The Islanders clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth as the Penguins are eliminated from contention and the Stars’ Jason Robertson reaches another scoring milestone. Details on these and other stories are in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Brock Nelson scored twice for the Islanders as they hold the first wild-card berth with 93 points, one up on the Florida Panthers who qualified for the postseason earlier this week. The Islanders’ win eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins from playoff contention.
New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That ends the Penguins’ streak of consecutive playoff appearances at 16 seasons stretching back to 2006-07. Meanwhile, only one opening-round playoff series has been set (Toronto Maple vs Tampa Bay Lightning). The rest should be determined tonight as most of the remaining playoff clubs will be playing their final regular-season games.
Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson collected three assists in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. He now has the most points in a single season (109) by a US-born player who is 23 or younger. With the win, the Stars (106 points) vaulted one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche into first place in the Central Division.
The Calgary Flames defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Nikita Zadorov netted his first career hat trick while Dustin Wolf made 23 saves to win his NHL debut. The Flames were eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed this game with a lower-body injury. It’s not considered a long-term injury and won’t require surgery.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman received a one-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for interference when he leveled Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers with a hard hit during Tuesday’s game between the two clubs.
NHL.COM: Jets defenseman Neal Pionk was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Wild forward Marcus Johansson during Tuesday’s game.
CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett (groin) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Anaheim Ducks forward Mason McTavish will miss his club’s final game of the season tonight with an upper-body injury requiring one-to-two weeks of recovery.
The Sharks’ Erik Karlsson reaches the 100-point milestone, the Flames are eliminated from playoff contention, the Stars’ Joe Pavelski and the Senators’ Claude Giroux reach 1,000 career points, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson became the first defenseman in 31 years to net 100 points in a season in a 6-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Karlsson scored twice to reach the milestone last achieved by Brian Leetch in 1991-92. Meanwhile, Jets blueliner Josh Morrisey had a goal and two assists as his club moved closer to clinching the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 93 points.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old Karlsson is only the sixth NHL defenseman to reach the 100-point plateau and the oldest to do so. He’s considered the front-runner to win the Norris Trophy. Meanwhile, the Sharks revealed that Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Alexander Barabanov, Andreas Johnsson and Oskar Lindblom are out with season-ending injuries.
Shootout goals by Cody Glass and Tommy Novak lifted the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames, officially eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Juuse Saros made 44 saves in regulation and overtime for the 41-31-8 Predators, who kept their slim playoff hopes alive with 90 points. Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 shots for the Flames (37-27-17) as they sit one point ahead of the Predators and two back of the Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators and Jets have two games remaining while the Flames have only one. The Jets can clinch that wild-card spot with a win tonight over the Minnesota Wild.
The New York Islanders’ chances of securing a wild-card spot got slimmer as they were upset 5-2 by the Washington Capitals. Dylan Strome tallied twice and Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 shots for the Capitals while Hudson Fasching and Casey Cizikas replied for the 41-31-9 Islanders as they held the final Eastern wild-card berth with 91 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders sit one game up on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold a game in hand and now control their own fate. Speaking of the Isles, center Bo Horvat said his recent comments praising the fan support his club is receiving weren’t meant as a slight against the Vancouver Canucks or their fans. Horvat was the Canucks’ captain until traded to the Islanders in January.
Meanwhile, the Capitals announced winger T.J. Oshie had been shut down for the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.
An overtime goal by John Tavares gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Auston Matthews netted his 40th goal of the season for the Leafs as they sit second in the Atlantic Division with 107 points. Brandon Montour replied for the 42-31-8 Panthers (92 points) as they failed to clinch the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have one game remaining in their schedule. They could still be overtaken by the Islanders or Penguins.
Matthews set two Leafs records with the most consecutive 40-goal seasons (four) and the most in franchise history with five. Things also got interesting for the Leafs in goal as they were forced to bring in an emergency backup on an amateur tryout contract when they were denied a goaltending salary-cap exemption. It’s believed this may have been an emergency of their own making by signing prospect forward Matthew Knies to his three-year entry-level contract over the weekend.
Speaking of the Eastern wild card race, the Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff hopes alive by nipping the New York Rangers 3-2 on a shootout goal by Casey Mittelstadt, who also tied the game in the third period. Devon Levi made 26 saves to pick up his fourth win in five games for the 40-32-7 Sabres (87 points) as they sit four points behind the Islanders with three games remaining in their schedule.
Dallas Stars winger Joe Pavelski scored to reach the 1,000-point plateau as his club dropped the Detroit Red Wings 6-1. Jason Robertson had a goal and two assists as the Stars sit in second place in the Central Divison with 104 points. David Perron replied for the Red Wings.
Ottawa Senators forward Claude Giroux also reached 1,000 career points with two goals and an assist in a 3-2 upset of the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Necas collected two assists for the Hurricanes (109 points) as they remain one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Los Angeles Kings blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on a 20-save shutout by Joonas Korpisalo. Arthur Kaliyev, Vladislav Gavrikov and Drew Doughty scored for the Kings, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 102 points. Collin Delia stopped 25 shots for the Canucks.
Two third-period goals by Marcus Johansson gave the Minnesota Wild a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Filip Gustavsson kicked out 40 shots for the Wild as they’re sitting third in the Central with 102 points. Joey Anderson and Anders Bjork replied for the Blackhawks.
The Seattle Kraken picked up their fifth straight win by beating the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. Jared McCann and Justin Schultz each had a goal and an assist for the Kraken as they reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in franchise history and hold the first Western wild-card spot. Jack McBain scored for the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Kraken, they signed prospect David Goyette on Monday to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s been assigned to their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley along with center Shane Wright, whose junior season recently ended when his Windsor Spitfires were eliminated from the opening round of the 2023 OHL playoffs.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Seattle Kraken winger Jordan Eberle, and Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 9.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Professional Hockey Writers Association unveiled each team’s nominees for the 2023 Bill Masterton Trophy. They included Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn, New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton, New York Islanders winger Zach Parise, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Mark Giordano, Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser, Vegas Golden Knights winger Phil Kessel and Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlsson are among the notable players nominated for this award.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Click the link above for the full list, which will be whittled down to three finalists and will be handed out during the 2023 NHL Awards on June 26 in Nashville.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Tanner Jeannot (injured leg) is expected to miss the early part of his club’s opening-round series against the Maple Leafs next week. However, he could return to action at some point in that series.
NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Strome was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct during his club’s overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
SEATTLE HOCKEY INSIDER: The Kraken signed prospect David Goyette on Monday to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s been assigned to their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley along with center Shane Wright, whose junior season recently ended when his Windsor Spitfires were eliminated from the opening round of the 2023 OHL playoffs.
The Hurricanes extended their win streak, Erik Karlsson sets a Sharks record and the Stars re-sign Joe Pavelski. Details and much more in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their 11th straight win by defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on a shootout goal by Andrei Svechnikov. Derek Stepan tallied twice in regulation for the Hurricanes (25-6-6) as they also extended their points streak to 17 games. Jesper Bratt scored twice and collected an assist for the Devils as they dropped to 23-11-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 56 points, the red-hot Hurricanes sit four points behind the first-overall Boston Bruins. The Devils activated defenseman Ryan Graves off injured reserve for this contest. He’d missed the last three games with a lower-body injury.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson collected two assists in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, extending his points streak to a franchise-record 13 games. Blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored in what was his 1,200th career game all spent with the Sharks. Patrick Kane and Sam Lafferty scored for the Blackhawks (8-24-4) as they’ve lost 12 of their last 13 contests. The Sharks improved to 12-20-7.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson remains the leading scorer among NHL defensemen by a wide margin. With 53 points, he’s 11 ahead of the Winnipeg Jets’ Josh Morrissey and sits fifth among all NHL skaters this season.
The New York Rangers got two goals from Mika Zibanejad to defeat the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-3. Jaroslav Halak turned aside 32 shots as the Rangers improved to 20-12-6. Eric Staal had two points for the Panthers (16-18-4), who’ve lost five of their last six games.
Seattle Kraken goaltender Martin Jones made 18 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Yanni Gourde and Vince Dunn each collected two points as the Kraken improved to 19-12-4. Ilya Sorokin stopped 31 shots while Mathew Barzal tallied his 100th career goal for the 21-15-2 Islanders.
The Ottawa Senators beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Anton Forsberg picked up the win with a 33-save performance, Tim Stutzle scored twice and Jacob Lucchini’s first NHL goal turned out to be the game-winner for the Senators (17-17-3) while the Sabres dropped to 18-15-2.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars and Joe Pavelski agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract extension for 2023-24. Pavelski, 38, will earn a base salary of $3.5 million with an additional $2 million in performance bonuses. The deal also includes a no-movement clause
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pavelski’s new contract is similar to his current deal. The only difference is how the dollars are divided up. It’s a reasonable contract for both sides given his age. Pavelski is currently second among the Stars in assists with 25 and third in points with 37 in 38 games.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson are the league’s three stars for December 2022. Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov is the rookie of the month.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang could miss Monday’s Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park. He didn’t practice yesterday and remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Edmonton Oilers will host the Calgary Flames in the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 29. It will mark the 20th anniversary of the first NHL outdoor regular-season game in which the Oilers fell to the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in front of over 56,000 fans in the first Heritage Classic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the first Heritage Classic. That game laid the foundation for the annual Winter Classic and a host of outdoor regular-season games.
BOSTON HERALD’s Steve Conroy took to Twitter yesterday debunking a radio report out of Boston on New Year’s Eve claiming the Bruins had re-signed winger David Pastrnak. He cited Pastrnak’s agent J.P. Barry calling the report “rubbish”, adding that negotiations are ongoing but it’s difficult to say whether progress has been made or not.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report claimed the Bruins and Pastrnak were finalizing an eight-year deal worth $88 million. That’s an average annual value of $11 million, which is pretty much what the 27-year-old pending free-agent winger is expected to receive from the Bruins or on the open market by July 1.
CBS SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights placed defenseman Alec Martinez on injured reserve. He’s been sidelined for the past two games with an undisclosed injury.
NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz off injured reserve.
Duncan Keith’s retirement and its effect on the Oilers and Blackhawks, an update on Kirill Kaprizov, the latest on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks, the Kings re-sign Adrian Kempe, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Duncan Keith will retire after 17 NHL seasons. The 38-year-old Edmonton Oilers defenseman has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.54 million.
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keith played all but one of his 17 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming the greatest defenseman in franchise history. Joining the Blackhawks when they were among the league doormats in 2005-06, he went on to anchor their blueline as they rose to become one of the league’s most dominant teams.
Keith enjoyed a career worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He helped the Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups in six seasons from 2009-10 to 2014-15, took home the Norris Trophy twice as the league’s top defenseman, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2015 and was a two-time First Team All-Star. He is second all-time among Blackhawks skaters with 1,192 games played, sixth in total assists (520) and 10th in points with 625. Keith also helped Canada win two gold medals (2010, 2014) in men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Keith’s retirement provides a boost to the Oilers’ salary-cap space for 2022-23, removing $5.5 million from their books. Having traded Zack Kassian ($3.2 million) to Arizona on Thursday and with goaltender Mike Smith ($2.2 million) and defenseman Oscar Klefbom ($4.1 million) expected to spend next season on long-term injury reserve, the Oilers could have $22 million to work with this summer.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Because Keith was on a 13-year contract signed before term limits were imposed on contracts, the Blackhawks faced a $5.5 million salary-cap recapture penalty for 2022-23 and $1.9 million in 2023-24. The club wasn’t planning on spending to the $82.5 million cap, but it does hamper their efforts to weaponize their cap space by taking on bad contracts from rival clubs with sweeteners such as draft picks and prospects attached.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The financial effects of Keith’s retirement for the Oilers and Blackhawks is newsworthy, but it seemed to overshadow the fact that a future Hall-of-Famer was hanging up his skates after a long and productive career.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports sources claim Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov was twice denied entry into the United States and has returned to his native Russia, likely because he currently lacks a work visa. The 25-year-old winger was previously accused of buying a fake military ID in 2017 to avoid service in the Russian military. Russo reports Kaprizov’s father said his son was a student which allowed him to avoid service. However, that exemption expired on June 30.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has raised concerns over whether Kaprizov will be allowed to return to North America given the tensions between the United States and Russia over the latter’s ongoing war with Ukraine. Russo reports the Wild are working with the NHL behind the scenes to sort this out.
SPORTSNET: Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said there is a genuine desire by his team and Johnny Gaudreau to get a new contract done before the free-agent market opens on July 13. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been reported the Flames offered Gaudreau an eight-year deal worth $9.5 million annually. While there’s talk the club has the flexibility to go higher in salary, there’s also a belief that he wants to gauge other offers before reaching a decision.
TSN: The Los Angeles Kings reached an agreement with winger Adrian Kempe on a four-year, $22-million contract with an official announcement expected on Saturday. Kempe, 25, was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s coming off a career-best 35-goal performance.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: $5.5 million per season is a good contract for a 30-goal winger, especially if he continues that level of production over the course of his new deal.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: More details emerged on the Philadelphia Flyers’ acquisition of Tony DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. The Flyers sent the Canes a second-round pick in 2024, a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-rounder in the 2022 draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The original report indicated the Hurricanes were receiving second, third and fourth rounds picks.
The Flyers acquired DeAngelo because they need insurance in case Ryan Ellis remains sidelined next season by his recovery from a multilayered injury in his pelvis region. Nevertheless, the deal is facing criticism by Flyers followers citing DeAngelo’s checkered history and his average defensive game.
RDS.CA: cites Pierre LeBrun reports it appears Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat is heading to the free-agent market on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun didn’t rule things changing but this would be a big loss to the Lightning if Palat departs as a free agent. The 32-year-old winger is a reliable two-way player who’s also a clutch playoff performer, sitting third among active players with 12 game-winning playoff goals.
NEW YORK POST: Forget the rumors of the Islanders trading Semyon Varlamov. GM Lou Lamoriello said he’ll be maintaining his goaltending tandem of Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin for next season.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche are reportedly closing in on a new contract for Valeri Nichushkin.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said it doesn’t appear he’ll be receiving a contract buyout. He’s excited about returning under new GM Mike Grier (who he played with earlier in his career) and the new coaching staff.
THE TENNESSEAN: Speaking of the Sharks, they acquire forward Luke Kunin on Friday from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2023 third-rounder and forward John Leonard.
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.
Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.
Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.
Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.
Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.
Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.
Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.
Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.
The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.
Kassian has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.2 million. Murray also has two seasons remaining with a $6.25 million AAV.
Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Seravalli that Kassian could be bought out as he could prove difficult to move this summer via trade. The Senators, however, are reportedly willing to carry three goaltenders (including Murray) into next season.
That’s understandable given Murray’s cap hit. While the Sens have the cap space to absorb the two-thirds’ buyout for four seasons, that’s a long time to carry dead cap space, especially the $2.5 million per season over the final two years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vlasic’s buyout will sit on the Sharks’ books for eight years, with years three and four biting deeply into their cap space. Nevertheless, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak said in a recent mailbag segment that he considered a Vlasic buyout more likely than trading a blueliner like Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson. As Seravalli observed, carrying the full $7 million of the fading Vlasic’s contract for four more years would be worse than the buyout cost.
I see Scandella and Dickinson as buyout candidates if their respective teams can’t find anyone to trade their contracts off their hands in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers appears a likely buyout candidate. As Seravalli points out, the blueliner is 25 so his buyout is one-third the remaining value instead of two-thirds. Because his contract is also backloaded, the Predators would get a cap credit of over $616K for this season and be charged only $633K the following season. Seravalli suggests that could make Myers’s contract enticing in the trade market for cap-strapped clubs.
I think the rebuilding Blackhawks can afford to carry Johnson’s contract for at least one more season. The Penguins could also ride out the remaining year of Zucker’s deal if they can fit new contracts for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin into their current cap space. They could also retain up to half his cap hit in a trade or attempt to move him for another player with a comparable contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could attempt to trade Nemeth but the way his contract is structured could make a buyout likely. The cap hit is $1 million for each season except for the second year, where they won’t be charged anything. As for Foligno, Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins aren’t leaning that way.