Tampa Bay Lightning re-sign left wing Ondrej Palat to a five-year contract.
Latest contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday avoided salary arbitration with left wing Ondrej Palat by signing him to a five-year, $26.5 million contract. The Lightning also signed Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palat’s annual average salary is $5.3 million, which is slightly more than Tyler Johnson’s $5 million annual cap hit though the latter’s contract is for seven years.
It’s another affordable re-signing by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who’s done a good job convincing most of his core players to accept less than market value to remain in Tampa Bay. The Bolts now have over $71 million invested in 22 players for 2017-18.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes it appears increasingly unlikely defenseman Andrei Markov will return to the Montreal Canadiens.
THE DETROIT NEWS: A report out of Slovakia claims winger Tomas Tatar wants to stay with the Red Wings. His agent claims Tatar has “an excellent relationship” with Wings GM Ken Holland. The winger also thinks he should stop talking to the media about his contract negotiations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s always best not to reveal too much to the press about your contract talks. Tatar’s arbitration hearing is slated for July 20, so we’ll find out very soon just how great his relationship with Holland really is.
TSN: Retired New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein signed a one-year deal with ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland. Meanwhile, former NHL winger R.J. Umberger will attempt a comeback with the Dallas Stars this fall on a tryout basis.
AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are discussing a one- or two-year deal with winger Anthony Duclair.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed winger Curtis Lazar to a two-year deal worth $950K annually.
CSNNE.COM: The Boston Bruins re-signed goaltenders Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre to identical two-year, two-way contracts worth $650K at the NHL level.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Kings signed defenseman Kevin Gravel to a one-year, $650K contract and Paul LaDue to a one-year, two-way deal worth over $874K at the NHL level.
FORBES.COM: Mike Ozanian calls a report of an offer to purchase the Carolina Hurricanes for around $500 million “fake news.” Businessman Chuck Greenberg is part of an ownership group based in Texas apparently interested in acquiring the Hurricanes and keeping them in Raleigh.
Ozanian said Greenberg has only submitted a non-binding letter of intent, the proposed purchase price is nowhere near $500 million and Greenberg apparently isn’t even close to raising the cash to buy the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes only a day after the news of Greenberg’s apparent interest in the Hurricanes. It’ll be interesting to see how this story develops in the coming days.
Dan Girardi was surprised and disappointed by the New York Rangers’ decision to buy out his contract.
Latest on Dan Girardi, Marcus Johansson, Kevin Klein, Jussi Jokinen & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTING NEWS: Defenseman Dan Girardi admits he was surprised and disappointed by the New York Rangers buying out his contract last month, but said he has no hard feelings toward his former team.
After 11 seasons with the Blueshirts, he’s now looking forward to the next chapter in his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who signed him earlier this month to a two-year deal.
NJ.COM: Former Washington Capitals winger Marcus Johansson is looking forward to helping the underdog New Jersey Devils. The Caps dealt Johansson earlier in the week to the Devils in a cost-cutting move.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Back issues forced Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein to announce his retirement yesterday. He had one season remaining on his contract ($2.9 million AAV) which comes off the Rangers cap payroll for 2017-18. The 32-year-old rearguard played 12 years in the NHL, four with the Rangers and eight with the Nashville Predators.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Blood clots compelled Buffalo Sabres forward Cody McCormick to retire after 11 seasons with the Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild, but he’s hoping to stay in the NHL in a player development role. McCormick’s condition forced him to miss the last two seasons, but he helped rehab sidelined Sabres players in the second half of the 2014-15 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Klein and McCormick in their future endeavors.
EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers signed free-agent winger Jussi Jokinen to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Jokinen’s versatility could help Edmonton, plus he can help mentor prospect winger Jesse Puljujarvi. Jokinen is part-owner of Karpat, the Finnish club where Puljujarvi played before joining the Oilers.
THE TENNESSEAN: Former Nashville Predators anthem signer Dennis K. Morgan said Friday he no longer wants to be associated with the club. He sang the anthem for the Predators more than 185 times until the club replaced him with famous country stars during their Stanley Cup run this spring. He also felt he “got played” by the media after saying he felt it was only going to be a one-time thing, expressing his displeasure over the situation during an interview in May. He believes his contract with the club (which has since expired) should’ve protected him from being replaced.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, it’s easy to bash Morgan for being overly sensitive about this, but put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You’ve sung the anthem for the Predators for years, including previous playoff appearances, only to be suddenly pushed aside throughout this year’s playoffs because the club wants to bring more star power to this year’s postseason run. I can understand why he’d be upset. His situation is also a good example about choosing your words carefully when speaking to the media, especially if you’re talking about an upsetting situation.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf could decline to waive his no-movement clause.
Latest contract signings plus updates on Dion Phaneuf, Kevin Bieksa, Matt Greene & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf is not expected to waive his no-movement clause for the purpose of exposure in the upcoming NHL expansion draft. However, the Senators do have the option of trading him before the Saturday deadline for submission of player protection lists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Phaneuf is just one option the Senators face if he declines to waive his NMC. Details on that later this morning in the Rumors section.
There’s reportedly no need for the Anaheim Ducks to ask defenseman Kevin Bieksa to waive his no-movement clause because they apparently have a pre-arranged deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Are they trading one of their other blueliners to the Golden Knights? Are they shipping them a forward? A draft pick? A top prospect? Have the Golden Knights agreed to take another player left exposed in the draft? Let your imagination run wild!
Should Preds go the 8-skater (4 D) protection route, which is likely, it’s possible W James Neal gets exposed. Not for sure, but possible
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Los Angeles Kings activated defenseman Matt Greene off long-term injured reserve for the purpose of buying out his contract. Greene has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $2.5 million. The buyout would count as over $833K per season against the Kings’ cap payroll for the next two seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings currently have over $67 million invested in 18 players for next season. This move would free up roughly $1.7 million. Perhaps they’ll use that extra cap space to pursue a scorer via trade or free agency this summer.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is leaning toward retiring from the NHL and continuing his playing career in Europe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That likely explains why the Rangers didn’t ask Dan Girardi or Marc Staal to waive their no-movement clauses for the upcoming expansion draft.
NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Yannick Weber to a one-year, $650K contract.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed goaltender Linus Ullmark to a two-year, $1.5 million contract.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed forward Marko Dano to a one-year, $850K contract.
EDMONTON SUN: Oilers head of player personnel Kelly Buchberger is reportedly set to join the New York Islanders’ coaching staff.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins promoted Kevin Dean into an assistant coaching role. Dean was head coach of the Providence Bruins.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling recounted his recovery from alcohol abuse and his journey through the minors to the NHL in a piece in The Players Tribune. Darling was recently traded to the Carolina Hurricanes and re-signed a multi-year deal with his new club.
NBC SPORTS: The Grand Rapid Griffins are the 2017 Calder Cup champions, defeating the Syracuse Crush 4-3 in Game 6.
Will Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk return with the Leafs next season?
Updates on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Kristen Shilton looked at possible offseason changes for the Toronto Maple Leafs roster. She believes the blueline is the most obvious area where the most sweeping moves could be made, as Roman Polak and Matt Hunwick are over-30 and unrestricted free agents in July.
Whether general manager Lou Lamoriello swaps a talented young forward for a defenseman depends on several factors, such as the impact of the expansion draft upon this summer’s trade market. Veteran forwards James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak are a year away from UFA status. With coach Mike Babcock saying William Nylander not moving to center next season, it seems Bozak will return. UFA center Brian Boyle has expressed interest in re-signing.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox noted Lamoriello praised the respective performances of van Riemsdyk and Bozak this season. But with the club’s promising young forwards coming off their entry-level contracts within the next couple of years, it could prove difficult to re-sign the duo before next summer. Fox wonders if the Leafs should move the duo while their trade value is high to fetch a return that plugs their holes on the blueline or keep them and see how next season plays out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Leafs prefer to retain van Riemsdyk and Bozak, but that will depend upon what the duo seeks to re-sign. Contract discussions can begin on July 1. It’ll also depend upon the effects of the expansion draft upon the trade market, as well as how many cap-strapped clubs look to shed salary. The Leafs could keep both for next season in hopes of staging a deeper playoff run next spring, but having that uncertainty over their futures hanging over their heads could prove an unwelcome distraction.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith speculated the Lightning will go the trade route this summer to address their need for a top-four defenseman. He expects they’ll target teams at risk of losing a blueliner to the June expansion draft, such as “Nashville, Anaheim, Minnesota and St. Louis.”
Smith believes winger Jonathan Drouin or center Tyler Johnson are the most likely trade candidates to land that top-four rearguard. He also thinks the Bolts could make smaller deals, perhaps with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, or trying to unload defenseman Jason Garrison’s contract ($4.6 million cap hit).
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites hockey insider Bob McKenzie telling Montreal’s TSN 690 he thinks “it’s more likely than not” that Drouin gets deal this summer. He cites “economics” and the needs of the Lightning roster, pointing out concerns over their salary-cap space, the cost of re-signing Johnson and Ondrej Palat and to address their blueline depth. He acknowledged it’s possible to re-sign Drouin, Johnson and Palat if they’ll agree to hometown discounts, but they’ll still need to bring in that top-four defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have over $55 million invested in 13 players. They’ll lose a salaried player to the expansion draft, which could free up a little more cap space. GM Steve Yzerman was able to get notable stars such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman to accept less than market value to re-sign with the Bolts. He could do the same with Drouin, Johnson and Palat, find a taker to dump Garrison’s contract and get creative to bring in a top-four blueliner. But if those RFAs all seek significant raises and if he can’t shed more salary, Yzerman will have a difficult time bolstering his defense corps.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could find it difficult to find sufficient salary-cap room to add a top-four defenseman or a frontline forward, let alone both. They currently have just $2.9 million in cap space for next season.
Kekalainen must re-sign restricted free agent forwards Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson, as well as backup goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg. Larkin notes the Jackets will get some additional cap room when they lose a salaried player to the expansion draft (possibly Matt Calvert and his $2.2 million cap hit), but what they really need is to convince Scott Hartnell ($4.75 million annually through 2018-19) to waive his no-movement clause and then to find a taker for him.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline also recently reported on possible offseason decisions for the Jackets. In addition to touching on the points raised by Larkin, he notes the Jackets have to reach a decision on pending UFAs Sam Gagner and Kyle Quincey. He also considers it unlikely Hartnell will waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen has his work cut out for him this summer. Wennberg and Anderson could be re-signed to bridge deals with the promise of more lucrative deals next time. A couple of pundits have also suggested convincing Brandon Dubinsky to waive his NMC, but I don’t see that happening. They will get some cap relief next season with David Clarkson on permanent LTIR. That could give them enough to re-sign those restricted free agents, but not enough to pursue any players via free agency.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis recently wondered what the future holds for New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein. Once an invaluable part of their blueline, Klein’s play slipped over the last two seasons. He was also hampered by back injury. He has a year left on his contract ($2.9 million cap hit) and could be exposed in the expansion draft or possibly moved via trade.
Larry Brooks noted the improved play of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, but speculates this could be his last season with the Blueshirts. Brooks thinks Girardi is facing a possible contract buyout of the final three years of his contract ($5.5 million annual cap hit).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could buy out Girardi to free up cap space to add more speed to their defense. However, it’ll cost the Rangers over $2.6 million for next season, over $3.6 million annually for the next two seasons, followed by over $1.11 million annually for the final three seasons.
2017 Draft Lottery date set plus updates on Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Artem Anisimov & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Saturday, April 29. The Colorado Avalanche have the best odds (18.0 %) of winning the first-overall pick. The Vancouver Canucks have a 12.1% of winning and the Vegas Golden Knights a 10.3 percent chance.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (knee injury) said he’s day-to-day for his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, which begins tonight. Sharks forward Logan Couture, who’s dealing with a painful mouth injury that makes breathing painful, also hopes to play in the series. He faces dental surgery later this spring and could have seven or eight teeth removed and/or replaced.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov is ready to play in his club’s opening-round series against the Nashville Predators. He missed the final 13 regular-season games with a lower-leg injury. Meanwhile, the Hawks announced defenseman Michal Rozsival underwent surgery yesterday to repair facial fractures.
OTTAWA SUN: Sidelined Senators defenseman Marc Methot (fractured finger) could play in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Boston Bruins tonight.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers intend to make defenseman Kevin Klein a healthy scratch for their opening game of their first-round series tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Rob Blake, the new general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, intends to make hiring a new head coach a priority. The club fired former bench boss Darryl Sutter on Monday. Blake didn’t say who he has in mind but prefers someone with NHL experience. He hasn’t yet spoken with current assistant coaches Davis Payne and John Stevens.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings ownership remains confident in general manager Ken Holland and head coach Jeff Blashill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks look at a vote of confidence as merely the first step toward an inevitable firing, but don’t expect Holland or Blashill to be replaced this summer. Wings ownership will remains patient with them for next season.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth said he suffered a concussion when he collapsed to the ice in an April 1 game against the New Jersey Devils. Apart from “little headaches”, he insists he’s feeling fine. Neuvirth blamed his collapse on battling the flu and a sinus infection.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes job appears safe but he could have some new assistant coaches next season.