NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: 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.
Capitals eliminated the Blue Jackets, Leafs push Bruins to a seventh game, Wild fire GM Chuck Fletcher, Flames hire Bill Peters. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Braden Holtby turned aside 35 shots as the Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 to win their opening-round series in six games. Nick Foligno scored two goals for the Jackets in a losing cause. For the third straight year and the fourth time since 2009, the Capitals will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rallying from a 2-0 series deficit, the Capitals displayed plenty of character against the Jackets. Holtby’s performance was a big reason for the turnaround, overcoming a disappointing regular-season effort to regain the starter’s job. He finished the series by winning four of five games, sporting a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
Speaking of overcoming a two-game series deficit, the Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Boston Bruins to a seventh and deciding game with a 3-1 victory in Game 6. Frederik Andersen made 32 saves while William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec tallied for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After lopsided victories in the first two games, the Bruins appeared poised to sweep the Leafs out of the opening round. Thanks to Andersen’s outstanding play and an improved defensive effort, the Leafs rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to seize the momentum heading back to Boston for Game 7 on Wednesday.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild will not renew the contract of general manager Chuck Fletcher. Team owner Craig Leipold said he doesn’t anticipate head coach Bruce Boudreau or his staff leaving.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on Fletcher’s replacement. Whoever gets the job will be expected to shake up a Wild roster that reached the playoffs in six straight seasons but never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs.
Fletcher’s record was a mixed bag. He got Devan Dubnyk and Eric Staal on the cheap, fleeced the New York Islanders for Nino Niederreiter and drafted Mikael Granlund. However, last year’s deal for Martin Hanzal was a bust, and signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to expensive long-term deals in 2012 are potential salary-cap millstones as age and injuries affect their performances.
CALGARY SUN: To the surprise of no one, the Flames hired former Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters as their new bench boss. On Friday, Peters exercised the out clause in his contract with the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peters might bring a different approach to the Flames, but they won’t significantly improve until they address their depth in goal and at right wing.
TSN: The Colorado Avalanche signed head coach Jared Bednar to a one-year contract extension, taking him to the end of the 2019-20 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved reward for Bednar, who coached the Avs from a dead-last performance last season to a playoff berth this year.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks won’t be renewing the contract of assistant coach Trent Yawney.
NHL.COM: The league announced the 31-team nominees for the 2018 King Clancy Trophy.
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf
Arizona Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara
Buffalo Sabres: Zach Bogosian
Calgary Flames: Travis Hamonic
Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk
Chicago Blackhawks: Duncan Keith
Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky
Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin
Detroit Red Wings: Justin Abdelkader
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Florida Panthers: Mike Matheson
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty
Minnesota Wild: Jason Zucker
Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher
Nashville Predators: P.K. Subban
New Jersey Devils: Cory Schneider
New York Islanders: Anders Lee
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist
Ottawa Senators: Mark Borowiecki
Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere
Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray
San Jose Sharks: Chris Tierney
St. Louis Blues: Alex Pietrangelo
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Callahan
Toronto Maple Leafs: Matt Martin
Vegas Golden Knights: Deryk Engelland
Washington Capitals: Brooks Orpik
Winnipeg Jets: Matt Hendricks
Latest on the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WILD COULD FACE OFFSEASON CHANGES
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Improving the offense, determining what kind of contracts can be expected for restricted free agents Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker, and perhaps shaking up the roster with a trade are among the questions facing the Minnesota Wild this summer.
Chip Scoggins believes Wild owner Craig Leipold faces two choices: standing pat and hoping things improve next season or make major changes to the roster and/or management. While the Wild reached the playoffs in six consecutive seasons they’ve also made quick postseason exits, with just 15 wins in eight series. The first order of business is determining if general manager Chuck Fletcher returns for a 10th season.
Scoggins also points out players the Wild counted on for production, such as Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, failed to score in their series against the Jets. “The Wild has had too many passengers in the playoffs, not just one or two guys falling short. Whether they underperformed or are just not talented enough, this situation requires a realistic assessment of where the organization stands.”
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani suggests “guys like Coyle and Niederrieter might have finally worn out their welcome after following up disappointing regular seasons with scoreless postseasons.” He also notes the Wild face the decision on whether to re-sign Zucker and Dumba to high-paying contracts, pointing out Zucker’s lack of production against the Jets and Dumba’s “head-scratching plays on the blue line.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Leipold does after his club made yet another early exit from the playoffs. If Fletcher returns, he could be under orders to shake things up and that could include moving Coyle or Niederreiter or Zucker.
As per Cap Friendly, Dumba and Zucker are both restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Dumba’s developing into a reliable puck-moving rearguard and should get a long-term contract. If Zucker isn’t traded he might only get a one-year deal from the Wild taking him up to unrestricted free agency next summer.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE DEVILS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan lists adding defensive depth and making decisions on rental wingers (and pending free-agents) Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon among her keys to the New Jersey Devils’ offseason.
Regarding the defense, she notes John Moore is an unrestricted free agent this summer while 35-year-old captain Andy Greene is showing signs of slowing down. Given their salary-cap space for next season, there’s room to make a splash on defense. Grabner was a bust but Maroon did put up 13 points in 17 regular-season games and could be worth re-signing if the money and term are reasonable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have $55 million invested in 17 players for 2018-19, with Stefan Noesen, Blake Coleman and Miles Wood as their notable restricted free agents. Even if they don’t spend to the projected $80 million cap ceiling they have sufficient space to re-sign their key players and perhaps add a top-four defenseman and perhaps a faceoff specialist.
I don’t see them re-signing Grabner. Maroon was disappointing in the playoffs with just one goal in five games. If the Devils are looking for offense they could pursue other options.
Hearing we can expect an announcement as soon as Monday on Bill Peters becoming the new head coach of the Calgary Flames.
— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) April 21, 2018