NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2023
The latest Avalanche speculation plus recent updates on Josh Bailey and Kailer Yamamoto in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE
THE DENVER POST: Bennett Durando recently examined the pressing issues facing the Colorado Avalanche following their early exit from the 2023 playoffs.
Uncertainty exists over the statues of captain Gabriel Landeskog and winger Valeri Nichushkin.
Landeskog remains sidelined by a nagging knee injury that could sideline him into next season. He’s under contract for six more seasons with an average annual value of $7 million.
Meanwhile, the club has been silent over Nichushkin’s situation. He was sent back to Denver following an incident involving an intoxicated woman in his Seattle hotel room before Game 3 of their series against the Kraken. His whereabouts remain unclear despite the lack of a criminal investigation against him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog could end up on long-term injury reserve to start next season. That will provide the Avs with some salary-cap wiggle room if necessary though they must ensure they’re cap compliant should he return to the lineup before the end of the season.
Nichushkin reportedly isn’t under investigation for any criminal charges. He’s earning an AAV of $6.125 million through 2029-30. His situation has some observers wondering if a contract termination is possible though it’s premature at this stage to make that assumption until more details emerge.
The Avalanche face the second straight offseason trying to fill their second-line center position. Do they re-sign pending UFA J.T. Compher or attempt to find a replacement via the trade or free-agent markets?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They might be better off re-signing Compher provided his asking price is reasonable. There’s not much depth in quality second-line centers in this summer’s UFA market. Finding one via trade could be difficult.
Durando also wondered what the Avalanche will do with Devon Toews. The 29-year-old defenseman is eligible for UFA status next summer. Do they open contract extension talks this summer, clear another salary to make room for his new contract, or consider trading him this summer?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews is an invaluable part of their defense corps. If they re-sign him, however, they could be forced to ship out another blueliner to clear cap room.
The Athletic’s Peter Baugh wondered if that would mean shopping Samuel Girard. The Avs have been hesitant to move him in the past but they might not have much choice this time around.
Defenseman Bowen Byram and forward Alex Newhook are coming off their entry-level contracts this summer and are due for raises. Durando wondered if they’ll end up on affordable short-term bridge deals or signed to long-term deals with bigger dollar amounts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That all comes down to how much cap space the Avs will have. Cap Friendly shows them with $13.9 million of projected cap space next season with 12 roster players under contract.
Re-signing Compher could cost a minimum of $5.5 million annually. It could cost at least a combined $6 million to ink Byram and Newhook to short-term bridge deals. That won’t leave much to fill out the remainder of the roster.
If there’s no apparent cap relief from Landeskog and/or Nichushkin, the Avs will have to make a cost-cutting move or two. Toews or Girard could be on the move this summer.
THE ISLANDERS’ JOSH BAILEY FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears reports long-time Islanders winger Josh Bailey faces an uncertain future. The 15-year veteran is just the third player in franchise history to play over 1,000 games and is among their franchise leaders in assists and points.
Bailey, however, was a healthy scratch during the Isles’ first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes and played just four games in the club’s final month of the regular season. He acknowledged the uncertainty he faces during his end-of-season interview with the press.
With younger wingers in the lineup and the Isles carrying limited cap space this summer, Bailey could become a trade or buyout candidate. He has a year left on his contract worth $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey’s production has declined since reaching his career high of 71 points in 2017-18. He had just 25 points in 64 games this season. Trading him won’t be easy unless the Isles include a sweetener in the deal or retain part of his cap hit. A buyout seems more likely at this stage in his career.
COULD THE OILERS SHOP YAMAMOTO THIS SUMMER?
THE ATHLETIC: During the Edmonton Oilers’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, Allan Mitchell pondered Kailer Yamamoto’s future in Edmonton. The 24-year-old winger has been hampered by injuries plus his shooting percentage has struggled and he’s had difficulty winning puck battles.
Yamamoto has a year remaining on his contract worth $3.1 million. Mitchell believes he hasn’t delivered enough offense to justify his salary when the Oilers face a tight salary cap this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have 21 players under contract for next season but only $3.7 million in projected cap space with Evan Bouchard and Klim Kostin seeking raises as restricted free agents. Yamamoto had 10 goals and 25 points in 58 games this season. He could become a salary-cap casualty this summer.