NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins
Could the Penguins make a trade to offset the loss of Jake Guentzel? Could the Blackhawks use their newly-gained salary-cap space to bolster their roster for the rest of the season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS OPTIONS TO OFFSET GUENTZEL’S ABSENCE
THE ATHLETIC: With high-scoring Jake Guentzel sidelined four-to-six months by a shoulder injury, Rob Rossi examined some creative ways the Pittsburgh Penguins could offset the winger’s absence. By placing Guentzel on long-term injury reserve, they have an additional $6 million to bolster their roster. General manager Jim Rutherford has said he’ll probably wait until the Feb. 24 trade deadline to make any moves.
Rossi speculates Rutherford could shop his first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, suggesting New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider could be his top trade target. With Tristan Jarry playing well and Casey DeSmith in the minors, Rossi also suggested shopping goaltender Matt Murray, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. That could be a risky move if Jarry’s current hot performance should cool over the second half of the schedule.
Free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk is another option, but Rossi claims Rutherford isn’t interested.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Penguins continue playing well, Rutherford could take his time and evaluate the trade market leading up to the deadline. They’ll get a big boost when sidelined captain Sidney Crosby returns to the lineup soon. Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer, so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll look into making a move or two in the coming weeks.
WILL THE BLACKHAWKS USE THEIR CAP SPACE TO BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER?
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield notes the Blackhawks have an additional $10 million at their disposal with defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan sidelined for the remainder of the season. As their salaries go back to counting against the Blackhawks cap payroll next season, the Blackhawks would have to pursue players on expiring contracts.
Greenfield suggested Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, or New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen as possibilities. He also pointed out the Blackhawks aren’t trading promising youngsters Kirby Dach or Adam Boqvist, and they probably won’t move their first-rounder. They also lack a second-round pick in the 2020 draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That lack of tradeable assets could make it difficult for the Blackhawks to get into the bidding for a decent playoff rental player. That’s assuming they’re still in the postseason chase by next month’s trade deadline. If they fail to gain ground in the standings by the end of this month, I doubt GM Stan Bowman will become a major buyer.
While Sabres veteran Dman, Zach Bogosian requested a trade, Buffalo forward Evan Rodrigues has also made his interests in a trade known. His name has been out there for awhile.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 31, 2019
The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2019 is officially inducted, the three stars of the week, Cory Schneider on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The six newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame were officially inducted on Monday night in Toronto. Entering the Hall are former NHL stars Sergei Zubov and Guy Carbonneau, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, hockey pioneers Hayley Wickenheiser and Vaclav Nedomansky, and Boston College coach Jerry York.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Class of 2019. I was touched by Wickenheiser’s induction speech in which she spoke of the difficulties and resistance she overcame as a girl playing hockey in the 1980s. She remains a role model for thousands of aspiring female hockey players.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson extended his points streak to seven games with two assists in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 15th goal of the season. Washington winger Garnet Hathaway could face supplemental discipline after being ejected for spitting on Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson following their on-ice scrap.
Antti Raanta turned in a 31-save shutout as the Arizona Coyotes downed the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Conor Garland tallied his team-leading 10th goal of the season and added an assist.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle are the NHL stars for the week ending Nov.17, 2019.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on waivers and recalled Louis Domingue. Given his $6 million annual salary-cap hit on a contract that runs through 2021-22, it’s unlikely anyone will claim him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils will get very little salary-cap relief with this move. They’re painting this as a way for Schneider to see more playing time and regain his once-stellar form. He’s been hampered by injuries in recent years, taking a toll on his performance.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Kyle Okposo has suffered his fourth concussion since joining the club in 2016 and his second in this calendar year. The club also announced Tage Thompson is sidelined three-to-five weeks with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report reminds us Okposo was hospitalized in 2017 due to post-concussion symptoms and reaction to medication. Given the frequency of his head trauma, it might be time to seriously consider retirement. Here’s hoping he makes a quick recovery from his latest injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens will be without two key forwards for a lengthy period. Jonathan Drouin underwent wrist surgery while Paul Byron will require knee surgery. Drouin’s agent claims his client will be sidelined eight weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will feel their absence. Drouin was off to his best start since joining the Habs in 2017 with 15 points in 19 games. Byron, meanwhile, is among their best-skilled two-way forwards.
SPORTING NEWS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. He’s undergoing concussion protocol since being struck in the head by a shot from Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson on Saturday. He has not yet been diagnosed with a concussion.
Game recaps, injury updates, Penguins sign GM Jim Rutherford to an extension, Paul Martin retires, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks finally won a game under new head coach Jeremy Colliton by edging the St. Louis Blues 1-0. The victory snapped an eight-game winless skid, which included Colliton’s first three games behind the Blackhawks’ bench. Corey Crawford made 28 saves and Brent Seabrook tallied the only goal.
Ben Chiarot tallied the game-winner as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1. The Capitals were without goaltender Braden Holtby, who was a pre-game scratch because of an upper-body injury. Forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie left the game having suffered possible concussions. Kuznetsov was clipped in the head by Brandon Tanev’s elbow in the first period while Oshie was slammed to the ice by Josh Morrissey in the last minute of the game.
Five consecutive goals (including four in the third period) rallied the Colorado Avalanche from a 3-1 deficit to down the Boston Bruins 6-3. Avs winger Mikko Rantanen tallied a goal and two assists. Jake DeBrusk scored twice for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Zdeno Chara to an apparent leg injury.
Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 29 shots and Cody Eakin scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Anaheim Ducks 5-0. The Ducks also learned defenseman Cam Fowler will undergo surgery on Friday after being struck in the face by a puck on Monday. Earlier in the day, the Golden Knights announced forward Erik Haula is considered month-to-month with a lower-body (knee) injury.
Prior to trading Carl Hagelin to the Los Angeles Kings yesterday for Tanner Pearson, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford agreed to a three-year contract extension.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Penguins, Sidney Crosby skipped practice yesterday with an upper-body injury.
THE SCORE: Former NHL defenseman Paul Martin announced his retirement. In 14 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and San Jose Sharks, Martin tallied 320 points in 870 games. In 2015-16, he helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Martin and his family in his future endeavors.
Thornton and Hertl re-signing with Sharks among latest notable signings. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Thornton’s deal doesn’t contain any bonuses. It’s a straightforward $5 million. His salary is a significant drop from last season’s $8 million ($6.75 million base plus bonuses) but unsurprising given his age (39), recent knee surgeries and his willingness to stay in San Jose.
Cap Friendly indicates Hertl’s new deal is worth an annual average value of $5.625 million, a big raise over his previous salary of $3 million annually. It’s a shorter term than perhaps he would’ve preferred, but given his injury history, it’s understandable why the Sharks were reluctant to invest in a lengthier deal.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey scolds Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for suggesting the reason the Columbus Blue Jackets, former team of new Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson, scratched the blueliner was for reasons other than on-ice performance.
Rutherford’s remarks, and those of Johnson expressing his happiness over joining a team with a winning culture, prompted angry rebuttals from Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella and GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Johnson claimed he meant no offense by his comments and apologized to the Jackets organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Starkey also chided Tortorella for not being the bigger man in this situation and ignoring those remarks. If anything, this back-and-forth will only stoke the ongoing rivalry between the two clubs.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers owner James Dolan denied reports claiming he’s looking to sell the club and his other sports franchises.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was granted a dismissal of his misdemeanor domestic abuse conviction, potentially paving the way for his return to the NHL. He can now request a reinstatement hearing with league commissioner Gary Bettman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if Bettman grants Voynov’s reinstatement, the blueliner could have a difficult time landing with a new NHL club. While some general managers could be interested in his on-ice skills, the baggage from his domestic assault conviction could be a potential public-relations nightmare.
THE TENNESSEAN: The head district attorney handling a criminal charge of domestic assault leveled at Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has recused herself because of her upcoming wedding to Gerry Helper, the team’s senior vice president and senior adviser.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday signed UFA winger Carter Rowney to a three-year deal worth $3.4 million.
NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed forward J.T. Brown to a two-year, $1.375-million deal.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, $865K contract.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders signed forward Tom Kuhnhackl to a one-year, $650K deal.
NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators signed forward Zac Rinaldo to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level.