NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2020

The seven Canadian teams could play all their games this season in the US, Henrik Lundqvist sidelined by a heart condition, Alexander Steen hangs up his skates, the Panthers sign Anthony Duclair, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and the seven Canadian franchises have been trying to work out protocols with the provincial health authorities but the latter has not yet signed off on them. The league’s preference is for its 31 teams to play their game in their own arenas. If that’s not possible, the Canadian teams could play in one hub city or play all their games this season in the United States. Seravalli said the league remains optimistic this can be sorted out.

Pierre LeBrun believes this information being revealed to the public could work to the NHL’s advantage, putting a little public pressure upon the provincial governments. If the seven Canadian franchise must play this season in the United States it would mean the end of the proposed Canadian division, forcing another temporary divisional realignment.

Seravalli also revealed the NHLPA wants to ensure the players decide whether they’ll receive COVID-19 vaccinations. He said it will be their choice.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the provincial authorities must be comfortable with the league’s health protocols, which are still being negotiated with the NHLPA. Future talks are expected with the health authorities at the provincial and federal levels.

Johnston indicates moving the seven Canadian franchise this season to the US would follow the precedent set by MLB and the NBA. The Toronto Blue Jays played their 2020 season in the US while the Toronto Raptors will begin this season in Tampa.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports the plan for an all-Canadian division this season remains very much alive. League and PA sources indicate moving the Canadian clubs to the United States this season is one of the last options.

One source indicated the Canadian COVID restrictions “aren’t the sticking points,” adding they expected that “everything will be resolved to mutual satisfaction. Another said the topic was mentioned but hasn’t received much discussion. McGran said the Toronto Maple Leafs met with Ontario officials Wednesday and have another on Friday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports the Canadiens are close to an agreement with Quebec officials allowing them to hold training camp at their practice facility in Brossard. Paul Wilson, the Canadiens vice president for public relations, said he was encouraged by Premier Francois Legault’s “enthusiastic” for an NHL return to action in mid-January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of the Canadian clubs possibly playing all their games in the US this season generated quite a stir on social media, creating the impression an all-Canadian division was doomed. However, this doesn’t appear to be a fait accompli.

A heart condition sidelined Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist (NHL Images).

The league and the PA very much want to play their games in their home arenas. The difficulty seems to be coming up with protocols that will satisfy provincial officials. While this could still go off the rails, the league seems confident this can be worked out.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist won’t be playing for the Capitals this season after all. The 38-year-old goaltender released a statement yesterday indicating he’s been sidelined by a heart condition for which he’s receiving treatment. Lundqvist signed with the Capitals as a free agent in October after being bought out of the final year of his contract by the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lundqvist’s condition isn’t life-threatening and not related to COVID-19. Given the goalie’s age, however, he speculates this could mean the end of his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist didn’t say he was retiring so it’s possible the future Hall-of-Famer might return in 2021-22 with the Capitals or another NHL club. Here’s hoping he makes a complete recovery.

The Capitals will place him on injured reserve for the season as they try to determine how to replace him. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Alexander Steen is hanging up his skates after being diagnosed with “multiple levels of degenerative herniated discs of his lumbar spine.” The 36-year-old began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs but was traded early in the 2008-09 season to the St. Louis Blues, where he spent the remainder of his 15-year playing career. He tallied 622 points in 1,018 games and helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Steen in his future endeavors. He became an invaluable core player and leader with the Blues. Because he’s not officially retired, he will be placed on long-term injury reserve. That will provide the Blues with some much-needed salary-cap wiggle room. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: The Florida Panthers signed Anthony Duclair to a one-year, $1.7 million contract. The 25-year-old winger became an unrestricted free agent after the Ottawa Senators declined to send him a qualifying offer. The signing leaves the Panthers with over $6.6 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair will be an affordable replacement for the departed Mike Hoffman, though he probably won’t score with the same consistency. The Panthers could make another addition but it remains to be seen if they’ll invest that cap space in a trade or free agency or promote from within.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the NHL is exploring the possibility of pushing the 2021 Draft to December 2021. The reason is most of the junior leagues haven’t begun to play yet because of COVID-19. Scouts are also limited in their ability to travel and scout prospects in North American and Europe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch points out nothing is set in stone and this remains a concept. However, I agree that it could make sense. Current health protocols are making it difficult to properly evaluate prospects during this season. Moving the draft to December would buy them time to scout those prospects if things return to some semblance of normal when next fall rolls around.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks signed forward Justin Bailey to a one-year, two-way contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL releases “Reverse Retro” jerseys plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Bobby Ryan and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and adidas released their “Reverse Retro” alternate jerseys for all 31 clubs. The jerseys will be available for purchase on Dec. 1 and will be worn by the teams during multiple games in 2020-21.

Henrik Lundqvist could return to the New York Rangers once his playing career is over (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The big reveal of these jerseys stirred up considerable buzz on social media among NHL fans but time will tell if this translates into significant sales. As I noted yesterday, I’m not a fan of alternate jerseys. However, I don’t fault the league for its current cash grab given how COVID-19 is affecting the start of the 2020-21 season and NHL revenue. They’re facing a shortened season with limited attendance and needs all the money it can get.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist could be returning to the Blueshirts following his playing career. The 38-year-old goaltender told Sweden’s Goteborgs-Posten he expects to return to the club in some capacity.

I’ll be part of the Rangers for the rest of my life, in one way or another,” he said.”Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.”

Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals after the Rangers bought out the final season of his contract. He’s not sure what his role with the Blueshirts will be but feels he’ll be connected to the club “forever.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post subsequently picked up the story, confirming the blog’s translation of the Swedish interview.

TSN: Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Bobby Ryan is really motivated to have a great year with the club. The 33-year-old winger signed with the Wings after the Ottawa Senators bought out his contract. Blashill feels his experience and right-hand shot will be beneficial to the Wings’ power play. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy after publicly sharing his battle with alcohol issues.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed prospect winger Jack Quinn to a three-year entry-level contract. They selected the 18-year-old Quinn with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers are facing a lawsuit from a Dallas hotel over two unpaid hotel bills. The first was last December worth $28,000.00 and the second was $27,000.00 for a stay in March. The club claims the error is due to an accounting glitch compounded by a timeline miscommunication and intends to pay the bill in full in a matter of days.

ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the elimination of 30 positions. The club didn’t make any money during its 2020 Stanley Cup championship run because the playoffs took place in quarantine bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. Due to COVID-19, the Lightning lost money last season and expects to do so again in 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’re not the only NHL club to lose money, cut positions and lay off employees because of the pandemic. That’s why the majority of clubs are keen to return to play this season in their own arenas.










List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

8:30 pm ET: St. Louis Blues sign Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.

7 pm ET: Toronto Maple Leafs sign T.J. Brodie to a four-year contract ($5 million AAV).

4 pm to 5 pm ET: Calgary Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million contract.

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3 pm to 4 pm ET: Anaheim Ducks sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year contract ($3.9 million AAV)

Washington Capitals sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8 million contract.

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2 pm to 3 pm ET: Florida Panthers sign Alexander Wennberg to a one-year $2.25 million contract.

New York Rangers sign Jack Johnson to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Nashville Predators sign Mark Borowiecki to a two-year, $4-million contract.

In other contract news, the Ottawa Senators sign Matt Murray to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. The Senators acquired Murray, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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1 pm to 2 pm ET: Vancouver Canucks sign Braden Holtby to a two-year deal ($4.3 million AAV)

Minnesota Wild sign goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Anton Khudobin to a three-year contract ($3.5 million AAV)

Edmonton Oilers sign center Kyle Turris to a two-year contract ($1.65 million AAV)

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12 pm to 1 pm ET:  Washington Capitals sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a full no-movement clause.

Detroit Red Wings sign winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Winger Pat Maroon (two years, $900K AAV) and defenseman Luke Schenn (one year, $800K) are returning with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Florida Panthers sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year contract ($2.5 million AAV).

In other news, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract with a $5 million annual cap hit and a full no-trade clause.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain with the Arizona Coyotes. His deadline to be traded to either Boston or Vancouver came and went without a deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2020

A flooded goalie market plus the latest on Taylor Hall, Tyson Barrie and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLOODED MARKET FOR NHL GOALIES

Lots of interest in Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom as free agency nears (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports a number of goaltenders could be on the move when the 2020 NHL free-agent market opens on Friday at noon ET. Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, former New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Calgary’s Cam Talbot and Edmonton’s Mike Smith are among the notables. In addition, the Vegas Golden Knights are attempting to trade Marc-Andre Fleury after re-signing Robin Lehner last weekend.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Canucks are still trying to re-sign Markstrom. The Flames and Oilers could have interest if he hits the open market. LeBrun didn’t rule out the Flames circling back to Talbot.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Markstrom’s been at the top of Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland’s wish list for some time. It could cost six years at $6 million annually to get it done. Matheson believes Holland will have to find a trade partner for Mikko Koskinen and his $4.5 million annually over the next two years.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson has Markstrom at the top of his list of potential Flames’ free-agent targets.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites sources claiming Lundqvist will sign with the Washington Capitals on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ efforts to move Fleury are likely affected by the glut of goalies in the upcoming free-agent market. They could be forced to wait until the bigger names (Markstrom, Holtby, Lundqvist, Crawford) are off the market before finding any potential suitors. They’re reportedly attempting a three-way trade in which a third team picks up a chunk of Fleury’s cap hit, but they were only offering a second-round pick as a sweetener before the draft.

I can’t see the Oilers signing Markstrom unless they can move Koskinen. While his cap hit might be more affordable to clubs with cap space seeking goalie depth, teams will likely want something worthwhile packaged with him. The Flames, on the other hand, could get it done, though the cost to their cap space could make it difficult to re-sign or replace UFA blueliners like TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic.

It’s believed Lundqvist has a one-year agreement with the Capitals. The reason it hasn’t been announced yet is he cannot officially sign with another NHL club until the UFA market opens tomorrow. We’ll find out tomorrow if he’s heading to Washington for next season.

There’s been little word about possible suitors for Holtby. The decline in his performance over the last two years likely has something to do with that. It doesn’t mean Holtby won’t be signed but it is interesting to note that a former Vezina Trophy winner with a Stanley Cup championship on his resume hasn’t garnered much chatter in the rumor mill.

LATEST ON HALL, BARRIE, SHATTENKIRK AND SAAD

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun expects the Nashville Predators to be among the clubs to pursue Taylor Hall via free agency tomorrow. The 28-year-old winger is heading to market after he and the Coyotes failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. LeBrun also believes the Columbus Blue Jackets could be interested.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson has Hall among his list of potential Flames free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall is reportedly willing to sign a one- or two-year deal and is expected to take his time evaluating offers before reaching a decision. Cap Friendly indicates the Predators now have $17.6 million in cap space after trading Nick Bonino yesterday to Minnesota and buying out Kyle Turris and Steven Santini.

They could face competition from a Cup contender with lots of cap space like the Colorado Avalanche, who could be willing to ink Hall to a one-year deal. If the Flames sign Markstrom, they won’t have enough cap room to chase Hall.

LeBrun reports the Flames, Oilers and Anaheim Ducks could have interest in Toronto defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Ducks could also pursue Kevin Shattenkirk but he’d like to remain with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gilbertson has Barrie at No. 4 on his list of potential Flames free-agent options.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson thinks Barrie would be atop the Oilers’ list of free-agent defensemen because he could run their powerplay if Oscar Klefbom is out for the season with a shoulder injury. However, he believes they’d only offer him a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Barrie’s struggles last season with the Maple Leafs, some feel he can regain his form as a puck-moving defenseman away from the harsh Toronto spotlight. We’ll find out soon enough how much interest he’ll draw as a free agent.

The Lightning would probably love to re-sign Shattenkirk. However, they’ve got limited cap space and must re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev.

LeBrun reports several clubs have contacted the Chicago Blackhawks about winger Brandon Saad. The Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are believed among those expressing an interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad might be available if the Blackhawks need to free up some cap space to re-sign or replace Corey Crawford. He has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $6 million but also carries a 10-team trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

The first round of the 2020 NHL Draft begins at 7 pm ET. Check out all the latest trade speculation in today’s rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Tampa Bay Lightning aim to be aggressive in the trade market to offload some salary. He’s heard only four players – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov – are considered unavailable/untouchable. He also assumes the same goes for restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

McKenzie noted the absence of Steven Stamkos from the untouchables list. It doesn’t guarantee the Lightning captain gets traded but it’s possible, though he feels Stamkos’ health could be a factor.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Lightning have approached Tyler Johnson’s representatives about a possible move. The 30-year-old forward has a full no-trade clause but LeBrun believes general manager Julien BriseBois and Johnson’s agent, J.P. Barry, want to work together to find an amicable solution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Stamkos has a full no-movement clause and an $8.5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Throw in his injury history and I’ll be surprised if he’s traded.

Johnson could be agreeable to waiving his no-trade clause but his $5 million annual average value through 2023-24 could be hard to move. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if BriseBois got some inquiries about Johnson from a couple of clubs, thus prompting his reaching out to the forward’s agent. Whether Johnson will agree to a trade is another matter.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

McKenzie also cited colleague Darren Dreger reporting sources claiming the Arizona Coyotes are shopping Taylor Hall’s rights. The 28-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. McKenzie also wonders if the St. Louis Blues will make a final attempt to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo before Oct. 9.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports word out of Buffalo is the Sabres have interested in Nick Schmaltz. The Arizona Coyotes center has six years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.85 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Hall has played his final game with the Coyotes. That’s not surprising given their limited cap space and Hall’s likely desire to play for a contender. As for Schmaltz, I don’t think the Coyotes are keen to move him but that could depend on what a team like the Sabres could be offering.

LATEST LEAFS CHATTER

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t intend to trade goaltender Frederik Andersen. Recent speculation linked the Leafs to Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Matt Murray. Dubas spent the past several weeks assuring Andersen no deal was imminent. Meanwhile, Lance Hornby reports Dubas has made adding more grit to the Leafs lineup a priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen wasn’t going anywhere unless Dubas could find a goalie of equal or greater value. It would be foolish to trade him if they can’t land someone who can carry them on a deep playoff run.

UPDATE ON JOSH ANDERSON

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets will attempt to move Josh Anderson before the first round of the draft kicks off tonight. There’s been no progress in contract talks with the restricted free agent winger. It’s assumed Anderson might fetch a first-round pick in a trade, though the Jackets would prefer landing a top-two center. LeBrun wondered if Montreal’s Max Domi might interest them.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Canadiens and Calgary Flames are among the clubs interested in Anderson. He also said the Jackets are considering offers for defenseman David Savard.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Anderson could be a trade target for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interested parties could ask the Blue Jackets to speak to Anderson’s agent about a new contract. They probably don’t want to have the hassle of a possible salary arbitration with a player they just acquired.

Domi-for-Anderson? Maybe a move that makes sense for two players that could benefit from a change of scenery but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a fit there for either club.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

Pierre LeBrun reports talks between the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets regarding Jets winger Patrik Laine seemed to cool over the weekend. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets could also be interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are reportedly seeking a second-line center and a top-two defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he’s considering all his options. That doesn’t mean Laine’s going to be traded. Yes, it could happen, but the asking price will be significant, perhaps too expensive for most clubs to bear.

Defenseman Alec Martinez and center Paul Stastny could become trade options for the Vegas Golden Knights. Wingers Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty have been mentioned to LeBrun but he said there’s no clear indication from his Vegas source that the Golden Knights would move either guy.

Bob McKenzie reports Henrik Lundqvist cannot formalize a new contract until Oct. 9, when he’ll officially become an unrestricted free agent. The New York Rangers last week bought out the final season of the 38-year-old goaltender’s contract. The Washington Capitals are said to be the front-runners for Lundqvist’s services.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion hasn’t received an offer yet that would convince him to part with the fifth-overall pick in tonight’s draft.

Garrioch also listed Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo as possible goaltending trade targets for the Senators. Free-agent options could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Chicago Corey Crawford, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Edmonton’s Mike Smith.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Avalanche trade talks are heating up, though it could take until the end of the week before a deal gets done. He’s hearing Nikita Zadorov’s name coming up in trade rumors. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent. Dater claims there have been no contract discussions with the Avs. Center Tyson Jost and winger Valeri Nichushkin have also surfaced recently in the rumor mill.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2020

Henrik Lundqvist determined to continue his playing career, the Blackhawks trade Olli Maatta to the Kings, the Stars re-sign Andrej Sekera, and an update on Ryan Strome in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist took to Twitter Sunday expressing his determination to continue his playing career. “I still love to compete. I still love the game and I still want to WIN”, he tweeted. The 38-year-old goaltender was bought out of the final year of his contract last week by the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist remains determined to continue his NHL career (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larry Brooks speculated the Washington Capitals could be a destination for Lundqvist, citing a report Saturday by Sportsnet. Brooks wondered if the former Vezina Trophy winner would accept a full-time backup role, though he might not have much choice given his play has regressed with age. He also suggested the Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights as options.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for minor-league forward Brad Morrison. The Blackhawks retained just over $750K of Maatta’s $4.088-million annual average value for the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move frees up cap space for the Blackhawks. They now have $11.1 million available to put toward re-signing restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Drake Caggiula and Slater Koekkoek and re-sign or replace unrestricted free agent goalie Corey Crawford. The Times, meanwhile, indicates Maatta will fill the Kings’ need for an experienced left-side defenseman.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars yesterday re-signed defenseman Andrej Sekera to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the report indicates, this move means the Stars won’t have to go into the trade or free-agent market to find a cheap third-pairing, penalty-killing defenseman. Cap Friendly indicates the move leaves the Stars with $67.5 million invested in 17 players. Anton Khudobin, Corey Perry and Mattias Janmark are unrestricted free agents while Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz and Radek Faksa are restricted free agents.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have not yet decided if they tender a qualifying offer to Ryan Strome. The 27-year-old center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The deadline for qualifying offers is 5 pm ET on Tuesday. If Strome doesn’t receive one, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larry Brooks speculates it could cost $4.75 million to re-sign Strome, which could be too expensive for the Rangers. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility.