NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week
The Jets are reportedly close to acquiring Paul Stastny, Justin Williams retires, the Canadiens re-sign Josh Anderson, the Devils buy out Cory Schneider, and much more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck cites sources claiming the Jets are working on a trade that would bring Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg. Stastny was briefly part of the Jets in 2017-18, helping them reach the Western Conference Final before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights as a free agent. It’s believed the Jets will take on his full $6.5 million salary-cap hit on the final year of his three-year contract, with the two clubs also swapping draft picks.
**UPDATE** TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Stastny to Winnipeg for a 2022 fourth rounder and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Stastny could address the Jets’ need for a second-line center. That suggests sidelined center Bryan Little’s status for next season remains in doubt while putting to rest the trade speculation swirling about winger Patrik Laine.
It will also signal the Golden Knights are shedding salary to be busy in the free-agent market, which opens at noon ET today. The move could also be an indicator of the difficulty the Golden Knights are having trying to move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a cost-cutting deal.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams announced his retirement yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Williams and his family in his future endeavors. He spent 19 seasons in the NHL with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the Canes in 2006 and two Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the latter run, earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” by holding the record for most points (15) in Game 7 situations. In 1,264 games, Williams tallied 320 goals and 797 points. He also had 41 goals and 102 points in 162 playoff games.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Two days after acquiring winger Josh Anderson, the Canadiens re-signed him to a seven-year, $38.5-million contract. The annual average value is $5.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a hefty new contract for a 26-year-old winger who’s yet to suit up for the Canadiens, has one good season (27 goals, 47 points in 2018-19) and missed most of last season to a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.
General manager Marc Bergevin envisions the 6’3”, 222-pounder as a power forward. This will be seen as a worthwhile investment if Anderson has fully recovered from his surgery and plays up to expectation. Otherwise, it’ll provide additional fodder for Bergevin critics and turn up the pressure on Habs ownership to fire their GM.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out his contract. Schneider, 34, lost the starter’s job to Mackenzie Blackwood. He has two years left on his contract worth $6 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider was among the NHL’s top goalies from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Injuries, however, hampered his performance in recent years. His buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Devils’ cap through 2023-24.
NJ.COM: The Devils also acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray is a skilled defenseman plagued by injuries for most of his career. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.6 million. If he stays healthy he could be a worthwhile addition to the Devils’ blueline. They still have over $25 million in salary-cap space and could use some of it in the upcoming free-agent market.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets also traded defenseman Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers for minor-league forward Cliff Pu. Nutivaara, 26, has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $2.7 million.
THE SCORE: The Jackets also placed center Alexander Wennberg on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout. The 26-year-old has three years left on his contract worth $4.9 million AAV. For buyout purposes, however, he’ll be considered 25 as that’s what his age would’ve been during a normal regular season when the buyout period would be in June. That means his buyout will be calculated at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.
NHL.COM: The Jackets also re-signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The moves leave the Jackets with $14.2 million in cap space, more than enough to re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and perhaps leave enough for an addition or two via trade or free agency.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Long time Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is heading to the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford spent 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, 10 of those as their starting goalie. He backstopped them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) but has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. Expect the Blackhawks to seek his replacement via trade or free agency.
SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. He has a year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another short-term pickup by the Senators to take some pressure off their developing young defensemen. The Ducks, meanwhile, have $4.47 million in cap space and will get an additional $6.875 million in wiggle room should Ryan Kesler remain on long-term injury reserve.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Goaltender Tuukka Rask said he doesn’t want to play for anyone but the Bruins. Rask’s name recently surfaced in trade rumors, prompting GM Don Sweeney to claim the goalie is a “big part of the roster going forward.” Rask is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.
TSN: The Dallas Stars lifted the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness, who is expected to sign a new contract with the club.
SPORTSNET: The Stars also released a lengthy list of their injured players following the Stanley Cup playoffs. Among the notables was Jamie Benn (shoulder surgery before the schedule was paused), Tyler Seguin (knee, torn labrum), Ben Bishop (knee surgery in May), Roope Hintz (fractured ankle) and Anton Khudobin (arm surgery).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin received criticism for his offensive struggles during the postseason. This is yet another reminder that an NHL player failing to play up to expectations in playoff action is usually nursing an injury that would sideline athletes in other sports.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are close to re-signing forward Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract worth around $2 million per season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Sam Lafferty to a two-year contract with an AAV of $750K.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Noah Juulsen to a one-year, two-way contract.
10 Buyouts this year, list below w/ the # of years remaining on deals:
-Jack Johnson (3)
-Bobby Ryan (2)https://t.co/Ihwb2PUs3N
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) October 8, 2020
Entering the second day of the 2020 Draft, here’s a look at the latest trade and free agent speculation in the NHL rumor mill.
EKMAN-LARSSON SETS TRADE DEADLINE
THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the agent for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will stick with the Arizona Coyotes if a trade to the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks doesn’t materialize by Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t give Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong much time to hammer out a deal with the Bruins or Canucks. It could also affect what type of return he could get. Depending on how much pressure Armstrong’s getting from Coyotes ownership to move Ekman-Larsson’s contract, he could end up getting a lot less than he hoped.
Coyotes insider Craig Morgan believes Armstrong seeks a combination of draft picks and prospects for Ekman-Larsson. He cites two sources claiming Armstrong sought goalie Thatcher Demko as part of the return from the Canucks but that’s a non-starter. Morgan also noted the Bruins have two good young players in winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Brandon Carlo that could interest the Coyotes if they’re looking to do more than just shed salary and look for a brighter future down the road.
LAINE LINKED TO FLYERS
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall notes the latest trade speculation linking the Flyers to Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine but he thinks we should pump the brakes on that speculation. He believes it could cost the Flyers a good young defenseman such as Travis Sanheim or Philippe Myers or possibly a good young center off their roster or in their system. The economic uncertainty facing the league going forward could also make it difficult for the Flyers to re-sign Laine, who’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher probably inquired into Laine’s availability but he could face paying a steep price. The Jets need a second-line center and a top-four defenseman and the asking price for Laine could include one or both of those pieces. The young sniper could also seek a significant raise over his current $6.75 million cap hit.
LATEST ON STAMKOS AND JOHNSON
TSN: Pierre LeBrun acknowledged the speculation that Steven Stamkos isn’t listed among the Tampa Bay Lightning’s untouchables. However, he considers it unlikely Stamkos will be moved, citing his expensive contract (with a full no-movement clause) and his value to the Lightning as their captain.
However, the Lightning are pressing on with other possible moves. LeBrun reports Tyler Johnson’s agent has presented general manager Julien BriseBois with five or six teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for, though nothing is currently imminent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Stamkos is traded. Johnson, on the other hand, sounds more of a trade possibility now that he’s provided Bolts management with a list of preferred trade destinations. Now BriseBois has to determine if any of those teams are interested in Johnson, who has four years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million. The Lightning are looking to shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev.
UPDATES ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Frank Seravalli reports moving goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the No.1 priority for the Vegas Golden Knights. GM Kelly McCrimmon is trying to shed salary and he’s been engaged with a number of teams (including the Carolina Hurricanes) to act as a third party to take on some of Fleury’s salary to facilitate a trade to another club. The Golden Knights are willing to offer up a second-round pick to that third team if they’ll eat up to half of Fleury’s salary, but Seravalli believes that price would have to be a first- and a second-round pick.
Seravalli also reported the Golden Knights had had trade talks regarding defenseman Nate Schmidt over the weekend. They could also consider moving Paul Stastny or Jonathan Marchessault.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could have an easier time moving Schmidt, Stastny or Marchessault than they would shipping out Fleury if it takes a three-way trade to do so. Trying to put together that deal would be a complicated endeavor at the best of times. It’s more difficult now under a flattened salary cap. The Golden Knights will either have to add more sweeteners or pick up part of Fleury’s salary themselves and then make another cost-cutting move involving a different player.
IN OTHER RUMORS…
LeBrun said he’s keeping an eye on Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday and is likely headed to market. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are said to be interested in Simmonds for the right price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun claimed the Canadiens were still interested in Simmonds despite the acquisition yesterday of Josh Anderson. The right price could be a one-year contract worth around $1.5 million.
Seravalli also wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will buy out center Alexander Wennberg before the contract buyout window closes at 5 pm ET on Thursday. A buyout would save the Blue Jackets $10.7 million in actual cash and $4.46 million in cap savings over the next three years.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Craig Custance reporting Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli is likely headed to the UFA market on Friday.
Hearing CHI/PIT had Matt Murray conversations and the Blackhawks had permission to discuss an extension. Things did not work out, so everyone continues examining their options.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 5, 2020
What next for the Golden Knights following their playoff elimination? How are Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks going? What’s the latest on the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Vegas Golden Knights must sort out their goaltending drama. Marc-Andre Fleury was supplanted in the starting goaltender role by Robin Lehner. Wyshynski reported a source claimed Lehner and the Golden Knights have a handshake agreement on a five-year contract extension. He wondered if the Golden Knights are prepared to invest a lot of money in Fleury and Lehner, or if Fleury even wants to stay.
Wyshynski also believes they should reexamine the center position, pointing out Paul Stastny is no longer a reliable second-line center. Unless Chandler Stephenson or Cody Glass can develop into that role, Wyshynski feels they should consider addressing that issue, potentially by moving out Stastny and his $6.5-million cap hit.
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculates a new contract for Lehner could be a five-year, $25-million deal. With over $76.5 million invested in next year’s payroll, they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Lehner and restricted free agents like Stephenson and Nick Cousins. He also suggests Fleury as a trade candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the 35-year-old Fleury is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $7 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Even if he agrees to narrow that list, his cap hit and age could make him difficult to move given the current economic conditions and the flooded market for goaltenders.
I’m not saying Fleury can’t be traded. However, the Golden Knights might have to pick up part of that cap hit or perhaps bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect to facilitate a deal.
Stastny has one year left on his contract. Like Fleury, he has a 10-team no-trade list. At 34, he’s no longer as effective as he once was. His age and cap hit could also be a sticking point but having just one year left on his contract might make him a little easier to move.
PIETRANGELO DISAPPOINTED IN PROGRESS OF CONTRACT TALKS
THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Alex Pietrangelo has found it “a little disappointing” that he and the St. Louis Blues haven’t reached an agreement yet on a new contract. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
Pietrangelo indicated there hasn’t been much progress in contract discussions. While he wants to stay in St. Louis, he understands the difficulty the Blues face re-signing him with just $5 million in salary-cap space. “I think you have to be willing to accept the fact that there may be a change one day,” said Pietrangelo. “Whether it happens or not, it certainly changes your mindset and makes things a little easier if you ever get to that point.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo would prefer staying in St. Louis because his wife is from there and they’ve raised a family there. However, he also noted a number of players have moved on after spending most of their careers in one city. It sounds like he and his wife are preparing for that possibility. There’s still enough time for Pietrangelo and the Blues to hammer out a deal, but that’ll depend upon his asking price and how much cap space they can free up.
LeBrun listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Pietrangelo if he hits the open market. He acknowledged those three clubs have salary-cap issues but didn’t rule out one of them trying to find a way to sign the Blues captain.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl noted a recent report by TSN indicating the Buffalo Sabres could have an internal salary cap in the $70-million range. He suggested selling low on defenseman Brandon Montour, find a taker for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, and perhaps re-sign some of their restricted free agents to cost-effective one-year deals with the promise of raises next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres currently have over $48.2 million committed to 10 players. Vogl points out re-signing key RFAs like Montour, goalie Linus Ullmark, and forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Dominik Kahun could cost a combined $24.5 million, pushing them over $70 million and leaving little room for additions.
Moving Montour for a draft pick and perhaps a prospect will help. Vogl noted they couldn’t find an acceptable for Ristolainen and his $5.4-million cap hit plus head coach Ralph Krueger likes the blueliner’s game.
Check out some recent Golden Knights and Ducks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HOW CAN THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS RE-SIGN LEHNER?
NHL.COM: Danny Webster reports Robin Lehner hopes to speak with Vegas Golden Knights’ management soon about re-signing a new contract. Acquired at the February trade deadline, the 28-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
“I’m sure we’ll have some discussions (with general manager Kelly McCrimmon) after the season and see what happens,” said Lehner on Wednesday. He added he’s had a really good impression about the team in his short time with them.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger recently examined how a flat salary cap of $81.5 million will affect the Vegas Golden Knights. They already have over $75 million committed to next season’s payroll with 16 players under contract.
The Golden Knights cannot afford to make expensive additions as they’ve done in their short history. They must instead improve their roster with younger, cheaper options. It will also make it difficult to retain Lehner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s status gave rise to speculation suggesting the Golden Knights could attempt to trade Fleury if Lehner outplays him in the upcoming playoff tournament. Easier said than done. Fleury, 35, carries a 10-team no-trade list plus an annual average value of $7 million through 2021-22.
If McCrimmon wants to keep both goalies, he’ll have to slash salary elsewhere to free up sufficient space. Assuming Lehner signs for $6 million annually, it would mean shopping someone like Paul Stastny ($6.5 million AAV through 2020-21, 10-team no-trade) or William Karlsson ($5.9 million through 2026-27, with a 10-team no-trade kicking in next season). Considering how many other clubs are affected by a flat cap, finding takers for either guy could prove difficult.
Other trade options could include wingers Reilly Smith or Jonathan Marchessault. Both carry $5 million AAVs beyond next season with modified no-trade clauses. Young winger Alex Tuch ($4.75 million through 2025-26) lacks no-trade protection and has power-forward potential, though injury hampered his performance this season.
RECENT DUCKS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag, Eric Stephens was asked if the Anaheim Ducks should move players like Josh Manson, Jakob Silfverberg, or Adam Henrique for picks or to move up in this year’s draft.
Stephens doesn’t see that happening, pointing to GM Bob Murray’s belief that the team is much better than it showed last season. Nevertheless, he believes Murray should at least listen on offers for Manson, who needs a bounce-back season. If promising Trevor Zegras is ready, perhaps an Henrique deal will be considered.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson would attract attention if he hits the trade block. He carries an affordable $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22, but also a 12-team no-trade list. For the right offer (a scoring forward), perhaps Murray would consider it, provided it from one of the clubs on Manson’s list of preferred destinations.
The latest Jets speculation plus an update on Oilers’ winger Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE JETS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Murat Ates was asked if the Winnipeg Jets might bring back Paul Stastny, who briefly skated with them in 2018 before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights. Stastny spent part of this season on the third line.
Despite the recent decline in Stastny’s ice-time and production and his $6.5 million annual average value, Ates still believes he’d have value as a second-line center. Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he believes the Jets would have to shed salary to take on Stastny’s contract.
Asked about how general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff plans to restock the defense corps, Ates speculated re-signing Dylan DeMelo is a priority and sign a veteran blueliner for the top four, perhaps from among their own UFAs. He doubts Cheveldayoff will pursue a big-ticket rearguard this year because they’re currently well-positioned to survive next year’s Seattle expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $73.3 million invested in 15 players next season, the Golden Knights could be forced to dump some salary. Stastny could become a cap casualty. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list, but the Jets might not be on it. As Ates pointed out, Stastny waived his no-trade on his last contract to accept a trade to Winnipeg.
Ates noted the Jets have sufficient cap space to re-sign all their restricted free agents, re-up DeMelo for $3.5 million, and have over $4 million remaining. He’s right when he said they’ll have to shed salary to bring back Stastny or acquire someone similar. Asking the Golden Knights to pick up part of his cap hit could involve parting with an extra draft pick or someone like Jack Roslovic.
Perhaps Cheveldayoff envisions Roslovic moving into the second-line center role to start next season. He could see how the 23-year-old center performs in that role before looking outside the organization to fill that spot.
UPDATE ON PULJUJARVI
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports hearing some NHL clubs kicked the tires on Jesse Puljujarvi but the Oilers never heard anything close to fair market value. A recent report out of Finland indicating Puljujarvi isn’t ruling out returning to the Oilers had Leavins speculating the 22-year-old winger may have realized he received some bad advice about requesting a trade.
EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson also weighed in on Puljujarvi’s apparent change of heart. He said the Oilers still consider him a third-line winger until he proves he’s better. Puljujarvi reportedly showed some maturity in his play this season in Finland. If Puljujarvi returns to the Oilers, Matheson believes it’ll be on a one-year, $874K qualifying offer. Otherwise, he could be looking at options in Finland, the KHL, or perhaps Sweden or Switzerland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Puljujarvi returns to the Oilers, he’ll have to start as a third-line and earn top-six minutes as the season progresses. He still has plenty of time to develop into the scoring winger he was projected to become. How he fares is up to him now.
As for fair market value in a trade, the Oilers won’t get a first-round pick if Puljujarvi’s seen as a third-liner. It might be best for both sides for him to return next season and see how things unfold. If he finally blossoms into a scorer, it will improve his trade value if he still wants out of Edmonton. If he wants to stay, he’ll provide an additional boost to the Oilers’ offensive depth.