What Next For the Philadelphia Flyers?
Will new Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher shake things up with trades? Are the Kings still shopping for help? Get the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT WILL FLYERS NEW GM FLETCHER DO?
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports new Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will be closely monitoring head coach Dave Hakstol’s performance to determine if a change needs to be made behind the bench. He also wants to address the Flyers’ goaltending and defensive play and will start by looking at internal solutions.
Boruk also believes Fletcher sounds like he’s open to in-season trades, pointing out the new GM cited the club has “nine draft picks this year” as well as salary-cap space to use as possible trade chips.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Donnellon notes Fletcher was never afraid to make significant moves during his tenure with the Wild, including out-biddings several clubs in 2012 to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter via free agency.
Donnellon also noted Flyers chairman Dave Scott noted Fletcher’s predecessor compiled a stockpile of draft picks and prospects, which could be used “by a less intransigent GM to accelerate the “two to three more years timeline’’ Scott had been recently given by Hextall, amid the latest bout of bad play by the Flyers.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher will want to take some time to assess the roster before he starts swinging some deals. If the goal is to “accelerate the timeline”, some of those draft picks, prospects, and salary-cap space will be used over the next year to bring in more immediate help.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have $31.9 million invested in 11 players for 2019-20, with Wayne Simmonds, Michael Raffl, and Michal Neuvirth as their notable unrestricted free agents and Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and Travis Sanheim their noteworthy restricted free agents. Assuming Simmonds, Raffl and Neuvirth won’t be back, they’ll have plenty of cap space to re-sign their key RFAs and perhaps make a big splash or two in next summer’s trade and free agent pools.
If the Flyers don’t improve in the coming weeks, Fletcher could become a seller at the trade deadline to prepare the ground for bigger moves in the offseason. In that scenario, Simmonds could be packaged with a draft pick or prospect to land a promising youngster. If Fletcher’s looking to add, he could dangle some picks and prospects at clubs looking to shed some salary.
KINGS STILL LOOKING TO DEAL?
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited Elliotte Friedman’s Nov. 30th appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the possibility of more significant changes coming for the Los Angeles Kings. He believes they’re still looking in the trade market. Last month, the Kings shipped left wing Tanner Pearson to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing Carl Hagelin, who’s now sidelined with a sprained knee.
THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman reports Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick appears to be quickly rounding back into form after missing most of this season to injury. She notes there are short- and long-term implications.
On the one hand, Quick could be their best chance for saving the season. On the other, if they’re too far out of contention by the trade deadline, she wonders if he might become a trade chip, as the better he plays the greater his trade value. She also notes the Kings were pleased by the play of Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen during Quick’s absence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kings shop Quick he’ll attract plenty of interest from rival clubs. Cap Friendly indicates he lacks no-trade protection on his contract and carries a reasonable $5.8-million annual cap hit through 2022-23. However, he also has an injury history, frequently missing considerable time with groin, knee, and lower-body injuries.
One can’t rule out the possibility of the Kings trading Quick but I don’t think they’re ready to go down that road yet. As Dillman notes, he could be their best chance of salvaging this season. Even if they fail to reach the playoffs, I still don’t see them moving Quick at the deadline or the offseason.
Game recaps, notes from Board of Governors meetings, Flyers hire Chuck Fletcher as GM, latest trades and more from a busy Monday in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and three assists in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists.
The Nashville Predators edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 to hand the latter their third straight loss. Kevin Fiala snapped a 1-1 tie with a third-period goal.
With Connor McDavid ailing and out of the lineup, the Edmonton Oilers fell 4-1 to the Dallas Stars. Brett Ritchie had a goal and an assist for the Stars.
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill, and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 2, 2019.
The Philadelphia Flyers hired former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher as their new GM. Fletcher takes over from Ron Hextall, who was fired last week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have a look at Fletcher’s possible immediate plans later this morning in the Rumors section.
SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman projected the salary cap for next season could reach $83 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be another healthy increase in the cap, jumping $3.5 million over the current $79.5 million ceiling. The finalized figure will be announced by late-June.
If, as expected, the Board of Governors approves the addition of Seattle as the NHL’s 32nd franchise later today, it’s expected their first season will be 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected the KeyArena in Seattle won’t be ready to go until November 2020, which would explain the rationale behind pushing their inaugural campaign to the following season. It would also remove a key piece of leverage away from the NHLPA should they opt to take the early out from the current CBA next September. The league probably doesn’t want to risk a potential labor war potentially messing up the debut of their new franchise.
Bettman also said the league has informed the NHLPA that it needs to know by next month if they’re willing to sign off on a World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2020. “For the last year and a half, two years, we’ve been anxious to anchor plans for a World Cup but for whatever reason, the players’ association hasn’t been prepared to do that,” said Bettman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason being the players prefer the Winter Olympics over the World Cup of Hockey. Still, if the NHLPA agrees to take part in the tournament, it could mean they won’t exercise their early-out from the current CBA next September. Fingers crossed, kids!
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (hand), winger Robby Fabbri (separated shoulder), and forward Alexander Steen (concussion) on injured reserve. Pietrangelo and Fabbri could be sidelined until at least Christmas while Steen is listed as day-to-day.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander said he was told by GM Kyle Dubas he wouldn’t be traded as long as Dubas is running the Leafs. Nylander and the Leafs recently ended a lengthy contract standoff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Dubas was sincere and Nylander undoubtedly believes him. But Nylander lacks no-trade protection until the final season of his new six-year contract. A lot can happen over that time period to change Dubas’ mind if he remains the GM over that period.
Speaking of the Leafs, they traded forward Josh Leivo to the Vancouver Canucks for forward Michael Carcone and temporarily loaned defenseman Travis Dermott to their AHL affiliate to make room for Nylander. Dermott’s expected back on their roster later today.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins traded winger Daniel Sprong to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Marcus Pettersson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both trades saw their clubs swapping young players who weren’t working out, with their new teams hoping the change of scenery improves their respective performances.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi received a two-game suspension “unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing on Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert.”
NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings claimed forward Brendan Leipsic off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.
Kings and Doughty agree to a new contract, Jets ship Mason and Armia to Montreal, Capitals re-sign Kempny and promote Reirden to head coach, Devils hire Fletcher & and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings announced Friday evening they’ve reached agreement on terms for a new contract with defenseman Drew Doughty. It will be an eight-year extension reportedly worth an annual average value of $11 million. Doughty, 28, is a four-time Norris Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top blueliner, winning the award in 2016. He has a year remaining on his current contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty can’t officially sign his new contract until July 1, but this is essentially a done deal. Kings insider John Hoven reports it looks like his new contract contains the same movement clause as Anze Kopitar, meaning he’ll get a full no-movement clause in the first four years and a modified no-trade over the final four seasons.
The new contract will make him the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman, exceeding Nashville’s P.K. Subban’s cap hit by $2 million annually, which is what he said he wanted back in November. The Kings had little choice but to pay big bucks to retain Doughty, who’s among the league’s elite defensemen and an irreplaceable core player. The problem for the Kings, however, is they’ll soon have a lot of money tied up in over-30 players.
The Kings now have ~$54M in 2020-21 cap space tied up in:
38 year old Ilya Kovalchuk
36 year old Dustin Brown
36 year old Jeff Carter
36 year old Dion Phaneuf
35 year old Jonathan Quick
33 year old Anze Kopitar
33 year old Alec Martinez
31 year old Drew Doughty
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 29, 2018
Doughty’s new contract will obviously become the comparable for Ottawa Senators’ captain Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris winner and four-time finalist who’s a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.. Whether he gets that much from the Senators or someone else remains to be seen.
The Canadiens acquire forward Joel Armia, goaltender Steve Mason, a seventh-round draft pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020 from the Winnipeg Jets, in exchange for defenseman Simon Bourque.
DETAILS -> https://t.co/M9SeD9NXPE.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 30, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Jets are clearing cap room to re-sign Paul Stastny. As for the Habs, Armia’s a decent depth addition but I wonder if the acquisition of Mason means he’s being flipped elsewhere or perhaps he’ll be Carey Price’s backup and recently re-signed Antti Niemi is being dealt or demoted.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: As expected, the Washington Capitals promoted assistant coach Todd Reirden.
WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals also re-signed defenseman Michal Kempny to a four-year, $10-million contract. The annual average value is $2.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant raise for Kempny, who’s coming off a one-year, $900K contract. Acquired in February from Chicago, Kempny became a big addition to the Capitals defense corps, eventually earning first-pairing minutes during their run to the Stanley Cup this spring. Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals now have over $69 million invested in 18 players.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils hired former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher as a senior adviser to GM Ray Shero.