Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire
Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.
SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.
The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.
Could the Flyers attempt to acquire Jets winger Patrik Laine? Will the Bruins sign Mike Hoffman? Should the Senators bring back Anthony Duclair? Travis Hamonic to Vancouver? Corey Perry to Toronto? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall cites a source claiming the Flyers “have had interest” in Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. He also pointed out The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported in early October the Flyers and Jets held trade discussions but those talks cooled.
Hall expects the Laine trade speculation will continue throughout 2020-21 due to the winger’s restricted free agent status at season’s end. He anticipates the Flyers’ interest could pick up depending on team needs, the value of trade chips and a greater feel for the season in general.
Landing Laine won’t be easy because of the Jets’ asking price and the Flyers’ ability to make room for the sniper. The flattened salary cap will complicate things, especially with goalie Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim due for new contracts next summer and Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier eligible for UFA status in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The struggles of the Flyers’ leading scorers during the 2020 playoffs could account for general manager Chuck Fletcher’s rumored interest in Laine. He’d be a good replacement for Giroux if the Flyers let him depart via free agency in 2022.
The Jets will set a high asking price for Laine, especially if he has a strong performance this season. It’s believed they’ll want a top-pairing defenseman in return or a young blueliner with top-two potential as part of a package deal.
Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with over $2.2 million in cap space. They’ll have to give up a salaried player to create room for Laine’s $6.75 million cap hit. Flyers fans will pitch Shayne Gostisbehere but Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could ask for Ivan Provorov straight up or Philippe Myers as part of a package deal.
The Jets could move Laine before the season opens in mid-to-late January, but I believe they’ll hang onto him and see how things unfold during the 2021 offseason. His unhappiness over his second-line role with the Jets could change once he’s reunited with Paul Stastny as his center.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan wonders what’s taking so long for the Boston Bruins and Mike Hoffman to hook up. He believes a one-year deal would suit both sides well, citing TSN’s Dave Poulin considering Hoffman a good fit with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins’ second line. Brennan acknowledged they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Hoffman but believes GM Don Sweeney could pull it off.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brennan and Poulin aren’t the only pundits floating the notion of Hoffman signing with the Bruins. Wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak could miss the start of the season recovering from offseason injuries but they won’t be out of action for long.
The Bruins have over $2.9 million in cap space but he’s reportedly seeking a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. That explains why the two sides haven’t “hooked up” yet. The bigger concern for the Bruins could be a blueline weakened by the departure of Torey Krug to St. Louis and uncertainty over Zdeno Chara’s status.
Brennan also cited Poulin suggesting Anthony Duclair should pick up the phone and call Senators GM Pierre Dorion. He agrees with Poulin that the Senators remain the best fit for the 25-year-old winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out Duclair returning to the Senators but it’ll certainly be on their terms. He had his chance to get a reportedly reasonable short-term deal in Ottawa but decided to act as his own agent and test the market. Maybe he’s already got a deal lined up with another club that’s awaiting word on the start of the season before officially announcing the contract. We’ll find out soon enough.
Poulin also sees UFA defenseman Travis Hamonic joining the Vancouver Canucks and advised UFA winger Corey Perry to home to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Join Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton and have some fun. They won’t need you until the playoffs anyway.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could get some wiggle room to sign Hamonic by placing Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million AAV) on LTIR. They could also demote trade or demote one of their 15 forwards in a cost-cutting move for Hamonic. However, I still think the Manitoba native could end up signing with the Jets when they place Bryan Little ($5.29 million AAV) on LTIR.
The Leafs have Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds and Jimmy Vesey as their right wingers for this season. Nylander or Vesey could shift to left wing to make room for Perry, but the Leafs are already above the cap by over $1.04 million. They’ll get under the cap by demoting a player or two but that still won’t leave room for Perry unless they do some more cap juggling, maybe by acquiring an LTIR contract or a cost-cutting trade.
A look at the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance observes it’s been nearly eight weeks since an NHL trade was made and a month since the last unrestricted free agent signings (Dominik Kahun with the Edmonton Oilers). However, there’s still discussion and negotiation going on among general managers and player agents.
Drance cites an NHL player agent saying those markets have slowed of late because of ongoing uncertainty over when the 2020-21 season will begin. “We want to see what develops out of this,” said the agent. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to do something until we know what things look like.”
The agent, who represents one of the top UFAs, said teams remain interested in his client but some of them are waiting. Clarity on provisional rules, such as recalling players from the minors, could also affect UFA signings. There’s talk of allowing teams to use a so-called “taxi squad” of players this season who can be re-assigned and disappear from a team’s cap payroll, perhaps without having to pass through waivers.
Drance believes a second wave of trade and free-agent signings will begin once the league and NHLPA agree to a start date for the season. He notes there are five UFAs who produced at least 30 points last season (such as Mike Hoffman) as well as some decent depth forwards like Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry and Andreas Athanasiou. Defense options include Zdeno Chara and Travis Hamonic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Drance on the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets and when we can expect business to resume. There’s still enough decent UFA talent available, which also includes Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen and Erik Haula, to draw interest among general managers. Most of those UFAs, however, could be forced to accept inexpensive one-year deals given the few teams with cap space to invest in the free-agent market.
Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rob Rossi reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is bracing for the possibility of limited trade activity during the 2020-21 season. He hopes to tweak his roster before the puck drops on the new season.
Rutherford, one of the league’s notable in-season wheeler-dealers, doesn’t know how the trade market could be affected by a shortened season or if there could be restrictions that limit player movement. He feels it might be best to get as many players in place before the season begins because it might not be as easy once the schedule is underway.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford said he doesn’t have any inside information for his opinion of what the coming season’s trade market could look like. He’s taking the same “wait-and-see” approach as the rest of his colleagues.
Drance noted trades will have to be made by some cap-strapped clubs before the season begins. We’ll likely see a flurry of deals before and during the training camp period as teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to shed salary to re-sign key players and/or to become cap compliant when the season opens.
There’s also usually plenty of activity leading up to the annual trade deadline. This season, however, could be different depending on what provisional rules are implemented and how much cap flexibility teams have as the deadline nears.
The rumors among pundits and fans over possible trades and free-agent signings will continue as they always do. However, we could see fewer significant moves this season compared to other years.
Recent speculation on Noah Hanifin, Eric Haula, Jimmy Howard and Corey Perry in today’s NHL rumor mill.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW (subscription required): Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Calgary Flames might shop left-side defenseman Noah Hanifin to bring in a right-side defenseman and to shed some cap space. The sources he spoke with believe Hanifin isn’t been shopped but didn’t rule out Flames general manager Brad Treliving listening to a “hockey trade” offer.
The Flames have over $1 million in cap space, with Hanifin having four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.95 million. Murphy suggests the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets as teams that could initiate calls.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins might have to part with Brandon Carlo ($2.5 million), the Red Wings with Filip Hronek ($714K), the Sabres with Brandon Montour ($3.85 million), and the Blue Jackets with David Savard ($4.25 million).
The Bruins would have to find a suitable right-side replacement if they swap Carlo for Hanifin. I don’t see the Wings trading away the promising Hronek. Savard is a UFA next summer and won’t provide much cap savings this season for the Flames. Montour is also slated to become UFA after 2020-21 and the Flames could prefer someone with more term left on their contract.
The Dallas Stars suffered a double-whammy with goaltender Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin sidelined for five months following recent surgeries. Murphy cites an NHL source claiming they’ve circled back to free-agent center Erik Haula. He also wondered if they might consider adding free-agent goaltender Jimmy Howard, pointing out Stars GM Jim Nill’s ties to Howard during their time with the Detroit Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could put Bishop and Seguin on long-term injury reserve to make an affordable signing or two to offset their absences on a short-term basis. It could depend, however, on when the 2020-21 season begins. Bishop and Seguin could be good to go if the season opens in March.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked about the possibility of Corey Perry returning with the Stars. He believes the 35-year-old winger would have to take a pay cut on the $1.5 million in base salary and $1.75 million in bonuses that he was paid last season. He cited recent rumors linking Perry to the Ottawa Senators and noted the Stars want to inject some youth into their forward lines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve believed Perry could return to the Stars for another season. I’m not so sure now after reading DeFranks’ take. They have the cap space to sign him but he might be reluctant to accept a pay cut. We’ll see.