The Penguins re-sign Tristan Jarry, the Flyers re-up Brian Elliott, the Coyotes intend to buy out Michael Grabner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday re-signed goaltender Tristan Jarry to a three-year, $10.5-million contract. The annual average value is $3.5 million. Jarry, 25, was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable re-signing by the Penguins. Jarry is expected to take over as their full-time starting goaltender in 2020-21. The Penguins now have $78.8 million invested in 21 players.
This move has also ramped up speculation over Matt Murray’s future with the Penguins. It’s assumed the Penguins will trade him, but general manager Jim Rutherford indicated they’ll extend a qualifying offer this week and could take him to arbitration as a formality to retain his signing rights. However, Rutherford also admitted speaking with other clubs, though he hasn’t fully shut the door on re-signing Murray.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed goalie Brian Elliott to a one-year, $1.5-million contract. Elliott, 35, was due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott took a $500K pay cut to stay with the Flyers. He’s been a reliable backup and mentor to young starting goalie Carter Hart.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed winger Michael Grabner on waivers Saturday for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Coyotes will incur a cap hit of $833K for 2020-21, rising to $1.258 million in 2021-22.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens extended qualifying offers to Max Domi, Victor Mete, Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen and Xavier Ouellet.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen to a one-year, two-way contract.
A look at this year’s top UFA goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, and Washington’s Braden Holtby top Sean O’Leary’s ranking of this year’s top-10 NHL unrestricted free agent goaltenders.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images).
O’Leary observes Lehner has better stats than teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, suggesting it’s possible Lehner could outperform Fleury and take over as the Golden Knights’ starting goalie in the playoff tournament. Nevertheless, he believes it will be difficult for the cap-strapped Golden Knights to re-sign Lehner with Fleury carrying two more years on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some media speculation suggested the Golden Knights pull a swerve by trading Fleury to free up sufficient cap space to sign Lehner. Fleury, however, has a 10-team no-trade list. His age (35) and $7 million annual average value could also make him difficult to move if Vegas wanted to go down that road.
I’ll be surprised if the Canucks part ways with Markstrom. He’s become a reliable starter in Vancouver and they want to keep him. I think the two sides can agree on around $6 million annually, but the term could be a sticking point. Markstrom is 30 and the Canucks could be leery of any deal beyond five years.
Some might be surprised to see Holtby slide to third despite being a former Vezina winner (2016) who backstopped the Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. His struggles over the last two seasons account could hurt his value.
Holtby will draw interest if he hits the open market, but he probably won’t get the type of big-money contract he otherwise would’ve had his numbers remained strong. Of course, that will change if he carries the Caps on another deep playoff run.
Chicago Corey Crawford and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin are fourth and fifth on O’Leary’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford and Khudobin could stay put. Crawford wants to remain in Chicago but he’ll have to accept less than his current $6 million AAV on a much shorter contract. The Stars, meanwhile, are believed interested in keeping their tandem of Khudobin and Ben Bishop intact. That could require a bump above Khudobin’s current $2.5 million annual salary.
The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, San Jose’s Aaron Dell, and Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott round out the top ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss would be a fine backup for any NHL club. Talbot’s bounce-back performance this season could have him looking for a starter’s job.
Smith is in the twilight of his career, but some Edmonton pundits think the Oilers should bring him back for one more season. Dell’s had a rough couple of years as a backup in San Jose. Elliott could be re-signed by the Flyers for another season to back up Carter Hart.
Check out recent goaltending speculation involving the Penguins and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
AVALANCHE INTERESTED IN MURRAY?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently reported Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford received calls about his goaltenders before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. While Rutherford had no intention of moving Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry at that time, the conversations were aimed at doing a deal at or before the 2020 NHL Draft.
Were the Colorado Avalanche interested in Matt Murray at the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)
Kingerski cited multiple sources claiming Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic had expressed interest, with his likely target being Murray. While the 25-year-old netminder struggled earlier in the season, his performance improved during the second half of the schedule. Kingerski pointed out Avalanche starter Philipp Grubauer had an 18-12-4 record and an “acceptable” .916 save percentage, prompting Sakic to seek a change between the pipes.
While the two sides talked, Kingerski said they weren’t close to a deal. He also indicated a lot could happen to change things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL schedule resumes in some form in July, the Penguins and the Avalanche will use that period to further evaluate their goaltending before deciding if changes are required. Murray to the Avalanche would mean shipping out Grubauer or the recently re-signed Pavel Francouz to make room.
If Murray carries the Penguins on another deep playoff run, Jarry could be the one hitting the trade block. Then again, Rutherford could free up salary elsewhere from his roster to re-sign Murray and Jarry.
LATEST ON THE FLYERS’ BACKUP GOALTENDING
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked who might replace Brian Elliott if the Philadelphia Flyers backup departs via free agency at season’s end. He expects Elliott will re-sign, pointing out he’s been a good mentor to young starter Carter Hart.
If Elliott does depart, Carchidi observed Corey Crawford, Thomas Greiss, and Cam Talbot are among the free-agent possibilities, but their salary demands will be key. Dallas’ Anton Khudobin would be a terrific backup, but probably too expensive.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott could be back on a one-year, bonus-laden deal. Crawford and Talbot likely still see themselves as starting goalies, so I doubt they’re a fit for the Flyers. Talbot also had a short, unmemorable stint with the Flyers last season and probably doesn’t want to repeat that experience. Greiss and Khudobin would be better options, but they’ll cost more than Elliott.
Roberto Luongo retires, the Golden Knights trade Erik Haula to the Hurricanes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: After 19 NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Vancouver Canucks, goaltender Roberto Luongo yesterday announced his retirement. He has the third-most wins (489) in league history, is second all-time in saves (20,409), and 10th all-time in save percentage (.919). Of the seven NHL goalies to appear in at least 900 games, Luongo’s save percentage is the best.
Roberto Luongo hangs up his goalie pads after 19 NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Luongo, 40, is among the greatest goaltenders never to win the Stanley Cup. He also never won the Vezina Trophy despite being a five-time finalist and was runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 2007. Luongo backstopped Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 and helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
Apart from his eight-year stint with the Canucks, Luongo played for a lot of bad teams during his 19 seasons. During his first go-around with the Panthers, he was often the only reason they were at least competitive.
Luongo was the best goaltender in Panthers history, definitely among the best in Canucks history, and a future Hall-of-Famer. Best wishes to “Bobby Lu” and his family in their future endeavors.
TSN: The Canucks and Panthers will feel the bite of Luongo’s salary-cap recapture penalty. The Canucks will be tagged $3.03 million for each of the next three seasons, the Panthers $1.09 million per season over the same period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a straightforward salary dump by the Golden Knights. By shedding Haula’s $2.75-million annual average value for Roy’s $750K, they sit $4.775 million above the $81.5-million salary cap. Perhaps they’ll make another move to get closer to the cap before the start of the season.
Haula is a versatile swift-skating forward who can play center or wing. He missed most of last season to a knee injury. If he regains his form, he could be a solid addition to the Hurricanes’ forward lines.
ARIZONASPORTS.COM: The Coyotes have hired former Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley as an assistant coach.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed goaltender Brian Elliott to a one-year, $2-million contract extension. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Flyers also hired former NHL defenseman Nick Schultz as a player development coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers didn’t like the slim pickings for experienced backups in this summer’s UFA market.
TSN: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a two-year, $3-million contract.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Penguins re-signed defensemen Zach Trotman and Kevin Czuczman to two-year, two-way contracts.
Check out the latest on the Canucks and Oilers in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANUCKS?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe the Vancouver Canucks must invest in secondary scoring and bolster the right side of their blueline this summer. There’s talk they could trade for a young right-handed defenseman but it remains to be seen who they’ll pursue and how much it’ll cost.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ defense is indeed quite thin on the right side, which is currently filled by Alex Biega, Troy Stecher and Luke Schenn. A skilled young top-four rearguard is desperately needed there but finding one won’t be easy via trade or free agency.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Cody Ceci was a frequent fixture in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline but the questions about his play that sparked those rumors won’t help the Canucks. Salary-cap constraints could force the Winnipeg Jets to trade Jacob Trouba or let Tyler Myers depart via free agency but there’s no certainty either guy will want to go to a rebuilding club. Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen has also popped up in recent media trade chatter but it could cost the Canucks one of their good young forwards to get him.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Harman Dayal examines the performance of Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton, who’s coming off a two-year, $5.6-million contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Dayal notes Hutton’s agent could seek a new deal worth in the range of $4 million per season because he’s been deployed as a top-pairing rearguard. Despite the positive buzz over Hutton’s play this season, Dayal concludes he’s actually struggling as a top-four defenseman and recommends the Canucks try to move Hutton while his trade value is high.
Should the Canucks trade Ben Hutton this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question is, does Canucks general manager Jim Benning also believe Hutton lacks the stuff to become a reliable top-four defenseman? If it appears the Hutton camp will seek more than the Canucks are willing to pay this summer, perhaps that’ll prompt Benning to shop him.
VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston wonders if Thatcher Demko is the Canucks goalie of the future or if he’ll better serve the club as a trade chip. Given Jacob Markstrom‘s emergence as a reliable starting goalie this season and with promising Mike DiPietro waiting in the wings, Demko could fetch a solid return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks don’t have to rush into a decision regarding their goaltending this summer. Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, Demko will be an affordable re-signing coming out of his entry-level contract and DiPietro could use at least one season in the minors.
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like there’s some discussion between the Canucks and defenseman Luke Schenn regarding a one-year contract extension. Schenn has played well for the Canucks since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in mid-January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schenn is on a one-year, $800K contract so he won’t be expensive to retain.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allen Mitchell recently examined some affordable options for the Edmonton Oilers to bolster their roster this summer. His proposed goalie targets are Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, Ottawa’s Anders Nilsson or Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott. San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist, Carolina’s Micheal Ferland, Vegas’ Brandon Pirri and the Islanders (and former Oiler) Jordan Eberle are among his suggested forward choices.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71.7 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20, the Oilers won’t have much room if the cap is set for $83 million as projected. Unless they can shed salary they’ll have little choice but to pursue affordable depth via trades or free agency.
Elliott is more consistent than Mrazek and Nilsson but his age (33) and injury history are a concern. Not sure how keen Eberle would be to return to Edmonton. Ferland is a solid physical presence but his spate of injuries this season sends up warning flags plus he reportedly seeks Tom Wilson money. Nyquist will likely cost over $5 million annually to sign plus he could prefer signing with a contender. Ultimately, the Oilers could be going into the bargain bin for guys like Pirri this summer.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers should resist trading or buying out defenseman Andrej Sekera. He points out Sekera’s improvement since returning to action from injury this season and also notes the Oilers need his puck-moving skills. Sekera also has two years left on his deal with a $5.5 million AAV, a modified no-trade clause starting July 1, and has suffered two serious injuries in as many seasons, which would hamper the Oilers efforts to trade him and would also hurt his value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Staples. Moving Sekera would free up invaluable cap room but their defense is better when he’s healthy and in the lineup. Giving the hindrance of his contract and injury history, the Oilers probably won’t find many takers in the trade market.