How would a new contract for Filip Forsberg affect the Predators’ salary-cap payroll next season? Can the Oilers afford to sign Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked what it would mean for the Nashville Predators’ salary cap if they signed Filip Forsberg to a new contract in the range of $9 million per season. The increase of next season’s salary cap to $82.5 million would leave the Predators with $26.2 million in cap space.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
Setting aside $9 million for Forsberg, Vingan believes they have enough to re-sign such players as Luke Kunin and Yakov Trenin to modest raises. It would also mean trimming payroll around the edges such as replacing backup goaltender David Rittich with Connor Ingram. He advised the Predators to spend wisely as Alexander Carrier, Dante Fabbro and Tanner Jeannot will need new contracts following 2022-23.
Asked if Ryan Johansen’s resurgence this season could make it possible for the Predators to trade him, Vingan pointed out he’ll soon turn 30 and has three more seasons left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $8 million. He doubted there will be many takers unless the Predators retain some salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is 27 and likely seeking an eight-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million per season. Predators general manager David Poile will obviously attempt to sign him at the low end of that asking price and perhaps seek a shorter-term close to five years.
I concur with Vingan regarding Johansen. Poile would have to retain some salary in a trade, something he’s never done.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins recently pondered how the Oilers can hang onto Evander Kane. He’s had a positive effect on the lineup since joining them two months ago as an unrestricted free agent after the San Jose Sharks bought out his contract.
Making that happen could require some hard decisions about younger players such as Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, who will become restricted free agents this summer. Both have endured highs and lows this season, leaving Leavins to wonder whether they’ve shown enough to invest in for the long term or perhaps one or both receive short-term bridge deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s future with the Oilers could also depend upon the outcome of the grievance he filed against the Sharks for terminating his contract. If an arbiter determines Kane should receive most or all of the remainder of his contract with the Sharks ($7 million AAV through 2024-25) while allowing him to remain a free agent, it shouldn’t cost much for the Oilers to retain him if he wants to stay.
The Sabres traded Taylor Hall to the Bruins, the Kings ship Jeff Carter to the Penguins, plus recaps of Sunday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The Buffalo Sabres trade left wing Taylor Hall and center Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins in exchange for winger Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick in 2021. The Sabres also retain 50 percent of Hall’s $8 million cap hit to facilitate the trade.
Buffalo Sabres trade Taylor Hall to the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins hope Hall will regain his offensive form and provide them with much-needed secondary scoring. Lazar should bring some depth to their checking lines.
It’s a disappointing return for the Sabres, who were believed seeking at least a first-round pick for Hall. It’s indicative of perhaps how much the former Hart Trophy winner’s stock has fallen this season. Bjork struggled to play up to expectations in Boston and might benefit from a fresh start in Buffalo.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a conditional 2023 fourth-rounder. The Kings also retain 50 percent of Carter’s $5.272 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The conditions are based on how long the 36-year-old Carter plays. He has a year remaining on his contract. Carter’s tallied 20 goals 11 times in his career but his offense has declined in recent years. He has just 19 points in 40 games this season. Nevertheless, he should be a solid addition to the Penguins’ injury-depleted bottom-six forward lines.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired goaltender David Rittich from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. The Flames also retained 50 percent of the pending UFA’s $2.75 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move provides additional experienced goaltending depth for the Leafs behind Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell. It also raises questions over how long Andersen could be sidelined by a lower-body injury.
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. They also shipped blueliner Braydon Coburn to the New York Islanders for a 2022 seventh-rounder.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist as the Avs hold a four-point lead atop the Honda West Division with 60 points and moved into first in the overall standings.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moved into fourth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list by blanking the Arizona Coyotes 1-0. Fleury now has 484 career victories and also picked up his 66th career shutout. Tomas Nosek tallied the only goal as the Golden Knights remain four points behind the Avalanche in the West. With 43 points, the Coyotes remain one point behind the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
Two-goal performances by T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Conor Sheary carried the Washington Capitals to an 8-1 romp over the Boston Bruins. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 58 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins with 20. The Bruins, meanwhile, remain in fourth place with 48 points.
Speaking of the Islanders, they edged the New York Rangers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan Pulock. Kyle Palmieri tallied his first goal since joining the Isles in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.
A hat trick by Jake Guentzel powered the Pittsburgh Penguins past the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Colton Sceviour also scored twice for the Penguins (56 points), who sit two points back of the Capitals and Islanders.
Three goals late in the third period by Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Asplund and Casey Mittelstadt rallied the Buffalo Sabres over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark finished with 40 saves. The loss moved the Flyers into a tie with the Rangers (44 points) but the latter hold fifth place with 16 regulation wins.
The Nashville Predators edged the Dallas Stars 3-2 on a shootout goal by Ryan Johansen. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division, holding a four-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NEW YORK POST: Washington Capitals goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced on social media yesterday he will not be returning to play this season. Lundqvist said he’s making progress since undergoing heart surgery in January but it will be a few more months before he’s fully recovered.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks plan to open their practice facility was postponed to Monday after sidelined forward Jay Beagle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Canucks are scheduled to return to action on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed winger Nikita Gusev to a prorated one-year, $1 million contract. Gusev became an unrestricted free agent on April 10 after his contract with the New Jersey Devils was terminated.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Nashville Predators forward Michael McCarron two games for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm would be a good fit with the Bruins as they need an experienced left-side defenseman but their anemic secondary scoring is their priority. LeBrun’s colleague Murat Ates believes Columbus’ David Savard would be the ideal addition in Winnipeg but Ekholm would do if Savard isn’t obtainable.
Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell (NHL Images).
Rakell has a year left on his contract with a $3.79 million cap hit. LeBrun suggests he’d be a worthwhile replacement for Zach Hyman if the Leafs fail to re-sign him. I agree with LeBrun that he’d be a step up talent-wise over the Predators Mikael Granlund, who’s been linked to Toronto for some time. Granlund wouldn’t cost as many assets as Rakell but the latter would be a better option if the Leafs are all-in this year.
Rittich is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Flames falter then he could become expendable at the deadline.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes the New York Islanders could seek a top-six forward such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri if captain Anders Lee remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Placing Lee ($7 million annual average value) on long-term injury reserve would provide some salary-cap relief to make a significant addition if they wish. More affordable rental options could include Mikael Granlund, Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know how long Lee will be out or which players the notoriously secretive Lou Lamoriello might pursue. Nevertheless, the Isles GM could be active in the trade market if Lee is out until the playoffs.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks speculated the Stars would become sellers if they don’t improve over the next two-to-three weeks. The most obvious trade candidates are players on expiring contracts such as Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau and Jamie Oleksiak. He doubts they’ll fetch much, “maybe a mid-round pick”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Stars moving Klingberg at the trade deadline but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a Khudobin trade for the right offer. However, they could wait until the offseason and shop him before the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets could consider moving Merzlikins for the right price but I don’t think they’re in any rush to do so. He won’t become eligible for UFA status until next summer so they’ve got plenty of time to field offers if they want to go that route.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman report Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry “might be up for a change of scenery.” He said he’s hearing conversations about whether or not he might be moved.
The latest on Taylor Hall, Semyon Varlamov, Mikael Granlund, Evgeni Malkin, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman believes the Arizona Coyotes offered Taylor Hall a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $7.25 million. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).
Friedman doesn’t think that’s their final offer. He also feels situation means as much to Hall as anything. He noted rumors are linking the Coyotes to former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli but doesn’t see that happening while re-signing Hall is an option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s market value before the pandemic was considered between $9 – $10 million annually. The Coyotes’ offer could reflect the new economic landscape even if it is an opening pitch. Assuming they’re willing to pay much more, Hall must believe the Coyotes are poised to become a perennial playoff club before agreeing to sign. He’s appeared in only one post-season round during his career.
Chiarelli traded Hall to New Jersey in 2016. That move didn’t sit well at the time with the winger.
Friedman wondered if the Edmonton Oilers can find room to squeeze Andreas Athanasiou into their tight cap space. The winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the off-season. Athanasiou’s performance in the upcoming tournament could determine his number.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is earning $3 million AAV on his current contract. Even if the winger plays well, Oilers GM Ken Holland could try to convince him to accept a one-year deal for the same AAV with the promise of a better deal after next season.
New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss is a UFA at season’s end while Semyon Varlamov still has term on his contract. If Greiss outplays Varlamov in the upcoming tournament, Friedman wonders if the Isles might attempt to re-sign him to a friendlier deal and try to trade Varlamov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but Varlamov is seen as a mentor for promising young Ilya Sorokin, who recently signed an entry-level deal with the Isles. Despite their cap constraints, I think the Isles intend to go with Varlamov and Sorokin as their tandem next season.
Friedman wondered if Mikael Granlund can ramp up his value in the upcoming tournament. The Nashville Predators winger is a UFA at season’s end and is a talented player during a time of fiscal tightness.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund struggled after joining the Predators in a trade with Minnesota late last season. However, his play improved once John Hynes took over as head coach in January. A solid performance in the playoff tournament could bolster his free-agent value.
The Florida Panthers are expected to cut payroll next season. Friedman notes wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are due to become unrestricted free agents in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their tournament play could determine whether they get re-signed by the Panthers. Even then, they might only attempt to keep one of them. How much they’re seeking on their next contracts will also be a factor.
Friedman will also be watching the goaltending situations in Pittsburgh and Calgary. Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents. GM Jim Rutherford hinted there are ways to move around some money to re-sign both goalies. Meanwhile, the play of Flames netminders David Rittich and Cam Talbot will determine whether management tries something bold between the pipes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has proven he can make moves to free up sufficient cap room to acquire or retain key players and keep his Penguins among the Stanley Cup contenders. It’ll be interesting to see what he does under a flat cap this time around.
Rittich has yet to establish himself as a reliable NHL starter. Talbot is a UFA at the end of this season and could seek a starter’s role elsewhere if the Flames remain committed to Rittich.
Rutherford was also asked if there will be any trade rumors involving Evgeni Malkin this summer. “Only if somebody makes them up,” he replied.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ok, folks, let’s see your best Malkin trade rumor in the comments section. They can’t be any worse than some we’ve seen over the years.
Game recaps, Avalanche coach accuses Stars of cheating in the faceoff circle, All-Star Game updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Zack Smith scored twice and Patrick Kane picked up his 998th career point as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. The Blackhawks (50 points) kept their playoff hopes alive by moving within four points of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane netted his 998th career point in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).
Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek scored in overtime as his club edged the St. Louis Blues 4-3, snapping the latter’s nine-game home winning streak. The Blues rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra period. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart missed last night’s game against the Blues with an abdominal strain. He’s expected to be sidelined two-to-three weeks.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar accused the Dallas Stars of cheating in the faceoff circle. Singling out Stars centers Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin, Bednar claimed they do a better job cheating on faceoffs than the Avs do. “We don’t feel like the linesmen were doing a good enough job (Tuesday), sort of holding (the respective teams) accountable to make it a level playing field on the faceoffs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams cheating in the faceoff circle is an ongoing issue. The league has attempted to address this in the past and could revisit the problem.
CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender David Rittich will replace sidelined Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Flames, Sportsnet’s Eric Francis believes Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have to fight Milan Lucic when the two clubs face each other on Jan. 29. This stems from Kassian’s recent on-ice altercation with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the fallout from that incident (including Kassian receiving a two-game suspension) and the anticipation for the next game between the two clubs, the league could attempt to diffuse this situation before the home-and-home series at month’s end.
The Oilers, meanwhile, re-signed defenseman Caleb Jones to a two-year, $1.7-million contract.
THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte revealed he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. “It’s not necessarily about telling my story,” Motte said. “It’s about to help that one person or those handful of people that need to know they’re not alone in it.”
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Former Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman suited up in goalie gear and took shots from Alex Ovechkin during a recent Washington Capitals practice.