Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

Catching up on some notable late trades and free-agent signings, including the Avalanche acquiring Darcy Kuemper, plus a look at the notable free-agents still available in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.

Arizona Coyotes trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche needed a suitable replacement for Philipp Grubauer after he signed with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. They had to move quickly as several teams had some interest in Kuemper. That’s why Avs general manager Joe Sakic paid such a steep price to get him.

In the short term, the 31-year-old Kuemper should offset Grubauer’s absence provided he can stay healthy. He’s been sidelined in recent seasons by a variety of injuries and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, meanwhile, is doing a superb job trimming payroll while laying the groundwork to restock his prospect pipeline. Timmins is a promising young defenseman who could be a good fit on this rebuilding team. The Coyotes now have two first-round picks and five second-rounders in next year’s draft. They could get more when Armstrong starts shopping some of his pending unrestricted free agents at next year’s trade deadline.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kraken selected Vanecek during last week’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting back Vanecek maintains the Capitals’ goalie tandem from last season. His reacquisition spares them from shopping for a backup goalie that would’ve cost more than Vanecek’s $716, 667 salary-cap hit.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signing of Linus Ullmark and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman made Vladar the odd man out among the Bruins goaltenders, especially if they bring back Tuukka Rask next year following his recovery from hip surgery.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed veteran goaltenders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell to one-year contracts.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also acquired defenseman Will Butcher and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I published a list yesterday of most of the notable free-agent signings and trades. You can read my take on yesterday’s top-10 signings here.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Krejci, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad are among the best players still available in the free-agent market. Others include Tomas Tatar and Zach Parise.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman ranks the winners and losers from the opening day of free agency.

TSN: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is hopeful of returning to action in 2021-22 once he receives medical clearance to do so. The 39-year-old goaltender signed last season with the Washington Capitals but heart surgery sidelined him for the entire campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be interest in Lundqvist if he’s cleared to resume playing. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a contract with a playoff contender.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed head coach D.J. Smith to a two-year contract extension.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2021

The free-agent market opens at noon ET today. Check out the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Getzlaf, Darcy Kuemper and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO FLEURY FLIP TO PENGUINS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman didn’t acquire goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the Vegas Golden Knights to flip him to another club. There was speculation he could end up in Pittsburgh as that’s where his career began.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel reports a source said the Penguins aren’t looking to acquire Fleury. They’re still interested in upgrading their goaltending but Fleury’s age (36) and cap hit ($7 million) makes no sense for the Penguins given their limited cap space ($7.4 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey world still awaits Fleury’s decision on his future. There’s talk he could retire rather than head to Chicago. If he retires, there is no cap recapture penalty because that applies only to exceedingly long contracts signed before 2012-13 and Fleury’s doesn’t fall into that category. The Blackhawks would not be charge his $7 million cap hit.

LATEST ON HAMILTON

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have offered defenseman Dougie Hamilton a deal comparable to that of St. Louis’ Torey Krug: seven years with an annual average value of $6.5 million. If Hamilton departs, Friedman expects the New Jersey Devils will make a big pitch for him.

Is Dougie Hamilton heading to market today? (NHL Images)

RUMORED DESTINATIONS FOR GETZLAF

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s possible Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf could sign with another club. The Edmonton Oilers could top his list of potential destinations. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars could also be in there.

UPDATE ON THE NHL GOALIE MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers have been in touch with the Arizona Coyotes regarding goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Frederik Andersen hasn’t received a contract offer from the Leafs and appears headed to market. The Avalanche could be interested depending on what happens with Philipp Grubauer. So are the Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek and Martin Jones could be two options for the Leafs.

The Canucks could be interested in Jaroslav Halak after buying out Braden Holtby yesterday. Jonathan Bernier hasn’t worked out a deal yet with the Hurricanes and could head to market. The Devils could be interested in him.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER’s Sam Carchidi speculates the Flyers could sign Holtby, citing his friendship with Carter Hart.

IN OTHER FREE-AGENT RUMORS…

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen wondered what’s next for the Golden Knights after shipping Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago yesterday in a cost-cutting move. Speculation links them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers general manager Chris Drury could be pondering the possibility of shipping out center Ryan Strome and replacing him via free agency with Phillip Danault.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdy cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting the Oilers are getting closer to a multi-year contract with Tyson Barrie. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds they could be in the mix for Cody Ceci. Meanwhile, Jim Matheson speculates they could target goaltender Linus Ullmark.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars have zeroed in on Ryan Suter as a potential replacement for Jamie Oleksiak, who was chosen by the Seattle Kraken in last week’s expansion draft.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski suggests the availability of affordable young forwards such as Nick Ritchie, Ryan Donato and Pius Suter could change the Maple Leafs’ plans to acquire depth via trades. Twitter was also buzzing yesterday over a rumor suggesting Joshua Ho-Sang could be headed to Toronto on a two-way contract.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Muzitani expects the Minnesota Wild will target Alex Goligoski, Nick Foligno, Jake McCabe and Derek Stepan in the UFA market. They could also bring back Ian Cole if he doesn’t find any suitable offers via free agency.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators will seek a center and a defenseman when the UFA market opens today. Options could include Alex Wennberg, Andrew Copp or Casey Cizikas. They’ve also shown an interest in Rangers center Ryan Strome.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to pursue Ohio native Sean Kuraly, who’s expected to hit the open market after four years with the Boston Bruins.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening July 28, here’s the latest on the goalie market, Ryan Getzlaf’s status with the Ducks and updates on the Canadiens and Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OFFSEASON GOALIE MARKET

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports talks between the Colorado Avalanche and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are expected to go down to the wire before the free-agent market opens at noon ET on July 28. The Avs are holding firm with an offer of five years and $5 million annually while the Grubauer camp seeks over $6 million per season.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (NHL Images).

The Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs view Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper as a primary trade target but the asking price is high. The Chicago Blackhawks are among several teams with an interest in Vancouver Canucks netminder Braden Holtby. The Vegas Golden Knights have dangled Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury at varying points this season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports have an interest in Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek. They haven’t made a contract offer to former starter Frederik Andersen. He thinks Andersen could be on the Hurricanes’ shortlist.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting a deal for one of the Golden Knights’ goaltenders fell through over the weekend. It was either Fleury going to the Blackhawks or Lehner heading to the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect a fair bit of jockeying over the next couple of days as teams attempt to address their goalie needs via trades and/or free agency.

Grubauer’s situation will be interesting. The Avs wouldn’t have clinched this year’s Presidents’ Trophy without him but he was shaky in their second-round series against Vegas. Nevertheless, I don’t see a better option in the trade or free-agent markets.

Kuemper is the best of the bunch after Grubauer but he carries a $4.5 million cap hit for next season, has a recent injury history and is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Coyotes asking price is likely a high draft pick and/or a top prospect or young NHL-ready player.

The Lehner to New Jersey rumor caught my eye. The Devils seemed keen on young Mackenzie Blackwood as their starter. I assumed they’d want a reliable backup to mentor him. Lehner, however, is a full-fledged starter. If the Devils were trying to get him that suggests they have less confidence in Blackwood than originally thought.

It sounds like the Leafs are scouting the market for someone to share the goalie duties with Jack Campbell. If they don’t find anything that fits within their limited cap space perhaps they’ll circle back to Andersen, provided another club hasn’t snapped him up.

COULD GETZLAF HIT THE MARKET?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks and captain Ryan Getzlaf aren’t close to a new contract but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that they’ll get one done. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old center is readying himself to hear offers from clubs on Wednesday if he’s still unsigned by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Eric Stephens reports the Ducks want to bring back Getzlaf. He suggested the speculation about the captain leaving might be to put a bit of pressure on the Ducks. We’ll see what transpires. Despite his age and declining production, he will attract plenty of interest in the free-agent market.

WHO COULD THE CANADIENS TARGET IN FREE AGENCY?

TVA SPORTS: Rumors are circulating suggesting the Montreal Canadiens could sign Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman David Savard and Carolina Hurricanes forward Cedric Paquette when the UFA market opens on Wednesday.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston took to Twitter reporting Chris Wideman is a “good bet” to land with the Canadiens via free agency. The 31-year-old defenseman is coming off a productive season in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are looking to fill the gap on defense with Shea Weber sidelined for next season (and possibly longer). They’ll also need some checking-line depth if they lose center Phillip Danault to free agency. One rumor claims Wideman already has a one-year deal in place with the Habs that will be announced tomorrow.

KRAKEN EXPECTED TO BE BUSY IN UFA MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the expansion Seattle Kraken are expected to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. They have lots of cap space to invest. LeBrun believes they’ll circle back on St. Louis Blues’ left winger Jaden Schwartz and make him a concrete offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken have over $30 million in projected cap space. They have sufficient room to re-sign their four restricted free agents (including Vince Dunn) and make a splash or two in the UFA pool for someone like Schwartz.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, the goaltending market and Evgeny Kuznetsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD AN EICHEL TRADE HAPPEN THIS WEEK?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Jack Eichel’s agents believe the 24-year-old center will be traded in the near future, adding all their discussions with the Buffalo Sabres have centered around that issue. Eyebrows were raised when Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said he’d have no problem if Eichel was still with the club when training camp opens in September.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Friedman listed the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild among the clubs with some interest in Eichel. The Montreal Canadiens have engaged in talks with the Sabres but they’re not anywhere near a point where the latter would agree to a deal. The New York Rangers and Sabres aren’t close in their conversations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sticking point, of course, is the herniated disk in Eichel’s neck. While he’s returned to skating, it’s believed he still prefers surgery. However, the Sabres are reluctant to go that route because the procedure has never been done on a professional hockey player.

Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is another issue. So is the Sabres’ rumored asking price of the equivalent of four first-round draft picks. As I’ve recently speculated, this could drag on throughout the summer before reaching a resolution before the start of training camp.

A LOOK AT THIS SUMMER’S GOALIE MARKET

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman observed the Toronto Maple Leafs have made finding a goaltending partner for Jack Campbell to be their top priority. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers seek an experienced partner for young starter Carter Hart.

He wondered if the Vancouver Canucks will buy out Braden Holtby if unable to trade him and if Martin Jones will get a fresh start elsewhere assuming he’s bought out by the San Jose Sharks.

Other goalie questions include where Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper ends up, what the Vegas Golden Knights will do with their goalie tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, and what the market will be for Sabres UFA Linus Ullmark.

He also mused over what the Colorado Avalanche’s contract limit will be for pending free agent Philipp Grubauer. It’s believed Grubauer’s asking price was close to the six-year, $6 million per season contract of St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan and The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox believe it’s crucial for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas to find the right partner for Campbell. Cox was scathing in his analysis of Dubas’ seeming unwillingness to adequately address the club’s goaltending.

There won’t be any long-term solutions walking through the door via free agency for the Leafs. I doubt they can win any bidding war for Grubauer. The asking price for Kuemper could be a first-round pick but they’ve go just three picks (including their first) in next year’s draft. Acquiring Fleury or Lehner could also cost them a valuable asset.

CAPITALS NOT SHOPPING KUZNETSOV?

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber reports the possibility of the Capitals trading Evgeny Kuznetsov appears less certain after GM Brian MacLellan downplayed that notion over the weekend. “We’ve never said we’re trading Kuznetsov,” he said. “I said we were open to discussions on most of our players in the trade market and if it comes up, it comes up and if it doesn’t make sense, same as always.”

The Capitals face a salary-cap crunch and still have to re-sign captain Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. While clearing Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million AAV would address that issue, MacLellan said decisions to clear cap space will be based on how much they need. He also suggested swinging a blockbuster deal similar to those in recent days isn’t necessarily going to be his team’s strategy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Kuznetsov’s disappointing season on and off the ice, MacLellan could be reluctant to part with him because of his previous contributions when he’s on his game. He may have also tested the market and found lukewarm interest in the 29-year-old center.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 24, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at some of the notable names still in the rumor mill heading into the second day of the NHL draft.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli provided an updated list of trade targets following yesterday’s busy trade market leading up to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Jack Eichel remains atop the list. The Buffalo Sabres set a “fantastical” asking price seeking multiple draft picks and prospects.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The chances of an Eichel trade this summer took a hit following the completion of the first round of this year’s draft. Unless the Sabres seek first-round picks in the 2022 draft, they’ll have to lower their asking price or put more emphasis on younger players and prospects.

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong envisioned the possibility of winger Vladimir Tarasenko returning with the club next season. His shoulder is now 100 percent healthy following his third surgery to address the injury. Despite his no-trade clause, Seravalli said he’s willing to play almost anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern with Tarasenko could be more his $7.5 million cap hit than his shoulder. There are reportedly some teams willing to take it on provided the Blues accept a comparable contract or a return that doesn’t address their roster needs.

The Colorado Avalanche, Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs have expressed an interest in Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility and doesn’t intend to re-sign. The asking price is a first-round pick but that could be lowered considering the Carolina Hurricanes got Jonathan Bernier and a third-round from the Detroit Red Wings for Alex Nedeljkovic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Avalanche land Kuemper it probably means Philipp Grubauer is hitting the open market. I can see him being shopped before the trade deadline if a suitable deal can’t be found this summer.

The Anaheim Ducks are listening to offers for Josh Manson, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. They seek a first-round pick as part of the return. Moving him would leave a big gap on their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the feeling the Ducks are lukewarm toward moving Manson. Sure, they’ll do it if they get a great offer but otherwise, I think they’re fine bringing him back next season and maybe re-signing him if he’s willing to stay.

Wingers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault could be available as the Vegas Golden Knights attempt to balance their forward lines. Smith can become a UFA next summer while Marchessault has three years left on his deal with an annual average value of $5 million. They could also listen on physical winger Ryan Reaves.

The Philadelphia Flyers are still trying to move Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk. There could be teams interested in Voracek if the Flyers retain $2 million or so of his $8.25 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek has three years left on his contract. No surprise teams want the Flyers to pick up part of that hefty cap hit. Based on previous reports, they seem keener to move Voracek than van Riemsdyk.