Summer Of Change Could Be Coming For the Calgary Flames
In today’s NHL rumor mill: the fallout from yesterday’s NHL trade deadline includes Taylor Hall hoping to remain a Bruin, the Penguins asking about Ryan Getzlaf, and the Flyers, Flames and Red Wings look ahead to the offseason.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Darren Hartwell reports Taylor Hall said he’d be willing to sign with the Bruins if things work out with them over the remainder of this season. Hall was acquired by the Bruins in the early-morning hours before yesterday’s 3 pm ET trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend upon his performance and what kind of contract he seeks if he plays well enough to convince Bruins general manager Don Sweeney that he’s worth keeping.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cites a well-placed Penguins source saying Brian Burke, the club’s president of hockey operations, contacted the Anaheim Ducks to inquire into the availability of captain Ryan Getzlaf. This was done before the Penguins went on to acquire Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings before yesterday’s trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke can’t be blamed for inquiring but it’s clear Getzlaf wants to stay in Anaheim and Ducks GM Bob Murray wants to keep him. Kingerski also said Getzlaf and Murray have mutually expressed expectation that the Ducks captain will return for another season.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Mike Sielski reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has no intention of changing his coaching staff during the offseason. A roster shakeup could be in store in the offseason as Fletcher looks to the long term to address his struggling club’s needs. Sielski calls on Fletcher to make some bold moves this summer to fix his stale roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calling on Fletcher to make big moves in one thing. Pulling them off is another in a flattened salary-cap world.
They’ll need to bring in a younger 1-A goaltender to share the crease with Carter Hart until the latter gets his confidence back. Finding a suitable replacement for the retired Matt Niskanen on the blueline is a must.
As for which players should be moved to breathe some fresh life into a stale roster, Claude Giroux has a year left on his contract but also a no-movement clause and an $8.25 million cap hit. Winger Jakub Voracek lacks no-trade protection but his $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 is pretty much a trade deterrent.
Winger James van Riemsdyk has surfaced in trade rumors but his $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 and inconsistent production is tough to move. It seems they’re stuck with one-dimensional defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and his $4.5 million cap hit through 2022-23.
THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian believes the Calgary Flames trading Sam Bennett yesterday to the Florida Panthers could herald more changes to come in the summer following this disappointing season. She wonders if core players such as Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan could be part of those changes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have steadily declined since topping the Western Conference standings two years ago. GM Brad Treliving won’t be making a coaching change after replacing Geoff Ward in midseason with Darryl Sutter. Any roster moves he makes this summer will involve plenty of consultation with Sutter.
Gaudreau seems the most likely trade candidate as he’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. His five-team no-trade list doesn’t kick in until July 28. Monahan has two years left on his contract. That could make him more enticing in the trade market but he has a 10-team no-trade list.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will wait until the offseason before making decisions on whether to re-sign his unrestricted free agents or retain head coach Jeff Blashill. He indicated this summer’s expansion draft will also play a part in which players he retains.
The latest Flames speculation plus updates on Taylor Hall, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Alex Pietrangelo in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
CHANGES COMING FOR THE FLAMES?
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes Johnny Gaudreau has likely played his final game with the Calgary Flames, pointing to what he called the winger’s “annual disappearance” during the playoffs. He feels Gaudreau’s style of game doesn’t mesh with post-season hockey as teams collapse their defense and intensity ramps up.
Gaudreau has two years left on his contract. Francis feels it won’t be easy to move him now, citing his playoff performances and his $6.75 million annual average value under a flattened salary cap. He suggested center Sean Monahan would have to be included to sweeten the deal. However, he feels general manager Brad Treliving prefers to keep Monahan and finding another winger to play alongside him.
Waiting another year to move Gaudreau when his limited no-trade clause kicks in will only hamper efforts to deal him. Francis feels now is the time.
Francis also thinks Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund are less likely to move, while Sam Bennett’s rising stock should keep him in Calgary.
Luke Fox feels there’s a financial incentive for contenders to pursue Gaudreau. Once the winger collects his $3.5 million bonus check for 2020-21 from the Flames, an acquiring club could get him for two seasons to a total of $10 million in actual salary. That could be a good deal for teams seeking scoring depth under a flattened salary cap.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Brian Costello suggested Gaudreau could be a difference-maker for clubs trying to reach the playoffs. He listed the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, and Columbus Blue Jackets as possible Eastern options. He also noted there’s speculation Gaudreau would prefer signing with an Eastern club when he becomes a UFA in 2022.
Costello said it’s no big secret the Flames would like to pursue Calgary native Taylor Hall via free agency at season’s end. He feels Gaudreau could fetch the Flames a decent return. He also wondered about Monahan’s fate, noting the chemistry between the two forwards isn’t working anymore. He thinks Gaudreau and Monahan will be former Flames by the end of this year.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson noted some observes feel the Philadelphia Flyers would love to land Gaudreau, a native of Carneys Point, NJ. “Really? Last we checked, the Flyers have a pretty good thing going,” said Gilbertson.
TSN: Frank Seravalli acknowledged plenty of fingers are being pointed at Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. This postseason proved the Flames are Matthew Tkachuk’s team now, as they sagged without him after the winger was sidelined early in their first-round series against the Dallas Stars. Rather than blow up the roster, however, Seravalli suggests finding a better supporting cast for Tkachuk to take the heat off Gaudreau and Monahan.
Seravalli believes the Flames’ priority should be improving their goaltending. This could be the summer to make a splash. Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, and Vegas’ Robin Lehner could become free agents, while Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray could also become available.
The fate of their blueline needs to be addressed. T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic are among those slated for UFA status. Seravalli also wondered about the fate of interim head coach Geoff Ward. If general manager Brad Treliving opts to start fresh, it would be his fifth coaching hire in seven years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It certainly seems likely that Gaudreau could be on the move during the off-season. Despite his postseason struggles, his regular-season production would be attractive to teams seeking scoring punch to reach the playoffs.
The Devils could be the best fit. They have the cap space and need an established winger alongside center Nico Hischier. The Sabres also have cap space but also have Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson at left wing and a greater need for a second-line center.
The Panthers have Jonathan Huberdeau as their first-line left-winger. They could reportedly cut costs in the offseason. The Blue Jackets could use Gaudreau but he and demanding head coach John Tortorella are as different as chalk and cheese.
Treliving could move Monahan but finding a suitable first-line center to replace him would be very difficult. If the Flames GM is interested in pursuing Hall, he’ll want Monahan there as his first-line center.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’S SATURDAY HEADLINES
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall will make finding a stable, winning situation his priority if he hits the open market at season’s end. He feels the 28-year-old Hall would prefer “a winning place to land” over one that could fill up his bank account the most. The winger’s only been in the playoff twice during his 10-year NHL career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t mean Hall won’t be looking for a good contract. He’ll still want to get paid market value or as close to it as possible. Nevertheless, playing for a contender could mean more to him right now.
Speaking of the Coyotes, Elliotte Friedman suggested the future of captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be worth following in the off-season. The 29-year-old defenseman has seven years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million and a full no-movement clause. However, Friedman suggests it’ll come down to what ownership and new management wants to do going forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Right now, we don’t know if the Coyotes intend to trade Ekman-Larsson. He has full control over his fate. If he doesn’t want to waive his NMC, that could be the end of it.
However, if ownership makes the case that they’d like to move on without him, it could be a powerful incentive to waive it. Clubs lacking a top-two, left-side defenseman would be interested, but he’d still determine where he’d go.
Friedman also reported plenty of time remains for the St. Louis Blues and team captain Alex Pietrangelo to hammer out a new contract. There are still seven weeks until the UFA market opens on Nov. 1. It’s believed Pietrangelo wants to stay in St. Louis. Last October, Friedman reported the Blues wanted to sign him to a long-term deal below $9 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could affect how much the Blues can afford to invest in Pietrangelo. Nevertheless, the two sides seem keen to get a deal done. I’ll be surprised if he hits the open market in November.
What next for the Flames, Capitals and Blue Jackets now that their postseason is over? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered about the future of Johnny Gaudreau following yet another disappointing early playoff exit by the Calgary Flames. The 27-year-old winger’s been the subject of trade speculation throughout this season as he put up his lowest offensive output since his rookie season.
It’s been speculated Gaudreau, a New Jersey native, could be peddled to an East Coast team. There’s also a theory the Flames could trade away “Johnny Hockey” to make room for Arizona Coyotes winger (and Calgary native) Taylor Hall.
With notable coaches such as Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, and Mike Babcock available, Wyshynski pondered the future of Flames interim bench boss Geoff Ward. He also wondered which of their notable UFAs (goalie Cam Talbot, blueliners T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic) will be back.
CALGARY SUN: Kristen Anderson and Wes Gilbertson wondered if changes could be coming to the Flames’ core forwards like Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Sam Bennett. Gilbertson also mused over whether it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to test Gaudreau’s trade value or make a change at center by trading Sean Monahan or dropping him to the second line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a shakeup is coming and it could be Gaudreau on the move. A year ago, I considered that unthinkable. Not now. He seemed off-kilter until midseason and wasn’t much of a force in this postseason. As Gilbertson pointed out, he didn’t have an even-strength goal during the series with the Stars.
Despite Gaudreau’s struggles this season, he’s the Flames’ best trade chip. They aren’t moving Monahan because first-line centers are difficult to find. Spark plug Matthew Tkachuk isn’t going anywhere. I expect they’ll hang onto Bennett. He’s a versatile checking-line forward who elevates his play in the postseason. Backlund could be shopped but won’t fetch as strong a return as Gaudreau.
Dump Gaudreau to sign Hall? Stranger things have happened but Hall did little to raise his UFA stock this season. Maybe he’d regain his 2018 Hart Trophy form in Calgary but he would be an expensive gamble.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined some possible off-season moves by the Washington Capitals. It appears long-time starting goaltender and pending UFA Braden Holtby has played his final game for the Caps. Their blueline could use some help but they have limited salary-cap space. Kaplan also wondered about the fate of head coach Todd Reirden.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Barry Svrluga wondered if the Capitals’ early playoff departure suggests a team in decline or perhaps the interruption of the season by COVID-19 skewed the results. He points out most of their core players are now in their thirties, took note of Holtby’s expected departure and wondered about Reirden’s fate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing the coach is easier than replacing the roster, and there’s some justification for a change behind the Capitals bench after Reirden got schooled in the Isles series by former Washington coach Barry Trotz. The Caps remain a talented team but most of their stars don’t have many good years left.
Holtby’s departure is a foregone conclusion. His performance declined over the last couple of years. Ilya Samsonov had a promising debut season and will be their starter for the foreseeable future.
Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $71.1 million invested in 16 players. There’s a chance they’ll re-sign Brenden Dillon but he could cost over $4 million annually. RFA Jonas Siegenthaler will get an affordable bridge deal coming off his entry-level deal. That won’t leave much to bolster their blueline depth.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports of rumors Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be preparing for some big off-season moves to bolster his forward lines.
Portzline believes their priority should be adding a top-six center. He feels the Jackets’ GM could draw from his blue-line depth for trade bait, suggesting David Savard as a candidate. RFA winger Josh Anderson could be another. With Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins as bonafide starters, the Jackets could get calls from clubs seeking help in goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen showed a willingness to make significant moves leading up to the 2019 trade deadline. With his club in dire need of scoring punch, I expect he’ll swing a trade or two to address that need. Several clubs with limited salary-cap space could be looking to shed a high-salaried talent for a more affordable option.
As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $76 million invested in 23 players, with center Pierre-Luc Dubois due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. He lacks arbitration rights so Kekalainen could ink him to an affordable short-term bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract afterward.
If Kekalainen seeks impact forwards, he’ll have to move salaried players too. He could get $5.85-million in cap flexibility if sidelined forward Brandon Dubinsky starts the season on long-term injury reserve.
Latest on the league’s plans for the schedule and the draft, the 50th anniversary of Bobby Orr’s legendary Stanley Cup-winning goal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont cites Bruins president Cam Neely pointing out the NHL and its TV partners would have the opportunity of trying new camera angles if the schedule resumes without fans in arenas. That would include perhaps mounting some cameras in lower-bowl seats or along the top of the glass that surrounds the boards.
“Even closer to the action, league broadcast executives also have toyed with the idea of embedding cameras directly into the boards, or perhaps mounting them directly behind the boards with lenses shooting the action through small portals drilled into the boards.”
Another option could be mounting small Go-Pro cameras to players’ helmets, though the NHLPA would have to agree to it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a great opportunity to provide fans watching on television with some different angles they otherwise wouldn’t see. It would be a great way to give them the feeling that they’re in the game, especially for those who’ve never attended a live NHL contest.
I’m hearing of something of a potential turf battle brewing between NHL and NBA over having Vegas as a main neutral site for playoffs
— Adrian Dater (@adater) May 8, 2020
SPORTSNET: Mixed feelings persist among NHL executives over the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft before the resumption of the season. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was diplomatic when questioned about his take. “We’re just going to try to prepare as though it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s not going to be normal regardless of what it is, so we’re fine with whatever is decided.”
Player agent Allan Walsh, however, said most general managers he’s spoken with aren’t happy with the idea. “I have not talked to one GM who likes it, and I talk to almost all of them.” Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is among them. “I haven’t heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer,” he said. Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake, however, indicated he and his staff are “quite comfortable with either scenario.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m against it, and not because I’m some old-school guy who’s against “outside-the-box” thinking. I’m against it because the league higher-ups believe it’s going to draw big TV ratings and generate excitement among sports fans heading toward the restart of the schedule. I doubt it, especially when the most exciting component of the draft – the possibility of a major trade involving established players – probably won’t be permitted.
What will generate fan excitement is training camp and exhibition games taking place leading up to the proposed resumption of the schedule in July. Save the draft for when the season is over.
Just talked to an NHL GM who said the league has been consistent in telling teams they will have at least one month’s notice for the draft. So right now, we’re looking at mid-June at the earliest — Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) May 9, 2020
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Today is the 50th anniversary of Bobby Orr’s legendary Stanley Cup-winning goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first Stanley Cup Final game I ever saw. I was seven-years-old at the time, and the only reason I got to see it was because it was an afternoon game. That goal was seared into my memory and made me a life-long Bobby Orr fan. He did many amazing things throughout his career and truly changed the game with his style of play, but it’s that goal everyone remembers. It wasn’t the prettiest goal Orr ever scored, but it’s certainly among hockey’s most memorable.
CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan hopes the season resumes this summer. “Everybody is just looking forward to get back with one another and push each other to get to that end goal,” he said. That end goal being, of course, the Stanley Cup.
THE SCORE: If the league resumes play this summer, Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone will be ready to return from the lower-body injury that sidelined him before the schedule was paused by the pandemic.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang made an unspecified donation intended to provide meals to the Students and Families Food Relief Fund and the Knead Community Cafe in the Pittsburgh area.