The Myth of the NHL Offer Sheet Continues…
What next for the Lightning after re-signing Mikhail Sergachev? What effect will the end of Johnny Boychuk’s career have upon the Islanders’ cap space? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains confident he’ll get restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak under contract after re-signing defenseman Mikhail Sergachev yesterday.
Sergachev’s new contract puts the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.9 million. BriseBois acknowledged he’ll have to move players to free up sufficient cap space to sign Cirelli and Cernak. “There’s a lot of progress being made,” he said. “We’re working on a bunch of different fronts, there’s a lot of balls up in the air. Nothing has materialized yet.”
Smith believes the Sergachev signing suggests the Lightning GM has a move in place or in the works to clear cap space. Winger Tyler Johnson is the top trade candidate. He’s provided BriseBois with a list of eight or nine preferred trade destinations but Smith said things are quiet on the Johnson front.
Winger Alex Killorn could be another trade candidate. He’s got three years left on his contract with a $4.45 million annual average value and a modified no-trade clause.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also listed Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat as Lightning trade options. They’ll have more trade value than Johnson and Killorn but they’re also better players. He also wonders if they’d consider moving Cirelli or another player with a big contract though neither option seems ideal.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy speculates BriseBois will likely have to package Johnson with another asset to move him and his $5 million AAV off their books.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois didn’t need to rush to sign Sergachev. Perhaps he got wind of another club thinking about signing the young blueliner to an offer sheet. That doesn’t seem to be the case if Sergachev’s comments about wanting to retire in Tampa are anything to go by.
The Lightning GM could indeed have a deal in the works to move Johnson or someone else like Killorn. I doubt he trades Gourde or Palat. He won’t want to take on additional salary in return so a sweetener like a high draft pick and/or top prospect will have to be packaged with Johnson.
It’s been a while since a notable trade was made. The last occurred on Oct. 12 when the Vegas Golden Knights shipped Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks. BriseBois could wait until confirmation for the start of this season is finally released by the league.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz looked at what’s ahead for the New York Islanders’ offseason after Johnny Boychuk announced his playing career is over because of an eye injury.
His decision clears the way for the Isles to signed restricted free agent center Mathew Barzal. The Isles have $3.9 million in cap space but can exceed the $81.5 million cap by the equivalent of Boychuk’s $6 million annual average value. It could also provide room for their rumored pending deals with winger Matt Martin, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider.
The end of Boychuk’s career is a further blow to the Islanders defense corps after trading away Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche several weeks ago in a cost-cutting move. Gretz wonders if Isles GM Lou Lamoriello would’ve made that move had he known what would happen to Boychuk.
Bringing back Greene could help their blueline and promising Noah Dobson is waiting in the wings. UFA options include Zdeno Chara, Sami Vatanen, Ben Hutton or Slater Koekkoek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The priority is signing Barzal. As Gretz points out, however, his new contract will bite deeply into that additional cap space.
Lamoriello will try to keep that as low as possible. Gretz suggests $7 million annually for Barzal would be the low end but the Isles GM could try to push that down to $6 million on a short-term deal with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.
He’ll need to keep it at the low end if he’s already got contracts lined up for Martin, Greene and Schneider. Failing that, he’ll have to consider a cost-cutting trade or burying someone like Andrew Ladd in the minors.
An eye injury ends Johnny Boychuk’s playing career, the Lightning re-sign Mikhail Sergachev, the latest return-to-play news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK POST: A gruesome eye injury suffered during the 2019-20 season has prematurely ended the playing career of Johnny Boychuk. The 36-year-old New York Islanders defenseman suffered poor peripheral vision and optic nerve damage from two separate incidents that would make it unsafe to continue his 13-year career.
The Islanders, however, have not announced Boychuk as retired, meaning he’ll likely go on long-term injury reserve. That will allow the Isles to exceed their accruable cap space limit by the $6 million annual average value on his contract, which expires at the end of 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Boychuk in his future endeavors. He collected 206 points in 725 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins and the Islanders, winning the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011.
According to Cap Friendly, the Isles have just $3.9 million in salary-cap space. Placing Boychuk on LTIR will free up sufficient space to sign restricted free agent center Mathew Barzal.
For those of you wondering why Boychuk hasn’t retired outright, it would mean forfeiting the remaining salary on his contract.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday re-signed Mikhail Sergachev to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $4.8 million. The 22-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sergachev has rapidly blossomed into one of the Lightning’s top defensemen whose best seasons are still ahead of him. He’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the end of it.
The deal is also structured to pay him more in the final season when league revenue is expected to improve. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll get $2.4 million in actual salary this season, $4.8 million in 2021-22 and $7.2 million in 2022-23. It’ll cost the Lightning big bucks to qualify his rights and re-sign him at the end of this deal.
Sergachev’s new contract also pushes the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.9 million. They must also sign center Anthony Cirelli and blueliner Erik Cernak. I’ll have more about their possible moves to become cap compliant in today’s Rumor Mill.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman haven’t spoken since last Thursday. He believes that speaks to how the players feel about the league’s requests for increases to the salary deferral/escrow rates. LeBrun thinks there’s still time to salvage this but next week could be crucial.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun could be referring to starting the season by the proposed date of Jan. 1. I think the time’s run out for that. However, there’s an ongoing belief among the punditry that the two sides will work something out to start up the season by late January or early February.
THE SCORE: Team Canada is halting its World Junior selection camp and entering a 14-day quarantine period after two players tested positive for COVID-19. Workouts and meetings will be conducted via video call while scrimmages for the weekend are canceled. The 2021 World Junior Championship is slated to begin on Christmas Day in a bubble environment in Edmonton similar to that used by the NHL for the 2020 playoffs.
SPORTSNET: A memorial fund for the late Joey Moss raised nearly $1 million through a 50/50 raffle. Moss, the long-time dressing room attendant for the Edmonton Oilers and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, passed away in October at age 57.
The latest on the Jets and Lightning in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports a recent poll of Jets fans reveals they don’t want their club to move Patrik Laine, they would prefer if Jack Roslovic was traded, and management should have another season to get things right.
Laine, 22, is rumored to be on the trade block as he enters the final season of his contract. It could prove difficult re-signing him, but almost 80 percent of Jets fans surveyed believe he shouldn’t be traded. 75 percent want the Jets to re-sign him though most wouldn’t want to overspend to do so.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will have to overspend if they want to keep Laine. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights who’ll demand a big raise, especially if he regains his 40-goal form. The current economic uncertainty facing the NHL might work in the Jets’ favor. Nevertheless, there could be a club willing to pay Laine whatever he wants that could be willing to meet the Jets’ asking price in the trade market.
Almost 60 percent of Jets fans believe the club should trade Roslovic. He’s reportedly been shopped in recent weeks in an attempt to land a top-four defenseman. Just over 50 percent would like to see Sami Niku traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic is believed to be unhappy with his current role and prefers regular top-six minutes. The 23-year-old is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or on right wing.
He’s currently a restricted free agent without arbitration rights who’s likely to get an affordable short-term bridge contract. The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move him. That could change if they get a suitable offer from a team with depth in defenseman seeking an affordable young forward with upside.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading a bad contract, like Tyler Johnson’s $5 million annual average value, for a bad contract with a lower AAV. He doubts that happens as the Lightning must clear around $10 million in cap space.
Smith can’t confirm if it would cost the Bolts a first-round pick to move Johnson but he feels they’ll have to add a sweetener. He also doesn’t get the sense Johnson has expanded his list of trade destinations beyond 8 – 9 clubs.
Smith said Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is working the phones seeking cost-cutting deals. However, the market is quiet right now because of the flattened cap and uncertainty over the start of the season.
While they could start the season with one of their restricted free agents (Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak) still unsigned, Smith feels they’ll get them signed before then. He also hasn’t heard anything suggesting a rival club could attempt to sign one of them to an offer sheet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s efforts to clear cap space by moving someone like Johnson to re-sign those RFAs will likely increase once the start of the season has been confirmed. For now, there’s no reason to rush into anything. If the season begins sometime in January, expect business to pick up in December.