market opens next week.
As for the Blackhawks, GM Kyle Davidson is once again making moves to garner more first-round picks for his rebuilding club. He started the day without a pick in this round. He finished the night with three. He also takes on a goaltender in Mrazek but will need to find another if he doesn’t re-sign Kevin Lankinen or Colin Delia.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to reports, the Canadiens wanted more size up front. After selecting big Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first-overall pick, they acquired the 6’4”, 197-pound Dach, who was chosen third overall in 2019 by the Blackhawks.
To get Dach, however, the Canadiens needed another first-round pick, which is why they sent Romanov to the Islanders. This move leaves a gap on their blueline that they’ll have to fill at some point in the offseason. It could come from within by promoting one of their promising young defenseman like Kaiden Guhle or Justin Barron or from another trade or a free-agent signing if they’re looking for experience.
The Canadiens have added more size to their forward lines but they need to address that gap left by Romanov’s absence. The 22-year-old Russian moves the puck well and doesn’t shy away from making big hits. However, he’s had difficulties adjusting to the NHL game. The Isles gave up quite a bit to get him but it could be worth it if he plays up to his potential with his new club.
Dach showed flashes of promise during his three seasons in Chicago but was plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Still, he had time on his side to find his game. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit him.
For the Blackhawks, it’s their second significant trade today, having shipped Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators this afternoon. These moves gave the rebuilding club two picks within the top 15 in this year’s draft, which they used to select defenseman Kevin Korchinski (sixth overall) and center Frank Nazar (13th overall). However, it came at the cost of shipping out their best goal scorer in DeBrincat and a promising center in Dach from their lineup.
Bold moves by the Canadiens and Blackhawks today. Time will tell if they pan out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s quite a pay cut for the 37-year-old Fleury from the $7 million annual average value of his previous contract. At this stage of his career, however, that should be expected. Earlier reports had the Wild trying to sign him to a one-year deal so he managed to squeeze an extra year out of the. With Cam Talbot under contract for $3.6 million next season, the Wild return with their tandem from the 2022 postseason.
Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators wanted a top-six winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle on the second line. DeBrincat should provide a big boost to their offense, coming off his second 41-goal season within the past five years.
The question now is whether the Senators can sign the 24-year-old DeBrincat to a contract extension. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer with a $6.4 million cap hit but will earn $9 million in actual salary. That’s also how much it’ll cost the Senators to qualify his rights because he signed his current contract in 2019 before the changes to the rate for qualifying offers. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility next summer.
The Blackhawks wanted to get a top-10 pick after former general manager Stan Bowman traded away their pick last summer to Columbus in the Seth Jones trades. Some observers expected they’d get a bigger return than a first and a second in this year’s draft and a third in two years’ time. Nevertheless, if current GM Kyle Davidson can secure at least one future star out of those picks it could prove worthwhile for the rebuilding Hawks over the long term.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, this isn’t the five-year deal between $8 million and $9 million annually that some sources had speculated. On the other, the Pens are paying an average of $6.1 million per season for a blueliner approaching his late-30s.
It’s a gamble by general manager Ron Hextall. Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point performance and should have around three more good seasons left. It’s those final three years that could make this contract burdensome down the road.
Hextall’s focus will shift toward Evgeni Malkin, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. Recent speculation had the two sides discussing a three-year contract but they’re apparently far apart on the dollars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This means Darcy Kuemper will be departing the Avalanche as a free agent on July 13. Georgiev struggled at times during his tenure with the Rangers. However, he did play well filling in for starter Igor Shesterkin this season when he missed 11 games with a lower-body injury and a bout with COVID-19. Maybe he’ll have better luck in Colorado establishing himself as a starter than he did in New York.