The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.
The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).
Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.
Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.
Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.
No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.
In other news…
TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.
Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
Predators prospect Luke Prokop comes out as gay, Carey Price calls for increased recognition of the history of residential schools, the Kraken could be close to signing Chris Driedger, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop revealed yesterday he is gay, become the first player under an NHL contract to come out. “I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” wrote Prokop on Instagram. “Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”
Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop.
Prokop, 19, is a defenseman with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. The Predators selected him in the third round (73rd overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft and signed him last December to a three-year entry-level contract.
The news was no surprise for the Predators. Prokop informed general manager David Poile of his sexuality over a year ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prokop is receiving widespread support from the Predators and throughout the hockey community following his announcement yesterday. It took courage for this young man to come out. Hopefully, he’ll be an example and inspiration to other gay players.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price believes more should be done to make Canadians aware of the history of residential schools. A growing number of unmarked graves continue to be discovered on the sites of some former residential schools throughout several provinces.
Price’s grandmother was a residential school survivor. His mother, Lynda Price, is chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation in Northern British Columbia.
“I think we need to do a better job in the future of recognizing that this is a part of our history in Canada and it’s just not right,” said Price.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported yesterday the Seattle Kraken are closing in on a three-year, $10.5 million contract with Chris Driedger. The 27-year-old Florida Panthers goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.
Under expansion draft rules, the Kraken have a brief window (July 18 to 21) to negotiate exclusively with free agents left unprotected in Wednesday’s expansion draft. If signed by the Kraken, he’ll be considered that club’s selection from the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger came into his own this season after several years of bouncing between the NHL and the minors. He outperformed Panthers starter Sergei Bobrovsky. With promising Spencer Knight now on their roster, they can’t afford to carry three goalies.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the New York Rangers are close to signing a six-year contract extension with Barclay Goodrow. The Rangers acquired the 28-year-old forward last week from the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s believed the annual average value of his new contract would be around $3.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad pay raise for Goodrow, who’s completing a two-year, $1.85 million contract. That term is longer than most for a checking-line forward. They usually get deals between three-to-four years.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski cites sources saying the NHL’s 2021-22 schedule will contain a break for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. It’s reportedly scheduled for Feb. 5-22, 2022.
The schedule is expected to be released on July 22 but could contain a caveat indicating NHL participation in the Olympics isn’t yet guaranteed.
The NHL is still working with the International Olympic Committee on issues that prevented the league from participating in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have hired Darryl Williams as an assistant coach. Williams worked with Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault in Vancouver and New York over nine seasons.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their affiliation with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears for the next two seasons.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Mark Morrisson as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks.
Will the Wild pursue Jack Eichel after buying out Parise and Suter? What’s the latest on Gabriel Landeskog and Jake Allen? Are big decisions coming for the Blackhawks, Predators and Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Dreger said the Wild would love to add a first-line center. He believes they’ll make a trade offer to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. However, general manager Bill Guerin won’t blow their cap space or overpay with trade assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s buyouts of Parise and Suter give them over $26 million in projected salary-cap space for 2021-22. Nearly half of that could be invested in Kaprizov and Fiala.
They’ll have less room beyond next season when they’ll have between $12.7 million and $14.7 million in dead cap space from 2022-23 to 2024-25. I don’t think Eichel’s a fit in Minnesota unless Guerin convinces the Sabres to absorb a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLACKHAWKS FOLLOWING THE KEITH TRADE?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Blackhawks are also open to improving their goaltending. He cited a league source saying they could be in play for Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. With just one season left on his contract, the Blackhawks can afford his $7 million cap hit for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is believed keen to add a top-pairing right-side defenseman. His preference could be for Jones if the Jackets blueliner is willing to sign a long-term contract extension. If not, that focus could shift to Hamilton.
The Golden Knights are pressed for cap space and probably won’t take back much salary if they decide to move Fleury. He could be had for a draft pick. That depends on whether Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has changed his mind about Fleury finishing his career in Vegas and if the Blackhawks are on Fleury’s list of trade destinations.
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).
COULD AVALANCHE PART WAYS WITH LANDESKOG?
Dreger said the Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog aren’t even close in their contract talks. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He pointed out it’s still early in the process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog is completing a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.57 million. He could seek over $7 million on a long-term deal. The Avalanche has over $25 million in cap room but they must also re-sign Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer and Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar. Both are in line for big raises.
Rival clubs will be ready to pounce if Landeskog hits the open market. The St. Louis Blues are reportedly preparing a “full pitch effort” to sign him. They have over $17 million in cap space but could be $7.5 million more if they can trade unhappy right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.
He thinks the Predators have had a discussion about a side deal with the Seattle Kraken. They could also trade a defenseman to another club before the draft. They could opt to protect those five by protecting eight skaters but LeBrun doubts they’ll do that. He also speculated they could expose center Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the side deal is trying to convince the Kraken to select Duchene. Given his declining production and $8 million annual average value for the next five seasons, they’ll have to toss in a significant sweetener.
Richards hasn’t been able to confirm if the Panthers have approached Yandle about it. He said he’d heard whispers of a handshake agreement between the two sides but nothing’s been substantiated. He thinks Yandle won’t be back with the team one way or another.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports half a dozen teams have contacted the Panthers with a serious interest in pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger. That level of interest could boost the cost of his next contract to $3.5 million per season. LeBrun believes the Seattle Kraken are among the interested parties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for teams to ask players to waive their NMCs was yesterday at 5 pm ET. Any players asked to do so have until Friday to reach a decision. We’ll learn by then if Yandle was among them.
Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $6.35 million. His full no-move becomes a modified 12-team no-trade list next summer. Buying him out would could as $2.3 million this season against the Panthers cap but it jumps to $5.3 million in 2022-23 before dropping to $1.2 million per season for the final two years of the buyout.
If Yandle won’t waive his clause for the Kraken (or they don’t take him if he does), the Panthers’ best option is to try to trade him to a team if he’s willing to waive his clause for certain teams. That’ll likely mean taking back a toxic contract or absorbing a chunk of his cap hit to facilitate a deal.
Keep an eye on Driedger. He could be traded before the expansion draft next Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin can convince his Kraken counterpart to pass over Allen for another unprotected Hab. Failing that, maybe Bergevin can swing a deal with a club seeking reliable goalie depth before the expansion draft.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel also wonders about the futures of Malkin and Letang, as well as that of head coach Mike Sullivan.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).
Based on comments earlier this season by Brian Burke, the Penguins president of hockey operations, Vensel speculates they could try to bolster their goaltending while also adding some size and toughness to the lineup. The shaky performance of Tristan Jarry could send the Penguins into this summer’s trade and free-agent markets in search of help between the pipes.
THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille believes Jarry’s goaltending cost the Penguins the series. He wonders if they’ll move around some money to pursue a free agent such as Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark or look to the trade market for help.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t need to blow up the roster but changes are necessary after three consecutive early postseason exits. Burke and general manager Ron Hextall will likely retool rather than rebuild, bringing in younger players to support their aging stars.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosbyisn’t in favor of breaking up the core. His opinion could carry some weight with Burke and Hextall but the final decisions rest with those two.
Crosby isn’t going anywhere and Malkin won’t be traded unless he requests it. The Penguins could shop Letang but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns. He also has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. He also carries a $7.25 million cap hit next season.
Goaltending is their weakness. Jarry was supposed to be an improvement over the departed Matt Murray but he couldn’t handle the pressure as a starter. Finding a suitably experienced starter will be top of the list, followed by adding more size and toughness.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE PANTHERS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan speculates the Florida Panthers could lose a good roster player to the Kraken in the expansion draft. It could be a forward such as Patric Hornqvist or Mason Marchment, a blueliner like Gustav Forsling, Radko Gudas or Markus Nuutivaara, or pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Dave Hyde pondered what promising goalie Spencer Knight’s performance in the final two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning means for Sergei Bobrovsky’s future in Florida. He wondered if general manager Bill Zito will try to move Bobrovsky this summer if someone is willing to take on the veteran netminder’s hefty contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers drafting Knight in the 2019 draft and signing Bobrovsky days later was a topic of recent amusement for some folks on social media. They conveniently overlook the fact that it was former Panthers GM Dale Tallon who made those moves. Zito was left with a headache.
Bobrovksky’s inconsistent play since joining the Panthers, his full no-movement clause and $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 makes him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season. As per Cap Friendly, a buyout will be an expensive long-term headache.
MORE OILERS SPECULATION
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doesn’t expect Oilers GM Ken Holland to go on a massive spending spree this summer to bolster his roster. While Holland will have $28 million in cap space, a portion will be spent on trying to re-sign pending UFAs Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie.
Matheson considers Larsson the cheapest and most likely to be re-signed. Nugent-Hopkins will be the most expensive while Barrie could be departing after a year in Edmonton because he’ll want a long-term deal.
Holland said he intends to bring back goaltender Mike Smith for another season. Matheson wonders if Mikko Koskinen will be traded, perhaps packaged with a draft pick or prospect to a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets for one of their young goalies.
Buyouts are also possible. Matheson believes James Neal to be the most likely candidate. Holland didn’t rule out trading a prospect such as Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg or Dylan Holloway for immediate help but he said he’s not doing that for a one-year player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could try to convince Nugent-Hopkins to accept slightly less than his current $6 million annual average value. If RNH signs elsewhere, Holland will use the savings to bring in a replacement via trade or free agency.
I like Matheson’s suggestion of packaging Koskinen to the Blue Jackets for Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo. Koskinen’s 15-team no-trade list, however, could be a sticking point if he doesn’t want to go to Columbus. Even then, the Jackets could get better offers for one of those goalies.
Vancouver Canucks center Elias Petterssen (NHL Images).
Johnston acknowledged the unlikelihood of that happening. Nevertheless, he pondered the possibility of the Seattle Kraken or Montreal Canadiens taking advantage of the Canucks’ limited cap space to make an offer that might be difficult to match.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston brought up the Canadiens in part because they signed Sebastian Aho to a deal two years ago that was easily matched by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canadiens could try again but I doubt they’ll go that route. Cap Friendly shows them with $67.7 million invested in 15 players. Attempting to sign Petterssen will likely cost at least $8 million annually, leaving little room to re-sign or replace free agents such as Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Joel Armia.
I don’t see Kraken GM Ron Francis giving it a try. He didn’t make such a bold move during his tenure as the Hurricanes general manager so it seems doubtful he’ll use the offer sheet gambit to build his club.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi speculates the Flyers’ bad season could show GM Chuck Fletcher he must make major changes to his roster. Promising goaltender Carter Hart was among the league’s worst, the special teams were a disaster and poor starts were the norm.
The most mystifying was how much the Flyers collapsed following the offseason retirement of defenseman Matt Niskanen. Fletcher failed to replace him with a more defensive-minded option. Erik Gustafsson and Philippe Myers both flopped with Gustafsson traded away for next to nothing.
Carchidi felt the club had too many passers and not enough shooters. He wondered if the Flyers who contracted COVID-19 earlier this season suffered any lingering side-effects. He also pondered if the constant line changes prevented the players from building on-ice chemistry or if the players began tuning out head coach Alain Vigneault.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher has little choice but to make changes this summer via trades and free agency. He can’t return with the same roster next season and expect improvement. Backup Brian Elliott should be replaced with a younger goaltender to help Hart share the workload while the struggling starter regains his form. They must add an experienced shutdown defenseman and scoring forward.
With over $70 million invested in 18 players, however, those changes could prove easier said than done. Fletcher tried and failed to find anyone to take struggling blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere off his hand.
Some observers suggest trading Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and/or James van Riemsdyk but it won’t be easy moving those high-salaried players with the cap remaining at $81.5 million. Giroux has a year left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $8.275 million ($5 million in actual salary) and a no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s played well this season for the Panthers but they’re likely to promote promising Spencer Knight as Sergei Bobrovsky’s full-time backup. The Kraken have a three-day window before the expansion draft (July 18-21) to interview free agents. Perhaps they can convince Driedger to join them.
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers over the Jets, the Hurricanes clinch a playoff spot, the stars of the week are announced, a new broadcasting deal with Turner, the latest on Patrick Roy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick and added an assist leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have 58 points, sitting one up on the Jets for second place in the Scotia North Division while McDavid has a league-leading 81 points. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Zack Kassian was placed on long-term injury reserve. The Jets, meanwhile, announced winger Nikolaj Ehlers will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 81 points (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will miss Ehlers’ production. He’s second among their scorers with 46 points.
The Montreal Canadiens (51 points) opened a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with a 2-1 victory. Tyler Toffoli scored the game-winner while Cole Caufield was held scoreless in his NHL debut. The Flames suffered another blow earlier in the day when they learned defenseman Noah Hanifin will require season-ending shoulder surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens control their fate as they hold a game in hand over the Flames.
The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot despite dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Dallas Stars. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the game-winner and collected three assists. The Hurricanes sit atop the Discover Central Division with 69 points, securing a third straight postseason berth for the first time since the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997. With 54 points, the Stars remain two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Speaking of the Predators, they got a 39-save performance by Juuse Saros to down the Florida Panthers 4-1 to prevent the latter from clinching a playoff spot. Florida goaltender Chris Driedger left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers sit two points back of the division-leading Hurricanes.
The St. Louis Blues regained fourth place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 upset of the Colorado Avalanche. David Perron had a goal and two assists as St. Louis (48 points) moved a point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. Blues defensemen Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn missed the game with upper-body injuries. The Avs played without winger Brandon Saad, who’s sidelined two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. They sit in second place with 66 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Canadiens, the Blues control their fate as they hold three games in hand over the Coyotes.
A four-point performance by Evander Kane (one goal, three assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-4 win over the Coyotes. The Sharks (43 points) sit four back of the Coyotes and five behind the Blues.
A 25-save performance by Marcus Hogberg gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Brady Tkachuk collected two assists while Drake Batherson tallied the winning goal. The Canucks played without goaltender Thatcher Demko as he suffered an undisclosed injury during the morning skate. The Senators, meanwhile, could be without Matt Murray (lower-body injury) for the rest of the season.
Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. The Ducks have dropped five in a row.
San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, and Florida Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 25, 2021.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed practice yesterday with a lower-body injury and is doubtful for tonight’s game with the New York Islanders. Defenseman Justin Schultz (lower body) is also doubtful though he did skate in yesterday’s practice in a non-contact jersey.
SPORTSNET: The NHL has reportedly reached an agreement with Turner Sports on a seven-year broadcasting deal that includes three Stanley Cup Finals. This deal would give the league two television partners for the first time since 1998-99 as it recently reached an agreement to return to ESPN starting next season. The Turner deal spells the end of NBC Sports’ coverage of NHL games following this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The combined deals will reportedly provide the NHL $625 million annually in broadcasting revenue. That’s a significant increase over the $200 million annually on its current deal with NBC.
SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Fame goaltender Patrick Roy is exploring options for a possible return to the NHL as a coach or general manager. Roy was head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-14 to 2015-16 but stepped down citing a lack of input in personnel decisions. He’s also the long-time head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news sparked speculation among Montreal Canadiens fans that Roy could replace Marc Bergevin as general manager. Roy’s new agent, however, claimed they haven’t had any conversations with the Canadiens and no deals are imminent with any other NHL club.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Andrew Shaw yesterday announced his playing career is over after 10 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. Multiple concussions cut short his career at age 29. Shaw spent seven seasons with the Blackhawks, winning two Stanley Cups and scoring 116 goals and 247 points in 544 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shaw and his family in his future endeavors.