Going For Something Old Nothing New To Maple Leafs
A look at how the expansion Seattle Kraken could build their roster and coaching staff, plus the latest Predators speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BUILDING THE KRAKEN
TSN: Following yesterday’s reveal of Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise as the Kraken, Darren Dreger examined how they could build their coaching staff and roster. He said Kraken general manager Ron Francis still intends to take his time finding the right bench boss.
There’s speculation linking former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant to the Seattle franchise. Dreger feels it’s safe to assume Gallant is in the mix.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant’s performance during the Golden Knights’ record-breaking inaugural season earned him the Jack Adams Award as the 2017-18 NHL coach of the year. He’ll be a tempting option for Francis.
Dreger also believes a flat salary cap of $81.5 million could work in the Kraken’s favor when building their roster next year. Francis could take advantage of the tough decisions some cap-strapped teams could face heading into 2021-22.
Some of those clubs could try to interest Francis in taking a high-salaried player off their hands. He could also take advantage of arbitration cases where a team rejects the arbiter’s award or those that walk away from qualifying offers for their restricted free agents.
Dreger’s colleague Travis Yost believes the Vegas Golden Knights have provided the Kraken a blueprint for building a successful expansion roster. They got secure goaltending by selecting Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft, swung several trades to obtain key players such as Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore, and William Karlsson, and loaded up on promising young assets through the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis will have his own ideas for building his roster, but I don’t doubt he’ll also attempt to follow the Golden Knights’ template. The flat cap provides him with perhaps better opportunities to land quality talent through next summer’s expansion draft or via the trade and free-agent markets.
I’ve avoided the expansion draft guessing game some writers played during the interruption in the NHL schedule by COVID-19. A player that could be available today might be protected next year, while limited cap space could leave a supposed untouchable player unprotected. Still, it will be interesting to see what opportunities unfold for the Kraken come next summer.
COULD THE PREDATORS BUY OUT TURRIS?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked about the likelihood of the Nashville Predators buying out Kyle Turris’ contract to free salary cap space to re-sign Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. The two forwards are slated to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
Buying out Turris would save the Predators $4 million annually through 2024. Vingan isn’t sure if they’ll do t but believes they should give it serious consideration. Even then, he feels the likelihood of re-signing both Granlund and Smith is low.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: PuckPedia indicates buying out Turris will also leave the Predators with $2 million in annual dead cap space through 2027-28. With the cap expected to be flat for perhaps the next two seasons and growth to be slow after that, it still might not be a bad idea to remove the bulk of Turris’ cap hit.
As per Cap Friendly, the Predators have over $72.2 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21. Buying out Turris would reduce that to $68.2 million, providing a little extra wiggle room to re-sign Granlund or Smith, or to perhaps consider more affordable options via trade or free agency.
Whether GM David Poile goes that route is another story. He could attempt to move Turris’ entire contract, but that could mean packaging the center with a high draft pick and/or a top prospect.
Mikko Rantanen makes a splashy return with the Avalanche, Alex Ovechkin tallies a hat trick, fallout from the Peters firing and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen made a splashy return to action by picking up four points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury on Oct. 21. Joonas Donskoi also enjoyed a four-point performance, Nathan MacKinnon picked up three points, and Nazem Kadri scored two goals. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored to extend his points streak to 15 games.
Alex Ovechkin tallied a hat trick to lead the Washington Capitals over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov collected three assists. Ovechkin now has 20 goals on the season, sitting second to Boston’s David Pastrnak (24) in the goal-scoring race. The Wings’ winless skid has stretched to nine games. Earlier in the day, they acquired goaltender Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.
The Vancouver Canucks got a four-point performance from Tanner Pearson to down the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Canucks captain Bo Horvat picked up three assists. Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.
New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast each tallied shorthanded goals. Devils rookie Jack Hughes missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils near the bottom of the conference, there are reports they’re entertaining offers for Taylor Hall. Check out the Rumors section for details.
The Philadelphia Flyers extended the Montreal Canadiens’ winless skid to seven games (0-4-3) with a 4-3 overtime victory. Ivan Provorov tallied the game-winner while Flyers goalie Brian Elliott kicked out 39 shots. Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Habs, who lost defenseman Victor Mete to a lower-body injury. The Flyers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points.
Calgary Flames winger Elias Lindholm scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted his team-leading 14th goal for the Senators.
John Tavares tallied in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Tavares also had an assist on William Nylander’s game-opening goal. Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton made 41 saves in a losing cause.
Carolina Hurricanes netminder James Reimer made 36 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Brayden Coburn is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury, while winger Alex Killorn (lower-body injury) is listed as day-to-day.
Florida Panthers rookie goaltender Chris Driedger’s first NHL start was a memorable one, turning aside 27 shots to blank the Nashville Predators 3-0. Anton Stralman scored twice for the Panthers.
Semyon Varlamov replaced an ailing Thomas Greiss in the first period and backstopped the New York Islanders to a 2-0 shutout over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Isles center Mathew Barzal scored one goal and collected an assist on the other. Isles defenseman Nick Leddy returned to action after missing one game with a lower-body injury. Blue Jackets rearguard Zach Werenski left the game with an upper-body injury.
Logan Couture scored twice and Tomas Hertl picked up two assists as the San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. It’s the Sharks’ 11th win in their last 13 contests.
St. Louis Blues forwards Jaden Schwartz and Ryan O’Reilly each had two points in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game with an undisclosed injury. The Penguins also played without winger Bryan Rust, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
A 33-save effort by Jack Campbell enabled the Los Angeles Kings to hang on for a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis issued a statement yesterday claiming he informed then-team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. of alleged physical incidents between former coach Bill Peters and two players. Earlier in the week, Karmanos claimed he was not aware of the incidents and would’ve immediately fired Peters had he known. Francis said he took immediate action to address the issue and no further incidents occurred.
Peters resigned Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames after former NHL player Akim Aliu claimed he hurled racial slurs at him during their tenure with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs a decade ago.
SPORTSNET: Speak of Aliu, he’ll be meeting with the NHL this week to to discuss the cultural problems in hockey.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Sean Avery claimed he was kicked by coach Marc Crawford during a game in 2006-07 when they were with the Los Angeles Kings. Avery said the incident occurred when he took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
“He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it. You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.” Avery found the incident more bemusing than upsetting.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens with a lower-body injury. Winger Brad Marchand is questionable for the game as he’s battling flu symptoms. Winger David Backes (concussion symptoms) could be close to returning to the lineup.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will appear in his 1,000th NHL game today when his club takes on the Dallas Stars.
The latest on Artemi Panarin, Alex Ovechkin, Joe Pavelski, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin expressed criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The 27-year-old Russian forward voiced his distaste for the lawlessness in his country, accusing Putin of not knowing right from wrong.
“I speak sincerely and with good intentions,” Panarin said. “Our mistake is that we treat him like a superman. But he is the same as we, and in theory, serves us. I have no relation to him that he is a superman.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rare for a Russian athlete to be publicly critical of Putin. It’ll be interesting to see if any others follow Panarin’s lead.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is headed to China next month as an NHL ambassador. The league is trying to grow its presence in that country. “Ovechkin’s trip to Beijing will include youth hockey clinics, a media tour, and business development meetings.”
THE MERCURY NEWS: Former Sharks captain Joe Pavelski has put his San Jose mansion up for sale. The asking price is over $3.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dang! Just slightly out of my price range…;)
SEATTLE TIMES: Ron Francis was officially introduced yesterday as the general manager of Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a little anticlimactic as the news of Francis’ hiring was leaked to the media the day before. See my reaction to Francis’ hiring in Wednesday’s morning coffee headlines.
BOSTON HERALD: Former Bruins forward Chris Kelly is returning to the club as player development coordinator.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets renewed their affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen.
The first salary arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday. That’s Brock McGinn and CAR. Player filed at $2.7M; team at $1.75M. Can still be settled.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 18, 2019
The Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith, plus the latest free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move addresses needs for both clubs. The Senators get some offensive skill in Anisimov while Smith brings more defensive skill and toughness up front for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks also free up an additional $1.3 million in cap space by swapping Anisimov’s $4.55-million annual average value (through 2020-21) for Smith’s $3.25 million. The Senators, meanwhile, will only pay $2 million of Anisimov’s actual salary for this season and $1.5 million in 2020-21.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed forward Jakub Vrana to a two-year, $6.7-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana, 23, completed his entry-level contract and lacked arbitration rights this summer. With the Capitals squeezed for cap space, he’s doing them a favor by accepting this bridge deal. Vrana’s coming off a career-best 24-goal, 47-point performance. If he continues to improve he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Connor Carrick to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.5 million.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Ryan Donato to a two-year, $3.8-million contract. He netted 16 points in 22 games after being acquired from the Boston Bruins in a late-season trade.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750K per season.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks confirmed their signing of defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $750K contract. Blueliner Chris Wideman was inked to a one-year, two-way contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed defenseman Haydn Fleury to a one-year, $850K contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay $874,125 at the NHL level.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed UFA forward Josh Archibald to a one-year, $1-million contract.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract worth over $858K per season. It’s a two-way deal for 2019-20 and one-way for the next two seasons.
SEATTLE TIMES: Hall-of-Famer Ron Francis is set to become the general manager of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. Francis is also the former general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The budget-conscious Hurricanes failed to reach the playoffs during Francis’ tenure. However, he brought in young players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele to Carolina and developed young talent like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. All played key roles in the Hurricanes’ march to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
THE SCORE: U.S. Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are pushing their colleagues to honor Willie O’Ree with the Congressional Gold Medal. O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL and was inducted last year into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Golden Knights bite Sharks in overtime, Lightning strikes the Bruins, Lamoriello out as Leafs GM. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: William Karlsson’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Jonathan Marchessault led the Golden Knights with a goal and two assists. The Sharks had overcome a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame on third-period goals by Evander Kane and Logan Couture. Game 4 is Wednesday night in San Jose.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And here’s the reaction to Karlsson’s goal by KVVU-TV’s live evening news show.
— FOX5 Las Vegas (@FOX5Vegas) May 1, 2018
After posting a plus/minus of minus-5 in Game 1, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point had a four-point performance (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. The series is now tied at a game apiece and heads to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning put forth a more physical effort in this contest, spotlighted by an energetic five-on-three penalty kill in the first period. While the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak chipped in with assists, they were unable to score against the Bolts’ defense. Meanwhile, Boston’s not getting much offense from their other forwards, as it was blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug who tallied the Bruins’ goals in this game.
TRIBLIVE.COM/NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin and Carl Hagelin returned to practice yesterday but remain game-day decisions for Game 3 against the Washington Capitals tonight in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Capitals winger Tom Wilson will not face a disciplinary hearing for his hit to Dumoulin’s head that knocked the Pittsburgh defenseman out of Game 2.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS/THE TENNESSEAN: With Game 3 of the Nashville Predators-Winnipeg Jets series set for tonight in Winnipeg, the Jets hope to put their overtime loss in the previous contest behind them. The Predators, meanwhile, aren’t intimidated about playing in front of a noisy, enthusiastic crowd at Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place.
TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs yesterday announced Lou Lamoriello won’t be returning as general manager. As Lamoriello moves into a senior adviser role, there’s no timetable for his replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs president Brendan Shanahan declined to say if he’ll promote one of his assistant GMs (Kyle Dubas or Mark Hunter) or look to outside the organization for Lamoriello’s replacement. Meanwhile, speculation persists suggesting Lamoriello might take over from Garth Snow as GM of the New York Islanders. Don’t expect Shanahan to take too long naming a new GM, as he’ll likely want them in place before the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have terminated the contract of former general manager Ron Francis, who was replaced in March on an interim basis by Don Waddell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: New owner Tom Dundon’s handling of this situation, his failed efforts to find a new GM willing to work for well below market value and the sudden departure of head coach Bill Peters has raised eyebrows around the league.
NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, construction of their new arena at Belmont Park is expected to begin on schedule next spring.