NHL Injury Outlook: Is Anyone Safe Now?
The Hurricanes sign Ryan Dzingel, the Flyers re-sign Scott Laughton, and the Blues re-up Robby Fabbri. Details on these and other signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday signed free-agent winger Ryan Dzingel to a two-year, $6.75-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.375 million, which is considerably less than the $5-million AAV Dzingel reportedly sought from the Ottawa Senators earlier this season. It’s a cost-effective short-term deal that could pay significant offenseive dividends for the Hurricanes.
Dzingel had a career-high 56 points split between the Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. However, his production and ice time declined following his trade to the Jackets. Dzingel said he’s looking forward to playing with the Hurricanes because coach Rod Brind’Amour plays an up-tempo system that favors his style of play.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers avoided arbitration with forward Scott Laughton by signing him to a two-year, $4.6-million deal.
WGR 550: Center Johan Larsson signed his one-year qualifying offer ($1.55 million) with the Buffalo Sabres.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Robby Fabbri to a one-year, $900K contract.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed winger Adam Johnson to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700K at the NHL level.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets has brought back Craig Hartsburg as an amateur scout and defense development coach. Former NHL goaltender Niklas Backstrom joins the Jackets as their European goaltending coach.
An updated list of the best remaining UFAs, the latest Sabres speculation and possible destinations for Nikita Gusev in today’s NHL rumor mill.
UPDATED NHL UFA LISTING
THE SCORE: Center Joe Thornton, defenseman Jake Gardiner, right wing Justin Williams, and left wing Ryan Dzingel are the notable names remaining in the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market. Others include wingers Patrick Maroon and Micheal Ferland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim and will deplete throughout the summer. Thornton is expected to play one more season with the Sharks. Gardiner was reportedly hoping to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs but that no longer seems possible. Williams will either return with the Carolina Hurricanes or retire.
Dzingel enjoyed a career-best 56-point performance last season but his declining play down the stretch and the postseason is a concern. He also reportedly sought $5 million annually on a five-year contract from the Ottawa Senators before he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Maroon is believed seeking a better deal than the one-year, $1.75-millon contract he inked last summer with the St. Louis Blues. Several teams are said to be interested in Ferland but there’s no indication he’s close to a new deal.
LATEST SABRES SPECULATION
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Following the Sabres’ signing Marcus Johansson on Saturday, Lance Lysowski suggested they could trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolanen for scoring help. With over $6.6 million in salary-cap space, he points out general manager Jason Botterill has the cap flexibility to shore up the offense.
Lysowski also listed Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov, and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers among several suggested trade targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski didn’t say the Sabres are pursuing those players he listed or that they’ll use Ristolanen to get one of them. Of those mentioned, Botterill won’t waste a solid trade chip like that on Turris or Anisimov. It could take Ristolanen to land Ehlers.
The rumblings over Ristolainen’s future could persist throughout the summer but Botterill isn’t under pressure to trade the 24-year-old defenseman. If there’s no suitable deal available he’ll retain Ristolainen and see how the coming season plays out.
DESTINATIONS FOR GUSEV
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis recently listed the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Columbus Blue Jackets among five possible trade destinations for Vegas Golden Knights winger Nikita Gusev. The Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers round out his list.
The Golden Knights and Gusev are said to be $2 million per season apart on a new contract. Lacking salary-cap space, the Golden Knights are reportedly listening to offers for Gusev, whose skills have been compared to those of Artemi Panarin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things have gone quiet on the Gusev front since last week’s report claiming Vegas was shopping him. The Golden Knights could be taking their time evaluating offers before pulling the trigger. Gusev could end up going to one of Ellis’ proposed destinations or perhaps another club could jump into the bidding.
The latest on Taylor Hall, Tyson Barrie, Ryan Dzingel, and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
HOW MUCH FOR HALL?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks speculates Artemi Panarin’s new contract with the New York Rangers (seven years, $11.642 million annually) could affect how much New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall receives. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Brooks believes the bidding for Hall could start at $13 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks noted the Devils have plenty of salary-cap room for 2020-21, which they’ll need to re-sign Hall. However, that might not be enough to entice him to stay.
I believe Hall intends to see how things play out in New Jersey this season. He wants to play for a winner and will need assurances the Devils are heading in the right direction. A big improvement in their performance in 2019-20 could play a big role in determining Hall’s future.
Hall’s health will also be a factor. As Brooks points out, he’s been hampered by knee injuries twice in his three seasons with the Devils. Another will affect his free-agent stock.
BARRIE TO SEEK BIG BUCKS?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie will seek a substantial raise on his next contract. Barrie, 27, is eligible next summer for UFA status. “He apparently wants an eight-year deal and around $8 million a year,” said Simmons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs acquire Barrie last week in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. A slick, puck-moving blueliner, he’s tallied 49-or-more points in four of the last five seasons, including a career-high 59 last season. Another 50-plus point season will push his stock higher. His current annual salary-cap hit is $5.5 million but he’s earning $6 million in actual salary this season.
The cost of re-signing Mitch Marner this summer will affect the Leafs’ efforts to keep Barrie beyond this season. According to Cap Friendly, they already have over $55 million invested in 12 players for 2020-21.
KADRI NEARLY WENT TO THE FLAMES
Simmons also reports a deal that would’ve sent Nazem Kadri from the Leafs to the Calgary Flames was nixed by his unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause. The swap would’ve seen the Leafs receive defenseman T.J. Brodie and center Mark Jankowski.
The Leafs subsequently shipped Kadri to the Avalanche in the multi-player deal that brought them Tyson Barrie. Simmons said Flames general manager Brad Treliving wouldn’t confirm or deny the potential swap.
UPDATE ON DZINGEL
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks notes former Columbus Blue Jackets winger Ryan Dzingel remained unsigned. He assumes the 27-year-old is “carrying some red flags on his resume”, especially since the Blue Jackets didn’t attempt to keep him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dzingel enjoyed a career season (26 goals, 30 assists, 56 points) split between the Jackets and Ottawa Senators. However, his production plummetted with the Jackets as the coaching staff lost faith in him. He appeared in nine playoff games for Columbus and was a healthy scratch from one contest.
Dzingel’s asking price could be another factor. Before getting traded, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the winger sought a five-year, $25-million contract extension from the Senators.
NO MORE COACH’S CORNER?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports it hasn’t been confirmed if Don Cherry will be back on Hockey Night in Canada this season. “Rogers is cutting all over the place, which included the removal of Bob McCown on radio and television and Doug MacLean doing the same.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but it’s an interesting tidbit. Cherry and his “Coach’s Corner” segment have been a first intermission fixture on HNiC since 1982. Now 85, Cherry’s age and his sometimes controversial views make him a frequent target of media criticism and social media mockery.
Offer-sheet rumors dogging Mitch Marner and Patrik Laine, plus an update on the Blackhawks, in today’s NHL rumor mill.
IS MARNER ABOUT TO RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET?
SPORTING NEWS: Sammi Silber cites reports suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner could soon receive an expensive offer sheet. Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Joey Vendetta confirmed a report from The Fourth Period claiming at least one NHL clubs was “very seriously considering” tendering an offer sheet to Marner. Vendetta speculated it could be worth $12.5 million.
YAHOO SPORTS CANADA: Kyle Cantlon cites NHL Network’s Mike Kelly speculating the New York Islanders could target Marner with an offer sheet. Cantlon also suggested the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Philadelphia Flyers were among clubs with salary cap space to sign Marner to an offer sheet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: More than one person has pointed out the Islanders lack sufficient salary-cap space to sign Marner. Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello is the former Leafs GM. However, with over $8.6 million in cap room, he’d have to ship out a couple of salaried players to make it happen.
The Leafs, meanwhile, are in a vulnerable position. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $3.7 million in cap space. If necessary, they can place permanently sidelined Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) and Zach Hyman ($2.25 million) and Travis Dermott ($863K) on long-term injury reserve, but that won’t be enough to match a $12.5 million offer sheet. Whether or not a club will go for it, or if Marner will sign an offer sheet, remains to be seen.
WILL THE CANADIENS PURSUE LAINE WITH AN OFFER SHEET?
RDS.CA: cites a report by The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming multiple teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, had considered pursuing Marner. He’s heard the Canadiens “may be focused” on Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine.
TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault said he’d be very surprised if the Canadiens made an offer sheet to another player. Earlier in the week, their attempt to sign Sebastian Aho was matched by the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $7.4 million in cap room, the Canadiens don’t have enough to make a significant, unmatchable offer to Laine or Marner. I don’t expect them to go the offer sheet route again this summer. They took a calculated gamble with Aho. It didn’t work and so they’ve moved on, as evidenced by their signings of Ben Chiarot, Nick Cousins, and Philip Varone this week. If the Habs make more moves, it could be for more affordable additions via trade or free agency.
UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Earlier this week, Ben Pope wondered if Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will make a bold move to upgrade his forward lines. He notes Ryan Dzingel is the only “upper-tied” UFA remaining on the market. However, Bowman would have to ship out a salaried player to make room for Dzingel. Pope feels the more likely scenario is Bowman re-signing restricted free agent Brendan Perlini.