Predators Sign Filip Forsberg To An Eight-Year Contract
The Nashville Predators signed Filip Forsberg to an eight-year contract. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a $68 million deal, breaking down as $8.5 million annually. The 28-year-old left wing was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I write this, the full details of Forsberg’s new contract have not been released. We don’t know yet if the dollars are front- or back-loaded or if it contains signing bonuses or no-trade/no-movement clauses.
What we do know is Forsberg’s staying with the only NHL team he’s ever played for. He’s their all-time leader in goals with 220 and ranks fourth in total points with 469. He’s tallied a career-best season with 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points.
This signing isn’t a surprise given the recent reports on how close the two sides were getting in negotiations. Back in May, Forsberg indicated his willingness to stay in Nashville and his hope a deal could be reached.
Still, this is a big investment by the Predators. They’ve ensured Forsberg will be under contract until age 35, by which time his career could be on the decline. That contract could become burdensome over its final four years.
A few more seasons like 2021-22 on Forsberg’s part, however, will go a long way toward alleviating those concerns. The Predators obviously see him as a key part of their long-term plans as they attempt to build their way back toward Stanley Cup contention.
Forsberg’s deal leaves the Predators with $9.6 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23. Fortunately, they have all their core player under contract, providing sufficient space to re-sign or replace the remainder of their free agents.
The 2022-23 schedule is released plus the latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Filip Forsberg, Kris Letang, Patrice Bergeron, John Klingberg, Evander Kane and more on the eve of the first round of the 2022 draft in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league released its 2022-23 schedule on Wednesday. The regular season begins in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8 as the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks face off in the 2022 Global Series. The first games in North America will be held on Oct. 11 featuring the New York Rangers facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Colorado Avalanche will raise their 2021-22 Stanley Cup banner in Denver on Oct. 12 prior to their home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. That evening will also see the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens while the Vancouver Canucks will face the Oilers in Edmonton.
The 2023 Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2023, between the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park in Boston. Hockey Day in Canada featuring all seven Canadian teams in action will be on Jan. 21.
The Florida Panthers will host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game with the skills competition on Feb. 3 and the All-Star Game on Feb. 4. The regular season will end on Apr. 13.
THE ATHLETIC: Media reports out of Russia claim Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov is wanted in his native country for allegedly buying a fake military ID card in 2017 while he was playing in the KHL. The Wild and the NHL are gathering information to determine the credibility of the story.
Reports also claimed Kaprizov had fled Russia but Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he’s still in the country and is safe with family and friends. Guerin said he and the club have been in touch with Kaprizov’s agent and aren’t pushing the panic button.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine. Under Russian law, eligible men between 18 and 27 must serve a year in the military, though exemptions are provided for athletes. Russo cited a source claiming Kaprizov’s exemption ended on June 30.
Last week, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov was detained under suspicion of dodging the draft and sent to a remote Arctic naval base. Fedotov broke his contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow to sign with the Flyers in May. It’s generated increasing concern over whether Russian players will be allowed to return to the NHL next season.
TWINCITIES.COM: Speaking of the Wild, they signed defenseman Jake Middleton to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2.45 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Middleton was due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights when the free-agent market opened on July 13. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline, he proved to be a good fit with the Wild. He skated with Jared Spurgeon on their top pairing, providing an additional measure of grit to their blueline.
NHL.COM: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said his club is closer to signing Filip Forsberg now than when they made their eight-year contract offer earlier in the offseason. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It looks like Forsberg will stay in Nashville barring a last-minute collapse in negotiations before the free agent market opens next Wednesday. There’s no indication from the Forsberg camp of any disagreement with Poile’s assessment of their contract talks.
I assumed a sticking point was the lack of no-trade protection. Poile indicated Forsberg will get a full no-movement clause and a full no-trade if he signs with the Predators.
The Predators GM said the holdup was over money. It’s rumored that could be between $8 million and $9 million per season on an eight-year deal.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins GM Ron Hextall said he’d be surprised if his club didn’t get defenseman Kris Letang signed to a new contract before July 13. However, he seemed less optimistic about re-signing Evgeni Malkin but said the two sides will continue working on it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is reportedly seeking a five-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million annually. The Penguins are also said to have put the priority on re-signing the 35-year-old defenseman before turning to Malkin.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet, but recent discussions indicate he’s considering a return with the Bruins next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An earlier report last month had Bergeron agreeing to come back. Back in May, he indicated that he would either return with the Bruins or retire. If he’s leaning toward playing, I think we’ll see him suiting up for a 19th season in Boston.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports John Klingberg will be hitting the free-agent market next week. Talks between the 29-year-old defenseman and the Dallas Stars have been cordial but they don’t appear to be any closer to working out a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports last fall claimed Klingberg sought an eight-year deal with the Stars worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million per season. With Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson due for big raises coming off their entry-level deals, the Stars won’t have enough cap room to pay them and Klingberg.
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club isn’t close to a deal with Evander Kane. He said they’ll continue to speak with his agent to see if something can be worked out. Kane, 30, is due to become a UFA next week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane also has a grievance hearing over his terminated contract with the San Jose Sharks coming up sometime after July 13 unless he and the Sharks can work out an agreement before then. That could affect the Oilers’ efforts to sign him.
TSN: Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said Nicklas Backstrom is determined to play next season after undergoing hip surgery last month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Uncertainty over Backstrom’s status raised speculation the Capitals could be shopping around for a replacement. His determination to play is admirable but that will be decided by how well he recovers from hip-shaving surgery.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, they’ll get more clarity on the status of Carl Hagelin’s season-ending eye injury later this summer. Hagelin suffered the injury during practice in early March. He underwent two surgeries which permanently took away some of the vision in his left eye. It also affected his depth perception but that could return in time.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Canucks management indicated there’s not much to report on contract extension talks with J.T. Miller. However, they’re more optimistic about re-signing captain Bo Horvat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players have a year remaining on their contracts. Miller has been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. There are rumors he could be traded either during the draft or before the start of the UFA market next week.
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said Jesper Bratt will not be traded and has received a qualifying offer from the team. The 23-year-old winger is coming off a career-best 73-point performance and is slated to become a restricted free agent next Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the recent speculation claiming the Devils could shop Bratt if they couldn’t work out a suitable new contract.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Speaking of the Devils, they hired Kate Madigan as their new assistant GM, becoming the first woman in franchise history to hold that role.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Adam Boqvist to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.6 million.
NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment died suddenly on Wednesday in Montreal. Marchment, 53, was attending the upcoming draft in his role as a scout with the San Jose Sharks.
A physical blueliner during his playing career, Marchment spent 17 seasons in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames from 1988-89 to 2005-06. In 926 regular-season games, he had 182 points and amassed 2,307 PIMs. His son, Mason Marchment, plays for the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Marchment’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sharks organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry remains the more likely to be moved given his age (34), his trade request last season and his $6.25 million cap hit through 2024-25. It could take a significant offer to pry Anderson away from them.
The New Jersey Devils have made it known they’re willing to shop the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft but there’s no certainty that will happen. There have been some trade rumors regarding restricted free agent winger Jesper Bratt. Kevin Fiala’s new contract with the Los Angeles Kings could have an effect on Bratt’s contract negotiations. The Devils could also pursue St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso if he tests the unrestricted free agent market on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala signed a seven-year deal with the Kings worth an annual average value of $7.875 million. There was speculation the Bratt camp was seeking over $7 million per season before the Fiala deal was signed. If the Devils trade him, they could seek a good player in return who’s carrying an affordable cap hit beyond 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken made two significant signings last summer in Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz. They have plenty of cap space and a willingness to make another splash or two in the UFA pool.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets have over $19 million in cap space with 20 players signed for 2022-23. A big chunk of that could be eaten up re-signing Patrik Laine but there should still be sufficient room to bolster their defense corps.
The Ottawa Senators are willing to move the seventh overall pick for the right offer. They’re seeking a right wing and a right-side defenseman. They’ve had calls on Connor Brown after he indicated he intends to test next summer’s free-agent market. Friedman wondered if they’ll move Matt Murray and land Claude Giroux.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and $6.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 scream, “Buyer beware!” I think Giroux’s preference is signing with a Cup contender but maybe he’ll consider joining his hometown club for the right offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect the Red Wings to bring in a reliable backup for starting goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Campbell wouldn’t be a fit there unless he’s the starter.
It’s believed the Buffalo Sabres are working on a new contract for winger Victor Olofsson. They’re also expected to examine the goalie market to find someone to share the goalie duties with Craig Anderson, who recently signed a one-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be wild if Campbell signed with the Sabres. It probably won’t happen but it would add some spice to their rivalry with the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson has denied rumors he’ll welcome a trade out of Anaheim. He’s got a 10-team no trade clause plus a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 that some teams will find too expensive to take on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson is younger than Burns but carries more term on a more expensive contract plus he has a long history of injuries. Burns has a three-team trade list but perhaps he’d widen it for a chance to play for a contender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Islanders with $12 million in salary-cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23 and defenseman Noah Dobson due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. They’ll have to shed a lot of salary if they hope to sign Gaudreau and have enough left to sign Dobson and fill out the rest of the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 35-year-old Wheeler’s age, his $8.25 million cap hit and five-team trade list make it difficult to find a suitable trade partner. Teams will have more interest in the younger Dubois, who intends to test the UFA market in two years’ time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems more likely the Canucks will trade Miller, preferably before the free-agent market opens on July 13. Much of the talk from management seems to suggest a contract extension is a long shot.
Friedman expects Filip Forsberg and the Nashville Predators will reach an agreement on a new contract. He believes it’ll be eight years at $8.5 million annually. He also wondered if Phil Kessel might sign with the Predators, mentioning they nearly acquired him at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel could be an affordable depth option for the Predators. As for Forsberg, there’s speculation the holdup in his contract talks is the inclusion of a no-trade clause, something the Preds don’t usually hand out.
Friedman pondered whether the Dallas Stars can afford long-term contract extensions for young RFAs Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson. They can’t afford to re-sign Michael Raffl, who wants to continue playing in the NHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have over $18 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for next season. Oettinger and Robertson could get affordable bridge deals but it would be best if the Stars can lock them up for long-term contracts now. They would be much more expensive to sign coming off short-term deals.
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.
Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.
Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.
Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.
Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.
Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.
Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.
Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.
The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe cites a report by Francois Gagnon of RDS linking the New York Rangers to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 23-year-old restricted free agent center has told the Winnipeg Jets of his intention to test the unrestricted free agent market when he becomes eligible in 2024.
Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).
The Rangers and Jets have reportedly held conversations about Dubois. Rangers general manager Chris Drury is said to be very interested in him. They were also believed to have an interest in Jets center Mark Scheifele to give them a solid one-two punch at center with Mika Zibanejad.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be clear, Wiebe isn’t saying the Rangers must ship all those players to the Jets for Dubois. He means at least one of them will have to be part of the trade package.
Wiebe isn’t suggesting a deal is imminent, suggesting this could be simply to stoke a bidding war for Dubois. He said the Jets’ primary objective remains signing the center to a one-year contract and then attempting to convince him to rethink his long-term plans. Still, it doesn’t hurt to investigate Dubois’ value in the trade market for future reference if he remains adamant about moving on in 2024.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is against the Rangers pursuing Dubois, suggesting it may have been the Jets calling the Rangers to check into their interest given their trade history. He believes Dubois will command a substantial raise (seven years, $50 million) on the open market, casting doubt over how the Blueshirts can squeeze him into their already tight salary-cap payroll. Brooks also doesn’t want to see them part with Chytil following his promising performance in the recent postseason.
As for the Canadiens, maybe they surprise us by offering up a package of draft picks (excluding the first-overall pick), one or two prospects or a prospect and a good young NHL player not named Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield to the Jets. Dubois is rumored to be eager to join the Canadiens as a free agent in two years’ time. If so, it would be worthwhile for the Habs to simply remain patient and wait for Dubois’ availability in 2024. Then it’s only costing money and not assets as well.
CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported a source told him there are reports the Vancouver Canucks are listening to trade offers for J.T. Miller. The 29-year-old center is a year away from UFA eligibility. He also indicated Miller’s representatives aren’t surprised by those reports.
Dhaliwal said the two sides remain far apart in contract talks. He cited one source claiming the Canucks have been entertaining offers for Miller since February.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal suggested a contract comparable for Miller is the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad, who’s starting an eight-year, $68 million deal ($8.5 million annual average value) in 2022-23. That could prove too expensive for the Canucks, which would explain the growing chatter about Miller in the rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox suggests Miller could be the “optimal big-splash target for the Toronto Maple Leafs” if they’re willing to go for it. He acknowledged it would be a risky move, especially with Leafs GM Kyle Dubas being reluctant to acquire players without term. Still, he thinks the Leafs have the trade assets to tempt the Canucks. Fox believes it would be worthwhile to acquire a forward such as Miller to address their needs right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see them pursuing Miller. The Leafs already have enough depth on the top-two lines. Their biggest need is a reliable starting goaltender if Jack Campbell departs via free agency.
UPDATE ON FILIP FORSBERG
THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile confirmed he’s offered pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg an eight-year contract.
Dollars might be the holdup as the Forsberg camp is reportedly seeking an annual average value somewhere in the low $8 million range as reported by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. Estes also speculates another snag could be a no-trade clause as Poile as a rule doesn’t hand those out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal cited Forsberg’s agent acknowledging they’re not there yet on the money but both sides continue to grind away at it. There’s a reasonable chance Forsberg remains with the Predators as long as those negotiations continue over the next two weeks.
OILERS CLOSE TO TRADING PULJUJARVI?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Oilers insider Tom Gazzola reporting he’s been told Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi is on his way out of Edmonton. It appears both sides are comfortable with the idea that it’s time to move on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He has shown flashes of offensive talent over the past couple of seasons but it just seems that things aren’t getting better after five seasons with the Oilers.
Maybe Puljujarvi can reach his offensive potential with another club. If there’s a decent return to be had, the Oilers should consider it.
POTENTIAL SENATORS BUYOUT CANDIDATES
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch observed the first buyout window opens on July 1 until 5 pm ET on July 12. It’s believed Senators management is considering going that route. He believes forward Colin White is their top buyout candidate. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto is another. Goaltender Matt Murray has been mentioned but Garrioch doesn’t think that’s going to happen.
The Senators are still listening to offers regarding their first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft. GM Pierre Dorion is in the market for a top-four defenseman and a high-end winger.
RIFT DEVELOPING BETWEEN PANARIN AND RANGERS GM DRURY?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple raised some eyebrows in his roundup of offseason decisions facing the New York Rangers. What drew considerable attention was his report citing two league sources claiming general manager Chris Drury was “vocally unhappy” with Artemi Panarin’s performance in the 2022 playoffs.
New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).
Panarin had 16 points in 20 playoff games but wasn’t as consistent as hoped for. Despite the 30-year-old winger’s hefty contract Staple speculated he could request a trade if there’s a rift developing with Drury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction will be to this report. Panarin and/or Drury could ignore the story or issue public denials. I’m curious as to what other Rangers and NHL insiders have to say about this story.
A number of NHL clubs would be interested in Panarin if he became available in the trade market. As Staple pointed out, his contract is near impossible to move. He’s signed through 2025-26 with an annual average value of over $11.6 million and a full no-movement clause.
It was Drury’s predecessor who signed Panarin. He doesn’t have to feel any loyalty toward players that were brought in before he took over as general manager.
Drury also clashed last fall with Vitali Kravtsov after the winger declined demotion to the minors. He spent this season in the KHL and become the subject of trade speculation. The two sides seemed to bury the hatchet when Kravtsov agreed to a one-year, $875K contract but that hasn’t kept him out of the rumor mill.
PREDATORS OFFER FORSBERG AN EIGHT-YEAR CONTRACT
NHL.COM: John Glennon reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile confirmed his club offered an eight-year contract to Filip Forsberg. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
Poile indicated Forsberg won’t be signing with the Predators for anything less than eight years. He said the two sides are speaking regularly to bridge the gap and he intends to keep working to get a deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems like the dollars are the issue here. Forsberg will be seeking a substantial raise over the $6 million annual cap hit of his current contract after tallying a career-best 84 points in 69 games this season.
The most Forsberg will get on the open market is seven years. The Predators could be offering up a raise that’s less than market value in the hope that he’ll be tempted by the extra year of contract security if he signs with them before July 13.
LATEST ON WHEELER AND DUBOIS
WINNIPEG SUN/SPORTSNET: Scott Billeck and Ken Wiebe weighed in on recent reports indicating the Jets are gauging Blake Wheeler’s value in the trade market and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ intent to test the 2024 UFA market.
Both believe it will be difficult to move Wheeler’s contract, which carries an $8.25 million annual average value through 2023-24. Though his no-movement clause becomes a five-team trade list on July 1, the number of teams that can afford to take on the full remaining value of his contract could be less than his list of preferred trade destinations.
They believe the Jets will have to retain up to half of Wheeler’s cap hit to facilitate a deal. If they don’t want to do that, they’ll have to offer up significant sweeteners or take back a sizeable contract from one of Wheeler’s suitors.
Wiebe also suggested a three-team deal to spread the cap hit around. A contract buyout is another option though a rarely-used one by the Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I made the same suggestions a couple of days ago. There will be playoff contenders interested in Wheeler. I don’t see many of them taking on his full cap hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 35-year-old winger is back with the Jets next season.
Dubois’ revelation was more troubling for Billeck and Wiebe. He’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The Jets have two years to convince the 23-year-old center to remain in Winnipeg beyond 2024 and intend to work on doing so.
Billeck suggested dangling the captaincy if Wheeler is traded. He also speculated perhaps the Dubois camp is merely angling for a better deal in their current negotiations.
Wiebe speculated the Jets could trade Dubois before 2024. He also wondered if hiring Barry Trotz as head coach might change his mind. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff met with Trotz this weekend and is awaiting his decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing Trotz as their new head coach could go a long way toward providing some stability and improvement to the Jets roster going forward. As Billeck suggested, he could help to convince Dubois to stick around beyond 2024 if he enjoyed playing for the well-respected bench boss.