NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2018

Updates on the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks in your NHL rumor mill.


Could Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson become a trade candidate this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tom Jones believes the Lightning shouldn’t blow up their roster or fire anyone after failing to reach the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. General manager Steve Yzerman indicated he won’t overreact to the club’s setbacks. If changes are coming to the Lightning roster, Jones feels it’ll be “a trade or two. There could be a free agent or two. A young kid or two could make his way up from the minors.”

Roger Mooney notes Yzerman believes the Lightning’s championship window remains wide open and he’ll attempt to keep it that way. He wondered if Yzerman will do it via free agency, a trade or calling up a promising youngster. Mooney noted Chris Kunitz, Andrej Sustr and Matthew Peca are due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, while forwards J.T. Miller, Cedric Paquette and Adam Erne, defenseman Slater Koekkoek and goalie Louis Domingue are restricted free agents.

Mooney also pointed out center Tyler Johnson’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. “There could be a trade or two, mostly minor unless Yzerman moves Johnson while he still has the flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:Cap Friendly indicates the Lightning have over $68 million invested in 18 players, with Miller and Paquette as their notable RFAs. There’s sufficient cap room for Yzerman to re-sign his key players and leave enough for an affordable addition or two. Yzerman must also ensure he has enough cap space for next summer, when Nikita Kucherov, Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn will become free agents. 

Yzerman has a history of making bold trades, and if he feels he must bring in a young, faster and cheaper defenseman, maybe he’ll draw upon his forward depth to address that issue. If he needs some salary-cap flexibility he could perhaps attempt to move Johnson and his $5-million annual cap hit through 2023-24 before his no-trade goes into effect on July 1.

Still, I don’t see Yzerman making any wholesale changes to the Lightning roster. A tweak or two seems likely. 


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: In the wake of the San Jose Sharks re-signing Evander Kane to a seven-year, $49-million contract, Marcus White wondered if they can afford to pursue New York Islanders center John Tavares via free agency and still re-sign their remaining free agents. With the salary cap projected to rise to between $78 million and $82 million, the Sharks would have between $10.5 million and $14.5 million in cap room. That could increase to $12.3 million to $16.3 million if rookies start next season with the Shark’s AHL farm team.

Still, signing Tavares and re-signing their free agents (including Joe Thornton) could push the Sharks cap ceiling in excess of $80 million. Even trading or buying out defenseman Paul Martin or trading Mikkel Boedker would still “require some maneuvering from San Jose general manager Doug Wilson” to sign Tavares and Thornton. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson could pull off signing Tavares, Thornton and key RFAs such as Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo. However, it’ll depend upon how much those players seek.

Inking Tavares could cost over $11 million annually. Thornton’s willing to take a pay cut to stay in San Jose but he could still cost around $5 million on a one-year deal. Hertl, Tierney and DeMelo are due raises, with Hertl perhaps getting $5 million annually and Tierney over $2 million per. Even shedding Martin and Boedker would still make it a tight squeeze. 


Canadiens Acquire Drouin From Lightning

Canadiens Acquire Drouin From Lightning

Montreal Canadiens acquire left wing Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Montreal Canadiens acquired left wing Jonathan Drouin and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018 from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round selection in 2018.

If Sergachev plays more than 40 regular-season games next season for the Lightning, no picks will be exchanged. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the second straight year, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin pulls off a significant deal in June. Drouin should certainly bolster the Canadiens’ offense.

The 22-year-old is a skilled playmaker with considerable upside, enjoying a breakthrough 53-point performance in 2016-17. He’s a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract and could receive a five-year deal worth between $5 million to $6 million annually. 

Much of the Drouin trade speculation had him being peddled for a top-four defenseman. Sergachev, who turns 19 on June 25, certainly has the potential but hasn’t reached that level yet in the NHL. He’s  exempt from the expansion draft, allowing the Bolts to protect another player. However, they could remain in the market for an experienced rearguard this summer. 

Bergevin probably isn’t done dealing. The Canadiens still need scoring depth at center. After moving Sergachev, they’ll also need skilled blueline depth down the road. 

Most of the speculation leading up to this deal had Drouin being swapped for Alex Galchenyuk. While Galchenyuk remains a Hab there are reports claiming he’s being actively shopped.  He’s been linked to Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene in the trade-rumor mill. 

The Drouin trade also casts some doubt over Alexander Radulov’s future in Montreal. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July. While both sides were reportedly keen on getting a deal done, re-signing the young Drouin takes priority. If Radulov departs, the Habs will also need scoring depth on right wing.