NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings
Capitals defenseman John Carlson reaches 20 points, Sabres captain Jack Eichel has a four-point performance against the Sharks, the Canucks’ Bo Horvat tallied a hat trick against the Red Wings, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: John Carlson became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record 20 points in October as his Washington Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. He’s also the league points leader. Carlson scored twice while teammate Alex Ovechkin tallied a goal and an assist.
The Buffalo Sabres (8-1-1) moved into first place in the league’s overall standings by edging the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice (including the game-winner) and assisted on two others.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat tallied his first career NHL hat trick leading his club to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was the Wings’ fifth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson on waivers.
Boston Bruins forwards David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as their club doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Pastrnak holds the NHL goal-scoring lead with 10 goals. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed center David Krejci (upper body) on injured reserve and revealed winger Kurtis Kuhlman will be sidelined four weeks with a hairline fracture in his right tibia.
Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 446th career victory in a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury moves into seventh place on the all-time wins list. The Blackhawks also made a minor-league trade, shipping forward Aleksi Saarela to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Ian McCoshen.
Goaltenders Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock combined for 25 saves as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Edmonton Oilers 3-0. Dubnyk left the game following a second-period collision with teammate Ryan Donato and Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning. An update is expected later today. Earlier in the day, the Wild activated winger Mats Zuccarello off injured reserve.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Denis Malgin each had a goal and an assist in the Florida Panthers’ 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Aleksander Barkov collected two assists for the Panthers as they extended their points streak to six games. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel collected two helpers.
Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks signed defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year, one-way contract and placed him on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in San Diego.
Christian Dvorak scored in overtime as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the New York Rangers 3-2. It was the Coyotes’ fourth straight victory and the Rangers’ fifth straight defeat. Blueshirts defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored twice in a losing cause.
Anze Kopitar’s third-period goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, who’ve lost four of their last five games. Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up another for the Jets.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE DENVER POST: An update is expected today on the status of Mikko Rantanen. The Colorado Avalanche winger suffered a leg injury during Monday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
The Charlotte Checkers signed forward Jamie McGinn to a professional tryout.
CBS SPORTS: Former NHL winger Magnus Paajarvi signed a two-year contract with KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
NBC SPORTS: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise has narrowed down proposed team names to five. They are expected to officially reveal its name in 2020.
The latest on the Sharks, Flames and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THORNTON AND MARLEAU RETURN TO THE SHARKS?
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz expects Joe Thornton will return for another season with the San Jose Sharks. The delay in signing the 40-year-old center could be because the Sharks haven’t finished shaping their roster for the upcoming season. They still need depth at right wing and perhaps a more reliable backup goaltender.
Kurz is less assured about a possible reunion with Patrick Marleau. The former Shark agreed in June to be traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes, who bought out the final year of his contract.
Kurz believes there’s isn’t a “handshake-type agreement” between the Sharks and Marleau as there is with Thornton. Marleau isn’t a right winger and general manager Doug Wilson doesn’t like to add veteran players who would take away playing time from younger ones.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $4 million in salary-cap room, the Sharks have enough to bring back Thornton and Marleau on affordable one-year, bonus-heavy contracts.
Thornton’s return is assured. If Wilson finds a younger, cost-effective right wing via trade or free agency, that’ll put an end to any talk of a Marleau reunion.
UPDATE ON THE FLAMES DEFENSE
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Juuso Valimaki’s knee injury changes Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving’s plans for T.J. Brodie. Treliving was shopping Brodie and nearly shipped the defenseman to Toronto for center Nazem Kadri but the latter refused to waive his no-trade clause. Kadri was later traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
With Treliving now seeking a replacement for Valimaki, Francis considers it likely “trade talk involving Brodie will now cease.” He expects Oliver Kylington should easily slide in Valimaki’s spot on the Flames blueline. Instead of moving Brodie to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk, the focus could instead shift to trading winger Michael Frolik ($4.3 million).
THE HOCKEY NEWS: If Treliving opts to shop around for blueline depth, Jared Clinton suggests unrestricted free agents such as Ben Hutton or Joe Morrow. He also proposed contacting the St. Louis Blues about Joel Edmundson or Carl Gunnarsson, or shipping Frolik to the Los Angeles Kings for Derek Forbort.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Failing to trade Brodie this summer may be a blessing in disguise following Valimaki’s injury. Treliving doesn’t seem too concerned about finding a suitable replacement. If he seeks a more experienced and affordable option, he shouldn’t encounter much difficulty finding one via trade or free agency. He could also wait until after training camp or pre-season play to go that route.
LATEST ON THE WINGS DEFENSE
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently reported changes will be ongoing this season for the Red Wings defense corps. They’re waiting to see if veteran Niklas Kronwall will return or retire. Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson, and Mike Green are all a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Kulfan doubts they have a future with the Wings. If they stay healthy, he expects they’ll likely be moved by the trade deadline if the Wings are out of playoff contention by then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings blueline was a work in progress before Steve Yzerman took over this spring as general manager. That work will continue throughout this season and into next summer. Don’t expect the Wings to get much back in return for Daley, Ericsson, or Green.
Game recaps, Bruins and Jets clinch playoff berths, Bruins re-sign Zdeno Chara, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins clinched a postseason spot by thumping the Florida Panthers 7-3. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had a big day, becoming the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to reach 200 career goals and re-signing a one-year contract extension. The new deal is worth $2 million in base salary plus $1.75 million in performance bonuses. Meanwhile, the Bruins got some bad news earlier in the day when it was revealed Sean Kuraly will be sidelined a month with a fracture in his right hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s new contract is a reasonable one for both sides. The Bruins keep their captain in the fold for another season to maintain stability and leadership on their blueline. Chara gets a fair deal for a player of his declining (but still effective) skills.
The move also provides the Bruins with salary-cap flexibility. With over $68.6 million invested in 19 players, that should provide sufficient room to re-sign restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen, who are all coming off entry-level contracts.
The Winnipeg Jets (94 points) secured a playoff berth by blanking the Nashville Predators 5-0. Kyle Connor netted a hat trick while Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 33 shots for the shutout. The Jets also hold a four-point lead over the Predators for the top spot in the Central Division.
Mark Giordano had a goal and two assists to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Giordano now has points in seven straight games. The Flames (101 points) have a six-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.
The Colorado Avalanche (80 points) moved ahead of the Arizona Coyotes into the final Western Conference wild-card berth by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Colin Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Avs, while the Blackhawks (74 points) slip six points behind Colorado. The Avs played without winger Mikko Rantanen, who sat out the game with an undisclosed injury and will miss today’s contest against the Hawks.
The Arizona Coyotes (79 points) dropped one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference by falling 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils in a shootout. Pavel Zacha tallied the winner for the Devils. The Coyotes are winless in their last four contests.
Josh Bailey scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, as the New York Islanders doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The Islanders (93 points) move within one of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division while the Flyers (80 points) are seven points out of a playoff berth in the East.
The Carolina Hurricanes (89 points) remain two ahead of the Montreal Canadiens for the first wild-card spot in the East by defeating the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, while the Wild (79 points) slip one behind the Avalanche in the Western Conference wild-card chase. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, and Tomas Tatar each had three-point performances as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 7-4. With the win, the Canadiens (87 points) hold a three-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Eastern wild-card spot. Gallagher tallied his career-high 33rd goal of the season. The Sabres are now officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn each had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. With 88 points, the Blues sit two back of the Predators for second in the Central Division. Lightning center Brayden Point scored his 40th of the season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (93 points) remain tied with the Islanders for second in the Metro Division after nipping the Dallas Stars 3-2. Jared McCann scored twice for the Penguins, including the game-winner in the third period. The Stars (82 points) sit two points above the Avalanche in the first wild-card spot in the West. Stars center Jason Spezza was a healthy scratch for the second time in a week.
The New York Rangers upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ryan Strome. Despite the victory, the Rangers are officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Leafs (94 points) have won just four of their last 10 games.
Anthony Mantha scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Detroit Red Wings surprised the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2, snapping the latter’s four-game winning streak. Vegas sits five points behind the Sharks in the Pacific Division. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 26 saves to pick up his first victory since Dec. 17 by edging the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals, including the winner in overtime. The Oilers (74 points) are six points behind the Avalanche for the final Western playoff spot. A lingering back injury prevented Senators forward Zack Smith from playing in this game.
Speaking of the Oilers and Senators, Ken Hitchcock is receptive to the idea of returning behind the Edmonton bench next season. Meanwhile, the Senators confirm their intention to hire a president of hockey operations to provide assistance to general manager Pierre Dorion, who continues to have the full support of team owner Eugene Melnyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen if the eventual new Oilers general manager wants Hitchcock back. He might prefer bringing in his own bench boss. As for a new hockey ops president for the Senators, that move will take some of the burdens off Dorion, allowing him to focus on rebuilding the roster.
The Los Angeles Kings downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shootout goal by Anze Kopitar.
NBC SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been dealing with an upper-body injury that’s been bothering him for a while. His status for today’s game against the Vancouver Canucks remains unclear.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bad enough for the Blue Jackets to be slumping when they’re trying to secure a wild-card spot. Having their starting goalie hampered by an injury makes matters potentially worse.
DENVER POST: NHL referee and Colorado native Brad Watson has retired after 23 seasons. He worked 214 playoff games and eight Stanley Cup Finals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Watson in his retirement.
Of note in the story: Vrana triggered a $212,500 bonus in his contract (still his entry-level) with 20 goals. He could get another one if he finishes in the top six for ice time among forwards. If you look at aggregate, he’s currently sixth.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) March 23, 2019
Updates on the Red Wings, Avalanche and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton recently examined the Detroit Red Wings’ limited salary cap situation, wondering how creative they’ll make to free up additional dollars.
The Wings currently sit over the $75 million cap ceiling by just over $3 million and they still have to re-sign restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou, who’s in line for more than $1 million annually on his next contract. That would put the Wings’ beyond the spending limit even if (as expected) they place sidelined winger Johan Franzen ($3.9 million cap hit) on long-term injured reserve.
The contract buyout period has now passed so the Wings cannot go that route to clear cap room. Clinton suggests going the trade route is the next option, possibly by shopping defenseman Jonathan Ericsson ($4.25 million cap hit). He also suggests blueliner Mike Green ($6 million) and winger Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million) as trade candidates. They could also consider demoting some players to the minors, though that comes with the risk of losing them for nothing to another NHL club via waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Ken Holland could’ve used the buyout option with 48 hours of re-signing Tomas Tatar last month but he passed on that option.Carrying dead cap space for the upcoming season and beyond was likely the reason behind that decision.
I suspect Holland will go the trade route. I don’t see much interest in Ericsson but Green is still enough of a notable player to attract some attention in the trade market, though the Wings will likely have to pick up part of his annual cap hit for next season. Trading Green, however, could weaken an already thin blueline corps. Nyquist is a consistent 40-point winger and could be enticing for clubs in need of scoring depth.
ESPN.COM: Josh Cooper examines why the Colorado Avalanche haven’t done more this summer to improve their roster for next season. The key, of course, is whether GM Joe Sakic can find a trade partner willing to give him a suitable return for center Matt Duchene.
A Western Conference scout tells Cooper he thinks the trade market on Duchene will tank if Sakic doesn’t move him before the start of the season, pointing out there’s a negativity surrounding the center and the Avs. However, Cooper suggests a strong bounce-back performance by Duchene with the Avs in 2017-18 will boost his trade value or perhaps make him worth retaining.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper also notes Duchene’s contract ($6 million annual cap hit through 2018-19) is an issue. If his play doesn’t improve that contract becomes harder to move. The biggest factor remains Sakic’s high asking price. It’s believed he wants an established top-four defenseman, a first-round pick, a top prospect and possibly more. After losing the Ryan O’Reilly trade two years ago, Sakic must get a strong return for Duchene. There are clubs interested in the 26-year-old center, but they’re willing to wait out Sakic in hopes he’ll lower his asking price.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Sarah McLellan examines possible options for the Arizona Coyotes to possibly replace sidelined defenseman Jakob Chychrun if he’s out beyond the start of the upcoming season. They could stand pat, call up a blueliner from the minors, explore free agency or make a trade. Teams with a surplus in defenseman include the Vegas Golden Knights, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have over $19 million in salary-cap space. While they’re not spending up to the cap ceiling, they have sufficient room to take on a defenseman if needed. If they go the trade route, the Knights and Wings could be the best bet. They already have 10 defensemen with one-way NHL contracts, which will soon become 11 once Nate Schmidt receives a new contract. As noted above, the Wings need to shed cap space and could perhaps peddle Jonathan Ericsson or Mike Green.
Latest on Johnny Gaudreau plus updates on the Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau told a Philadelphia sports radio station Friday that “it would be sweet” to one day play for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gaudreau, a native of Carneys Point, New Jersey, grew up cheering for the Flyers. However, he was quick to praise the Flames, their fans and the city of Calgary. The 23-year-old has five years remaining on his current contract with the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor and it’s obvious that Gaudreau was simply prompted into that response by the interviewer. Still, it could get some folks musing about him getting dealt one day to the Flyers or joining them as a free agent should things go sour with the Flames.
However, a lot can happen over the next five years. Gaudreau could be reluctant to leave Calgary, especially if the Flames become a Cup contenders over that period. The Flyers could develop their own young scoring winger and not have a need for Gaudreau. Or maybe he ends up playing for someone other than the Flames or Flyers.
It’s worth recalling how Bobby Ryan was once thought to be headed to the Flyers as a free agent. He wound up re-signing with the Ottawa Senators.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien notes the Detroit Red Wings re-signing winger Tomas Tatar leaves them with little salary cap space for next season even with all-but-retired Johan Franzen going on LTIR. They still have young forward Andreas Athanasiou to re-sign.
One option to shed salary, as suggested by Wings blog Winging It In Motown, could be buying out defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. O’Brien also speculates over other cost-cutting moves, such as trading veteran blueliner Mike Green or swapping one bad contract for another less expensive one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve summarize O’Briens report but it worth reading his take on the Wings cap situation in its entirety. Bottom line is they’re hampered by some bad contracts. Creating cap room for Athanasiou could cost them a decent player if they’re unable to find another means to free up some dollars.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka isn’t ruling out another offseason trade. “I’m still trying to get one more thing done,” he said. “We’ll see.” Morgan said the Coyotes would like a better balance between right and left shots at forward and on the blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this week, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion said he was talking to another team about a possible trade. Maybe he was referring to Chayka? Discuss!