The Jets will honor Teemu Selanne and Teppo Numminen, what the Capitals can expect from Dylan Strome, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
WINNIPEG SUN: Teemu Selanne and Teppo Numminen have become the latest members of the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame. The duo will be honored in a banner-raising ceremony on Nov. 17 prior to their game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Winnipeg Jets to honor Teemu Selanne and Teppo Numminen (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Selanne and Numminen were the last stars (along with Keith Tkachuk) on the previous version of the Jets before the franchise was relocated in 1996 to Arizona. Both players began their NHL careers in Winnipeg, with Selanne playing four seasons and Numminen eight.
Selanne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017. Numminen’s No. 27 was enshrined into the Arizona Coyotes ring of honor for his 15 seasons with the franchise, including their incarnation as the Jets.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Having signed a one-year contract with the Capitals, Dylan Strome must now prove he can become a reliable, regular top-six center. He’ll be expected to replace the sidelined Nicklas Backstrom on the Capitals’ second line until the latter returns from hip surgery later this season.
Strome, 25, could be playing alongside T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha. He’ll have an additional incentive as he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries and inconsistency dogged Strome during his tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was also shuffled around their lineup over the past two seasons but still finished with 48 points in 69 games in 2021-22. A solid performance this season could ensure he gets a longer contract with the Capitals.
GOPHNX.COM: Nick Bjugstad signed with the Arizona Coyotes hoping to resuscitate his career. The 30-year forward wants to prove that he can still play meaningful minutes after years of injuries. He also hopes his experience and leadership can help the younger players on the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid effort by Bjugstad in the coming season could also draw interest from playoff contenders seeking depth at the 2023 trade deadline.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche re-signed forward Shane Bowers to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750k at the NHL level.
PHILLY.COM: The Flyers recently signed forward Jackson Cates to a one-year, two-way deal worth $775K at the NHL level.
The notable players still available in the unrestricted free agent market, the latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Carey Price, the Senators sign Josh Norris to an eight-year deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: Center Nazem Kadri and defenseman John Klingberg top Matt Larkin’s list of the best players still available in the unrestricted free agent market. Other notables include winger Nino Niederreiter, center Paul Stastny, and winger Phil Kessel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri and Klingberg could come off the market as early as Friday or perhaps by the end of this weekend. It could take a little longer for the other to find new contracts.
In the case of aging players such as Stastny and Kessel, they could be waiting weeks for new contracts as younger talent gets snapped up in the opening days of free agency. As the dust settles, teams will take time to evaluate their remaining needs and salary-cap space.
SPORTSNET: Calgary fans and pundits remain in shock over winger Johnny Gaudreau rejecting a more lucrative offer from the Flames to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In his introductory press conference with the Jackets, the 28-year-old Gaudreau said Columbus made the most sense for him and his wife.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sucks when a star player departs via free agency. Usually, it’s because of money. In Gaudreau’s case, he and his wife wanted to move back East to be closer to family.
It was assumed Gaudreau would sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders to be closer to his family home in New Jersey. However, the Flyers couldn’t afford him, the Isles couldn’t free up sufficient cap room, and the Devils made a contract pitch that apparently wasn’t as good as what the Jackets were offering.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).
The Flames faithful are understandably puzzled and perhaps upset over Gaudreau’s decision. Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that he wanted to move on. That’s what the Flames, their fans, and the Calgary media also need to do now. It’s the business of NHL hockey and sometimes it hurts.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The future of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price remains uncertain as the club still awaits clarity over his ongoing recovery from last summer’s knee surgery. The 34-year-old Price was limited to just five games last season.
Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said yesterday Price didn’t encounter swelling in his knee when working out but it would occur when he was doing goalie movements on the ice. He’s slated to meet with a Montreal doctor in August.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price hopes to return to action next season. If he can’t play, the Canadiens can place him and his $10.5 million salary-cap hit on long-term injury reserve.
With the Habs pressed against the $82.5 million cap, putting Price on LTIR would enable them to exceed the cap by the total amount of his average annual value. Until there’s more certainty over his status, Hughes’ has limited ability to make offseason additions unless he makes a cost-cutting move elsewhere.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed Josh Norris to an eight-year, $63.5 million contract. The average annual value is $7.95 million, making the 23-year-old center the third highest-paid player on the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In just two NHL seasons, Norris rose to become the Senators’ first-line center. He had a respectable 35 points in 56 games as a rookie during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season followed by 55 points in 66 games during his injury-shortened sophomore campaign.
That new contract will put Norris under additional pressure to meet the expectations of his new contract. His ongoing development suggests he’ll have little difficulty rising to that challenge.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggests the Boston Bruins’ acquisition of Pavel Zacha gives winger David Pastrnak another reason to re-sign with the club. The two were linemates for the Czech Republic in the 2014 and 2015 World Junior Championships and got along well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It couldn’t hurt, I suppose. Perhaps the long-term plan here is for Zacha to one day center Pastrnak once Patrice Bergeron finally retires. The former first-round draft pick struggled with the New Jersey Devils but perhaps he can regain his once-promising form with the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is an affordable short-term insurance move in case second-line center Nicklas Backstrom misses the first half of the 2022-23 season (or more) recovering from offseason hip surgery.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ run to the 2022 Western Conference Finals made it easier for general manager Ken Holland to attract talent to his club via free agency. He brought back winger Evander Kane and inked former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It helped that Kane had already spent a half-season with the Oilers and clearly enjoyed the experience. Oilers winger and former Leaf Zach Hyman also played a part in convincing Campbell to come to Edmonton.
TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they signed free-agent defensemen Victor Mete and Jordie Benn to one-year contracts worth $750K each.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Nashville Predators signed goaltender Kevin Lankinen and defenseman Mark Jankowski to one-year contracts.
John Gibson isn’t interested in a trade to Toronto, the Avalanche re-sign Alexandar Georgiev, the Blackhawks won’t qualify Dylan Strome’s rights, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: cites Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reporting agent Kurt Overhardt claims client John Gibson has no interest in playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His comments come amid speculation the 28-year-old goaltender could be a Leafs trade target. “He’s absolutely committed to the Anaheim Ducks,” said Overhardt.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last month, Gibson denied speculation he wanted out of Anaheim as Ducks management focuses on rebuilding the roster. Some will take Overhardt’s comments as meaning his client isn’t interested in playing for Toronto but could accept a trade to an American-based team. Nevertheless, it’s apparent the Leafs will have to look elsewhere for a goaltender. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE DENVER POST: Less than a week after acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers, the Colorado Avalanche signed the 26-year-old goaltender to a three-year, $10.2 million contract. He was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is an affordable $3.4 million. Georgiev now has an opportunity to finally establish himself as a starting goaltender and to do so with a Stanley Cup champion.
THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks won’t be qualifying the rights of RFA Dylan Strome before today’s 5 pm ET deadline. The 25-year-old center will become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not sitting well with Blackhawks fans who felt Strome earned at least a qualifying offer. Some wonder why they’re just letting him go rather than trying to shop him for some sort of return. He’s been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for the past two seasons. Strome has had his ups-and-downs with the Blackhawks but he could be an affordable second-line center option on a more stable roster.
YARDBARKER: Strome isn’t the only Blackhawk not getting a qualifying offer. Winger Dominik Kubalik will also be heading to market on Wednesday. The 26-year-old led all rookies in 2019-20 with 30 goals in 68 games but his production dropped to 17 goals in 56 games in 2020-21 and 15 goals in 78 games this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik will likely get less on the open market than the $4 million it would’ve cost the Blackhawks to qualify his rights. Still, he could be an affordable option for teams on a budget that are seeking scoring depth.
THE SCORE: Seattle Kraken center Shane Wright denies he glared from the draft stage at the Montreal Canadiens table for not selecting him with the first overall pick. “I was just looking at the cameras in front of me,” said Wright. “To be honest, I don’t really remember too much of going up on stage. It was just kind of a whirlwind for me.”
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin strongly denied there were any trade talks regarding a possible trade of J.T. Miller to the New York Islanders leading up to the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. When asked, Isles GM Lou Lamoriello simply shrugged and said, “Talk to Vancouver”.
Nevertheless, Stefen Rosner reports a league source claims Allvin asked for an additional piece in the Islanders’ rumored package offer for Miller. Lamoriello was said to be unwilling to do that and nixed the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The speculation suggests the Isles were in the market for a scorer at the draft. Whether Lamoriello continues his rumored attempt to land Miller or looks elsewhere via trade or free agency remains to be seen.
Speaking of the Islanders, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz tweeted it’s his understanding winger Josh Bailey isn’t being shopped, nor is he believed to be available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey was rumored to be a cost-cutting trade candidate in Lamoriello’s search for a scorer. Cap Friendly shows the 32-year-old winger is signed through 2023-24 with an annual cap hit of $5 million and lacking no-trade protection.
DAILY FACEOFF: Qualifying offers for restricted free agents are due at 5 pm ET Monday (July 11). RFAs are eligible to begin receiving offer sheets on July 12. By midnight on Tuesday, pending UFAs won’t be eligible to receive eight-year contract offers from their current clubs. The free-agent market opens Wednesday at noon ET.
BROAD STREET HOCKEY: Philadelphia Flyers winger Bobby Brink is dealing with a hip injury suffered during offseason training and will miss the club’s ongoing development camp.
TSN: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed defenseman Jacob Bryson to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.85 million.
Former NHL center Rod Zaine passed away from undisclosed causes on July 7. He was 76. Zaine made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1970-71 and played for the Buffalo Sabres in 1971-72. He spent the final three seasons of his professional career in the World Hockey Association.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: My condolences to Zaine’s family, friends and former teammates.
Scheifele sounded frustrated during yesterday’s season-ending press conference. The 28-year-old center said he’s in the prime of his playing career and believes he’s improving all the time. However, he wants to know the club’s direction and what changes could be in store.
Completing his 11th season with the Jets, Scheifele said he’d love to be in Winnipeg. Nevertheless, he has to think about his career and what’s best for him and his family. He anticipates a “tough talk” with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff during his end-of-season interview today.
Billeck and McIntyre believe Scheifele’s comments are the start of what could be a turbulent offseason for the Jets. While Cheveldayoff received a three-year contract extension yesterday, he will have a lot on his plate.
In addition to Scheifele’s future, there were reports of a divided dressing room and a lack of accountability throughout this season. A decision must be made whether to make interim head coach Dave Lowry the full-time bench boss or find a replacement. Center Pierre-Luc Dubois is a restricted free agent who’s in line for a lucrative new contract. Their defense corps also needs to be improved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele’s inconsistent performance this season and seeming indifference toward his defensive play sparked speculation he could become an offseason trade candidate. He didn’t come out and demand a trade yesterday but that could be in the cards if his meeting with Cheveldayoff goes sour or he disapproves of the GM’s offseason moves.
Expect speculation over Scheifele’s future to be a hot topic following the playoffs in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8. That’s usually the period when notable players like himself get traded as teams have more cap room and a willingness to make big moves in the trade market.
Trading Scheifele would be a significant shakeup of the roster core. It could also set the table for a big raise for Dubois.
RECENT BLACKHAWKS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis recently reported long-time Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he’d had multiple conversations with general manager Kyle Davidson and expects to learn more about the club’s offseason plans following the end of the regular season.
Kane acknowledged his leadership role with the club could speed up its rebuild. He also enjoys the chemistry and relationship he’s built with winger Alex DeBrincat. The 33-year-old winger hopes the Blackhawks can follow the blueprint of the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers as they rebuilt on the fly and are playoff clubs this season.
Roumeliotis also wondered what the future holds for Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews as they both had one season remaining on their identical contracts. He pointed out the Blackhawks don’t have many tradeable assets to start a true rebuilding. Alex DeBrincat would fetch the best return but it would take a significant offer to convince Davidson to move the 24-year-old winger.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reported that DeBrincat acknowledged this was a frustrating season for him. Nevertheless, he’s open to signing a contract extension with the Blackhawks. DeBrincat has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The futures of Kane and Toews have already sparked plenty of conjecture that will continue to grow between now and into July when business picks up in the trade market. Kane’s still-impressive offensive stats would draw considerable interest if Davidson tries to shop him.
However, moving Kane and/or Toews won’t be easy. Kane and Toews each carry hefty $10.5 million cap hits and full no-movement clauses.
DeBrincat hit 41 goals and 78 points this season. He’s a player the Blackhawks should be building around, especially if he’s interested in a contract extension. Then again, I said the same thing about Brandon Hagel before the trade deadline and he got shipped to Tampa Bay. Davidson could listen if someone makes a substantial offer for DeBrincat.
Davidson could keep Strome if he envisions rebuilding on the fly with the aim of reaching the playoffs in two or three years’ time. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be surprising if he becomes a trade candidate.
An update on Jakob Chychrun plus the latest on the Blackhawks plus in today’s NHL rumor mill.
GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about Jakob Chychrun’s future with the Arizona Coyotes. He believes once rumors got out that teams were calling about the 24-year-old defenseman that his camp became open to the idea of a trade.
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).
Morgan doesn’t think Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25, wants to sacrifice three seasons of his playing prime in a rebuild. He doesn’t see Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong budging from his high asking price. If teams aren’t willing to pay it this summer (and Chychrun’s subpar season didn’t help), Armstrong won’t trade him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The passing of last month’s NHL trade deadline brought an end to the seemingly endless Chychrun trade speculation that had been ongoing since last fall. Things are quiet now but we can expect the rumors to ramp up again as teams are eliminated from the playoffs, reaching another fever pitch approaching the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8.
Despite the decline in Chychrun’s production this season, his age, puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million contract will ensure he remains an attractive trade candidate this summer. A number of the clubs that were linked to him before the trade deadline, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues could revisit their interest when the offseason begins.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently speculated over the potential rebuilding plans of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson in the upcoming offseason. If they end up with one of the top two picks in this year’s draft following next month’s draft lottery and send their 2023 first-round to Columbus as part of the Seth Jones trade, perhaps Davidson will have some incentive to improve the club next season. He won’t want that pick to turn into a generational talent for the Jackets if he tanked next season.
On the other hand, if the Blackhawks don’t get that top-two placement and send their 2022 pick to the Blue Jackets, Davidson could commence a major teardown to improve his club’s chances of winning next year’s draft lottery. That could mean letting restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome walk this summer without bringing in top-six forwards to replace them.
A league source told Powers they wouldn’t be shocked if Davidson shopped Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat this summer. However, there’s no indication the Blackhawks GM has any plans to do that. Davidson is expected to meet with Pat Brisson, the agent for Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews, to discuss his offseason plans.
Meanwhile, Mark Lazerus recently reportedTyler Johnson is willing to embrace a role in the Blackhawks’ rebuild. However, it’s uncertain where he fits in Davidson’s plans.
Johnson is signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5 million. He could fill a veteran leader role if Toews and/or Kane decide to move on from the Blackhawks. Otherwise, Davidson could attempt to move Johnson via trade or buy out the remainder of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks will be one of the clubs worth watching during this offseason. Big changes could be in the works that might involve a core player like Toews, Kane or DeBrincat moving on. Davidson won’t shop those guys just for the sake of making changes. However, as we saw with the Brandon Hagel trade, he’ll be willing to move those players for the right offer.
Toews and Kane are in the final seasons of their respective contracts with $10.5-million annual cap hits and full no-movement clauses. DeBrincat is a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has a $6.4-million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection but is slated to earn $9 million in actual salary next season.
Johnson’s decline in production and injury history could make him a tough sell in this summer’s trade market. He also has a 20-team list of preferred trade destinations. Cap Friendly shows a buyout will count as over $2.6 million next season, $1.66 million in 2023-24, followed by over $1.46 million for each of the final two years.
Updates on Kris Letang and Patrice Bergeron plus four free agents who could use a strong finish to this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s been ongoing talk between the Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang. While Letang wants to focus on the season, there’s been more of a connection between his camp and the Penguins, though the progress has been slow.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang, 34, is completing an eight-year contract worth $7.25 million per season. Earlier this year, there was talk he would seek a raise based on his strong performance this season. With 64 points in 74 games, he’s just three away from tying his personal best set in 2015-16.
The Penguins must also attempt to sign fellow UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Malkin, 35, has indicated he’s willing to accept a pay cut. The 29-year-old Rust is finishing a four-year, $14 million contract and will justifiably seek a raise on a long-term deal.
Letang has said he’d like to retire as a Penguin. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut or perhaps a modest raise on a short-term deal, he could price himself out of Pittsburgh. The Athletic’s Josh Yohe guesses Malkin stays, Letang signs with the Montreal Canadiens and Rust cashes in with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. We’ll find out by July 13 if those scenarios come to pass.
There’s been less discussion between the Boston Bruins and Patrice Bergeron but that’s by design. There’s a willingness to be patient between the two sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron and the Bruins agreed to shelve contract talks until the end of this season. I expect he wants to finish his career in Boston and the Bruins want to keep him. Their contract negotiations will start in earnest following the playoffs.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes pending free agents such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser, New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban and Dallas Stars Alexander Radulov could benefit from a strong finish to this season.
Strome overcame a struggling start to this season to score a career-best 21 goals this season. He’s a restricted free agent and the Blackhawks could be reluctant to pay $3.6 million to qualify his rights for another year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus believes Strome faces a murky future in Chicago. However, he believes the 25-year-old forward’s solid play over the past four months could earn him a new contract with another NHL team if the Blackhawks let him walk.
The 25-year-old Boeser is also a restricted free agent. The Canucks could be unwilling to pay $7.5 million to qualify his rights given how injuries have hampered his production.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser was the frequent topic of trade speculation this season. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut to stick with the Canucks next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shopped this summer regardless of his performance over his remaining games. If anything, a strong finish would burnish his value in this summer’s trade market.
Stephens acknowledges that Subban and Radulov are now past their prime. Nevertheless, he suggests the pending UFAs could have value playing sheltered minutes on bargain contracts with contenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old old Subban is no longer the flashy mobile defenseman that garnered him the Norris Trophy in 2013 and made him a finalist for the award in 2017. However, he could have value as Stephens suggests in a third-pairing role.
Age and injuries have caught up with the 35-year-old Radulov. I don’t dismiss the possibility he could sign with another NHL club on a cheap one-year deal. Still, I think that he’s at the point in his career where he might need a training-camp tryout next fall to earn a new contract.