Top Players Still Available in the 2019 NHL UFA Market
The latest Penguins, Leafs and Golden Knights trade speculation plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Robin Lehner, Joe Pavelski, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS STILL SHOPPING KESSEL?
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe cites sources within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization claiming general manager Jim Rutherford is still talking trade with other clubs. Rutherford wants to change the culture of his club, shed some salary, and bring in a younger, faster player or two that can have an immediate impact.
Yohe believes Rutherford is still trying to trade Phil Kessel. Earlier this month, the 32-year-old winger used his no-trade clause to squash a deal that would’ve sent him to the Minnesota Wild.
Contrary to recent rumors, the Penguins won’t pursue veteran wingers Corey Perry and Wayne Simmonds via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s said he’s comfortable with Kessel returning to the lineup this fall. Nevertheless, Yohe joins several Pittsburgh pundits who believe he’s still trying to move the winger. Cap Friendly indicates Kessel has an eight-team trade list, which complicates Rutherford’s efforts.
I never understood the logic behind those rumors linking Perry and Simmonds to the Penguins. It’s obvious Rutherford wants his club to get younger and faster. Those two won’t address those needs.
UPDATE ON THE MAPLE LEAFS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS
TSN: Frank Seravalli notes the Toronto Maple Leafs need to shed salary places defenseman Nikita Zaitsev sits atop the latest update of his NHL “trade bait” list. The high cost of re-signing restricted free agent Mitch Marner makes it necessary to try and move Zaitsev’s $4.5-million annual salary-cap hit. Seravalli believes it’ll take packaging Zaitsev with a “sweetener” to get it done.
The Vegas Golden Knights are already sitting above the $81.5-million salary cap and must shed salary. Defenseman Colin Miller and forward Ryan Reaves are possible trade candidates.
LATEST NOTEWORTHY UFA UPDATES
THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites The Athletic’s Arthur Staple claiming a league source suggest Robin Lehner’s days with the New York Islanders could be drawing to a close. The two sides are believed far apart in contract talks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why the Islanders met with Sergei Bobrovsky earlier this week. However, the cost of signing Bobrovsky would be much higher than re-signing Lehner.
TSN: Darren Dreger reported left-winger Artemi Panarin met with the New York Rangers yesterday.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild have inquired about Anders Lee. They also have “serious interest” in Joe Pavelski and Wayne Simmonds.
Gold-Smith also noted The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeting winger Mats Zuccarello seeks a five-year contract.
TSN: Ryan Rishaug reports it sounds like the Calgary Flames are among several teams interested in winger Patrick Maroon.
Thomas Vanek’s camp is talking with other teams and have been informed there’s probably not a fit between him and Detroit for this year.
— Max Bultman (@m_bultman) June 27, 2019
What changes are in store for the Detroit Red Wings under new GM Steve Yzerman? Which scorers could the Arizona Coyotes pursue this summer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE WINGS UNDER YZERMAN?
MLIVE.COM: Prior to yesterday’s press conference announcing Steve Yzerman was taking over as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Ansar Khan looked at what could be on Yzerman’s “to-do” list in the coming months. Decisions will have to be reached regarding pending unrestricted free agent Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek, and Luke Witkowski. Yzerman’s predecessor Ken Holland indicated a willingness to re-sign the Kronwall if the 38-year-old blueliner is willing to return for one more season.
Khan wondered if forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen become buyout candidates. “It would cost $9.1 million over eight years to buy out Abdelkader” while Nielsen “would cost $6.33 million over six years to buy out, with hefty cap hits of $3.8 million and $4.8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.” Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has one year remaining on his deal and Khan doubts he’ll be bought out.
Yzerman’s name might be a selling point if the Wings new GM goes shopping for experienced talent via this summer’s UFA market. Holland recently estimated the Wings could have between $15-$20 million in cap space, but Khan believes they must also ensure they leave sufficient long-term room for Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi when those youngsters become restricted free agents next summer.
THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Yzerman’s arrival buys the Wings some time to complete their roster rebuild. He noted Yzerman acknowledging there’s plenty of work to do and his call for Wings fans to be patient. He points to Yzerman’s tenure as Lightning GM when he wasn’t afraid of making bold moves (trading Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis), convinced current Bolts stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to accept below-market contracts and invested heavily in player development.
Niyo also suggested there are buyouts to consider, such as Ericsson or Trevor Daley, while others (Abdelkader, Nielsen, Darren Helm) could be too difficult to get out from under. While Yzerman’s cachet could help the Wings land some big fish in the free-agent pool, he doesn’t sound as though he’ll be going that route just yet, pointing to his remarks downplaying a pursuit of UFA talent while putting an emphasis on drafting and developing talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. I agree with Niyo that it’s unlikely he’ll be a major player in the UFA market, but I can see him exploring the trade market to see what’s available that might help his club.
As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have just over $71 million invested in 18 players, but they’ll get nearly $10 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season. They could get another $5.375 million if Mike Green’s ongoing liver ailment prevents him from continuing his playing career.
The Wings also hold three second-round picks and two fifth-round selections in this year’s draft plus two seconds and two thirds in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait. Yzerman could also dip into his club’s growing pool of young players and prospects but I don’t see him drawing too much from that well.
Yzerman could use the combination of his cap space and depth in draft picks to target a club facing a salary-cap crunch in need of shedding salary. He won’t be looking at aging expensive veterans like Edmonton’s Milan Lucic or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook but it wouldn’t be surprising if he targeted the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson or the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.
Some Edmonton pundits think Ken Holland would be a good fit as the Oilers new general manager but he’s reportedly taken himself out of the running for that job and will stay on as the Wings’ senior vice-president.
SOME POTENTIAL GOALSCORING TARGETS FOR THE COYOTES
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Arizona Coyotes need scoring and Richard Morin believes Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner would be a great fit. However, budget constraints likely mean the Coyotes can afford him, which could force GM John Chayka to get creative and find more affordable options. Morin suggested New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel as possible free-agent targets. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka returned to the offseason trade market, perhaps by targeting clubs looking to move salary.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan also looked at several scorers the Coyotes could target via trade or free agency. He notes Chayka pointed out his club needs scoring wingers and not centers, though Morgan believes they’d take on a first-line center if one became available. A right-shot, top-four defenseman would also help.
Chayka also indicated he would prefer adding players in the prime of their careers or just entering their prime. Expensive options such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner would be out of their price range.
Morgan also listed Lee, Nelson, Eberle, and Dzingel as possible UFA options. Others could include Nashville’s Wayne Simmonds, Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist or Washington’s Brett Connolly. Given the Coyotes’ budget constraints, Morgan rules out Chaya going the offer-sheet route.
Morgan also thinks Chayka could get creative in the trade market. He suggested perhaps the Coyotes GM could use his cap space to pry away one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards (Kapanen, Johnsson or William Nylander) by offering to take on the final year of winger Patrick Marleau’s contract ($6.25 million cap hit), though Marleau’s no-trade clause could complicate things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka’s been busy in the trade market since becoming the Coyotes GM in 2016. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were among his trade acquisitions. I expect he’ll go the trade route again to bring in a top-six winger, using his depth in promising youngsters and draft picks to target cap-strapped clubs.
Game recaps and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brayden Point had a career-high five-point game (one goal, four assists) while teammates Nikita Kucherov and Braydon Coburn each scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning romped to an 8-3 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Jordan Eberle scored twice as the New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. It was a costly win for the Islanders as goaltender Robin Lehner left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Penguins goalie Matt Murray was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots.
Brad Marchand tallied two goals and Jaroslav Halak made 42 saves as the Boston Bruins downed the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho joined Wayne Gretzky and Ken Linesman in the NHL record book as the only players to open an NHL season with assists in 12 straight games. Prior to the game, the Bruins placed defenseman Charlie McAvoy (upper body) on injured reserve.
The Detroit Red Wings blew a three-goal lead but late third-period goals by Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin gave them a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Thomas Vanek could be sidelined for at least two-to-three weeks after suffering an apparent knee injury in the first period.
Matthew Tkachuk’s late third-period goal set the stage for Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Jack Eichel tallied the Sabres’ only goal.
The Dallas Stars picked up their first road win of the season by downing the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Devin Shore had a goal and two assists for the Stars while teammate Jason Spezza played his 1,000th career NHL game.
Two second-period goals by Ryan Hartman helped the Nashville Predators defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. The Predators lead the NHL’s overall standings with 18 points.
Mikael Granlund’s third-period goal gave the Minnesota Wild a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Eric Staal had a goal and two assists for the Wild.
The Arizona Coyotes picked up their fourth straight win by beating the Ottawa Senators 5-1. Alex Galchenyuk tallied his first goal with the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling to score in their first five games, the Coyotes have tallied at least three goals in each of their last six.
Nolan Patrick’s goal late in the third period lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Pontus Aberg scored both goals for the Ducks.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the only goal in a shootout to give the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks, spoiling the return of long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton to the lineup. Chris Kreider had two goals for the Rangers.
CBS SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues placed defenseman Jakub Jerabek on waivers.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed practice Tuesday with a lower-body injury but is expected to be in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Canadiens.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: The Senators secured a $30 million short-term credit line with BMO Bank of Montreal’s corporate finance division. “The hockey club said the five-year loan will be used to give the team access to short-term credit as well as allowing the team to buy U.S. dollars when exchange rates are more attractive. American currency is typically used by a hockey franchise to pay its players.”