The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)
A look at 10 supposedly untradeable contracts in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Noting the recent Milan Lucic trade, Ken Campbell feels no NHL contract is truly “untradeable” anymore. Nevertheless, he provides a list of 10 players with seemingly unmoveable deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, Campbell isn’t saying the following contracts can’t be traded. It would be difficult to move them, but a bit of creativity and a willing trade partner could make it happen. He also looked at contracts with four-or-more seasons remaining. That’s why Loui Eriksson isn’t on this list.
Nashville’s Kyle Turris, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, and Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo come in at 10 through eight on Campbell’s list. Turris has five years remaining on his contract worth $6-million annually. He lacks no-trade protection. Abdelkader, 32, has four years left with an annual average value of $4.25-million. Okposo has four years remaining ($6 million AAV) and has battled injuries and concussion-related illness in recent years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris could be the easiest to move if the Predators picked up part of his cap hit or took back a toxic contract in return. The 29-year-old center had a rough 2018-19 but played well for Canada at this year’s World Championships. He could be poised for a bounce-back performance, which could also make him enticing if the Preds want to move him. Abdelkader’s declining play and Okposo’s injury history are significant sticking points.
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz and Minnesota’s Zach Parise and Ryan Suter fill positions seven through five. Schmaltz is starting a seven-year deal worth an AAV of $5.85 million and suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2018-19. Parise and Suter are aging veterans with six seasons remaining on their identical $98-million contracts with full no-movement clauses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Including Schmaltz on this list could be premature. While Campbell notes he’s had only one good NHL season thus far, he did tally 14 points in 17 games with Arizona before his injury. With a strong recovery, he could quickly regain his offensive form and become a solid addition for the Coyotes. Parise and Suter, on the other hand, are now past their prime and age and injuries could take their toll. Parise turns 35 on July 28, Suter on Jan. 21.
The New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes, and Chicago’s Brent Seabrook fill spots four through two. Ladd was frequently sidelined by injuries, has a full no-trade clause this season and four years remaining on his deal with an AAV of $5.5 million. Hayes inked a seven-year, $49-million contract that Campbell doesn’t believe will age well. Seabrook has five years left ($6.875 million AAV) with a full no-movement clause to 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladd’s injury history could be a killer here unless he becomes a permanent long-term injury reserve candidate. As we’ve seen, those contracts can be desirable for cap-strapped clubs. I agree with Campbell that Hayes’ deal could become burdensome during its latter years. Seabrook’s name surfaced in trade speculation last season but came to nothing. Moving his contract remains a daunting challenge.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber topped Campbell’s list. The 34-year-old has seven years left on his deal worth over $7.9 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber’s contract was traded once before. It could be moved again. He’s still an effective top-pairing defenseman, making him valuable in the trade market. He also lacks no-trade protection.
The threat of salary-cap recapture is there if he retires, but it’s the Nashville Predators on the hook for the bulk of it, especially the latter years. If you’re a Predators fan, pray he doesn’t call it quits before 2025-26.
Game recaps, Golden Knights re-sign Nate Schmidt, Brian Boyle cancer-free, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs took a 3-0 lead into the third period against the Winnipeg Jets and held on for a 4-2 victory. Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele narrowed the score to 3-2 but John Tavares put it out of reach with his first goal in five games. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 38 saves for the win.
Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 22-save shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Colorado Avalanche 1-0. Nikita Kucherov tallied the game’s only goal in the third period.
Third-period goals by Frank Vatrano and Evgenii Dadonov set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the Florida Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the New York Islanders 3-2.
Bo Horvat scored twice, Jacob Markstrom kicked out 33 shots and Markus Granlund scored the only goal in a shootout as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Alex Tuch, who’d been sidelined by a lower-body injury since preseason, rejoined the Golden Knights lineup.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, they reached an agreement with defenseman Nate Schmidt on a six-year, $35.7-million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.95 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmidt, who’s currently serving a 20-game suspension for violation of the league’s PED policy, is in the second year of a two-year, $4.45-million contract and was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s getting a significant raise based on a limited body of work.
After several seasons as a speedy depth defenseman with the Washington Capitals, Schmidt was selected by the Golden Knights in last year’s expansion draft, quickly establishing himself as a top-four blueliner. He tallied a career-high 36 points in 2017-18 along with seven points in 20 playoff games. The Golden Knights are betting the 27-year-old has the potential to maintain that level of play over the long term.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle said his cancer is now in remission. Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia 13 months ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boyle won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance last season. Happy to hear that his treatments were successful.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will play his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings at XCel Energy Center.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed defenseman Dan Hamhuis on injured reserve.
SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki received a one-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen in the head on Tuesday night.
CBS SPORTS: St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri has been sent to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio on a conditioning stint. Fabbri has been sidelined by a groin injury.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers sent goaltender Michal Neuvirth to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms for conditioning.
THE SCORE: The New York Rangers placed winger Matt Beleskey on waivers.
Latest on the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE JETS INVEST MORE IN THEIR FORWARDS?
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Paul Wiecek recently wondered if a coming salary-cap crunch for the Winnipeg Jets and the uncertainty surrounding the contract statuses of defensemen Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrisey might lead to a change in how they prioritize their spending. Instead of a team built like the Nashville Predators, he suggests emulating the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, who invested more in their forwards than their defensemen. He points out the Pittsburgh Penguins were also top-heavy when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
If the Jets follow the same pattern, they could be investing heavily in wingers Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor at the end of 2018-19. With the Jets unable to sign Trouba to a long-term deal and facing UFA status in 2020, there’s little incentive for the blueliner to remain in Winnipeg long-term. Re-signing him to a lengthy deal could also make it difficult to keep those forwards under contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a collapse that knocks the Jets out of playoff contention this season, Trouba won’t be going anywhere. However, I don’t see how they can afford to keep him, Morrissey, Laine, Wheeler and Connor next summer.
Something’s gotta give and it’ll likely be Trouba sometime next summer, perhaps dealt during the NHL Draft weekend in late-June. Parting ways with him should give the Jets sufficient cap room to re-sign those other key players.
COULD THE WILD FACE BLOWING UP THEIR ROSTER?
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien wonders if the time is drawing near for the Minnesota Wild to consider shedding some aging players in favor of retooling with younger ones. He notes Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter and Devan Dubnyk are 32-or-older. Given Parise’s health issues, moving his hefty contract probably isn’t feasible but the time could be ideal to consider shopping some of the others.
It might be wise to move Staal, a pending free agent next July, as he’s coming off a 42-goal campaign. Suter’s perceived value remains high but his heavy workload could start catching up with him. A savvy club could see Koivu as worth the risk though the extra year on his contract could be difficult to sell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild general manager Paul Fenton appears more interested in tweaking his current roster than overhauling it. However, that could change if the Wild fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline or once again become first-round road kill. Besides, moving some of those veterans will be difficult.
Suter’s has a $7.53 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 with a full no-movement clause. Koivu also has a full no-move and a $5.5-million cap hit through 2019-20. Staal ($3.5 million) and Dubnyk ($4.33 million through 2020-21) have modified no-trades and more affordable cap hits, making them easier to peddle.
Sedins to retire, game recaps, Coyotes offer contract to Raanta, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: After 17 seasons, Vancouver Canucks forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin yesterday announced they intend to retire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign. The twins, both 37, were selected second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Draft. They went on to become the best players in Canucks history.
Henrik leads the clubs in games played (1,327), assists (828) and points (1,068), while Daniel is their leader in goals (391), even-strength goals (253), power-play goals (137), game-winning goals (85) and shots (3,457). Henrik sits second in playoff points (78) while Daniel (71) is third.
Since 2006-07, the Sedins have been the twin faces of the Canucks. In their prime, they were among the league’s top players, with Henrik winning the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2010 and Daniel winning the Art Ross and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2011.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daniel and Henrik also led the Canucks to their best years in franchise history. During a five-season stretch from 2008-09 to 2012-13, Vancouver won five division titles, consecutive Presidents’ Trophy seasons (2011, 2012), one Campbell Bowl (2011) and a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The twins are also retiring while they’re still effective players. Daniel is second among Canucks scorers this season with 52 points, Henrik is third with 48.
Devan Dubnyk’s 22-save shutout performance backstopped the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Wild also clinched a playoff spot for the sixth straight year, sitting third in the Central Division with 98 points. Earlier in the day, they learned defenseman Ryan Suter’s season is over after suffering a fractured right ankle during a loss on Saturday against Dallas.
The Washington Capitals dealt a blow to the St. Louis Blues’ playoff hopes with a 4-2 victory. Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 46th goal of the season while goaltender Braden Holtby made 34 saves. With 92 points, the Blues remain one back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Earlier in the day, the Blues learned forward Scottie Upshall’s season is over after he suffered a lacerated kidney during Saturday’s loss to Arizona.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, maintain their slim one-point lead over the Blues after falling 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings, who moved up into third in the Pacific Division with 96 points. With the Kings win and the Blues loss, the idle San Jose Sharks (98 points) have clinched a playoff spot.
The Florida Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Aleksander Barkov had two assists for the Panthers (88 points), who sit five points behind the New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Blake Wheeler scored twice and Mark Scheifele collected two assists as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 6-5. Following the game, Senators captain Erik Karlsson picked up the puck and tucked it into his hockey pants, prompting speculation this may be his final home contest in Ottawa. Karlsson, Matt Duchene, Mike Hoffman and Thomas Chabot each had three-point performances.
Two-goal performances by Auston Matthews and William Nylander powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs have matched a franchise high in points with 103.
Vegas Golden Knights forward Wiliam Karlsson, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel are the NHL’s stars for the week ending April 1, 2018.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Speaking of Raanta, the Coyotes have offered the pending unrestricted free agent a multiyear contract extension. “The deal could be for up to four years and would be between $4 to $4.5 million in average annual value.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta probably won’t get a better offer via this summer’s UFA market. Despite being hampered by injuries, he put in a solid effort in his first season as a full-time starting goalie, winning 20 games while posting a 2.27 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and three shutouts. Still, his overall inexperience as a starter combined with his recent history of injuries could hurt his chances of scoring a lengthier, more expensive contract.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
BOSTON HERALD: The NHL department of player safety slapped a $5,000.00 fine on Bruins winger Brad Marchand for cross-checking Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald during a game on Sunday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that’ll really send a message to a recidivist like Marchand.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks enter the final week of the season with goaltender John Gibson and defenseman Cam Fowler questionable due to injuries.
NHL.COM: New York Rangers forward Jesper Fast has suffered a groin injury that will likely sideline him for the club’s final three games. Teammate Mats Zuccarello could also miss some time after undergoing an MRI.