Golden Knights defeat the Coyotes in preseason play, the Bruins re-sign Charlie McAvoy, the Flames re-up Andrew Mangiapane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Max Pacioretty tallied a hat trick as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Arizona Coyotes 6-2 in the first game of the 2019 NHL preseason.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins yesterday re-signed defenseman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $4.9 million.
Boston Bruins re-sign defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a reasonable bridge deal for both sides. McAvoy blossomed into a top-pairing blueliner and will be in line for a significant raise at the end of this new contract. Indeed, he’s already guaranteed a qualifying offer of $7.3 million. Cap Friendly indicates that’s how much he’ll earn in actual salary in the final year of this deal.
Speaking of the Bruins, defenseman Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) isn’t expected to be ready for the start of their season on Oct. 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the cost of re-signing Carlo pushes the Bruins over the $81.5-million cap, they can put Miller on long-term injury reserve to get some short-term cap relief.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed winger Andrew Mangiapane to a one-year, two-way contract worth $715K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have over $6.3 million in salary-cap space with Matthew Tkachuk to re-sign. It’ll likely cost much more than that to get Tkachuk under contract, meaning a cost-cutting trade could be in the offing.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny seems unlikely to particpate in preseason play. He’s still recovering from surgery in April to repair a torn hamstring.
Former Av Curtis Leschyshyn has been hired by the #Avs as a pro scout
The latest on Mitch Marner, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Darren Dreger tweeted the Toronto Maple Leafs were persistent in pushing for a seven- or eight-year contract for Mitch Marner. “The $11 mil per offer was made in June and included the $1.6 mil in B bonuses Toronto wouldn’t pay Marner in his entry-level contract. 3 yr ext remains the focus.”
No end in sight in the contract standoff between Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).
Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie replied those numbers “help to illustrate why it is so difficult to see a path to a Mitch Marner contract settlement any time soon.” He adds those long-term offers by the Leafs were around $11 million annually. Because they were lower than Auston Matthews’ AAV, they weren’t palatable to the Marner camp.
McKenzie feels a three-year bridge deal is a logical solution. However, “because Marner wants an AAV in the $9M to $10M universe and the third year (base for QO) would be substantially higher, TOR has no incentive to do the bridge at those numbers.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While a resolution is always possible it appears both sides have dug in their heels. This could drag on into the regular season just like William Nylander’s negotiations a year ago.
If social media is anything to go by, this isn’t sitting well with Leafs Nation. It seems to be costing Marner a lot of goodwill among Leafs fans, though all will be forgiven and forgotten if he re-signs soon. The longer this drags on, the uglier it could get.
MCAVOY AND CARLO
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said contract talks are ongoing with defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Haggerty believes the three-year, $15-million contract signed by Zach Werenski with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week will affect McAvoy’s negotiations. McAvoy could get a similar bridge deal if a long-term contract can’t be worked out, while Carlo could get $3-$4 million annually on a three-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The key to the Werenski deal is he gets a much higher actual salary in the final season of his new deal ($7 million) than the annual average value of $5 million. That means his next qualifying offer will be $7 million, regardless of his performance. If the Bruins pitch something similar, that could prove enticing to McAvoy and Carlo.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Derek Van Diest reports Oilers GM Ken Holland hasn’t received any decent offers for Jesse Puljujarvi and is willing to let this situation play itself out. The 21-year-old winger is playing in Finland waiting for the Oilers to action his trade request. Holland believes there are teams interested in Puljujarvi but things have gone quiet in recent weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers don’t sign Puljujarvi or trade him to a club willing to sign him, he becomes ineligible for the remainder of this NHL season. However, Puljujarvi isn’t a core player so his absence won’t hurt the Oilers’ performance this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he spends the entire season in Finland. The Oilers will still hold his NHL rights.
The NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reports the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a three-year, $15-million contract. Weekes’ report is corroborated by Aaron Portzline, The Athletic’s Blue Jackets’ beat writer.
Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign defenseman Zach Werenski to a three-year deal (Photo via NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Werenski’s annual average value will be $5 million, putting him just below defense partner Seth Jones’ $5.4 million AAV. Both contracts will expire at the end of 2021-22, with Jones slated to become an unrestricted free agent while Werenski will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
I’m not surprised that Werenski accepted this deal. Reports emerged several weeks ago claiming the 22-year-old blueliner wanted to be re-signed before training camp opened. There was speculation he would accept less than Jones, who is the Jackets’ best all-around rearguard as well as their highest-paid.
Werenski is getting a healthy pay increase from the $1.775-million AAV (bonuses included) of his entry-level contract. Should the skilled puck-moving defenseman continue to improve, he can seek much more from the Jackets by 2022.
Werenski’s new deal could affect fellow RFA blueliners like Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov. The latter was reportedly seeking $8 million per season but the Flyers could use Werenski as a comparable.
Updates on Mitch Marner, Charlie McAvoy, and Jason Pominville in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: In an interview with Bob McKenzie, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas remains optimistic about getting Mitch Marner re-signed before training camp opens on Sept. 13. He said he had discussions with the restricted free agent winger’s agent as recently as last week.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas isn’t interested in trading winger Mitch Marner (Photo via NHL Images).
McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun reports Dubas has no interest in trading Marner. “That’s not a real avenue that we’ve even remotely explored. It’s our full intention that Mitch Marner will be a Toronto Maple Leaf for a very long time and that’s everything we’re working towards.’’
Writing for The Athletic, LeBrun reports contract term appears to be the sticking point for Marner and other noteworthy RFAs such as Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.
Regarding Marner, he believes a three-year bridge deal has been discussed but isn’t sure what the annual average value would be. There’s a sense teams could prefer avoiding situations where the player walks directly into unrestricted free agency upon completion of their new deals.
THE LEAFS NATION: cites TSN’s Darren Dreger saying there’s talk of the Leafs and the Marner camp discussing a three-year deal with an AAV of $9.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out by next Friday if Duba’s optimism will be rewarded. Marner has indicated he won’t attend training camp without a contract and has already looked into training with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s National League A.
I don’t doubt Dubas’lack of interest in trading the young winger. Nevertheless, that probably won’t stop the trade speculation if his contract impasse drags into training camp. I daresay we’ll also hear talk of offer sheets but I doubt that scenario will unfold.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites sources claiming the Boston Bruins are set to return to talks “in earnest” with restricted free agent defenseman Charlie McAvoy. With training camp fast approaching, there’s increased urgency to get a deal done.
Earlier this year, there was talk the blueliner sought a deal comparable to Florida’s Aaron Ekblad’s eight-year, $60-million contract. It’s believed the Bruins countered with something around $5.5 million. Given the Bruins’ current salary-cap crunch and the need to also re-sign Brandon Carlo, there’s talk a bridge deal has been discussed.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins could get some cap relief if veteran forward David Backes is placed on long-term injury reserve. There’s talk the 35-year-old winger, who has a history of concussions, has been dealing with an undisclosed injury this summer.
The Bruins currently have around $7 million in salary-cap space with McAvoy and Carlo to re-sign. Placing Backes ($6 million AAV) on LTIR would alleviate that problem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with Marner, we’ll learn by the end of next week if the Bruins can hammer out a deal with McAvoy (and Carlo) before training camp opens.
If they end up placing Backes on LTIR they won’t have to worry about making a cost-cutting trade to free up space to re-sign their two blueliners. Of course, that’ll depend on how long he’d be sidelined. If he receives medical clearance to return to action this season, the Bruins will have to shed salary to become cap compliant.
Won’t be long before hockey’s back in full swing. On that note, hearing the #Habs are considering 36-year-old Jason Pominville, who had 16G and 31PTS (avg TOI 12:28) in 73 gms with Buffalo last season. There have been some talks. Nothing imminent, but something to look out for.
Evgeny Kuznetsov receives a four-year ban from the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: The International Ice Hockey Federation suspended Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov from international competition for four years after he tested positive for cocaine at the 2019 World Championships.
Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov receives a four-year ban by the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine (Photo via NHL Images).
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement noting cocaine “is not considered a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Instead, it is considered a drug of abuse that is tested for and for which intervention, evaluation, and mandatory treatment can occur in appropriate cases.”
Daly indicated Kuznetsov “has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL and NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program.” He’s also agreed to an in-person meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman before training camp opens.
The Capitals and Kuznetsov also released statements. He took responsibility for his actions, expressed remorse for his actions, and accepted the IIHF’s ban. The club approves of Kuznetsov seeking treatment, indicating they will continue to support him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ban means Kuznetsov cannot participate in IIHF-sanctioned tournaments. That includes the 2022 Beijing Olympics if the NHL agrees to participate. It remains to be seen if he’ll receive any disciplinary action from the NHL. Here’s hoping Kuznetsov gets the proper treatment and can put this incident behind him.
TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he intends to open contract extension talks with goaltender Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom next month. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July. The Capitals carry around $19 million in salary-cap space for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing both players could prove costly. Holtby carries an annual average value of $6.1 million on his current contract while Backstrom’s is $6.7 million.
Unless one or both accept hometown discounts or the Capitals shed some salary, McLellan could sign only one of them. Capitals fans I’ve spoken with appear resigned to Holtby hitting the market next summer.
TWINCITIES.COM: Six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is back on skates. The 36-year-old center expects to be ready when training camp opens on Sept. 12.
THE ATHLETIC‘s Aaron Portzline tweets there’s no indication the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Zach Werenski are close to a new contract, but also no indication talks have hit a snag. “No urgency to get a deal done, but that could change when the calendar flips to September. CBJ and Werenski’s agent, Pat Brisson, expected to talk again soon.”
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins GM Don Sweeney admitted contract talks with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo aren’t moving as fast as everyone would like. Nevertheless, he anticipates the two restricted free agent defensemen will be part of the Bruins for a long time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t anticipate Werenski, McAvoy, Carlo or any of the other remaining restricted free agents to be signed until next month. We could see a flurry of signings in the days leading up to the start of training camp in mid-September.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames invited former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to training camp on a tryout basis.
THE SCORE: Ottawa Senators coach D.J. Smith said the club won’t name a captain for the upcoming season. “The captain will emerge in time. I think the biggest thing is that we will allow the older guys to mentor these younger guys and blunt the blow until we turn the corner here,” said Smith.