NHL Offseason Lookahead – Arizona Coyotes
The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON MATT MURRAY
TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.
SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?
THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.
COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.
Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
LATEST ON THE JETS
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”
Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.
What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.
WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”
Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.
Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.
NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.
If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.
Will the Canucks re-sign Jacob Markstrom? Could the Predators pursue Taylor Hall? What could the Wild do during the offseason?
WHAT WILL THE CANUCKS DO WITH MARKSTROM?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons mused over what the Vancouver Canucks will do with Jacob Markstrom. The 30-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent this fall. Simmons points out they also have promising Thatcher Demko and must expose a goalie in next year’s expansion draft. He wonders if the Colorado Avalanche might pursue Markstrom if he hits the open market.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports the Canucks have $15 million in salary-cap space for next season to spend on six players to fill out their roster. They’ll have to find an experienced backup for Demko if they part ways with Markstrom. If they re-sign Markstrom, Demko could become a fascinating trade chip.
Johnston also wondered what Canucks general manager Jim Benning will do with Jake Virtanen. The 24-year-old winger is a fan favorite and a restricted free agent, but he has arbitration rights and struggled with consistency. Benning must also prioritize his other free agents, including UFAs like Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev and RFAs Troy Stecher and Tyler Motte.
Jim Benning could also look at a cost-cutting move or two to free up cap space to re-sign key players. Candidates could include Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle or Sven Baertschi.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Thomas Drance also examined the Canucks’ free agent and salary-cap issues for the offseason. If they can free up cap space, he feels they must bring in a top-four, right-handed defenseman and upgrade their third-line center position.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be an interesting offseason for the Canucks. How Benning addresses his club’s needs and cap issues will have far-reaching consequences. The goaltending is the priority. Simmons makes a good point about the risk of losing one of them in the expansion draft.
Some might argue passing on Markstrom after watching Demko’s playoff performance, but three outstanding games isn’t a large enough body of work to crown him as their starter going forward. On the other hand, this year’s goalie market is a deep one and they could bring in a quality veteran at a reasonable price to tutor Demko if they part ways with Markstrom.
COULD THE PREDATORS SIGN TAYLOR HALL?
THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required): Adam Vingan was asked in a recent mailbag segment about Scott Burnside suggesting the Nashville Predators as a destination for Taylor Hall because of his connection with coach John Hynes. The Arizona Coyotes left wing is this summer’s top UFA forward and played well for Hynes during their time with the New Jersey Devils.
Citing Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston suggesting Hall could a stable, winning situation where he fits in well over filling up his bank account, Vingan doesn’t see the Predators meeting that requirement. He cautions against signing an aging player at this stage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Predators GM David Poile making a big splash in this year’s UFA market. His club has $72.2 million tied up in 17 players. Poile will try to shed center Kyle Turris’ $6 million per season cap hit through 2023-24 but that won’t be easy. He could be forced to absorb a big chunk of Turris’ cap hit or buy him out and carry $2 million in annual dead-cap space through 2027-28.
LATEST ON THE WILD
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked if the Minnesota Wild will do any contract buyouts. He felt there’s a chance, suggesting if they did so for goalie Devan Dubnyk or center Victor Rask it would be to create roster spots rather than clear cap space. He also felt Alex Stalock would only fetch a mid-round draft pick if placed on the trade block. Russo doesn’t believe GM Bill Guerin will pursue Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom if he becomes available in the free-agent market.
In a second mailbag segment, Russo noted the Wild have to protect Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon in next year’s expansion draft because of their no-movement clauses. If they decide to protect just three defensemen, this is the offseason to move Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin unless they intend to move one of them before the 2021 trade deadline. Brodin has a year left on his contract and could be the one to get traded if he proves too expensive to re-sign.
Russo is against trading Brodin to Montreal for Max Domi because he doesn’t feel Domi can address the Wild’s need for a first-line center. Asked if Guerin could pursue Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, Russo feels the asking price would be steep. If Monahan is available, the Flames will want a first-line center to replace him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Guerin will be busy in the offseason. He indicated he wasn’t happy with his goaltending and pointed out his club’s need for a first-line center.
He could move Stalock or Dubnyk and promote promising goalie Kaapa Kahkonen. Russo said he could seek them signing Braden Holtby or Cam Talbot to buy Kahkonen some time if they part ways with Dubnyk, but those two could prove expensive signings, especially Holtby.
Some in the Montreal media suggested swapping Domi for Brodin or Dumba. I think Guerin shares Russo’s opinion of the Habs’ center. Domi could be a good second-line center but he’s not the proven No.1 the Wild need. Guerin also sought to tamp down the expectations of Wild fans calling for him to pursue a first-line center, pointing out teams typically don’t part with that type of player.
The latest on Taylor Hall, Max Domi, Frederik Andersen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Anthony Cirelli and James van Riemsdyk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
HALL AND DOMI
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cites Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that a case could be made for the Canadiens as a destination for Taylor Hall. He believes the 29-year-old left-winger would be interested in the Habs if he tests the unrestricted free agent market.
“He likes playing in that environment,” said Dreger. “He enjoyed his time in Edmonton. He’s not afraid of the media and all those things. Markets in Canada are fun when you know what you’re getting into.”
Hall could improve the Canadiens’ offense. However, Dreger also noted the Arizona Coyotes are interested in re-signing the former Hart Trophy winner. He feels if Hall is seeking the most money he can get, chances are he’ll get that with the Coyotes.
Cowan also wondered what the future holds for Max Domi. The 25-year-old Canadiens center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a disappointing follow-up to last season’s 72-point performance.
The Buffalo Sabres could be a fit if the Habs put Domi on the trade block. Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR Sports Radio 550 he thinks Domi is available. He pointed out the center wasn’t happy with his role this season plus he changed agents last week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall will garner lots of interest if he hits the open market. I don’t doubt the Coyotes’ sincerity toward re-signing him, but recent reports that they were late paying player bonuses plus their $80-million cap payroll could affect their efforts. I also believe Hall wants to play for a contender, which could see him move on from the Coyotes and pass over the Habs.
Friedman followed up on Domi during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, reporting he hasn’t requested a trade. The Canadiens could re-sign him but, as Friedman pointed out during his WGR interview last Thursday, they probably don’t see him as a $5 million per season player. The Habs could trade Domi if negotiations bog down and arbitration looms.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported Friday he believes Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has spoken to Frederik Andersen. He apparently told the 30-year-old goalie the Leafs aren’t shopping him, but teams are asking about him.
Luke Fox suggests the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres “to name a few” could be potential trade partners. They’re in need of an upgrade between the pipes and have the blueline depth to tempts Dubas. However, Fox feels the Leafs shouldn’t move Andersen unless they can land a goalie carrying a similar cap hit ($5 million) who could be a better fit right away.
Fox also pointed out Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper’s new contract (two years, $4.5 million annual average value) kicks in next season. Given the Coyotes woes, teams seeking a goaltender would come calling. Trading him, however, would be a horrible way for the Coyotes to boost their dressing room or excite their fan base.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I mention Fox’s comments about Kuemper because his name recently surfaced in the rumor mill. It would be natural to tie the Leafs to Kuemper and suggest peddling Andersen elsewhere. Maybe that’s what Dubas has in mind. All the talk about trading Andersen was as a cost-cutting measure, but things can change rapidly if you’re considering several options.
Dubas won’t trade Andersen unless he’s getting a goalie of equal or greater value in return. Maybe it’s Kuemper, maybe it’s someone else. Maybe there’s no better option out there. Maybe the right deal just can’t be found. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks.
COULD FLEURY RETURN TO PITTSBURGH?
TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights would like to re-sign Robin Lehner, who’s taken over the starting goalie role from Fleury.
Doing so, however, would mean trading or buying out Fleury. Madden feels the latter is possible because the 35-year-old’s $7 million AAV for the next two seasons is difficult to trade. Fleury would then become an unrestricted free agent and sign a cap-friendly deal with the Penguins, who are expected to trade Matt Murray.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting premise, but I don’t see this unfolding. Sure, the Golden Knights could buy out Fleury, and he could be amenable to returning to the Penguins on perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden deal to share the crease with Tristan Jarry. However, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will go with Jarry and Casey DeSmith as his tandem and see how things unfold next season.
SHOULD THE JETS OFFER-SHEET CIRELLI?
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck suggests Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be a little ruthless in the offseason and sign Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. The Lightning have $76.1 million invested in next season’s payroll, lacking sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli is a tempting offer-sheet target, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he’s not, it’s a pointless exercise. And if he is willing to sign, there’s no certainty he’d do so with the Jets. If the Lightning want to match it, they are allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by 10 percent during the offseason. I don’t see the Bolts losing him to an offer sheet unless a club signs him for an AAV of $8.5 million or more.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLYERS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined what the offseason could hold for the Philadelphia Flyers in the wake of their second-round elimination from the 2020 playoffs. Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to re-sign some veteran players.
She suggested trading winger James van Riemsdyk as a cost-cutting measure. He carries a $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 and fell out of favor during the playoffs. However, Kaplan feels there’s probably not much of a market for him and it would be a sell-low move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli had JVR sitting second on his recently updated NHL trade-bait board. Kaplan offered a good explanation of why he shouldn’t be that high on the list. Unless the Flyers pick up part of that cap hit or package him with a sweetener, they could find it tough to attract suitors for van Riemsdyk.
We’ve been dealing with a publishing problem since September 2. We’re working on the issue and hope to have it resolved soon. Here’s a brief look at the latest notable NHL trade rumors.
MURRAY AND ANDERSEN: TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has had a lingering interest in Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray going back to their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Dreger believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has an offer on the table that he would consider for Murray, but he doesn’t believe it’s from the Leafs. They would have to find a landing spot for current starter Frederik Andersen.
The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun cited sources saying the Leafs have had some inquiries about Andersen, who has a 10-team no-trade list. However, he thinks some teams could consider the free-agent market before going the trade route.
TAYLOR HALL: Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes are expected to make another offer to pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. It sounds like there was good discussion between Coyotes brass and Hall’s agent but the lure of free agency is tempting. The Coyotes search for a new GM could complicate things.
PATRIK LAINE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Winnipeg Jets aren’t shopping Patrik Laine and he doesn’t think there’s a strong possibility the winger will be traded. Nevertheless, LeBrun suggested the Carolina Hurricanes as a possible trade partner because of their blueline depth. Just for fun, he proposed a package of Brett Pesce and Vincent Trocheck for Laine.
The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck is the latest Winnipeg pundit against the idea of the Jets trading Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to address their blueline and second-line center needs.
ALEX PIETRANGELO: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues trading Jake Allen to Montreal yesterday could foreshadow the club’s effort to re-sign pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues need to shed cap space to make it happen, but Rutherford cites league sources saying the two sides aren’t close to an extension and nothing is imminent.
BRUINS: ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski believes the Boston Bruins must decide if they’ll re-sign pending UFA defenseman Torey Krug. Both sides have said they’d like to work out an extension. Several of the Bruins’ stars are on cap-friendly deals, but Krug could get some big offers on the open market. He also feels the Bruins should take one last run at the Cup with their current core, but advocates more roster tinkering. They should also determine if goalie Tuukka Rask still intends to return for the final year of his contract.
NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins could have a different look next season. He feels they must begin transitioning from their aging core toward a young one build around David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, and they must get bigger up front.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has returned with his family to start the school year in New York. He has a year left on his contract. However, he faces an uncertain future with the Blueshirts as the club transitions toward young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s unknown if he might retire or seek to continue his career with another NHL team.
MAX DOMI: The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin suggested the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks as possible destinations for Max Domi if the Montreal Canadiens decide to trade him. Those clubs all need depth at center.
BLUES TRADE ALLEN TO MONTREAL: The St. Louis Blues traded goaltender Jake Allen and a seventh-round pick in 2022 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for two picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The picks are the Washington Capitals third-rounder and the Chicago Blackhawks seventh-rounder.
Moving Allen wasn’t a surprise. The Blues must free up salary-cap space if they hope to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Vince Dunn.
This deal sheds Allen’s $4.35-million cap hit for next season, giving the Blues $75.1 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21. That won’t be enough to re-sign both blueliners, assuming that’s the intent of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. More moves could be coming.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, land a reliable backup for starter Carey Price. Allen, 30, had his struggles as a full-time starter in St. Louis but put up solid numbers backing up Jordan Binnington this season.
Allen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2020-21, so it’ll be interesting to see how well he fits in with Price. In the meantime, his presence should buy promising Cayden Primeau some time to develop his game with their AHL affiliate in Laval.
Acquiring Allen leaves the Canadiens with $67.4 million invested in 17 players. Depending on how things shake out with restricted free agent Max DomI, there’s enough room to make another significant addition or two.
A look at this year’s noteworthy UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently updated his listing of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents. St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tops the list, followed by Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No argument from me regarding Pietrangelo’s placement. He’ll be heavily courted if he and the Blues fail to reach agreement on a contract extension. Despite the flattened salary cap for next season, he could command over $9 million annually on the open market.
The respective playoff performances of Hall and Krug didn’t do much to improve their free-agent value, but they still remain near the top of this year’s UFA crop. Hall’s current annual average value is $6 million and Krug’s is $5.25 million. Under normal circumstances, they’d get long-term contracts with big raises. Now, they might have to accept short-term deals for more modest raises in hopes of scoring more lucrative deals once league revenue improves.
Hoffman played well for the Panthers during the qualifying round. He’s a reliable scorer but his age (31) could limit him to a three-year deal with an AAV of around $6 million.
I’d put Lehner slightly ahead of Markstrom but both are the best pending UFA netminders. Lehner will want a long-term deal after spending the past two years on one-year contracts and for more than his current $5 million. Markstrom is rumored to be seeking over $6 million annually on a long-term contract, but maybe he’ll accept that much on a three-year deal.
Larkin has Markstrom ninth on his listing, with Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, and Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie coming in sixth through 10.
Seravalli has Hoffman and Dadonov sixth and seventh on his listing, followed by Toffoli, Panthers center Erik Haula, and Barrie completing his top-10 list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Toffoli’s two-way skills should put him higher on those lists. Dadonov has tallied 25-play goals in each of the last three seasons and probably would’ve reached 60 points again this season had the schedule not been derailed by COVID-19, but I wonder how productive he’ll be with another club.
Barrie’s stock really took a hit this season with the Leafs. However, he’s a right-handed shot with good puck-moving skills. As Seravalli suggests, he could regain his form away from Toronto’s harsh spotlight. I’m puzzled by Seravalli’s ranking Haula so high. While I agree this year’s market isn’t a good one for centers, Haula’s injury history could hurt his UFA value.
Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien are 13th and 14th on Larkin’s rankings. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen, Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, and Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk fill in the rest of spots 11 through 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s playoff performance didn’t help his UFA stock. His play has been in decline since 2018. The flat cap will also work against his chances of securing a hefty raise on a long-term deal. Granlund also didn’t help his case with his postseason play. I’d put Byfuglien at the bottom of this list because we don’t know if he intends to resume his career after sitting out this season and if the 35-year-old blueliner will be as effective as he once way.
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford lands at No. 20 on Larkin’s list, preceded by Calgary Flames defenseman Erik Gustafsson, Washington Capitals blueliner Brenden Dillon, Haula, and Flames rearguard Travis Hamonic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Larkin pointed out, Crawford played well despite the horrible blueline in front of him this season. He wonders if the long-time Blackhawks goalie will take less money to stay in Chicago. I think he will. At 35, he could sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary that could take him up to $5 million.
Dallas Stars netminder Anton Khudobin, Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot, and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz are among Larkin’s bottom 10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s play throughout this season and in the playoffs could send his value rising for clubs pursuing an experienced, reliable backup. Talbot could seek a starter’s job elsewhere if he doesn’t re-sign with the Flames. Schultz’s value plummeted this season, in part because he was returning from a serious leg injury suffered last season. He could prove a worthwhile, affordable gamble on a one-year, “show-me” deal.
New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, Predators forward Craig Smith, Canucks blueliner Chris Tanev, Colorado Avalanche winger Vladislav Namestnikov, Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Joel Edmundson, and Arizona Coyotes center Carl Soderberg complete the listing.