Notable Trades Leading Up To the 2019 NHL Draft
The Penguins trade Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks, and Dion Phaneuf and Andrew MacDonald are bought out. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While most of the focus in the Penguins trade-rumor mill was on Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, Maatta was also considered a potential trade candidate. He’d fallen out of favor with head coach Mike Sullivan and the Penguins had to free up salary-cap space.
Maatta makes over $4 million annually through 2021-22 while Kahun earns $925K for 2019-20. The move shed over $3 million for the Penguins, giving them over $6 million in cap space for next season. The Penguins also get back a decent player in Kahun. The 23-year-old is a speedy, versatile forward who can play center or wing and tallied 37 points as a rookie this season, all but two of those at even strength.
For the first time in years, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has plenty of salary cap space to work with. Maatta brings what should be an invaluable injection of youth and puck-moving skill to their blueline. While he struggled this season, he helped the Penguins win two Stanley Cup championships. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain his confidence.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf. He was due to earn $5.25-million per season from the Kings through 2020-21. Cap Friendly has the buyout breakdown for the Kings and Phaneuf’s former club, the Ottawa Senators.
CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday placed defenseman Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers to buy out the final season of his contract. MacDonald, 32, had one year remaining on his five-year contract with an annual average value of $5 million. Cap Friendly has the details of the buyout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves were unsurprising. Both blueliners are past their playing prime and carried too much salary. Still, I can see them signing affordable one- or two-year contracts with clubs seeking experienced depth and leadership on their bluelines.
There was speculation the Kings might also buy out center Jeff Carter. The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman reports Kings GM Rob Blake saying Phaneuf will be their only buyout this summer.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks raised concern over the NHL’s concussion protocol after Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk admitted he played through a concussion he suffered earlier in the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks isn’t the only person raising the alarm over the issue. Did DeBrusk hide his symptoms from team doctors? Was the coaching staff and management aware of his situation? If so, why did they allow him to continue playing? As my pal Scotty Wazz of The Face Off Hockey Show points out, this doesn’t reflect well on the league’s concussion program.
STLTODAY.COM: Check out the photos of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup victory parade.
Six potential salary-cap casualties plus updates on the Jets and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KOVALCHUK, TURRIS, AMONG POSSIBLE COST-CUTTING CANDIDATES
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon lists Los Angeles’ Ilya Kovalchuk and Nashville’s Kyle Turris among six potential cost-cutting candidates this summer.
Kovalchuk, 36, has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. Dixon noted there was speculation near the trade deadline suggesting a team in “win-now” mode might take a chance on the left winger.
Turris ($6 million annually) has five years left on his contract. The 29-year-old center is coming off a difficult, injury-shortened campaign.
Olli Maatta (three years remaining at $4.1 million per season) has fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh. Dixon believes another club could give the 24-year-old Penguins defenseman another chance.
Dixon suggests the Edmonton Oilers could attempt to move Andrej Sekera. The 33-year-old blueliner has two years left on his deal with a $5.5-million annual salary-cap hit. His injury history, however, could make him difficult to move.
The Tampa Bay Lightning need to free up cap space to re-sign Brayden Point. Right wing Ryan Callahan (one year, $5.8 million) seems an obvious trade candidate. He carries a modified no-trade clause.
If the Florida Panthers pursue goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency, they could shop backup James Reimer. He’s got two years remaining at $3.4 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Kovalchuk has a full no-movement clause. He and his family seem happily settled in the Los Angeles area. He might consider waiving his clause to join a Cup contender but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Predators general manager David Poile is among the shrewdest executives in the game. However, I doubt he’ll find a taker for Turris without including a sweetener in the deal or picking up part of that cap hit. Even then, Poile could find it tough drumming up interest.
Maatta’s had his struggles with the Penguins. Nevertheless, there’s a market for young, puck-moving, defensemen. Of those on Dixon’s list, Maatta seems the most likely to move.
Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new GM, could consider peddling Sekera to free up some cap space. On the other hand, he could retain him to buy time for the younger blueliners in their system.
Callahan’s best seasons are well behind him now. The one positive is he only has a year left on his deal. If the Lightning includes a quality prospect or draft pick in the deal, a club with cap room seeking veteran leadership could consider it.
The Panthers will pursue an upgrade between the pipes via trade or free agency this summer. If Roberto Luongo doesn’t retire, Reimer will be on the move. Teams looking for an experienced backup could show interest in him.
LATEST ON THE JETS
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe expects Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could attempt to recoup some draft picks leading up to next month’s NHL Draft. The Jets currently have spots in the second, fourth, and fifth rounds. Trade-deadline acquisition Kevin Hayes is expected to depart via free agency. That could put the Jets in the market for a second-line center. They need someone who can establish chemistry with left wing Patrik Laine.
Wiebe also suggests defenseman Jacob Trouba could be traded during the draft weekend. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. What could complicate things is it’s unknown if he’s interested in signing a long-term contract when he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. If Trouba is moved, the Jets could attempt to re-sign pending UFA blueliner Tyler Myers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff will be busy in the coming weeks. With Laine and Kyle Connor due for big raises, they probably can’t afford to re-sign Trouba. The Jets GM won’t have difficulty finding trade partners for the 25-year-old blueliner. Suitors could include the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers.
To address the Jets’ second-line center position, Wiebe suggests Cheveldayoff target Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He calls the 28-year-old center “a hard-nosed player with plenty of skill.” The Leafs could be forced to move Kadri’s $4.5-million annual salary-cap hit to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Wiebe suggests offering up Jack Roslovic in a package deal for Kadri.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sticking point is Kadri’s modified no-trade clause. The Jets could be on his 10-team no-trade list. If they’re not, a package offer containing Roslovic could tempt the Leafs.
RECENT FLAMES SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving must make addressing his goaltending a priority this summer. One option could be re-signing pending UFA Mike Smith, who’s interested in returning. Failing that, Treliving will have to find an affordable option to split the duties with David Rittich.
Francis suggests St. Louis Blues former starter Jake Allen ($4.35 million annually through 2020-21) might be available via trade. So could New York Islanders backup Thomas Greiss, who’s got a year left on his deal at $3.33 million. Free-agent possibilities include Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov or Carolina’s Curtis McElhinney.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space will hamper Treliving’s efforts. With over $68.5 million invested in 19 players, he’s got $14 million available for next season. Most of that will be taken up re-signing Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett. Maybe a dollar-for-dollar swap for Allen or Greiss is possible. Failing that, he’ll have to go cheap for goaltending help.
Varlamov’s frequent injury history could drive down his value in the UFA market. As Francis noted, that could make him an affordable gamble. McElhinney will probably re-sign with the Hurricanes.
Penguins fans should get square with a Kessel trade. There will be one. A big part of the offseason plan begins with moving Kessel. You don’t have to like it. But you should be ready for it. #Pens
— Rob Rossi (@Real_RobRossi) May 23, 2019
Reaction to TSN’s latest “trade bait” board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, and Nashville’s P.K. Subban are the top-five names on Frank Seravalli’s latest NHL trade bait board.
The Penguins were swept from the opening round of the 2019 playoffs, prompting general manager Jim Rutherford to suggest big changes could be coming. Seravalli cites friction with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and linemate Evgeni Malkin as one reason why Kessel could be shopped this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with the Penguins carrying $6.8 million of his $8 million annual average value. The Toronto Maple Leafs carry the other $1.2 million. Cap Friendly indicates he has a modified no-trade clause listing eight preferred trade destinations.
Moving him won’t be easy but it’s not impossible. Rutherford reportedly fielded trade inquiries about the 32-year-old right winger last summer. I daresay he’ll be open to offers this summer. The Arizona Coyotes are rumored as a possible destination.
Trouba is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Seravalli suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche as trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba’s contentious contract negotiation history with the Jets is fueling speculation he could be traded before July 1. He’s on a one-year, $5.5-million contract and lacks no-trade protection. Interested parties will want to speak to him about a contract extension before agreeing to a trade.
Callahan could be a cap casualty as the Lightning attempt to free up salary to re-sign restricted free agent Brayden Point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Callahan, 34, has a year remaining on his contract with a $5.8-million AAV and a 16-team trade list. The Lightning will have to include a sweetener (draft pick, prospect or young player) to draw interest in Callahan. If a trade isn’t possible, Callahan could be bought out.
Seravalli noted the Wild came close to moving Zucker at the trade deadline. He wonders if GM Paul Fenton will revisit a Zucker trade this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton already shipped out Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund for younger, cheaper talent. Zucker’s entering the second year of a five-year, $27.5-million contract with a modified no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1. The Flames were the team reportedly close to acquiring Zucker at the deadline. Don’t be surprised if Fenton calls them again.
Given the Predators early postseason exit, Seravalli wonders if GM David Poile might tinker with his blueline. He noted Subban no longer has no-trade protection, as that was voided after he was acquired from Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile said changes were coming to his roster. That’s what’s given rise to the Subban trade speculation. The Predators need more scoring punch at forward. Subban would be their best bargaining chip to address that need. I don’t see Poile moving Josi, Mattias Ekholm, or Ryan Ellis, who signed a contract extension last summer. Trading Subban would be a bold move but Poile’s has a history of making such deals.
Calgary winger Michael Frolik, Toronto winger Connor Brown, Predators center Kyle Turris, Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and Columbus left winger Artemi Panarin are in spots six through 10 on Seravalli’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frolik was reportedly part of that aborted deal for Zucker at the trade deadline. I don’t think the Wild would be interested in him now. Nevertheless, the Flames could shop him in a cost-cutting move. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4.3-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list.
Brown, 25, has one year left on his deal with a $2.1-million cap hit. The Leafs must free up salary to re-sign Mitch Marner. Brown could be a cost-cutting option.
Turris is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him net just 23 points in 55 games. He’s also entering the second year of a six-year, $36-million contract. Unless Poile agrees to pick up a healthy chunk of his contract (something he’s never done in previous trades), I don’t see Turris going anywhere.
Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal with a $6.65-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list. The 30-year-old blueliner has a long injury history and his play has declined. The Rangers will either have to pick up part of that contract, take back a toxic deal, or include a significant sweetener to move him.
Panarin is headed to this summer’s UFA market. Seravalli suggests he could become a sign-and-trade candidate. He wonders if the New York Rangers might be a suitor. Failing that, the Blue Jackets could shop his rights to interested clubs for a conditional draft pick.
Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic, Toronto blueliner Nikita Zaitsev, Penguins rearguard Olli Maatta, Vegas d-man Colin Miller, and Edmonton left wing Milan Lucic round out the rest of the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames could try to free up some cap room to re-sign winger Matthew Tkachuk. They could also be in the market for a scoring right wing. Most of the speculation out of Calgary suggests T.J. Brodie, not Hamonic, as the likely trade candidate.
Seravalli speculates Leafs GM Kyle Dubas could try to gauge the trade market for Zaitsev. He’s got five years left on his deal worth $4.5 million per season. I don’t see many takers for him unless the Leafs pick up part of that cap hit or include a decent draft pick or prospect.
Maatta’s come up a lot in Penguins trade speculation from Pittsburgh. He’s been in coach Mike Sullivan’s doghouse quite a bit and could benefit from a change of scenery. Maatta’s a 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman with a reasonable $4.083-million AAV through 2021-22. He also lacks no-trade protection. I can see him drawing interest in this summer’s trade market.
The Golden Knights must shed salary to re-sign William Karlsson this summer. Miller’s been mentioned as a cost-cutting option, as well as center Cody Eakin.
As for Lucic, the Oilers might be able to find a taker for him if they can take back a bad contract or retain half of his $6 million AAV. Still, that seems more like wishful thinking at this point. He’s also got a full no-movement clause. He could agree to waive it but he won’t do it for just any club.
Could the Penguins consider trading Evgeni Malkin or other big-name players? Is another summer trade in the offing for the Predators’ P.K. Subban? Should the Maple Leafs consider shopping William Nylander? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BIG MOVES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports sources within the Penguins’ organization say management is considering almost every available option to chart the course of the next several years. That includes everything from possibly trading key players such as Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel to standing pat.
Should they decide on making major changes it wouldn’t be a teardown rebuild. Rather, it would be to move established assets while their trade value is high for returns of younger, affordable talent who can keep the club’s championship window open. It’s believed there’s a select group of players – captain Sidney Crosby and goaltender Matt Murray among them – the Penguins believe they can build around.
Several days ago, Mackey also reported Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could consider trading one or two defensemen under contract through next season to address their other roster needs. Mackey considered Olli Maatta as the most realistic trade candidate as moving him would free up $4.083 million in salary-cap space. He doesn’t believe Rutherford intends to move Brian Dumoulin and it would be very difficult to find any takers for Jack Johnson, who has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Jonathan Bombulie agrees Maatta is the most likely to be moved but he doesn’t anticipate a major overhaul of the Penguins’ blueline. He noted Rutherford recently saying their defense “is probably the best now that it’s been since I’ve been here, as a group.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the notion of the Penguins trading someone like Malkin or Letang makes for sexy headlines, I doubt very much they’re going that route with those two. Cap Friendly indicates Malkin has a full no-movement clause and I don’t think he’s keen to move on. Letang has a modified no-trade listing 18 clubs he can be traded to but I doubt Rutherford intends to make him the scapegoat for the Penguins’ early playoff exit.
If a major move takes place it’ll probably be Kessel. He’s clashed with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and Rutherford reportedly fielded trade offers for the right winger last summer. I agree with Mackey and Bombulie that Maatta also seems a likely trade candidate this summer. Sullivan seems to have lost confidence in the 24-year-old and he could probably benefit from a change of scenery.
WILL THE PREDATORS SHOP SUBBAN THIS SUMMER?
THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes the Nashville Predators cannot justify maintaining the status quo following their first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Stars. Changes could be coming this summer, perhaps to shore up an offense that relied too much on the top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson.
While they could dump center Kyle Turris, Vingan believes it’ll be difficult finding takers for the remaining five years and $30 million of his contract. He suggests they could turn to their defense, with P.K. Subban the natural target considering his expensive contract and wasn’t drafted and developed by the Predators. He also notes Ryan Ellis’ performance was a disappointment this season.
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Subban, who has three years remaining on his contract with a $9 million annual average value, wants to remain with the Predators and be part of the solution. However, he also acknowledged the business of hockey and that he has trade value if they were to shop him for a scoring forward. “If I’m talking facts, I’m the highest paid player on this team,” he said Wednesday. “With that comes responsibility. Just like everybody else, the responsibility is on me to take the fact that we didn’t win the first round; we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skrbina also noted Predators GM David Poile conceded his club failed to meet expectations this season and changes will be coming to their roster this summer. If he does decide to draw upon his blueline depth for a trade chip to bring in a scoring forward, Subban or Ellis seem the likely candidates.
I doubt Poile intends to move captain Roman Josi and will try to free up some long-term cap room for Josi’s new contract next summer, while Mattias Ekholm earns a very affordable $3.75-million annually through 2021-22. Subban and Ellis also lack no-trade protection and both will attract plenty of interest in the trade market.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas wouldn’t confirm if head coach Mike Babcock will return next season but he also didn’t say he was contemplating a coaching change. He said team president Brendan Shanahan will do a full evaluation on everyone, including Dubas. Simmons assumes Babcock will be back but suggests there could be some changes to the assistant coaching staff.
Dubas’ priority will be re-signing restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner. Simmons expects the Leafs will lose defensemen Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey to unrestricted free agency. Dubas must also decide if he’ll trade or retain center Nazem Kadri, trying to re-sign RFAs Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and finding a solution to the Patrick Marleau situation.
Marleau told Simmons he’s not considering retirement. The 39-year-old winger wouldn’t say if he’d accept a trade, adding it’s tough to speculate. Trading Marleau and his $6.25 million salary-cap hit would free up salary-cap space. Simmons also believes Dubas would like to shed Nikita Zaitsev’s $4.25 million cap hit and feels the Leafs GM must consider moving William Nylander no matter what he may have told the winger personally about staying in Toronto.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Among his five burning offseason questions for the Leafs, Matt Larkin wonders if Dubas will move an impact forward like Kapanen, Johnsson, Nylander or Kadri for a defenseman this summer. “Nylander for Subban or Hamilton, anyone?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock isn’t on the hot seat yet but it’s starting to get warm. Despite Dubas comments, I expect the Leafs coach will be back next season. However, I daresay there will be discussions with Babcock regarding the usage of several players, including giving too much playing time to the fading Marleau.
It appears Dubas isn’t going to let Marner’s contract situation drag on throughout the summer. Quite frankly, he can’t afford to.
He needs to get the winger under contract as quickly as possible to determine how much salary-cap space he needs to free up to retain other players and to address other roster needs. Whether that involves moving Nylander or Kadri for a top-pairing, right-shot defenseman like Subban or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton remains to be seen.
More speculation over what might be in store this summer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE LIGHTNING MOVE MILLER AND CALLAHAN?
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently speculated over what might be in store for the Tampa Bay Lightning under Julien BriseBois, who enters his first full offseason as general manager. While BriseBois doesn’t intend to blow up the roster, Duhatschek believes some changes are coming for the Lightning this summer.
With Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and Anton Stralman due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, the Lightning will need some defensemen. Cal Foote could crack the lineup but it remains to be seen if he’s NHL-ready.
Salary-cap constraints will be an issue, especially with restricted free agent center Brayden Point due for a hefty raise. The Lightning has only one bad contract (Ryan Callahan’s $5.8 million salary-cap hit) and it could cost them a middle-of-the-pack player like Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn or J.T. Miller, though Palat and Killorn have no-trade protection.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also anticipates some offseason changes for the Lightning lineup. He expects BriseBois will attempt to move Miller’s contract ($5.25-million annual average through 2022-23) while Callahan, who has one year left on his contract, could be bought out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Lightning has over $73.1 million invested in 16 players. Should the cap reach the projected $83 million for 2019-20, BriseBois will have less than $10 million to work with. He’ll have no choice but to shed some salary to free up sufficient cap room for Point, affordable depth players Cedric Paquette and Adam Erne, and add a defenseman or two.
Miller, a versatile 26-year-old forward lacking no-trade protection, appears the most likely trade candidate. Despite his struggles in this year’s playoffs, Miller’s reached or exceeded the 40-point plateau in each of the last four seasons. His youth (26), two-way skills and his ability to play all three forward positions could make him enticing to clubs seeking a versatile forward.
Callahan has a 16-team trade list, giving BriseBois some options to find a new home for the aging winger. However, he’ll likely have to bundle the 34-year-old with a draft pick or prospect to entice teams into taking on his full cap hit. Failing that, a buyout will reduce his $5.8 million annual average value for next season to over $2.66 million and to $1.66 million in 2020-21.
RECENT PENGUINS SPECULATION
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford must shed some salary this summer if the club is to avoid the same fate that befell the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. Cap constraints led to both of those former multiple Stanley Cup winners missing the playoffs in recent years.
Cook doesn’t expect Rutherford to move franchise mainstays like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “I’m talking about Phil Kessel, (Kris) Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Jack Johnson, Nick Bjugstad, Bryan Rust and Olli Maatta,” he writes, guessing one or two of those players will be moved to free up salary-cap space. He doubts the Penguins will get much back in return.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Jonathan Bombulie recently suggested Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta could become a trade candidate. Maatta said he’s trying not to think about that, adding he won’t require surgery to repair a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 20 games this season. “I guess all you can do is just go and have a good summer and what happens happens.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of that group, Kessel and Maatta seem the most likely to move.
There’s a growing feeling among Penguins observers that Kessel, the subject of trade rumors over the previous two offseasons, could be shipped out. The Penguins reportedly fielded trade offers for him last summer and could be more receptive this year. He’s coming off an 82-point campaign and will be enticing to teams in need of experienced scoring depth despite his eight-team trade list.
Maatta seems to have lost the confidence of Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. A 24-year-old mobile defenseman with an affordable $4.083-million salary-cap hit through 2021-22 and lacking no-trade protection, he should attract interest in the trade market. Rust had a difficult postseason but he’s only 26 and carries a cap-friendly $3.5-million AAV. Bjugstad was acquired in February and Rutherford will probably want to give him a full-season evaluation.
I have my doubts that Rutherford’s keen to move Letang. His cap hit ($7.25 million) and injury history will likely dampen his trade value anyway. Same goes for Hornqvist. The ongoing decline in Johnson’s performance will make him difficult to move despite his $3.25-million annual cap hit.