NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight
Shea Theodore reveals cancer diagnosis, Logan Couture named Sharks captain, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
REVIEWJOURNAL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore revealed he was diagnosed with testicular cancer over three months ago. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Theodore has fully recovered following treatment and will participate in training camp on the first day of practice today.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, winger Ryan Reaves is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Theodore in his ongoing recovery. Check out this link for information on diagnosing and treating testicular cancer.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks named center Logan Couture as their new captain. He replaced Joe Pavelski, who signed with the Dallas Stars this summer. Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl were named alternate captains.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday announced defenseman Josh Morrissey signed an eight-year, $50-million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the deal comes with a full no-movement clause from 2022-23 to 2024-25 and a modified no-trade for the remaining years. He’ll also earn $8 million annually in real salary in three of the first four years of the deal.
A terrific signing by the Jets. Morrissey, 24, has developed into a solid top-pairing defenseman. As Dustin Byfuglien ages, Morrissey will take over as the linchpin of Winnipeg’s blueline. Given his youth and ongoing development, this contract will be considered a steal for the Jets in a few years.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have reportedly reached an agreement with defenseman Ivan Provorov on a six-year contract. The annual average value is said to be $6.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deal is expected to be officially announced today. It’s less than the $8 million per season his side was reportedly seeking. I don’t doubt the three-year, $15-million contract inked by Columbus Blue Jackets rearguard Zach Werenski affected these negotiations.
It’s still a solid deal for Provorov, though he might’ve been better served inking a bridge contract similar to Werenski’s. Should Provorov continue to improve, he’ll be locked into a deal that could potentially pay him less than his true value over the next six years. The Blue Jackets’ blueliner, meanwhile, can pursue a more lucrative deal in three years time.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Marcus Pettersson to a one-year contract worth just over $874K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins would’ve preferred paying Pettersson more on a long-term deal but their limited salary-cap space handcuffed them. They’ll reward him next season for agreeing to this affordable contract. The signing pushes the Penguins above the $81.5-million cap ceiling by just over $1 million but they could get cap compliant by demoting one or two of their nine defensemen.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: A degenerative back disc has brought Oilers center Kyle Brodziak’s playing career has come to an end after 15 seasons. With one year remaining on his contract at an annual average value of $1.15 million, he’ll be placed on long-term injury reserve by the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Brodziak in his future endeavors. He finishes his career with 129 goals and 296 points in 917 career games. Not bad for a gritty checking-line forward who was a seventh-round pick by the Oilers in 2003.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin suffered a torn labrum earlier this week. He will undergo surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four months.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings won’t name a captain this season. Jusitn Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening will be the four alternates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is just postponing the inevitable. Give Larkin the “C” already!
BriseBois on Domingue/Condon situation, “We’re having them practice in a controlled environment to minimize risk for injury. We need them to be healthy by September 21st so we can assign them to the minors and minimize their cap hit.”
— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) September 12, 2019
Golden Knights re-sign Shea Theodore, Brian Gionta retires, Islanders sign Luca Sbisa, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights have re-signed defenseman Shea Theodore to a seven-year, $36.4-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the assumption Theodore would get a short-term bridge deal. The annual average value of this deal is $5.2 million, which is a considerable raise over his entry-level contract.
The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent. He’s a skilled puck-moving blueliner with considerable upside who’s expected to develop into a reliable top-pairing rearguard. If he reaches his full potential this new contract could become a wise long-term investment by the Golden Knights.
SPORTSNET: Forward Brian Gionta announced his retirement yesterday after 16 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins.
The 5’7″ winger debuted with the Devils in 2001-02 and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2003. Gionta went on to captain the Canadiens and Sabres. He had seven 20-plus goal campaigns, including a career-high 48 goals in 2005-06, finishing with 291 goals and 304 assists for 595 points in 1,026 career games. He has accepted a developmental coach role with the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Gionta in his future endeavors.
THE SCORE: The New York Islanders signed free-agent defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sbisa was probably hoping for a more lucrative contract after playing a top-four role during the 2018 playoffs with the Vegas Golden Knights. If he pans out for the Isles this season he could earned a better contract with them.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers released center Mark Letestu from his professional tryout offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline speculated Letestu could get a two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers released forward Scottie Upshall from his PTO.
NBC SPORTS: The city of Seattle is one step closer toward an NHL expansion franchise after the city council “unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Behold! Good ol’ fashioned nightmare fuel!
Recent updates on the status of the four remaining unsigned RFAs in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Luke Fox and Jared Clinton recently updated the status of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, Anaheim Ducks winger Nick Ritchie and New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood. The four are the final remaining unsigned restricted free agents.
Nylander is the biggest name on the list. Fox notes the young Swede’s initial ask was $8 million per season while Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas would apparently settle for something comparable to the $6 million annual average value of Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.
Nylander remains in Sweden while Dubas remains patient. Fox believes the longer this goes the greater likelihood they’ll agree to a bridge deal. With Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner due for next contracts next summer, Larkin notes the Leafs must tread carefully, as Nylander’s new contract could set the parameters for negotiations with the other two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer this standoff continues the more speculation could arise suggesting the Leafs consider trading Nylander. Dubas has said he doesn’t intend to go that route.
Given Nylander has no leverage other than to not report, the Leafs GM can afford to be patient, especially if the team isn’t significantly hurt by his absence. If this standoff drags into the regular season, however, it will raise questions over Nylander’s long-term future with the Leafs, especially if he ends up settling for a bridge contract.
The recent re-signings of Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey and Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse have have not affected Theodore’s negotiations with the Golden Knights. Fox cites John Shannon’s Sept. 17 tweet indicating the two sides remains no closer to an agreement. Clinton suggests St. Louis Blues’ defenseman Colton Parayko’s contract ($5.5-million AAV for five years) could be along the lines of what the Theodore camp is seeking.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have over $9.4 million in projected salary-cap space, giving them more than enough room to re-sign Theodore to a Parayko-style deal. However, I think they’d prefer something comparable to Morrissey or Nurse because of his limited body of work.
Theodore still has considerable potential but only had parts of two NHL seasons on his resume before joining the Golden Knights. GM George McPhee might prefer evaluating his development over the next two years before committing to a more lucrative deal.
Fox also cites reports indicating a lack of progress in talks between the Ducks and Ritchie. He feels a short-term contract is Ritchie’s best bet, while Clinton believes the Ducks want to see more than they have out of the winger before investing long term.
Fox and Clinton both noted reports indicating talks toward a short-term deal between the Devils and Wood broke down following the start of training camp. So far, there’s no indication they’ve picked up.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ritchie and Wood have potential to become better NHL players. However, they aren’t as valuable to their respective teams as Nylander and Theodore are to theirs, which is the only real leverage the latter two have.
Updates on the unsigned restricted free agents in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz updates us on the seven restricted free agents still without contracts with NHL training camps now underway.
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs. Gretz said there are reports the two sides are far apart in negotiation as Nylander doesn’t want to sign a bridge deal. The Leafs have already invested big money in John Tavares and must re-sign Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner next summer. While some suggest the Leafs should trade one of their young players, Gretz believes they can make this work.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran reports it’s believed Nylander seeks $8 million per season while the Leafs are offering $6.5 million annually. General manager Kyle Dubas wants to get the young forward signed as soon as possible but said he doesn’t want his club setting any marketplace records. In other words, the Nylander camp won’t be getting $8 million per season.
The Leafs are intent on holding the line here. The longer this holdout goes, the more pressure shifts onto Nylander, who has no leverage other than to withhold his services.
Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights. He was among their top defensemen last season for the Golden Knights, whose blueline will be shorthanded by Nate Schmidt’s suspension for the opening 20 games of the regular season. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides are far apart.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on how much Theodore seeks or what the Golden Knights are offering. Cap Friendly indicates his annual cap hit was just over $863K per season on an entry-level deal. While the Knights have the cap space to re-sign Theodore, they obviously want to keep it manageable while they have the leverage.
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers. The indefinite absence of veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera adds a measure of urgency for the Oilers to get Nurse under contract. However, his agent said there’s a disagreement with management over Nurse’s value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse was reportedly willing to accept a bridge contract. If so, the sticking point here is likely dollars.The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson presumes the Nurse camp could look at Calgary’s Noah Hanifin’s contract (six years, $4.9 million annually) as a comparable.
Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have around $3.9 million in cap space. That doesn’t leave much room to re-sign Nurse and perhaps add another blueliner to offset Sekera’s absence. The Oilers can only seek cap relief by placing Sekera on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season if they’re sitting over the cap ceiling when the season begins.
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres. Gretz feels there’s a bit of a mystery over Reinhart’s potential. While there’s still the possibility he can break out, his three seasons of 20-25 goals and 45-50 points could be what to expect of him going forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart and the Sabres have kept negotiations under wraps as much as possible. It’s assumed the Sabres could be pushing for a two-year deal. Considering Reinhart’s production and questions over whether he’s capable of greater production, that might be the best way to go right now.
Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets. Gretz believes the Jets want to avoid the contentious Jacob Trouba contract negotiation storyline repeating itself with Morrissey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe recently speculated over what type of contract Morrissey could receive and its effect upon the Jets’ limited salary-cap space. He notes a bridge deal worth between $3.-$3.5 million annually will push the Jets closer to the $79.5-million salary-cap ceiling. A longer-term pact could cost between $4.75 million – $5.5 million, which would be more difficult (though not impossible) for the Jets to handle.
Nick Ritchie, Anaheim Ducks. Given Ritchie’s performance to date, Gretz considers him the one player in this group destined to get a short-term “prove-it” contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, there’s no indication the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.
Miles Wood, New Jersey Devils. Gretz cites Devils GM Ray Shero saying at the start of training camp that the two sides are getting closer to an agreement but “philosophical issues’ remained.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wood’s agent recently said his client is keen to join his teammates at training camp. However, dialogue between the two sides remains quiet. It’s believed the two sides are working toward a bridge deal.