NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Winnipeg Jets
Jordan Eberle and Jared Spurgeon each tally hat tricks, the Jets acquire Cody Eakin from the Golden Knights, the Avalanche re-sign Pavel Francouz, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: On the night the New York Islanders honored John Tonelli, Jordan Eberle netted a hat trick to lead them to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders (74 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Isles placed Cal Clutterbuck on injured reserve, while the Red Wings claimed defenseman Cody Goloubef off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted a natural hat trick to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three points for the Oilers. The Wild (65 points) sit three points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Goaltender Pavel Francouz celebrated his two-year, $4-million contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche by kicking out 26 shots to blank the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. J.T. Compher scored the only goal as the Avs (77 points) move one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for second in the Central Division.
The St. Louis Blues (80 points) opened a three-point lead atop the Western Conference by beating the Stars 5-1, leaving the latter four points behind them. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had a goal and two assists.
Mika Zibanejad scored and set up two others to lead the New York Rangers over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tallied his 35th goal of the season. With 68 points, the Rangers sit five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes (72 points) are one point behind the Jackets.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat scored twice in a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 42 saves for the win. The Predators (68 points) sit two behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blackhawks made defenseman Erik Gustafsson a late scratch, prompting speculation he could be moved before the upcoming Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to drop a 4-3 decision to the Boston Bruins. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Pastrnak had two assists as the Bruins (90 points) won their fifth straight and widened their lead atop the overall standings by five points over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eakin is expected to center the Jets’ fourth line, providing an additional measure of experienced depth to their bottom-six forward lines. By shedding Eakin’s $3.85 million salary-cap hit, the Golden Knights freed up cap room for perhaps another deal before the upcoming trade deadline.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. If unclaimed by noon today, Bogosian will become an unrestricted free agent.
TSN: Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan opened up about his alcohol addiction and his ongoing treatment. He’s returning to the lineup after being out of action for three months participating in the NHL player assistance program.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Ryan on his path forward.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks with a sprained and factured ankle.
The NHL Department of Player Safety fined Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen $5,000.00 for slashing and Senators forward Scott Sabourin over $1.881.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
TVA SPORTS: With Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet sidelined by injuries, the Montreal Canadiens recalled defenseman Karl Alzner.
Mikko Koivu plays the hero in a milestone game, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl reach 50 points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu celebrated his 1,000th career NHL game by scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars. He also collected an assist for his 700th career point. The Wild are 6-0-3 in their last 10 games.
Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid (two assists) and Leon Draisaitl (two goals) became the first players to reach 50 points this season in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid sits atop the NHL scoring race with 51 points, with Draisaitl right behind him. Oilers defenseman Matt Benning left the game after being hit in the head by a puck.
David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 25th goal as the Boston Bruins downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. The Habs are now winless in eight games.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are the NHL’s three stars for November 2019. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar was named rookie of the month.
THE SCORE: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi and Stars defenseman Julius Honka are ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. The two restricted free agents were still unsigned by yesterday’s 5 pm ET deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were reportedly working on trading Honka’s rights before yesterday’s deadline. I expect their rights will be traded in the off-season.
SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will miss the next four weeks with a shoulder injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Brian Dumoulin will be sidelined at least eight weeks following surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur underwent surgery on Thursday to remove a lobe from one of his lungs. Lafleur was coming off quadruple bypass surgery in late September. The procedure went well and he’s under observation in the hospital before returning home to continue his recovery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy convalescence.
The Avalanche re-sign Mikko Rantanen and the Jets ink Kyle Connor. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, the last two notable restricted free agents are finally under contract. Both players missed training camp and preseason action but are expected to rejoin their respective clubs as the curtain rises this week on the 2019-20 regular season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their absences will have upon their early-season performance.
As for the contracts, they’re worthwhile long-term deals for the two sides. Both players get long-term security. Rantanen becomes the highest-paid player on the Avalanche on a front-loaded deal paying him $12 million annually this season and next in real salary ($34 million over the first three seasons) while Connor becomes the second-highest paid forward on the Jets.
The Avs and Jets each get an important young player under a contract that could turn out to be a long-term bargain. Rantanen is coming off back-to-back 80-point performances while the two-way Connor netted 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-olds are core players entering their playing prime with their best seasons still to come. What looks expensive today could look cost-effective in a few years.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust suffered undisclosed injuries blocking shots in last night’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated and more info could be available today. Speaking of the Sabres, Connor Sheary missed the game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser and defenseman Oscar Fantenberg skated in practice with their teammates yesterday. Both have been sidelined by concussions since Monday.
WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (hamstring) remains doubtful for the club’s season opener on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while Cody Eakin is day-to-day.
THE SCORE: The Calgary Flames released Devante Smith-Pelly from his professional tryout offer.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed blueliners Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
The latest Islanders and Rangers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
POSSIBLE FORWARD OPTIONS FOR THE ISLANDERS
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman recently explored where the New York Islanders could turn to add a top-nine forward before the season begins. Free-agent options could include Brian Boyle, Tobias Rieder, Devante Smith-Pelly or former Isles winger Thomas Vanek.
Looking at the trade market, Goldman listed Nashville’s Kyle Turris, Vegas’ Cody Eakin, the Rangers’ Vladislav Namestnikov, Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli, or Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers. If Toronto needs to clear salary to re-sign Mitch Marner, perhaps Kasperi Kapanen or Zach Hyman become available.
Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson could be on the move if the Canucks need to free up cap space for Brock Boeser. LA’s Ilya Kovalchuk or Boston’s Charlie Coyle are other possibilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could evaluate his roster during training camp and preseason play before deciding if additional moves are necessary. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $6 million in cap space though that’ll shrink a bit once Anthony Beauvillier is re-signed. That will still leave sufficient room if Lamoriello decides to bring in an affordable UFA forward.
Many of the aforementioned trade options carry expensive contracts, meaning the Isles must give up a salaried player to make the dollars fit. Some of the players on Goldman’s list (Nashville, Vegas, Rangers) have limited cap space.
The Leafs could part with Kapanen or Hyman if necessary to sign Marner. As we’ve seen, however, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has juggled his cap space this summer without hurting his roster.
The Canucks could part with Pearson but he improved in Vancouver after struggling in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh last season. They might prefer shipping out someone like Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter.
The Kings would love to move Kolvachuk but I don’t think Lamoriello is keen on a reunion with the aging winger. The Bruins could put Coyle on the block to free up room to re-sign Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but talk out of Boston suggests they’ll consider other trade options.
Winnipeg could be a possibility once they get Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract. They need depth on the right side of their defense and Ehlers has frequently come up in this summer’s trade chatter. Goldman suggested Nick Leddy as an option but he’s a left-side defender.
LATEST ON KREIDER, LEMIEUX AND DEANGELO
THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpinello believes New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is more like than not to be traded before he goes to free agency next summer. Carpinello suggests Kreider’s UFA value could be in the range of seven years at $7 million annually. He doubts the Blueshirts will invest that much in a player turning 29 next year.
Carpinello also dismissed the possibility of an offer sheet for Brendan Lemieux or Anthony DeAngelo. He feels the Rangers would walk away and accept the low compensation of a third-round draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect this summer’s Kreider trade chatter to carry over into this season, provided he’s not moved before then. One way or another, this season could be his last with the Rangers.
As for Lemieux and DeAngelo, I think any club interested in either guy will go the trade route instead of the offer sheet. If a team wanted to use the latter, they could sign away either player for under $1.3 million without giving up anything in compensation.