The Penguins re-sign Tristan Jarry, the Flyers re-up Brian Elliott, the Coyotes intend to buy out Michael Grabner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday re-signed goaltender Tristan Jarry to a three-year, $10.5-million contract. The annual average value is $3.5 million. Jarry, 25, was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable re-signing by the Penguins. Jarry is expected to take over as their full-time starting goaltender in 2020-21. The Penguins now have $78.8 million invested in 21 players.
This move has also ramped up speculation over Matt Murray’s future with the Penguins. It’s assumed the Penguins will trade him, but general manager Jim Rutherford indicated they’ll extend a qualifying offer this week and could take him to arbitration as a formality to retain his signing rights. However, Rutherford also admitted speaking with other clubs, though he hasn’t fully shut the door on re-signing Murray.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed goalie Brian Elliott to a one-year, $1.5-million contract. Elliott, 35, was due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott took a $500K pay cut to stay with the Flyers. He’s been a reliable backup and mentor to young starting goalie Carter Hart.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed winger Michael Grabner on waivers Saturday for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Coyotes will incur a cap hit of $833K for 2020-21, rising to $1.258 million in 2021-22.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens extended qualifying offers to Max Domi, Victor Mete, Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen and Xavier Ouellet.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen to a one-year, two-way contract.
Check out the latest on the Leafs, Coyotes, and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).
Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.
He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.
Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.
Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.
A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE OPTIONS
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.
Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.
Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.
Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.
Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.
ATHANASIOU STRUGGLING TO FIT ON OILERS LINES
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.
(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.
Recent speculation on the Leafs and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LEAFS’ GOALTENDING AND DEFENSIVE NEEDS
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the long-term needs of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Frederik Andersen will be due for a new contract after 2020-21 and defenseman Morgan Rielly following 2021-22. The Leafs’ defense needs improvement but limited salary-cap space means they’ll need to get the most out of entry-level blueliners like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Cap constraints could force them to part with players they like but don’t need, like winger Kyle Clifford.
Should the Toronto Maple Leafs consider replacing Frederik Andersen after this season? (Photo via NHL Images)
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel recently debated whether the Leafs should find an upgrade on Andersen between the pipes. Mirtle feels they should at least explore that option, especially if Andersen seeks a raise on his next contract. He pointed out Robin Lehner could be available in this summer’s UFA market. Siegel still thinks the Leafs can win the Stanley Cup with Andersen, but suggested trading for Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray as an option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s future in Toronto will be determined by his performance this season (assuming it resumes this summer) and next, as well as the Leafs’ cap payroll. According to Cap Friendly, they have over $68 million tied up in just 12 players for 2021-22. That won’t leave much wiggle room to sign Andersen to a larger deal. And if the Leafs fail to advance beyond the first round this year and next, they could consider other goaltending options.
As for adding Lehner or Murray this off-season, the Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for next season. With the salary cap expected to remain around $81.5 million, they can’t afford to add another netminder unless they intend to trade Andersen. I think they’ll hang onto him for another season and focus instead on improving the blueline.
LATEST ON THE COYOTES
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan speculates Taylor Hall, Michael Grabner, and Brad Richardson stand a good chance of leaving the Arizona Coyotes in the off-season. Hall and Richardson are unrestricted free agents following this season. Hall and his agent want to sign with a playoff contender, and the Coyotes’ second-half swoon could hurt their chances of retaining him. They also have to shed some salary to re-sign him.
Grabner has a year left on his contract worth an annual average value of $3.35 million. However, he was a frequent healthy scratch late in this season, making him a potential cost-cutting candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM John Chayka remains hopeful of having productive discussions with the Hall camp. Nevertheless, the Coyotes’ limited cap space will make it difficult to come up with suitable cap space to keep the former Hart Trophy winner in Arizona.
Should the Rangers ship Chris Kreider to the Blue Jackets? Will the Sharks weaponize their salary-cap space to restock their prospect pipeline? What moves could the Coyotes make at the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KREIDER TO THE BLUE JACKETS?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers should ship Chris Kreider to the Columbus Blue Jackets if unable to re-sign him before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He feels the low-scoring Jackets could use the 28-year-old winger on their top line.
Should the NY Rangers attempt to ship Chris Kreider to the Columbus Blue Jackets? (Photo via NHL Images).
Brooks proposed swapping Kreider for Jackets winger Josh Anderson. The 25-year-old power winger’s been sidelined by a shoulder injury this season and is a year away from UFA status. Brooks thinks he’d be a reasonable replacement for Kreider. He also observed Jackets special assistant (and former Rangers winger) Rick Nash scouted yesterday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Brooks is only proposing a Kreider-for-Anderson swap. He’s not saying that’s what’s being discussed between the two clubs. For that matter, we don’t know if those two teams are having any type of trade talks.
Nevertheless, the Jackets need scoring. Only Detroit, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose have scored fewer goals. They also have plenty of deadline cap space to take on a scoring forward. Kreider could certainlty help them.
The only sticking point for the Rangers is Anderson’s RFA status with arbitration rights next summer. They’ve got several others in that boat, though it could be easier to re-sign them if Kreider’s not coming back.
WILL THE SHARKS TARGET CLUBS IN NEED OF SALARY-CAP SPACE?
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White explores the possibility of the San Jose Sharks using their salary-cap space to target clubs in need of cap room. With Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl suffering season-ending injuries, the Sharks would have over $17 million in cap room to take on expiring contracts from other clubs as long as additional assets are part of the return.
White points out the Sharks lack a first-round pick in this year’s draft and their prospect pool is among the league’s weakest. Playoff contenders like the Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, and Calgary Flames could use cap room, but trading with a Pacific Division rival could prove difficult. Instead, they might target the cap-strapped Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Finding a suitable contract could be a problem. The Bruins, for example, would love to move David Backes, but he’s signed through 2021-22. White suggests retaining salary might be a better option. Defenseman Brenden Dillion could be a more attractive trade chip if the Sharks absorb part of his $3.275-million salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson has a unique opportunity to start rebuilding his prospect pipeline. He has a well-earned reputation as a skilled wheeler-dealer, especially around the trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays this.
WHAT SHOULD THE COYOTES DO AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked if the Arizona Coyotes might add some muscle at their defense and forward positions before the trade deadline. He felt that adding a “thumper with mobility for the third pair and a net-front guy for the power play would be nice additions.”
Asked which players the Coyotes could move, Morgan cited Michael Grabner as a trade candidate. The winger hasn’t played much and is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $3.35-million AAV. Vinnie Hinostroza could be another.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Coyotes very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, I expect they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline. They also made the biggest splash of the regular season by acquiring Taylor Hall, but still need more offensive punch.
Finding some will mean a dollar-for-dollar deal, as they have just over $300K in deadline cap space. Given those limitations, they could be forced to bargain hunt.