Several Players Already Declare Unfit to Participate In NHL Training Camps
The NHL is planning two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe, plus the latest on Jack Eichel, Kasperi Kapanen, Andrew Shaw and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL is planning to stage two outdoor games at Edgewood Tahoe Resort at Lake Tahoe, Nevada during the upcoming season. The first would see the Colorado Avalanche face off against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 20, followed the next day by the Philadelphia Flyers facing the Boston Bruins. Fans will not be in attendance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said the NHL has been scouting locations to hold “natural wilderness” outdoor-weekend games this year. Since they cannot have fans in attendance owing to COVID-19, it makes sense to take the game closer to its roots for the television audience. As Friedman suggests, if it works out they could consider making such games an annual event.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel missed the opening day of training camp to an upper-body injury suffered during offseason training. He’s listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark missed practice while quarantining due to an immigration issue. He’s expected in camp in the coming days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres need a healthy Eichel if they hope to secure their first playoff berth in a decade. Being listed as day-to-day sounds like the injury isn’t serious. Having not seen any meaningful ice time with his teammates in nearly 10 months, the Sabres captain can’t afford to miss too much training-camp time.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen will miss the Jan. 3 start of training camp because of an immigration issue. The 24-year-old winger was acquired by the Penguins last August in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s expected to join his new teammate partway through camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen won’t have much time to get acquainted with his new teammates before the season begins. He’s reportedly still in Finland and will need a mandatory seven-day quarantine as per NHL rules and four non-positive COVID tests before he can join the Penguins in training camp.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forwards Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith are both healthy and ready to join their teammates in training camp on Sunday. Both players missed considerable time last season with injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander all sidelined for months, the Blackhawks need all the help they can get up front.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is back on the ice with his teammates after missing all but eight games last season with a herniated disc. He worked with Filip Hronek as his defense partner and also skated with the Wings’ top power-play unit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A positive first step toward returning to action for DeKeyser. The rebuilding Wings will need him as they attempt to take a big leap forward in their overall development this season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Former Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis has joined the Jets on a professional tryout offer.
The Sabres avoid arbitration with Sam Reinhart and Linus Ullmark, the Red Wings and Tyler Bertuzzi await an arbiter’s decision, and Martin Hanzal retires. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with winger Sam Reinhart and goaltender Linus Ullmark. Reinhart agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million contract while Ullmark inked a one-year deal worth $2.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both are affordable short-term contracts that could lead to more lucrative deals for both players following next season. Reinhart, 24, exceeded 40 points in each of his five NHL seasons, including 65 points in 2018-19 and 50 points in 69 games last season. Ullmark, 27, took over as the Sabres’ starting goaltender last season, finishing with 17 wins in 34 games with a 2.69 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and Tyler Bertuzzi had their virtual salary-arbitration hearing yesterday and now await the arbiter’s decision. The Wings offered $3.15 million while Bertuzzi sought $4.25 million. The 25-year-old winger led the club with 21 goals and finished second in points with 48.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi is the first player among the 26 who filed for arbitration this year to go before an arbiter. The report also notes the arbiter’s decision will be handed down within 48 hours of the hearing’s completion. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the team and the player can no longer continue to negotiate once the hearing is completed.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks opted not to use their second buyout window on Sunday to buy out the remaining season of Brandon Sutter’s contract. He’s earning an annual average value of $4.35 million. General manager Jim Benning cited the 34-year-old center’s leadership and defensive skills as justification for retaining him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks are $1.5 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. The report suggested Benning has other options to become cap compliant for next season, such as putting Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to start next season. He could also demote a player or two to the minors.
THE SCORE: Martin Hanzal announced his retirement citing three back surgeries. The 34-year-old center spent 12 seasons in the NHL, with nearly 10 of them with the Arizona Coyotes. Traded to the Minnesota Wild at the 2017 trade deadline, he spent his final two seasons with the Dallas Stars, though injuries limited him to just 45 games. Hanzal finished his NHL career with 127 goals and 338 points in 673 games, as well as 13 points in 28 playoff contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hanzal in his future endeavors.
More details on what next season might look like, update salary-arbitration schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks provides more tidbitS on what next season might look like following the NHL’s meeting with general managers on Friday.
The objective remains to start on Jan. 1 and playing a full 82-game schedule with full arenas but the league knows that’s unlikely. It will continue monitoring the course of COVID-19, travel restrictions between Canada and the United States, and regulations regarding large indoor gatherings to determine which teams could allow fans in arenas and how many.
A shorter schedule and playing in several hub cities require authorization from the league and the NHL Players’ Association. Players and staff wouldn’t be segregated from the general public but could be expected to follow protocols similar to those of Major League Baseball during their 2020 season.
Groups of teams could shuttle into designated hub cities for two-three weeks, then return to their home cities for a week of practice before heading to the next hub. There could be a geographical realignment of divisions, including an all-Canadian division.
Training camps would be 14 days and limited to 35 players. The seven clubs that didn’t qualify for the 2020 return-to-play would have an additional seven-to-10 days. Each team would play three to four exhibition games.
Brooks also reported team facilities are currently allowed to be open under Phase 2 restrictions for up to 12 players on the ice at the same time. Players would be tested twice weekly and are asked not to skate in other arenas once they’re “in-market”. Most players have yet to be “in-market” because they’re training at home awaiting definitive word on the training camp schedule.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing has been decided yet for training camp or next season’s schedule. That’s to be determined by a return-to-play committee involving the league and the PA which is expected to begin meeting soon. Brooks’ report, and those from TSN, Sportsnet and The Athletic since Friday give us at least some idea of what’s under consideration.
NHLPA: Twelve of the 26 players who filed for salary arbitration have avoided hearings by reaching agreement on new contracts with their respective teams. Those still scheduled for hearings include Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi (today), Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark, Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson, Colorado’s Devon Toews, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome and the New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock. The final date of hearings is Nov. 8.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman yesterday reported Ullmark seeks $4.1 million while the Sabres countered with $1.8 million. Big gap to close there.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed free-agent winger Josh Leivo to a one-year, $875K contract. He joins former Vancouver Canucks teammates Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Louis Domingue who signed with the Flames this month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladies and gentlemen, your Calgary Canucks, er, Flames!
The latest on Kyle Palmieri, a busy off-season faces Sabres new GM Kevyn Adams and a brief note on Chris Tanev in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PALMIERI HOPES TO REMAIN A DEVIL
NORTHJERSEY.COM/NJ.COM: Nick Gantaifis and Randy Miller report Kyle Palmieri hopes to remain part of the New Jersey Devils’ rebuilding plans. The 29-year-old winger is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
“Without a doubt,” Palmieri said Tuesday in a media conference call. “I do love being in New Jersey. I love being close to home. And I have a ton of belief in this organization moving forward as to what we’re building, and I hope to be a part of it.”
Gantaifis notes Palmieri and the Devils might ordinarily open contract extension talks on July 1. Given the uncharacteristic and premature start to the off-season, that target date remains uncertain.
“It’s a big unknown,” Palmieri said. “Obviously, the calendar and important dates haven’t really been set yet. There’s so much up in the air and so much to figure out as far as the return to play and figuring all that stuff out.”
Miller suggests Chris Kreider would be a good comparable for Palmieri. The New York Rangers winger signed a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in February. Both are the same age and have roughly similar stats. Kreider’s averaged 23 goals and 46 points over the past five seasons, while Palmieri’s averaged 26 goals and 50 points since 2015-16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider is a fair comparison for Palmieri. With over $36 million invested in eight players for 2021-22, the Devils can easily afford to pay Palmieri over $7 million annually.
Of course, that figure will rise this year because of their anticipated re-signings of key free agents such as Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt. It could go significantly higher if they bring in talent via trades or free agency in the off-season A flat salary-cap for 2021-22 could also affect the Devils cap room.
Palmieri’s contract talks also remain in limbo because ownership hasn’t decided if interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald will stay in that role on a full-time basis. A new GM could have a different opinion of Palmieri’s value. If so, we could hear his name mentioned a lot as the 2021 trade deadline rolls around.
NEW SABRES GM FACES A BUSY OFF-SEASON
THE SCORE: John Matisz examined a lengthy to-do list for Kevyn Adams, who was named earlier this week as the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.
Re-signing winger Sam Reinhart and goaltender Linus Ullmark to fair deals, being cautious with pending UFAs like Wayne Simmonds and Michael Frolik, and sorting out the future of defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are among the key issues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart and Ullmark are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. As one of the Sabres’ leading scorers, Reinhart will likely seek a multi-year deal worth around $6 million annually. Ullmark has less of an established body of NHL work on his resume, giving Adams more leverage in negotiations.
Matisz pointed out Adams has no previous ties to Simmonds and Frolik. He could opt to cut them loose and pursue better UFA options.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger recently expressed his wish to coach Ristolainen again next season. We’ll find out soon enough how much sway he has with his new boss.
.@DhaliwalSports suggests Nikita Truamkin would be looking for a one-year deal, in the range of $2-3m.
Rick says uncertainty over the cap is holding it up
Rick also says reports of Chris Tanev being willing to take a one-year deal are incorrect. “Misquoted”
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) June 9, 2020
What next for the Sabres after their management purge? What are the Capitals’ off-season trade targets? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BIG DECISIONS FACE THE SABRES’ NEW GM
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders if the Buffalo Sabres replacing Jason Botterill as general manager with Kevyn Adams will be enough to fix the struggling club.
He feels Adams will have “lots of runway” to re-sign key restricted free agents Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, and Linus Ullmark. He’ll also have plenty of time to fill out the roster for next season. The Sabres currently have 10 players (four forwards, five defensemen, and a goalie) under contract for 2020-21.
Adams could dramatically reshape the Sabres for next season. Larkin, however, wonders how much agency he’ll have to do so.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also weighed in on the key decisions facing Adams. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be their most notable trade candidate. He’s frequently come up in trade rumors for some time, leading O’Brien to wonder if Botterill sought too much for the blueliner or was his market value really that cold. He suggests the Sabres might be better off cutting their losses with Ristolainen even at a discount rate.
O’Brien also wondered if Adams will stick with the goalie tandem of Ullmark and Carter Hutton or plunge into a pretty promising UFA market. He could then attempt to trade Hutton or send him to the minors.
The Sabres have lots of salary-cap room next season. Adams could attempt to go big in the UFA market by targeting St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo or Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall. However, O’Brien notes the Sabres have been burned before with expensive UFA signings. He also suggested perhaps targeting a cap-strapped team, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pegulas apparently slashed their management and scouting staffs in part to cut costs. Perhaps that mindset also extends to next season’s salary-cap payroll.
Cap Friendly indicates they have over $47 million invested in next season’s roster. That will obviously rise as they re-sign RFAs like Reinhart, Olofsson, and Ullmark, and perhaps Brandon Montour or a UFA like Wayne Simmonds. Nevertheless, they must still spend to get over the $60 million cap floor and ice a competitive roster.
Adams could surprise us by chasing one or two big-name UFAs, but I think he’ll make modest dips into that pool. I can see him trying to pry away a decent player or two from clubs looking to shed salary. Perhaps he dangles Ristolainen to a team that’s deep in scoring forwards but in need of blueline depth.
CAPITALS OFF-SEASON NEEDS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked about any possible off-season trade candidates or targets for the Washington Capitals.
El-Bashir said he doesn’t get the sense that Capitals management is eager to move anyone under contract for next season. As for possible options to address next season, he believes they’ll need a veteran top-four defenseman and doesn’t rule out re-signing Brenden Dillon. They’ll also need a third-line left wing to replace Ilya Kovalchuk and a proven goalie to back up Ilya Samsonov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are several quality backups potentially available in this summer’s free-agent market. The notables include Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, and Cam Talbot.