NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.

Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.

Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.

Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.

Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.

The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.

Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.

Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 10, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 10, 2021

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford, and an update on the Islanders in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers would have to pay a “painful cost” to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center reportedly seeks a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It would prove costly for the New York Rangers to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL Images).

Brooks said the Rangers are monitoring Dubois’ situation. He believes the Jackets will want a center in return, suggesting the Blueshirts might have to part with Filip Chytil as part of the return. He also thinks the Jackets would want Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko in the deal. Brooks suggests K’Andre Miller, Matthew Robertson, Tony DeAngelo or Vitaly Kravtsov could also interest the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Jackets would want a player who can improve their roster immediately. Maybe they’d be tempted to accept a package of young Rangers’ players/prospects if Lafreniere were part of the deal, but I don’t see the Blueshirts moving him or Kakko. Perhaps the Jackets would accept a package of young players and/or prospects if they could flip some of them to another club for an impact center.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons said if he were New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello he’d trade recently-signed Mathew Barzal to the Jackets for Dubois. While Barzal is the better offensive player, Dubois is bigger, less expensive and plays a better three-zone game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But Lamoriello isn’t Simmons and he’s not going to trade Barzal for Dubois. It would be a little risky for the Isles as we don’t know if Dubois would commit beyond next season to staying on Long Island.

THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak examines the New Jersey Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford. The 36-year-old goaltender announced his retirement yesterday.

For now, their tandem will be starter Mackenzie Blackwood with Scott Wedgewood as the backup. Masisak points out the external options aren’t ideal, with Jimmy Howard as the only goalie in the unrestricted free agent market who won a game in the NHL last season. Howard won just two of 27 appearances with a .882 save percentage with the Detroit Red Wings.

There were reports earlier in the offseason that the Vegas Golden Knights were looking to trade Marc-Andre Fleury but Masisak felt they had time to find a suitable backup by then. He wonders if the Arizona Coyotes might promote Adin Hill and listen to offers for Antti Raanta, who has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.25 million.

The waiver wire could be another option. The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Michael Hutchinson on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils could start the season with the Blackwood-Wedgewood tandem and see how things unfold. It’ll be interesting to see if they pluck someone off waivers. The fact no one signed Howard by now suggests he has little value to NHL clubs.

If the Devils opt for a trade they have plenty of salary-cap space to take on Raanta’s cap hit if the Coyotes want to move him. Fleury, meanwhile, isn’t available. The Golden Knights intend to start this season with Fleury and Robin Lehner splitting their goalie duties.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was trying to trade a player in order to sign Mathew Barzal to a long-term extension. However, it appears no team was willing to take on Thomas Hickey or Leo Komarov with budgets tight and the start of the season fast approaching. Barzal yesterday inked a three-year, $21 million contract with the Isles.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

Suggested trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois and what could be holding up the Islanders’ attempt to sign Mathew Barzal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun listed the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks among seven teams he believes would make sense as trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center has reportedly sought a trade despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets last week.

LeBrun feels the Flames could be an attractive trade partner for the Jackets if they seek a return that can help them right away. He spitballs a deal involving Dubois for Sean Monahan. LeBrun suggests Dubois would be the kind of young core piece that would fit into the Blackhawks’ current direction. However, he believes the Jackets would want promising center Kirby Dach as part of the return.

Should the Calgary Flames consider acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also pitched the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. He discussed them during a recent TSN “Insider Trading” segment. You can get the details and my thoughts on those clubs as Dubois trade destinations by following this link.

As for the Flames and Blackhawks, I can’t disagree with LeBrun’s assessment of Dubois’ impact upon those clubs and the Jackets’ asking price. The Flames could consider shaking things up if this season ends in disappointment so I wouldn’t dismiss a Dubois-for-Monahan swap. I don’t see the Blackhawks moving Dach so Dubois probably isn’t landing in Chicago.

LeBrun’s colleague Lisa Dillman examined the pros and cons if the Kings tried to acquire Dubois. Pros include Dubois filling a need for a No. 1 center as Anze Kopitar ages as well as their depth in promising assets to tempt the Jackets. Cons include what could be an expensive asking price (Quinton Byfield?) by the Jackets and the cap hit required to keep Dubois in Los Angeles after his current deal expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Dillman that the Kings should at least explore the option of acquiring Dubois. If the asking price is Byfield, however, that could be a deal-breaker.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Senators should contact the Jackets about Dubois’ availability and the asking price. He feels the Sens have the depth in prospects, especially young defensemen, to make a serious pitch. Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a first-line center now and for the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Jackets have a trade history. While the Sens have plenty of promising youngsters to offer up a trade bait, the Jackets probably want a return that provides immediate help to their roster.

The Jackets are not a rebuilding club but one that sees itself building toward Stanley Cup contention. I think they’ll want a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return rather than budding young NHL defensemen unless those prospects are flipped to another team to acquire a scoring center.

The Senators would also want assurances from the Dubois camp that he’ll commit to a long-term deal with them after his current contract expires at the end of next season. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of assets to acquire a player who doesn’t want to be there.

Turning to Mathew Barzal’s contract negotiations, THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple reports it’s believed New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is trying to unload another contract in order to sign the 23-year-old center to a lucrative long-term deal. Once completed, Staple suggests Barzal could get perhaps a six, seven or even an eight-year contract at an annual average value close to $10 million.

Staple speculates defenseman Thomas Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, $3.75 million in actual salary for this season and next) and forward Leo Komarov ($3 million AAV, $3.5 million in actual cash) as potential trade candidates. Trading Johnny Boychuk’s contract is another option but that would take away the Isles’ long-term injury reserve flexibility for this season. It doesn’t appear anyone’s taking Andrew Ladd and his $5.5 million AAV off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello attempting to make a cost-cutting trade to free up cap space for an expensive long-term contract for Barzal would explain why the young center remains unsigned a week into training camp. Perhaps this can be sorted out during this weekend.

However, Barzal’s missed a week of practice and scrimmages with his teammates. That’s not going to help his preparation for the upcoming season.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2021

Updates on Patrik Laine, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mathew Barzal, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his first “31 Thoughts” column of 2021, Elliotte Friedman weighed in on the future of Patrik Laine with the Winnipeg Jets. The 22-year-old has been the subject of trade speculation for some time.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Friedman said Laine arrived in Winnipeg with the understanding he could be a Jet for the entire season. If Laine wants a trade his best option is to fill the net with pucks.

The Philadelphia Flyers considered acquiring the winger a few months ago but the cost in assets and salary proved too expensive. Friedman feels the Columbus Blue Jackets could be a suitor if Laine were to commit to staying in Columbus, assuming a trade could be worked out.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Friedman feels there currently isn’t much optimism in fixing the situation between the organization and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center reportedly seeks a trade despite signing a two-year contract last week.

Several sources tell Friedman not to lay blame for this situation solely at the feet of Jackets head coach John Tortorella. The feeling is Dubois wants to perform on a bigger stage. In other words, a bigger market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks have suggested swapping Laine for Dubois, but getting either player to commit to their new cities could be the big sticking point. Winnipeg wouldn’t fit Dubois’ supposed desire to play in a big market.

As I’ve said before, moving Laine or Dubois seems unlikely during the regular season. Right now, they’re both too important to their respective clubs’ playoff hopes. It could also prove difficult to find suitable returns before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I’m expecting they’ll get shopped during the offseason.

Friedman feels a long-term deal between the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal doesn’t seem likely because of the team’s salary-cap situation. He expects the Barzal camp prefers contracts comparable to Toronto’s Mitch Marner or Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen but that’s not possible for the Isles at this point. Friedman speculates Barzal could get a two- or three-year deal worth around $6 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal is in camp though he can’t train with his teammates until he’s under contract. The Isles could go as high as $7 million annually for Barzal but I agree it’ll be a short-term deal with the promise of a long, lucrative contract down the road.

The Isles have also tried to move defenseman Thomas Hickey (with a sweetener). Half his $2.5 million cap hit for this season has been paid out in a signing bonus. He’s got one year left on his contract.

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils are among the clubs interested in free-agent defenseman Ben Hutton.

Every time Friedman sees a commercial starring Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, he wonders if they’ll find a way to play together someday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless it’s as teammates with Team Canada in the Olympics or the World Cup of Hockey, don’t expect to see that happen in the NHL anytime soon.

MacKinnon, 25, is the Colorado Avalanche’s franchise player. While his contract expires in 2023, the Avs will open the vault to keep him in Denver. The 33-year-old Crosby’s best seasons may be behind him but he remains the Penguins’ top player and among the league’s elite. He’s also under contract until 2025 with a full no-movement clause.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

How will the Islanders find cap space to sign Mathew Barzal? How will the Blue Jackets replace sidelined Gustav Nyquist? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.

ISLES MUST SHED SALARY TO SIGN BARZAL

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the Islanders have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space with center Mathew Barzal still to sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello will also find it challenging to bring back unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene and to add goaltender Cory Schneider.

Don’t expect the New York Islanders to buy out Jordan Eberle to alleviate their cap crunch (NHL Images).

Pulock filing for arbitration provides the Isles with a second buyout window that opens for 24 hours on Friday. However, they can only buy out a player earning an annual average value of over $4 million, ruling out Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey as options.

Lamoriello could attempt another cost-cutting trade. It’ll be difficult to find takers for Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) or Andrew Ladd ($5 million AAV) in this economic climate.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin indicates buying out Boychuk or Ladd won’t provide much immediate relief. The way their salaries are structured, a Boychuk buyout would give the Isles $833K in savings for 2020-21 while Ladd’s would be over $666K.

Larkin wondered if Lamoriello could place a player like Ladd on long-term injury reserve. Failing that, he’ll have to dump another salary via trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple also weighed in on the Islanders’ options. He indicates Martin, Greene and Schneider already have agreed-upon deals with the club but they’re being kept off the books for now in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.

Lamoriello could take a drastic step like buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy but Staple doubts he’ll go that far. He also doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually from the Isles unless Lamoriello can find a taker for Boychuk and at least one other contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple believes Lamoriello will have to get creative given how the trade market has dried up and the complications of going the LTIR route. He has a well-earned reputation for creativity when it comes to finding wiggle room under the cap, but this situation will still be a significant challenge.

Leddy has surfaced as a trade candidate. He’s under 30, doesn’t have a long injury history like Boychuk and Ladd, lacks no-trade protection and carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. With Devon Toews shipped to Colorado last month in a cost-cutting deal, it’s unlikely Lamoriello parts with Leddy now.

He could try to move Komarov ($3 million AAV through 2021-22, seven-team no-trade list) and Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, lacks no-trade protection. Both could be easier to move than Boychuk and Ladd, though it will still be challenging drumming up interest for either guy.

HOW WILL THE JACKETS REPLACE NYQUIST?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might pursue Mike Hoffman now that winger Gustav Nyquist is sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Losing Nyquist is a big blow for the low-scoring Jackets, who still haven’t suitably replaced the offense lost when Artemi Panarin departed via free agency to the New York Rangers last year.

Larkin acknowledged adding Hoffman won’t make the Jackets a Stanley Cup contender, but it would provide a much-needed injection of offense. He’s the type of player who can score given the opportunity at five-on-five or on the power play, which he’ll certainly get with the Jackets.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t a big fan of free agency. Instead, he’s expected to continue to play the waiting game with the handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs in the hope one of them will be willing to trade away a quality player on the cheap.

Portzline also examined internal options for the Jackets. They could slide Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner into left wing on the second line. Nyquist’s absence could also create an opportunity for rookie Liam Foudy to skate on the third line with Mikko Koivu and either Foligno or Jenner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets still have to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. With over $12 million in cap space, however, they’ve got sufficient room to do that and to find a suitable short-term replacement for Nyquist.

Hoffman is the best choice in the UFA market. He’d prefer a long-term contract but recent reports indicated he’d accept a one-year deal worth $6 million. That’s probably too rich for Kekalainen’s blood. He could be keeping an eye on the Lightning to see if he can land Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.

As with his efforts to sign Dubois, Kekalainen can afford to remain patient. He might not move on finding Nyquist’s replacement until training camp, which could be at least two months away.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

Another look at the top remaining UFAs, including suggested destinations for Mike Hoffman, plus the latest on the Islanders and Jets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TOP REMAINING UFAs

THE SCORE: listed a roundup of the best available players by position. The top wingers include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund, and Andreas Athanasiou. Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene top the listing of defensemen, while Erik Haula and Carl Soderberg are among the best remaining centers. Goaltenders include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

Unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some decent depth remains among the wingers and defensemen, but not so much among the centers. All the goaltenders are past their best-before dates.

SPORTSNET: listed the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as potential destinations for Mike Hoffman. Those clubs are in need of scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Hoffman the best player remaining in the market and activity in the free-agent market slowed to a crawl by the flattened salary cap, the latest guessing game among fans and pundits is figuring out where the 30-year-old winger could go. He reportedly seeks a one-year deal worth $6 million.

Hoffman’s agent recently said up to 13 teams have expressed an interest in his client, with five or six of those serious. The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings have also been suggested, plus there’s been the odd speculation about Hoffman rejoining the Florida Panthers or Ottawa Senators.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND JETS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple listed Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey and perhaps Leo Komarov as potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the New York Islanders. A sticking point is teams could be asking for the Isles 2021 first-round pick. Staple wondered if general manager Lou Lamoriello could be comfortable including that pick. He has an extra second-round pick in 2022, or he could use his second-round picks to trade for a first-round pick.

Trade partners would be clubs with plenty of salary-cap space such as the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, or New Jersey Devils. What complicates things is there are a half-dozen clubs over the cap that must shed salary, plus four others (including the Islanders) that are close to the ceiling.

Staple isn’t concerned about Isles center Mathew Barzal becoming an offer-sheet target as there aren’t many clubs with sufficient cap space to blow him away with a big offer. He considers it unlikely Barzal would sign with Detroit or New Jersey. Nashville would be squeezed for cap space in 2021-22 with two goalies to sign while joining the New York Rangers would “ignite a true war”. Staple also points out it’s difficult to see teams making big offer sheets when they’re furloughing or laying off employees.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello’s biggest concern is freeing up cap space to re-sign Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Barzal could sign an offer sheet but I have my doubts. Lamoriello has indicated he’d match any offer. With Cap Friendly indicating the Isles have $8.9 million in cap space plus they can exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, it’s unlikely Barzal will be signed away.

A rival club could do it just to complicate matters for the Isles by matching but that doesn’t seem likely, especially given the tight economic situation everyone is facing right now.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe speculates it’s still possible Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could package restricted free agents like Sami Niku and Jack Roslovic that brings in someone like the Florida Panthers’ MacKenzie Weegar or one of the left-shot defensemen the Carolina Hurricanes have in abundance. They could also circle back on a UFA like Ben Hutton to see if their asking price is more reasonable.

With 21 players already under contract for next season, the Jets will have limited salary cap space even after they place Bryan Little on LTIR. Wiebe doesn’t expect a big-name move by the Jets to address their defense unless they make a blockbuster trade involving winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll have to be one helluva defenseman coming to the Jets to make Cheveldayoff part with Laine. The Jets GM could be comfortable starting the season with his current blueline and see how things develop leading up to the trade deadline.