NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Ottawa Senators
An update on Torey Krug and the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KRUG HOPING FOR CONTRACT EXTENSION
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney expects to have contract extension talks with Torey Krug. The 28-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Krug has said there have been no contract talks yet but indicated he’s willing to take a hometown discount to stay in Boston.
Krug told Haggerty he assumed the reason why there have been no contract discussions was that the Bruins were focused on re-signing young blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. He said he’s eagerly looking forward to those talks.
Haggerty suggests Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon as a reasonable comparison. The Wild recently re-signed Spurgeon to a seven-year, $53.025-million contract with an annual average value of $7.575 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Bruins hoping for another run at the Stanley Cup this season, don’t expect them to shop Krug if unable to reach an agreement on a new contract. Sweeney could take a wait-and-see approach this season before opening contract talks. How much of a hometown discount Krug’s willing to take will also be a factor.
Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $56 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. Of their pending free agents, Krug would be the most expensive to re-sign. If he’s willing to accept under $7 million per season on a five-year deal, Sweeney could go for it. Things could get dicey, however, if the rearguard seeks much more than that for seven or eight years.
OILERS NEED A THIRD-LINE CENTER
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers still haven’t found a suitable third-line center. “Riley Sheahan could get the 3C but really he’s a solid No. 4. Same as Colby Cave, with good camp but hasn’t shown much puck creativity.”
Kurt Leavins notes the Oilers had a scout in attendance at Saturday’s game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens and wondered if he was looking for a third-line center. Senators centers Chris Tierney and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are slated to become UFAs next July. A dip in the latter’s production last season could lower the asking price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are rebuilding with youth. Tierney, 25, has a career-high 48 points last season. Pageau missed over half of last season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Tierney’s cap hit is just over $2.9 million while Pageau’s is $3.1 million.
One or both could hit the trade block at some point this season, especially if the Sens are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if they’re willing to move either guy right now.
The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Erik Karlsson and prospect forward Francis Perron to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for center Chris Tierney, defenceman Dylan DeMelo, and forward prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, along with a conditional first-round pick (2019 or 2020) and a second-round pick in 2019. If the Sharks miss the playoffs this season, the first-rounder will be in 2019.
Conditions on the two picks pic.twitter.com/1GqoejxyuX
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 13, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators were never going to get full value for Karlsson. The pressure general manager Pierre Dorion was rumored to be under from owner Eugene Melnyk to get a deal done quickly likely left him little choice but to accept the Sharks’ proposal.
Tierney, 24, is a good two-way center who reached a career-high 40 points last season with the Sharks. He should be a good fit as Ottawa’s third-line center. The 25-year-old DeMelo obviously won’t replace Karlsson’s all-star skills. Given the lack of skilled depth on the Senators blueline, he will likely fill a top-four role.
Norris, another two-way center, played for Michigan in the Big 10 and could remain there this season. Balcers tallied 48 points with San Jose’s AHL affiliate last season and is likely headed to the Belleville Senators this season. One of these guys could become a full-time roster player one day for Ottawa but it’s doubtful they’ll blossom into stars.
As for the Sharks, GM Doug Wilson knows his club’s Stanley Cup window of opportunity is closing. Bringing in Karlsson gives the Sharks two former Norris Trophy winners (Brent Burns being the other) plus the always-dependable Marc-Edouard Vlasic patrolling their blueline. Karlsson will help relieve some of the burden from Burns, providing additional offensive punch from the defense.
This move can also be considered Wilson’s answer to the significant offseason moves made by division rivals like the Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes. It could provide a significant boost to the Sharks’ Stanley Cup hopes for 2018-19, but it remains to be seen if they can afford to keep Karlsson beyond this season.
Updates on Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews plus the latest notable contract signings in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete during the 2018 ESPYs on Wednesday. He’s the first NHL player to win the award. Ovechkin led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history this spring, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is renowned for his physical two-way game, but he’s hoping to return to the more offensive style of his early-20s, when he was more of a skill player.
Now 30, Toews said he hopes to recapture “that energy, that motivation, that excitement and that mindset of a young player that just takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days.”
THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks avoided salary arbitration with forward Chris Tierney yesterday, signing him to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of over $2.93 million.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed goaltender Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract worth over $761K at the NHL level.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Josh Currie to a two-year contract. The 25-year-old Charlottetown native spent the past three seasons with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Cap Friendly indicates the deal is worth an annual average value of $675K at the NHL level.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders announced the hiring of former Hamilton Bulldogs head coach John Gruden as an assistant coach.
Toronto Maple Leafs could make a salary-dumping deal and Chris Tierney has an uncertain future with the San Jose Sharks.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports a lack of salary-cap space means the Toronto Maple Leafs currently can’t afford to re-sign restricted free agent forward Connor Brown. The 23-year-old isn’t interested in signing an offer sheet with another club and is willing to wait for the Leafs to sort out their salary-cap issue.
Teams are allowed to spend over the cap ceiling by 10 percent. The Leafs currently have around $420K of available cap room. McGran suggests they could wait until the start of the season to re-sign Brown, as they would clear sufficient cap room by assigning players to the minors and placing some on injured reserve.
McGran said trade rumors linked center Tyler Bozak to the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. One had the Rangers offering up Nick Holden for Bozak but McGran cites sources saying the Leafs aren’t interested in what the Blueshirts proposed. Another rumor has the Penguins interested in reuniting Phil Kessel with Bozak, leading McGran to wonder if they might part with defenseman Olli Maatta.
McGran also noted there was talk last month of swapping Brown for Anaheim’s Sami Vatanen but that died when the Ducks successfully protected him in the expansion draft. Los Angeles Kings blueliner Drew Doughty sparked some speculation when he mused that one day he might like to play for the Leafs, but McGran believes it would cost more than Brown and Bozak to get him.
Freelance Leafs pundit Howard Berger yesterday tweeted the Leafs “apparently talking trade with Colorado, Calgary and the Rangers. Details sketchy. But, looking to off-load salary for a d-man.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bozak and left wing James van Riemsdyk have surfaced of late as trade candidates. Both carry annual salary-cap hits of over $4 million for 2017-18 and are eligible for UFA status next summer. It’s believed the Leafs offered up van Riemsdyk to the New York Islanders last month for defenseman Travis Hamonic before he was shipped to the Calgary Flames.
While the Leafs are feeling the offseason cap squeeze, Brown’s patience and unwillingness to sign an offer sheet relieves pressure to make an immediate move. If they do trade Bozak or JVR for a defenseman, they still must ensure they have sufficient cap room for Brown, who’ll likely cost over $2 million annually to re-sign on a short-term bridge deal.
I can’t see the Penguins trading away Maatta for Bozak unless the latter is willing to re-sign a long-term deal. Even then, moving out Maatta would leave the Pens thin on the blueline. The Ducks reportedly took Vatanen off the market after the expansion draft so it’s likely pointless to pursue him now. Doughty’s got two seasons left on his current contract and isn’t going anywhere. Don’t be surprised if the Kings re-sign him next summer.
CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz reports the San Jose Sharks re-signed restricted free agent center Chris Tierney to a one-year, $735K contract. Kurz points out, however, the Sharks didn’t offer the 23-year-old more than his qualifying offer while re-signing center Ryan Carpenter to a two-year deal. That’s prompted questions about Tierney’s future with the Sharks and won’t quell the trade speculation about him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tierney’s a checking-line center who specializes in killing penalties. While he showed some offensive promise in 2014-15 with 21 points in 43 games, he tallied only 20 points in 79 games the following season and 23 points last season. This season could be make or break for Tierney with the Sharks.