The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.
The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).
Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.
Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.
Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.
No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.
In other news…
TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.
Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
Could the Colorado Avalanche part ways with Gabriel Landeskog? (NHL Images)
They mused over Gabriel Landeskog’s future with the club following his disappointing performance against the Golden Knights. Chambers speculates the Avs could offer their captain a “take it or leave it” offer of $5 million annually and not at his preferred term. O’Halloran believes a “bad team with salary-cap space” like the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks seeking a “heart-and-guts leader like Landeskog” will give him an offer he can’t or won’t refuse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic faces some difficult decisions this summer. Cap Friendly indicates he has $61.7 million invested in 18 players with Landeskog, goaltender Philipp Grubauer and winger Brandon Saad as unrestricted free agents and defenseman Cale Makar a restricted free agent.
The Avs will get some additional cap space when they lose a player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft but it will still be expensive to re-sign those four. They can’t afford to lose Grubauer to free agency and Makar will get a hefty raise as a Norris Trophy finalist.
How much Landeskog wants will determine if he still has a future in Colorado. Chambers’ pitch of $5 million annually would probably ensure his departure.
Samuel Girard also had a difficult series against the Golden Knights. The 23-year-old defenseman is earning $5 million annually through 2025-26. Kiszla suggests Sakic check Girard’s value in the trade market, pointing out they have enough blue-line “wizardry” with Makar. O’Halloran thinks Sakic will listen to offers as the Avs need cap flexibility for Makar’s new contract. If they keep Girard, O’Halloran believes they need to add a defenseman like Jamie Oleksiak to give him the space he needs to use his puck-moving skills.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Girard to free up some cap space makes sense, but it could also deplete their defense corps if they lose an unprotected defenseman (like perhaps Ryan Graves) in the expansion draft. If they trade Girard they could promote from within or perhaps look for an affordable physical defender.
If Sakic decides to make a blockbuster move, Chambers believes he should target a third-line power forward similar to Vegas’ Alex Tuch and “a big, heavy defenseman”. Kiszla proposed offering Girard to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones, though he admitted the Jackets could be hesitant to do that deal. O’Halloran proposed pursuing Buffalo’s Jack Eichel but also suggested more realistic options like Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Toronto’s Nick Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic has shown in the past his willingness to make big moves. We can’t discount he’ll make a big deal or two this summer to address his club’s needs.
Trading for Jones seemed like a bad idea given the Avs’ blueline depth. But if they lose Graves and decide to trade Girard, perhaps pursuing the Jacket defenseman wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Sakic could consider signing Danault or Foligno via free agency but he could seek better options in the trade market.
Another look at how this summer expansion draft could affect several teams in the NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently looked at several teams that could be faced with a tough loss or an interesting decision to make in this summer’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark previously did a feature examining six clubs that could make side deals with the Seattle Kraken to protect key players. Boylen is examining nine teams.
The Colorado Avalanche needs Erik Johnson to waive his no-movement clause. If he does, they’ll have to decide if they’ll protect eight skaters or seven forwards and three defensemen. Under the former, they could lose a forward like Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Tyson Jost or Valeri Nichushkin. Under the latter, Ryan Graves could be left unprotected. If Johnson doesn’t waive his clause, they’ll have to go the eight skaters option, leaving the Seattle Kraken the choice of Graves or one of those forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ryan S.Clark reported Johnson is expected to waive his NMC. The Kraken will likely pass on him given his age (33), injury history and his $6 million annual average value through 2022-23. He also reported the Avs are willing to trade one of their forwards for something decent in return and are open to discussing their needs with the Kraken
The status of sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom and how general manager Ken Holland handles pending unrestricted free agents like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie could affect the Edmonton Oilers’ plans. If Klefbom is healthy and Larsson or Barrie is re-signed before the draft, the Oilers could lose a defenseman like Ethan Bear. Caleb Jones could be protected only if the UFA blueliners aren’t re-signed and Klefbom is exposed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s status remains uncertain. Holland could wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign Larsson and/or Barrie. That depends, of course, on whether the Kraken have interest in either blueliner during their exclusive free-agent interview window from July 18-21.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images)
Five members of the Minnesota Wild (Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin) have no-movement clauses. If none of them waive their clauses, the Wild could be forced to make a side deal with the Kraken or risk losing defenseman Matt Dumba if they protect just three defensemen or risk losing a forward by protecting eight skaters. If they’re faced with leaving Dumba unprotected they could attempt to trade him before the protected lists are due.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clark reported Wild management could have discussions with those five players about waiving their NMCs. Having Parise, Suter and Zuccarello waive would be the best scenario. They’re aging players carrying hefty salary-cap hits for at least three more seasons who likely won’t be enticing to the Kraken.
If Dumba becomes the odd man out, I expect they’ll try to trade him rather than lose him for nothing in the expansion draft. Boylen also suggested they could make a side deal with the Kraken by sending them a player to ensure they take someone other than Dumba in the draft.
The Kraken could make a push for Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton if he’s left unsigned and unprotected. If he’s re-signed, he’ll have to be protected and that would leave blueliner Jake Bean available. The Kraken could also have a shot at goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic if pending UFA Petr Mrazek is re-signed before the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculated the Hurricanes could hold off on signing Hamilton in order to protect Bean, leaving Brady Skjei exposed. They could do the same with Mrazek to protect Nedeljkovic. There’s a chance Hamilton or Mrazek could sign with the Kraken but their priority could be staying in Carolina.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take quite an offer to convince Kraken GM Ron Francis to take on Johansen or Duchene. Both are underachieving forwards carrying $8 million cap hits for several more years.
Travis Dermott is expected to be the odd man out for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, contract negotiations with pending UFA winger Zach Hyman could affect which players they end up protecting. If Hyman is re-signed, they’ll have to protect seven forwards, leaving an extra defenseman exposed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario they’ll protect Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie, leaving Justin Holl exposed. They could take the chance on Hyman re-signing after the expansion draft to protect four blueliners and leave Dermott exposed. If they sign Hyman, they could try to work out a deal with the Kraken to ensure Holl isn’t taken.
Boylen expects Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic will waive his no-movement clause to allow the club to protect a younger forward like Dillon Dube or Glenn Gawdin. He also wondered if the Kraken would take defenseman Mark Giordano if left exposed. The 38-year-old Flames captain has a year remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen observed that big changes could be coming to the Flames roster following this season. Those, however, could occur following the expansion draft. As for Giordano, the Kraken could prefer players who fit into their long-term plans.
The Dallas Stars could go the eight-skater option to protect four defensemen if Jamie Oleksiak is re-signed. That could leave a forward such as Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov or Joe Pavelski exposed. Boylen feels it could be easier for the Stars if Oleksiak isn’t protected or a side deal is worked out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wait until after the draft to re-sign Oleksiak and take the chance that the Kraken will pass on him or else talk trade to ensure he’s not taken in the draft if they opt to protect seven forwards and three blueliners.
TSN: Frank Seravalli wonders if St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong might be a buyer and a seller leading up to Monday’s trade deadline. Armstrong has a history of trading pending unrestricted free agents with his club on the playoff bubble.
Could the St. Louis Blues trade Mike Hoffman to make room for Buffalo’s Taylor Hall? (NHL Images)
Winger Mike Hoffman sits at No. 3 on the trade-bait list. Armstrong has also spoken to teams about center Tyler Bozak. There’s no indication if winger Jaden Schwartz is available.
The Blues are also believed among the teams with an interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall. Swapping out Hoffman for Hall might work if the Sabres retain half of Hall’s $8 million salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong could be reluctant to part with Schwartz as he could still help the Blues clinch a playoff berth. As for Hall, Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes the Panthers could also be interested in the Sabres winger.
With over $16 million in trade deadline cap space, the Panthers are in a better position than the Blues to acquire Hall. He has a no-movement clause but might be more receptive about joining one of the top clubs in the league in the Panthers (yes, you read that right, check the standings) or a struggling one like the Blues (again, check the standings).
Speaking of Hoffman, Richards shot down the notion of a possible return to Florida. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Panthers GM Bill Zito pursues a defenseman like David Savard of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who remains atop Seravalli’s trade-bait list.
Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo moved to No. 5 on the list. Seravalli reports Kings GM Rob Blake has taken calls about the pending UFA though the two sides continue to discuss a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake’s ensuring he’s got some trade options in case an agreement on a new contract with Iafallo isn’t reached by Monday. As Seravalli said, this could go either way.
TEAMS CALLING ABOUT DEBRUSK
THE ATHLETIC: listed Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk at No. 21 on the final update to their NHL Trade Deadline Big Board. Teams continue to call the Bruins to find out what it might take to acquire the 24-year-old winger. What makes him intriguing is his playoff production.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read and heard in the Boston media suggests the Bruins are fearful of trading DeBrusk and watching him blossom as a scorer elsewhere. I don’t dismiss the notion of a DeBrusk trade but the Bruins would probably prefer a young winger of equal or greater value and potential in return.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Ken Holland doesn’t intend to part with first-round picks for rental players. He didn’t rule out making that move if it was for a player with term remaining on his contract. Matheson believes that could also cost a top-prospect, which would probably be a non-starter. Given the Oilers limited salary-cap space, Holland would have to have a trade partner willing to absorb 50 percent of an acquired player’s salary.
OTHER NOTABLE UPDATES TO TSN’S TRADE-BAIT LIST
With their playoff math looking hazy, the Dallas Stars are starting to get calls about some of their pending UFAs. Big-bodied defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is drawing the most interest, moving up to No. 9 on the trade-bait list.
Seravalli reports Ducks general manager Bob Murray is listening to calls about Rakell, who has 12 points in his last six games. Two sources claim Murray’s set a high asking price but didn’t elaborate. The 27-year-old winger has a year left on his contract with an affordable $3.79 million salary-cap hit.
Rakell could provide the best return for a club looking to jumpstart the rebuild process. Moving him would also provide more ice time for younger players and he’ll soon be due for a new contract with a pay raise.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently reported changes could be in store for the Ducks’ lineup leading up to the April 12 trade deadline. Murray said he’s been “openly talking and listening about lots of things.”
Murray isn’t interested in trading captain Ryan Getzlaf unless he asks to be moved to a contender before the deadline. Getzlaf is in the final season of his contract and has a full no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray could be seeking a first-round pick and either a top prospect or promising young NHL player as part of the return for Rakell. The winger’s streaky scoring could be a stumbling block but he should continue drawing interest from playoff contenders looking beyond this season.
Murray will find moving Henrique a tough sell because of his $5.825 million annual average value through 2023-24. Heinen ($2.8 million), a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights, would be more affordable but not as enticing as Rakell. His stock has tumbled since his career-best 47-point rookie campaign in 2017-18.
Seravalli reports teams are calling the Bruins about DeBrusk. He believes the return would also be high because he’s a proven playoff performer. DeBrusk was a healthy scratch earlier this week against the New York Islanders. The Bruins are hoping for a big response from him.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney acknowledged he may have to shake things up to bolster his club’s flagging secondary scoring. Bolstering the scoring has taken priority over the Bruins’ need for blueline reinforcements.
Shinzawa points out they have the cap space to make an addition but have a shortage of tradeable assets. He’d have to sell low on the struggling DeBrusk, he’s already traded away two of his last three first-round picks and there’s a shortage of prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern for Sweeney is selling low on DeBrusk only to see him turn into a reliable scorer with another club. How he performs when he returns to the lineup will determine if the Bruins GM has to go shopping for help before the trade deadline.
Sweeney could be among those general managers interested in Rakell. He has a recent trade history with the Ducks but his current lack of trade assets means he’ll likely be outbid by rival clubs. He might also have some interest in more affordable options on Seravalli’s list such as Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund or Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson.