NHL Offseason Lookahead – Arizona Coyotes
Could the Coyotes make some big changes? Are the Hurricanes interested in Frederik Andersen? What’s the latest on Alex Pietrangelo, Jonas Brodin, and Phillip Danault? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes’ goal will be to cut payroll and rebuild. They face a tight salary cap for 2020-21 but then it eases. With no picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft and no first- or third-rounder for 2021, they could try to restock that.
Friedman suggests there could be a market for goaltender Darcy Kuemper and they would like to test defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s trade value. Ekman-Larsson has seven years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million and a full no-movement clause, but he could be open to waiving it depending on the destination. They also have four defensemen (Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Oesterle and Niklas Hjalmarsson) with a year remaining on their contracts. Friedman claims Hjalmarsson remains much-loved around the league.
AZCOYOTESINSIDER: Craig Morgan considers Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Jakob Chychrun as the Coyotes’ most marketable assets if they decide to rebuild. Kuemper has two years left on his contract ($4.5 million AAV) and lacks no-trade protection. Chychrun has five years left ($4.6 million AAV) with a modified no-trade in the final two years. He also considered those other blueliners on one-year deals as tradeable assets, though he thinks they could retain Oesterle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because those names are being bandied about doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be moved in the off-season. The Coyotes still haven’t decided on a full-time general manager and it remains to be seen if they’ll make any drastic moves. Nevertheless, their situation will be worth monitoring.
Friedman said team owner Alex Muerelo’s casino business is getting hammered by COVID-19, resulting in business layoffs and players complaining of late per diem payments. If the goal is to cut payroll and rebuild with affordable players, veterans like Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Hjalmarsson could be on the move. It will also mean they won’t be re-signing Taylor Hall, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 1.
Friedman reports the Carolina Hurricanes have an interest in Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. However, the Leafs aren’t keen to make a change just for the sake of doing so. Friedman feels if they make that move it’ll be for an upgrade, suggesting they could wait to see how this year’s goaltending free-agent market shakes out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs could pursue someone like Vegas’ Robin Lehner if he hits the open market. Or maybe they make a trade for someone like Darcy Kuemper and then peddle Andersen to the Hurricanes. If they go the UFA route they’ll be paying more than Andersen’s $5 million AAV. The Canes would also have to dump either Petr Mrazek or James Reimer as both have a year left on their contracts.
Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t think William Nylander is going anywhere without a legitimate top-four right-hand shot defenseman coming in return.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think they’d prefer that defenseman to be a top-two right-side guy. It would take someone like Nylander to fetch that type of return, especially with John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner considered untouchable.
Friedman also mentioned Alex Pietrangelo met last week with St. Louis Blues management to discuss a new contract. He feels the Blues captain wants to stay in St. Louis but cited a couple of sources suggesting it hasn’t been easy for Pietrangelo to see teammates like Justin Faulk, Marco Scandella and Brayden Schenn get contract extensions while his talks stalled.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have $79.4 million invested in 21 players, with defenseman Vince Dunn also to be re-signed. The additions of Faulk and Scandella were likely insurance in case Pietrangelo departs via free agency. If the Blues hope to re-sign him, they must shed two or three contracts to make it work. There’s plenty of time for both sides to get a deal done. The tip-off will be how quickly Blues GM Doug Armstrong sheds salary once the playoffs are over.
The Montreal Canadiens are getting asked about their plans for Phillip Danault, who’s a year away from UFA status. His comments following the Habs’ playoff elimination about his future being a bit unclear drew attention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s role as solely a defensive center against the Penguins and Flyers and the rise of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is stoking speculation about his future in Montreal.
As for his comments, Danault said he wasn’t ready to be solely a defensive forward, adding he enjoyed producing offensively and his role as a two-way forward. He acknowledged his role for next season would determine if he re-signs with Montreal. However, he also indicated that by what he’s proven in the last few years, his role shouldn’t change in Montreal.
The Canadiens could move him if they feel Suzuki and Kotkaniemi are now ready as full-time centers on the top two lines. However, I think they prefer keeping Danault around in case one or both struggle to adjust over the course of a long season.
One of the Minnesota Wild’s priorities is figuring out the cost of extending Jonas Brodin. The 27-year-old defenseman will become an unrestricted free agent next year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo suggested the blueliner could also be used to acquire a starting goaltender like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or to acquire a center.
The Columbus Blue Jackets could consider moving a goalie for some scoring. Friedman notes Joonas Korpisalo and Matiss Kivlenieks aren’t exempt from next year’s expansion draft. Meanwhile, he reports the Pittsburgh Penguins is testing the trade market on third-line center Jared McCann.
The Devils fire GM Ray Shero, Jonathan Huberdeau become the highest-scoring Panther in franchise history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was overshadowed by their firing of general manager Ray Shero an hour before game time. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald takes over on an interim basis while Martin Brodeur moved to a role in hockey operations. The Devils’ victory brought the Lightning’s 10-game win streak to an end. The Devils also recalled goaltender Cory Schneider. Winger Kyle Palmieri missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero’s firing caught many observers off-guard. Ownership didn’t cite any specific reason, other than the club’s poor record this season. With the club poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Shero, they felt it was time for a change in the front office.
Shero made several positive moves during his tenure with the Devils, including the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri and taking Nico Hischier with the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. However, his inability to suitably address his club’s defensive and goaltending issues hampered their development and led to his downfall. I’ll have more on the Devils in the Rumors section.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest-scoring player in franchise history in an 8-4 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Huberdeau scored and collected an assist for his 420th point, surpassing Olli Jokinen as their all-time points leader. Mike Hoffman scored twice while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs.
Earlier in the day, the Panthers called up goaltender Sam Montembeault as starter Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s practice. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a leg injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 61 points, Huberdeau is enjoying a career season thus far. The 26-year-old left winger is among the league’s top-10 scorers and on pace for a career-high 110 points.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. J.T. Miller picked up two assists for the Canucks, who moved into third place (54 points) in the Pacific Division. Wild defenseman Greg Patertyn made his season debut after missing 44 games to core muscle surgery.
Teddy Blueger’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Evgeni Malkin collected two assists for the Penguins (61 points), who move within four points of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing 43 games with a lower-body injury.
Jusse Saros had a 28-save shutout and Kyle Turris scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Predators captain Roman Josi’s points streak ended at 12 games. Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game in the first period with an injured right leg.
The Buffalo Sabres rolled to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Evan Rodrigues tallied twice while teammate Jack Eichel picked up an assist to stretch his points streak to seven games. The Wings played without goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who’s dealing with a lower-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding his altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday. Kassian took offense to two hits from Tkachuk, punching the Flames winger and throwing him twice to the ice.
TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was fined $5,000.00 for slashing St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Saturday.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns played his first game in 22 months with their AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Johns had been sidelined by post-concussion headaches.
David Pastrnak has a four-goal game, the Avalanche are the only unbeaten team, the Panthers rally to beat the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning headlines.
NHL.COM: David Pastrnak scored all of the Boston Bruins goals to lead his club to a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Brad Marchand and Torey Krug each collected two assists. It was a costly win for the Bruins as David Krejci left the game with a suspected lower-body injury.
The Colorado Avalanche (5-0-0) are the only undefeated team following a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and two assists as the Avs chased Capitals goalie Braden Holtby after giving up three goals in as many shots in the first period. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for the Capitals.
The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first win of the season by downing the Edmonton Oilers 3-1, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Corey Crawford made 27 saves for the Hawks in their first victory of the season. Oilers winger James Neal tallied his league-leading eighth goal of the season.
Brett Connolly scored twice as the Florida Panthers rallied to overcome a 4-1 deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 6-4. Pavel Zacha had a goal and two assists for the Devils, who remain winless (0-4-2) in their opening six games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second time the Devils blew a big lead this season. Disenchanted Devils fans are starting to call for the firing of head coach John Hynes. There’s no indication general manager Ray Shero is considering that option but he could be forced to if the Devils don’t arrest this skid.
Buffalo Sabres rookie Victor Olofsson set an NHL record by scoring five consecutive career-opening power-play goals in a 4-0 victory over the struggling Dallas Stars. Jack Eichel had two assists while Carter Hutton made 25 saves for the shutout.
The Minnesota Wild picked up their first win of the season by blanking the Ottawa Senators 2-0. Alex Stalock made 26 saves for the shutout while Victor Rask and Zach Parise were the goal scorers. The Wild played without winger Mats Zuccarello, who’s sidelined for the next three games with a lower-body injury.
The New York Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on an overtime goal by Devon Toews. Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal each had a goal and an assist for the Isles, as did Brayden Schenn for the Blues.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby are the three stars for the week ending Oct. 13.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will be sidelined for three months after suffering a cracked fibula during Saturday’s game against the Avalanche.
SPORTNET: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom was granted a leave of absence until the weekend to deal with a family matter. The club called up Zane McIntyre.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have sent defenseman Rasmus Sandin to the Marlies and recalled blueliner Kevin Gravel. Sandin made the roster out of training camp but the Leafs felt he’d benefit from a bigger workload with their farm club.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers placed defenseman Andy Welinski on waivers.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Long-time Red Wings executive Jimmy Devellano underwent successful surgery yesterday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.
The Penguins crush the Jets, Sharks fans welcome back Patrick Marleau, the Golden Knights down the Kings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to three games by crushing the Winnipeg Jets 7-2. Jake Guentzel, Zach Aston-Reese, and Sam Lafferty each scored twice, Sidney Crosby collected two assists, and Kris Letang picked up his 500th career point. Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson was a healthy scratch as Erik Gudbranson (himself a recent scratch) returned to the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were supposed to struggle with centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad on the sidelines. This contest, however, was their third seven-goal game and the second in a row, coming off a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild the night before.
Paul Stastny scored twice and set up two others to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Max Pacioretty also had a three-point performance for the Golden Knights, who went three-for-three with the man advantage.
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 on a goal and an assist by Tomas Hertl. Patrick Marleau received a standing ovation by Sharks fans in his first home game since rejoining the club last week. He also picked up an assist. The Sharks revealed defenseman Jacob Middleton will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with an undisclosed injury.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Chris Kreider is listed as day-to-day with a left injury suffered during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. He’ll be re-evaluated today.
Today is an off day for the Coyotes in Winnipeg. No word yet on the extent of Nik Hjalmarsson’s injury, but the plan is to recall a defenseman (not sure which one yet) on Monday. https://t.co/4pdT91k1Ye
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) October 13, 2019
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 13, 2019
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild have called up forward Gerry Mayhew from their Iowa AHL affiliate.
SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators postponed their search for a new president of hockey operations until the end of the season.