The NHL’s Buyout Barometer – Pacific Division (Part I)
Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SUGGESTED MOVE TO IMPROVE THE SHARKS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.
Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks.
Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.
Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.
If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.
DOES LEHTONEN’S SIGNING SPELL THE END OF DERMOTT AS A LEAF?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.
Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.
While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.
The latest on Duncan Keith, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, plus updates on the Flyers and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KEITH NOT APPROACHED ABOUT WAIVING HIS NMC
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports Duncan Keith has not been approached by Chicago Blackhawks management about waiving his no-movement clause. The 36-year-old defenseman indicates he wants to stay with the Blackhawks. Lazerus believes Keith will stay put as long as the club keeps aiming to reach the playoffs. He feels the veteran blueliner doesn’t want to be part of a lengthy rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazerus observed Keith has surfaced in trade speculation linking him to Florida, Toronto, Edmonton, and Carolina. His name also popped up briefly in last season’s rumor mill. Unless the Hawks change management and start tearing down the roster, Keith will stay in Chicago.
COULD THE SHARKS CONSIDER MOVING BURNS OR VLASIC?
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes Brenden Dillon is the most likely member of the San Jose Sharks defense corps to be moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Nevertheless, Witt wonders if there could be a market for Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Either player could fetch a significant haul for the Sharks. Witt suggests Vlasic might be a good fit with his hometown club, the Montreal Canadiens, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have the salary-cap space to absorb Burns’ expensive contract. Vlasic has a no-movement clause while Burns has a modified no-trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Witt is just spitballing here. Burns or Vlasic would bring a nice return, but unless either guy askes for a trade, they’re not going anywhere. Burns’ modified no-trade is a three-team trade list, which is almost as ironclad as a no-movement, especially if that list includes California rivals like the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings.
COULD THE FLYERS GO BARGAIN-HUNTING AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will target players at the top of the trade market before the upcoming deadline. A lack of salary-cap space and the Flyers’ slim Stanley Cup odds makes it unlikely they’ll part with young assets for a notable rental player.
If they do pursue some depth at the deadline, it’ll likely be on their forward lines. Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be a good fit, but O’Connor doubts they’ll part with a first-round pick to get him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us with a dollar-for-dollar swap, perhaps by dangling defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, but the latter’s struggles this season probably hurt his trade value. If Fletcher attempts to improve his club, it’ll be through the bargain bin. They’ve got just over $2 million in projected trade deadline salary-cap space.
STARS GM KEEPING HIS OPTIONS OPEN
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars GM Jim Nill intends to keep his options open leading up to the trade deadline. He’ll look for offensive help without mortgaging his future, and doesn’t rule out a player-for-player hockey trade. The Stars lack trade currency in the form of prospects, draft picks, and salary-cap space. Pursuing a rental player might not be the best option.
DeFranks suggests New Jersey Devils winger Blake Coleman could be an affordable option. He carries a cost-effective $1.8-million annual average value through 2020-21. However, what makes Coleman enticing to the Stars also makes him attractive to other clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting third in the Central Division with 71 points, the Stars are nine points ahead of the fourth-place Winnipeg Jets, who sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are also one point behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche and three back of the Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.
In other words, Nill isn’t under pressure to make a big splash. While he could make a depth move, he could stand pat if there’s nothing suitable in the trade market.
Game recaps, stars and rookie of the month for January, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice and Leon Draisaitl picked up four assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Calgary Flames 8-3. Draisaitl (83 points) sits four ahead of McDavid as the league’s points leader. A fight between Flames goalie Cam Talbot and Oilers netminder Mike Smith was the highlight of a line brawl late in the second period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Battle of Alberta is always more fun when both clubs are battling for postseason spots. The next game between these two clubs is April 4. Hopefully, that will be a playoff preview.
Torey Krug’s four-point performance (two goals and two assists) led the Boston Bruins to a 6-1 drubbing of the Minnesota Wild. Winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 38th goal of the season as the Bruins (74 points) moved within a point of the league-leading Washington Capitals.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 29 saves to shut out the Florida Panthers 4-0. With 47 career shutouts, Price moved past Ken Dryden into third place among the club’s all-time leaders. Jeff Petry assisted on all four goals. It was a costly defeat for the Panthers. They slipped out of a playoff spot (61 points) and center Aleksander Barkov left the game with a lower-body injury. An update on his status is expected on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Lightning backup Curtis McElhinney turned in a 30-save shutout to down the San Jose Sharks 3-0. Steven Stamkos scored and chipped in an assist. Before the game, the Sharks honored Marc-Edouard Vlasic for becoming the second player and first defenseman in franchise history to reach 1,000 career games.
The Vancouver Canucks picked up their fifth straight win by edging the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime. Quinn Hughes scored twice, including the game-winner. Isles center Brock Nelson had a goal and an assist. The Canucks (64 points) hold a two-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division.
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist picked up his first shutout in two years by blanking the Detroit Red Wings 1-0. Mika Zibanejad tallied the only goal. Rangers winger Chris Kreider left the game in the second period after a collision with Zibanejad, but coach David Quinn said he didn’t suffer a concussion and felt better following the game.
Jack Roslovic scored twice and collected an assist as the Winnipeg Jets ended a five-game losing skid with 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 38 shots. Winnipeg (56 points) sit three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. Earlier in the day, the Jets learned center Mathieu Perreault will miss at least two weeks with an upper-body injury. Blues forward Alexander Steen played in his 1,000th career game in the city where he was born and raised.
The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on an overtime goal by Mitch Marner. With the win, the Leafs (63 points) climbed back into a playoff berth, sitting third in the Atlantic Division.
Joe Pavelski’s overtime goal gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Before the game, the Devils held a ceremony honoring their 2000 Stanley Cup championship team. Petr Sykora, who was injured during the Cup-winning game, finally got his opportunity to skate a lap with the trophy.
Two-goal performances by Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, handing the latter their first defeat in four games. Flyers center Sean Couturier picked up three assists.
Shootout goals by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the slumping Arizona Coyotes. Kane extended his points streak to 12 games with assists on two goals by Brandon Saad. With 56 points, the Blackhawks sit three behind the Coyotes for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 19 shots in a 3-0 shutout of the Nashville Predators. With the win, the Golden Knights (61 points) moved into third place in the Pacific Division.
Jack Eichel’s overtime goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. The Sabres sit 10 points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Ryan Miller made a season-high 46 saves to backstop the Anaheim Ducks over the Los Angeles Kings 3-1.
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, Edmonton winger Leon Draisaitl, and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy are the NHL’s three stars for January 2020. Chicago winger Dominik Kubalik was named rookie of the month.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights will end their affiliation with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves at the end of this season.
Anthony Duclair tallies his first hat trick with the Senators, Jack Eichel’s point streak reaches 16 games, David Pastrnak widens his goal-scoring lead, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Anthony Duclair tallied his first hat trick with the Senators, including the game-winner, leading the Ottawa Senators over the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime. Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson made 38 saves for the win. Alexandre Texier scored twice for the Jackets, who lost Sonny Milano, Josh Anderson, and Ryan Murray to injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Senators still face long odds reaching the playoffs this season, but they’re very entertaining to watch. Duclair, meanwhile, continues his career resurrection in Ottawa. With 18 goals and 25 points in 33 games, he’s on pace for a career-high 45 goals and 65 points.
An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Beauvillier also collected two assists. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored and set up another, extending his points streak to 16 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders carried the bulk of the play but the Sabres remain lethal on the power play, scoring both goals with the man advantage.
David Pastrnak scored twice as the Boston Bruins doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2, snapping a five-game losing skid. Pastrnak leads the NHL with 28 goals. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov left the game in the third period with an injured leg, but Florida coach Joel Qunneville expects he’ll be fine.
The Dallas Stars netted four unanswered second-period goals on route to a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators. These two clubs next face each other on New Year’s Day in the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators continue to stumble along, sitting outside the Western Conference playoff picture with 33 points in 31 games. This isn’t where many observers expected them to be at this point in the season.
A four-goal third period carried the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Niklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie each had a goal and an assist. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov left the game after blocking a shot by Capitals defenseman John Carlson. In other Lightning news, former coach Steve Ludzik is fighting for his life as he desperately awaits a liver donor. Ludzik has battled Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 liver disease.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping a donor is found soon for Ludzik’s liver transplant.
After falling behind 3-0, the St. Louis Blues roared back with four straight third-period goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Tyler Bozak scored two goals for the Blues, while Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad tallied twice. Blues forward Alex Steen returned to action after missing 16 games with a high-ankle sprain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If this keeps up, there will be calls for the Blackhawks to engage in a full-fledged roster rebuild. Hard to do with several aging veterans carrying expensive contracts.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their first win under interim coach Bob Boughner by downing the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. Aaron Dell made 33 saves as the Sharks snapped a season-high six-game winless streak. It was Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s 1,000th career NHL game. Earlier in the day, the Canucks placed winger Micheal Ferland on long-term injured reserve with concussion symptoms.
The Anaheim Ducks overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to edge the New York Rangers 4-3 in a shootout. Ondrej Kase and Jakob Silfverberg tallied twice in the shootout frame. Mika Zibanejad scored twice for the Rangers.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer made 32 saves to blank the Calgary Flames 4-0. Warren Foegele tallied two shorthanded goals for the Hurricanes, ending the Flames’ winning streak at seven games.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 36 stops for his 200th career NHL victory in a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. The Leafs held Connor McDavid off the score sheet while limited Leon Draisaitl to one assist. It was a costly win for the Leafs, as defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game with an ankle injury.
Eric Staal scored twice to lead the Minnesota Wild over the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Staal also collected his 999th career point. The Wild are 9-0-3 in their last 12 home games. The injury-riddled Flyers saw Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick leave the game with undisclosed injuries.
The Detroit Red Wings picked up their second straight victory following a 12-game winless skid by nipping the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Jonathan Bernier kicked out 42 shots for the Wings while teammate Mike Green scored a goal and picked up an assist. Detroit winger Anthony Mantha returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a knee injury since Nov. 23.
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Brian Rust scored twice and potted the winner in a shootout in a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang each picked up three assists. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed his second straight game to illness.
The New Jersey Devils edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. They snapped a seven-game winless skid, giving interim coach Alain Nasreddine his first NHL win. Earlier in the day, the Devils placed goaltender Louis Domingue (lower body) on injured reserve and placed defenseman Joe Morrow on unconditional waivers.