SPORTSNET: Luke Fox took a more in-depth look at the top-10 UFA still on the market.
Will Tuukka Rask return with the Boston Bruins this season? (NHL Images)
Rask’s future depends on his recovery from offseason hip surgery. If he does return, he’s indicated it’ll only be with the Boston Bruins. In his absence, the Bruins will start the season with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman as their goalie tandem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writing appears on the wall with Ullmark signing a four-year, $20 million contract with the Bruins. If Rask is ready to return later this season, they could go with him and Ullmark as their tandem and demote Swayman as he’s waiver-exempt this season.
Palmieri, Cizikas and Zajac are believed to have handshake agreements with the New York Islanders but those agreements haven’t been officially announced yet. There’s also talk they’ve signed winger Zach Parise, who was bought out last month by the Minnesota Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Consensus among most pundits is Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has most or all of those aforementioned players under contract. It’s believed those deals haven’t been officially announced because he doesn’t want his rival GMs to know how much salary-cap space he actually has left.
It’s the same tactic Lamoriello took during the last offseason with Matt Martin, Andy Greene and Cory Schneider. Those deals weren’t officially announced until just before the start of last season.
That’s fueled speculation the Isles GM is working on a trade. It could be for a winger like St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko or a left-side, top-four defenseman to replace Nick Leddy, who was traded to Detroit last month.
Chara is spending the offseason in his native Slovakia with his family. His agent said his client is working out hard and keeping all his options open. During his season-ending Zoom call, however, the big defenseman seemed uncertain about returning for a 24th NHL season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara had a decent season with the Washington Capitals but it was obvious the 44-year-old blueliner was slowing down. If he does return it would be on an affordable one-year deal and in a third-pairing role.
Fox indicated the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t fully closed the door on bringing back Galchenyuk. He also said the Montreal Canadiens were said to have some level of interest in a reunion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there’s a fit for Galchenyuk with either club. Both have limited cap space and have already invested in other low-cost options.
An update on Seth Jones, the latest on the Canadiens, possible destinations for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and recent Canucks speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
NOTE: A freeze on trades, waivers and contract signings goes into effect at 3 pm ET today and runs through 1 pm ET on Thursday, July 22. Teams are required to submit their expansion draft protections lists by 5 pm ET today.
COULD THE BLUE JACKETS RETAIN JONES?
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are letting it be known they don’t have to trade Seth Jones this summer. They’ve set a high asking price, seeking a combination of young NHL players, prospects and draft picks. However, it doesn’t appear they’re getting any offers to their liking for the 26-year-old defenseman.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).
Portzline, however, still believes Jones will be moved this summer, in part to avoid the risk of a season-ending injury before next season’s trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are said to be interested in the blueliner, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Jackets have not yet granted any team permission to speak with Jones about a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring something significant today, the earliest Jones could get traded is heading into next weekend’s NHL draft following the expansion draft on Wednesday.
LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION
TVA SPORTS: listed six candidates for the Montreal Canadiens to pursue as a potential replacement for Shea Weber. The 35-year-old defenseman could miss all of next season recovering from various injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones, Giordano and Ristolainen would be available in the trade market. Barrie, Hamilton and Larsson are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.
Jones would be the best option but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could balk at their asking price. Jones’ apparent unwillingness to ink a contract extension takes him out of the equation.
Giordano would be a worthwhile short-term addition but his status remains uncertain. The Flames could leave him exposed in the expansion draft, where the Seattle Kraken could claim him. That’s assuming he isn’t moved before today’s trade freeze.
Barrie and Hamilton would provide plenty of offense from the blueline but their respective defensive games are average at best. Each will cost a lot to sign. Larsson would be a good fit defensively but the Oilers are said to be working on a new contract for him. Ristolainen could be available but it’s uncertain if he could handle the pressure of playing in Montreal. Like Jones, he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.
TSN 690 reported it could prove expensive for the Canadiens to swing a side deal to ensure the Seattle Kraken don’t select Jake Allen. The asking price is said to be a quality prospect and a second or a third-round pick. The Kraken would also accept a first-round pick and a selection later in the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Bergevin paid either price to keep Allen in the fold. He could also attempt to trade the backup to another club before today’s trade freeze if he’s that concerned about losing him to the Kraken.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday he thinks the Canadiens will let Phillip Danault test the free-agent market. They’re willing to keep the door open to him to come back after he’s heard from other clubs. They made an offer last offseason but it was rejected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That offer was reportedly a six-year, $30 million contract extension. He might get more than that on the open market after his strong defensive play in the postseason.
Russo believes former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will have more options via free agency than Parise. He’s still a capable top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Suter’s a proud American so it would be surprising if he signed with a Canadian team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also speculated over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins reuniting Parise and Suter with Brian Burke in their front office. However, I don’t think that’s something GM Ron Hextall will pursue.
The Islanders attempted to acquire Parise at the 2020 trade deadline but the deal fell through because they couldn’t get the dollars to work with the Wild. I can see him inking an affordable one-year deal with the Isles provided there’s enough cap space after re-signing Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, Ilya Sorokin and perhaps Casey Cizikas.
Suter won’t lack suitors. He’ll want to sign with a Stanley Cup contender and could be a fit for those with limited cap space. I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t signed with someone by the end of the opening day of free agency on July 28.
UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby is drawing interest from the Seattle Kraken and other teams around the league. At least one team from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference are believed among the suitors.
Holtby’s salary for next season could be a stumbling block. He carries an annual average value of $4.3 million but he’ll earn $5.7 million in actual salary in 2021-22. The Kraken are said to have inquired if the Canucks will retain some salary in a side deal.
The Canucks are said to have a real interest in Zach Hyman. The Toronto Maple Leafs left winger is slated to become a UFA on July 28 and has been granted permission to speak with other clubs. Contract term, however, is said to be an issue.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s looking to make a trade to “move some money.” It’s understood the Canucks are trying to find a new home for defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was acquired last fall from the Vegas Golden Knights. Holtby and perhaps Loui Eriksson could be trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s performance has declined in recent years but some clubs could see him as an experienced backup option. The Canucks might have to absorb some salary or take back a bad contract to move him. Maybe they can swing a three-team deal where they bundle a draft pick with Holtby to another team to pick up part of his cap hit.
Hyman, 29, could seek a maximum seven-year contract. That’s a risky signing for any team given his age. Schmidt should have some value among clubs seeking blueline depth but his contract ($5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and 10-team no-trade list) could be a tough sell.
Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin announced today his club will buy out the final four years of the contracts of winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
Ryan Suter (left) and Zach Parise bought out by the Minnesota Wild (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher signed Parise and Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012. Those deals were heralded at the time as the start of the Wild’s push to become Stanley Cup contenders.
The duo played well for much of their tenures in Minnesota. Parise had 199 goals and 400 points in 558 games during the past nine seasons while Suter had 55 goals and 369 points in 656 contests. The Wild reached the playoffs during their first six seasons but failed to advance past the second round.
As time went on and Parise and Suter aged, those contracts became more burdensome against the Wild’s cap payroll as their performances inevitably began to decline. With younger players garnering more playing time and responsibilities, Guerin needed to ensure he wouldn’t lose one of them in the upcoming expansion draft. He also wanted to free up salary-cap space to re-sign such notables as Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala and perhaps make additions via trades or free agency.
The Wild will garner over $10 million in cap savings next season, but they will see substantial dead cap space in 2022-23 ($12.7 million combined) and 2023-24 and 2024-24 ($14.7 million for each season) before dropping to a combined $1.66 million for the remaining four years of the buyouts.
Parise and Suter will become unrestricted free agents. Each could become affordable short-term options for playoff contenders looking to add experience and leadership to their lineups.
A look at some of this summer’s potential buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli listed 10 buyout candidates who could enter this summer’s free-agent market. The first window for contract buyouts opens 24 hours following the completion of the Stanley Cup Final and closes at 5 PM EST on July 27.
Tony DeAngelo is expected to be bought out of his contract later this month (NHL Images).
Topping his list is New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. The Blueshirts have reportedly finalized plans to buy out the final season ($4.8 million annual average value) of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo has played his final game with the Rangers. While his defensive game needs work he’s a skillful puck-moving blueliner. Given his personal baggage, however, the question is whether another NHL club will take a chance on him. Rumors linked him to the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens before the April 12 trade deadline.
Seravalli pointed out Oilers general manager Ken Holland has hinted at buying out one or two contracts this summer. The 33-year-old Neal has two years with an annual average value of $5.75 million.
Johnson missed all but four games this season to injury but Seravalli observed he wasn’t on the list of players exempted from the upcoming expansion draft due to injury. He suggested placing Johnson on long-term injury reserve might be the better way to go for the Avs. Johnson has two years left at $6 million annually.
Yandle was a healthy scratch during the Panthers’ playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 34-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with an AAV of $6.35 million.
Seravalli suggests the Sharks buy out Jones and use the cap savings to put toward his replacement. The 31-year-old netminder has three years remaining at $5.75 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could buy out Neal but there’s also talk of shipping him to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Duncan Keith, whereby the Blackhawks would buy him out.
Putting Johnson on LTIR sounds like a better option. However, a buyout might be the only choice if it appears he’ll be healthy to return next season. The Avs need cap space to re-sign Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog.
Yandle surfaced in the rumor mill back in January when it appeared he would become a healthy scratch to start the season, putting his Ironman streak in jeopardy. That talk died down when the 34-year-old blueliner never missed a game during the regular season.
There might be a trade market for Yandle if he agrees to waive his no-movement clause. However, the Panthers would either have to absorb part of his cap hit, take back a bad contract, or try to work a three-way deal.
Jones has really struggled over the last three seasons. The Sharks need more consistency between the pipes. Buying him out, however, would result in six years of dead cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) totaling over $12 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Parise buyout seems unlikely. It’s eight years of dead cap space. They’d get a $2.3 million cap hit for next season, but it jumps to over $6.3 million in 2022-23 and over $7.3 million annually for the following two seasons. The only real cap relief would come in the final four years at over $833k per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks tried to trade Virtanen but couldn’t find any takers. A buyout seems likely given his on-ice struggles and off-ice issues.
Bishop missed all of the 2021-22 schedule recovering from knee surgery but Seravalli indicated he worked out with the club toward the end of the season. He could be bought out if healthy but they might not go that route if Anton Khudobin is selected in the expansion draft. Seravalli suggests a buyout of Bishop would enable them to protect Khudobin as Jake Oettinger is exempt but that might not be in their plans.
Seravalli pointed out the Canadiens put Byron on waivers three times during the regular season. However, his performance in this year’s playoffs probably means he’ll be back next season. The Habs could consider other options to free up some cap space.
Milano only played six games last season with the Ducks. With a year left on his contract at $1.7 million, he could become a buyout candidate, though the savings ($500K) are minimal.
Could the Edmonton Oilers have interest in a Tampa Bay Lightning winger such as Alex Killorn? (NHL Images)
They could attempt to shed salary by trading a veteran forward at a bargain price. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat or Yanni Gourde could become a trade candidate. Staples doubts Killorn will be available given his strong performance in this year’s playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $22 million in cap space (as per Cap Friendly), Oilers general manager Ken Holland should have sufficient cap room to acquire a top-six winger via trade or free agency even if he re-signs Nugent-Hopkins, Mike Smith and Adam Larsson. He could have more if he buys out James Neal and/or Mikko Koskinen and finds a trade partner to take Zack Kassian off his hands. Holland could be willing to talk trade with the Lightning depending on who they’re trying to offload this summer.
Something’s gotta give in Tampa Bay this summer. They could, as Staples suggested, buy out Tyler Johnson or hope the Seattle Kraken select him in the expansion draft. Even then, they could still trade another forward to get some additional wiggle room under the cap. That could force them to part with Palat, Gourde or Killorn.
Gourde’s full no-trade makes him the least likely of that trio to be moved. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade clause. Palat’s full no-trade becomes a modified no-trade next season in which he submits a 20-team list of preferred destinations.
Staples recently noted Oilers insider Bob Stauffer speculating the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Rangers could have interest in Kassian. Some Oilers followers could be against trading Kassian because of his physical presence. However, he’s carrying a $3.2 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Given the decline in his offensive production, the Oilers would be better off trading him and finding a more affordable option.
LATEST ON DUMBA AND PARISE
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan recently reported questions about Matt Dumba’s future with the Minnesota Wild have increased of late with the expansion draft on the horizon. With most teams tending to protect three defensemen and three Wild blueliners (Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin) carrying no-movement clauses, Dumba could be left exposed in the expansion draft or traded beforehand.
Dumba, however, said he hopes to remain with the Wild. He said he grew accustomed to his name surfacing in the rumor mill near the trade deadline.
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Muzitani recently reported Zach Parise told reporters he wants to return with the Wild next season. Because of his hefty contract, finding a trade partner seems unlikely while the front office doesn’t seem interested in going the buyout route.
Parise’s future came into question as he was dropped to the fourth line this season and was a healthy scratch late in the season and during the first three games of their seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Parise played well when inserted into the lineup for the final four games of that series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could make Dumba unavailable in the expansion draft by opting to protect eight skaters. However, that puts them at risk of losing one of their good young forwards. Wild GM Bill Guerin will probably try to swing a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to ensure they don’t take Dumba if they leave him exposed. They could also try to convince Suter to waive his no-movement clause. The Kraken could be scared off by his expensive contract.
The Wild and Parise are stuck with each other until his contract expires in 2025. He’ll have to accept a lesser role with the club. As Muzitani observed, that’s something that will have to be worked out between Parise and head coach Dean Evason in the coming months.
In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup: Seth Jones will reportedly test next summer’s free-agent market, the Wild face some big offseason decisions, plus some more Penguins speculation.
JONES TO TEST UFA MARKET PUTS JACKETS IN A TOUGH SPOT
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported Seth Jones recently informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The 26-year-old defenseman has an annual average value of $5.4 million on his contract with a modified no-trade clause.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).
Friedman said he doesn’t want to deal in absolutes but it appears Jones will test free agency “and we’ll see how Columbus decides to handle this over the next little while.”
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Jones and his agent declined to comment. Nevertheless, this is a devasting blow for the Jackets. The blueliner would be the latest among several notable players to depart the organization in recent years via free agency or trades.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen indicated earlier this month he intended to keep Jones into next season without a contract extension in the hope the blueliner would change his mind. With John Davidson returning as team president, Portzline wonders if Kekalainen will attempt to trade Jones this summer.
Trading Jones could lead to a roster rebuild. It would also raise questions over the future of Jones’ defense partner Zach Werenski (a restricted free agent next summer) and Cam Atkinson, who turns 32 next month and might not wish to be part of a rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline believes the Jackets would’ve made Jones their highest-paid player, as well as offering him the captaincy if he agreed to stay. His decision to go to market next year could signal the beginning of the end of the Jackets’ current roster.
The Jackets can’t afford to let him walk next summer for nothing. Kekalainen could wait until the trade deadline to move him but that comes with the risk of an injury to Jones or being forced to accept a lesser deal. It would also create an unnecessary distraction overshadowing their efforts to contend for a playoff spot.
Despite a decline in his performance this season, Jones remains among the NHL’s top defensemen. The Jackets won’t lack for trade partners if they decide to move him this summer, though those suitors will want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension.
If they trade Jones, they must determine Werenski’s future this summer. He has arbitration rights next summer and will be a year away from UFA eligibility. He could end up getting shopped by next summer if he doesn’t want to stick around.
Atkinson, meanwhile, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.875 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Moving him if he wants out would be a little more complicated but not impossible if it comes to that.
If Guerin protects seven forwards he risks losing defenseman Matt Dumba to the Seattle Kraken. Protect eight skaters to protect Dumba and they could lose a forward like Jordan Greenway. He must also decide between exposing veteran goalie Cam Talbot or promising Kaapo Kahkonen. Perhaps Guerin swings a side deal with the Kraken to protect a player.
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani also weighed in on Guerin’s expansion draft plans. If the Wild GM could convince one of his players with NMCs (such as Suter) to waive their clause, it would allow him to protect Dumba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could pass on Suter or Parise if they waive their movement clauses. Both are aging veterans with each carrying annual cap hits of over $7.5 million for four more years. It’s no certainty, however, either guy will agree to it.
Wyshynski and Mizutani also wondered what the future holds for Parise, a frequent healthy scratch this season who saw mostly fourth-line duty. A buyout is unlikely because it would put the club in salary-cap hell for the rest of the decade. It could be difficult to find a team willing to acquire the remainder of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mizutani’s colleague John Shipley believes Parise showed he could still be a contributor for the Wild with two goals and an assist when he finally got back into the roster against the Golden Knights. Finding a suitable role for him on the roster for next season will be challenging if a trade cannot be worked out.
If the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel decide to part ways this summer, Wyshynski suggests the Wild has the depth in promising prospects and young players to make a competitive bid. They have a longstanding need for a top center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, they do, and as long as they don’t sell the whole farm to get Eichel, he could prove a worthwhile addition to their lineup. That’s assuming, of course, he’ll be put on the trade block this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Guentzel for a power forward would be a significant move by the Penguins. It would address Brian Burke’s desire to add some skilled toughness and size to their lineup. However, it could also backfire by robbing the Penguins of a significant part of their scoring punch.