Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021
Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.
The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.
The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.
Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.
Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.
The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.
I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.
The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.
In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at some of the notable names still in the rumor mill heading into the second day of the NHL draft.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli provided an updated list of trade targets following yesterday’s busy trade market leading up to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.
Jack Eichel remains atop the list. The Buffalo Sabres set a “fantastical” asking price seeking multiple draft picks and prospects.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The chances of an Eichel trade this summer took a hit following the completion of the first round of this year’s draft. Unless the Sabres seek first-round picks in the 2022 draft, they’ll have to lower their asking price or put more emphasis on younger players and prospects.
St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong envisioned the possibility of winger Vladimir Tarasenko returning with the club next season. His shoulder is now 100 percent healthy following his third surgery to address the injury. Despite his no-trade clause, Seravalli said he’s willing to play almost anywhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern with Tarasenko could be more his $7.5 million cap hit than his shoulder. There are reportedly some teams willing to take it on provided the Blues accept a comparable contract or a return that doesn’t address their roster needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Avalanche land Kuemper it probably means Philipp Grubauer is hitting the open market. I can see him being shopped before the trade deadline if a suitable deal can’t be found this summer.
The Anaheim Ducks are listening to offers for Josh Manson, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. They seek a first-round pick as part of the return. Moving him would leave a big gap on their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the feeling the Ducks are lukewarm toward moving Manson. Sure, they’ll do it if they get a great offer but otherwise, I think they’re fine bringing him back next season and maybe re-signing him if he’s willing to stay.
Wingers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault could be available as the Vegas Golden Knights attempt to balance their forward lines. Smith can become a UFA next summer while Marchessault has three years left on his deal with an annual average value of $5 million. They could also listen on physical winger Ryan Reaves.
The Philadelphia Flyers are still trying to move Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk. There could be teams interested in Voracek if the Flyers retain $2 million or so of his $8.25 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek has three years left on his contract. No surprise teams want the Flyers to pick up part of that hefty cap hit. Based on previous reports, they seem keener to move Voracek than van Riemsdyk.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s an expectation the Seattle Kraken could make an 11th-hour pitch to the Montreal Canadiens to ask their price to not select Carey Price. LeBrun doubts Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will pay it since he and Price agreed the latter would be exposed in the draft.
Will the Seattle Kraken select Carey Price in the expansion draft? (NHL Images)
Price, meanwhile, is slated to be examined in New York on Thursday regarding hip and knee ailments. Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Francis has received the green light from Kraken ownership to select Price if they see fit despite the goalie’s health issues and expensive contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn officially after 8 pm ET tonight if the Kraken snap-up Price. Doing so would free up $10.5 million in cap space for Bergevin to seek a short-term replacement. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be very interesting to see if the Kraken would go that route with Tarasenko. They’ll have to get something worthwhile in the return to consider it.
Maybe they’d accept Voracek if they select James van Riemsdyk from the Flyers in the expansion draft. Despite Kuznetsov’s personal baggage, the Kraken could take the chance if they fail to land a quality center in the draft. Perhaps they could pry Pavel Kuchnevich and a draft pick or prospect from the Rangers.
Pierre LeBrun also reported Gabriel Landeskog’s camp had a conversation with the Kraken on Sunday but there’s been nothing further since. Unless things change, he doubts the Kraken will sign the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.
Darren Dreger reports Francis has had a number of conversations with agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFAs Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson. They could be preliminary discussions. Francis’ window of exclusivity to negotiate with unprotected free agents expires at 10 am ET today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kraken don’t sign Landeskog, Driedger, Schwartz, Hamilton or Larsson today they can continue contract discussions with them. It just means they’ll be jockeying with other clubs interested in their services as the start of free agency (July 28) draws nearer.
DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited a recent report claiming the New Jersey Devils appear interested in moving P.K. Subban. They exposed him in the expansion draft but were also trying to find a taker for the former Norris Trophy winner. Lewis wondered if they can convince the Kraken to take on the final season of Subban’s contract. He carries a $9 million cap hit for 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that will become one of those side deals we heard so much about leading up to today’s draft. It could take a significant sweetener to convince the Kraken to do that.
It’s believed Sabres GM Kevin Adams sought all futures from the Wild. That would mean top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy plus two first-round picks. Given Eichel’s $10 million annual average value, the Sabres would have to take back a significant salary from the Wild or find another club to act as a third-party broker.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo doesn’t see a clear path for the Wild to acquire Eichel unless the Sabres lower their prices. He’s previously reported GM Bill Guerin is reluctant to burn through his cap space or deplete his prospect pipeline.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov received a significant offer from KHL club CSKA Moscow. Guerin is aware of it but he believes they can bridge the cap in contract talks with the 2021 Calder Trophy winner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could lose defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the expansion draft. Canadiens captain Shea Weber could miss all of next season (and perhaps more) due to multiple lingering injuries.
Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes continue shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson but his $8.25 million annual cap hit is a tough sell. Perhaps interest will pick up if a team loses a good defenseman in the expansion draft.
Meanwhile, there’s no progress in contract talks between the Coyotes and winger Conor Garland. Several clubs are keeping an eye on the restricted free agent’s situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Rangers and Kings have plenty of promising assets and the cap space to swing a deal for Eichel. Whether they’re willing to pay the hefty price in terms of his expensive contract and the return to the Sabres (an equivalent of four first-rounders) is another story. The ongoing uncertainty over his neck injury remains a serious sticking point for every potential suitor.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported last month the Wild had preliminary talks with the Sabres. He indicated general manager Bill Guerin could be reluctant to mortgage his club’s future. Guerin also has to get Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala under contract.
Cap space isn’t an issue for the Bruins but their focus is on adding a top-four, left-side defenseman. They’re in talks with pending UFA winger Taylor Hall and could bring back Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals for one more run at the Stanley Cup. They also don’t have enough tradeable assets to meet the Sabres’ high asking price.
Absorbing Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit would be a problem for the Flames and Golden Knights. Like the Bruins, they lack sufficient depth in promising assets to outbid the others on Friedman’s list.
I’m not saying Eichel won’t be traded or won’t end up on one of those teams. I’m merely pointing out that it’s going to take considerable work to pull it off, especially if the Sabres are reluctant to lower their asking price or absorb a portion of his salary.
KEITH TRADE BETWEEN BLACKHAWKS AND OILERS FALLING APART?
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks don’t want to retain any portion of Keith’s $5.53 million annual cap hit. The Oilers’ interest has waned and they’ve pulled back on the assets they were willing to send to Chicago in return. Seravalli believes Caleb Jones was part of it. He also said the Oilers have tabled a “take it or leave it” offer and there’s only a certain price they’ll pay if the Blackhawks won’t retain salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Oilers general manager Ken Holland is taking a firm approach here. He’s under no pressure to acquire Keith. The Oilers could use a second-pairing left-side defenseman but they can find more affordable options if the Hawks won’t retain salary. There’s also no indication the Hawks will take on someone like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen for the purpose of buying them out. If the Blackhawks won’t bend, this deal falls apart.
MORE NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS
The Philadelphia Flyers and Jakub Voracek have discussed that it might be time for a change. The 31-year-old winger was told he’ll be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.
If the Seattle Kraken doesn’t select him, the Flyers will look elsewhere. Voracek has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million. There’s also a chance they can’t move him via trade and he stays put.
Friedman also reported the Seth Jones-to-Philadelphia trade discussions are off for now. They can’t get the commitment they want from the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek’s still an effective top-six winger. He lacks no-trade protection but his cap hit will dampen his trade value unless the Flyers pick up part of it or take back an equivalent salary. Perhaps a three-team deal can be made involving draft picks to spread that cap hit around.
If Jones is unwilling to sign an extension with an acquiring team it could kill his value in the trade market. Teams are definitely interested but they don’t want to part with assets on a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.
Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will qualify the rights of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic over concerns of what he might get via arbitration. Same thing with winger Warren Foegele.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hurricanes don’t qualify their rights they become unrestricted free agents on July 28. They would lose both players to other teams for nothing, though they’d probably try to trade them before then. Nedeljkovic was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and would draw considerable attention in the UFA market.
Friedman took note of Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acknowledging how tough the past year was for him mentally and his intention to honor the final year of his contract. He wondered if Bergevin might move into a President of Hockey Operations role with the Canadiens after next season while Scott Mellanby or Martin Lapointe takes over as GM.
Canadiens center Phillip Danault confirmed turning down a long-term extension prior to this season. Friedman believes the two sides were $500K to $750K per season apart. Bergevin indicated he hopes Danault remains with the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The statuses of Bergevin and Danault will be the hot topics for the Montreal media in the coming weeks. Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens increase their previous six-year, $30 million offer or if Danault will test the market.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had an interest in Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi until the 26-year-old left winger suffered a season-ending injury. Pending UFA winger Zach Hyman probably won’t be back with the Leafs. The Red Wings could be among Hyman’s suitors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs will revisit that interest in Bertuzzi if he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. He is a restricted free agent who exceeded 45 points in consecutive seasons prior to this year. He’ll be costly to the Leafs in terms of salary and return to the Wings if the latter intends to part with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings were in the market for two top-six wingers in the trade market, preferably in their late-20s with some term left on their contracts. Saad and Schwartz are in the right age group but they’re due to become UFAs by July 28. The Kings might be interested but perhaps on deals for no more than four years.
Seravalli encapsulates the previous reports explaining the broken relationship between Eichel and the Sabres. He also reports concerns have been voiced by multiple teams about Jones’ two seasons of declining production.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones has 30 and 28 points respectively in 56 games each. That could be due to playing fewer games in two pandemic-shortened seasons. It could also be attributed to playing for one of the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams during that period. His two best offensive seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19) occurred when winger Artemi Panarin was his teammate.
The Washington Capitals are tired of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s off-ice antics. A talented but inconsistent player, his contract could be difficult to move but maybe less so after the Capitals pay his $5 million signing bonus in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’ll still carrying a $7.8 million annual average value through 2024-25 with a 15-team no-trade clause. The Capitals will either have to pick up part of that cap hit or take back an expensive contract.
There’s been no contract discussions between the Arizona Coyotes and restricted free agent winger Conor Garland since his agent submitted two contract proposals on May 20. Seravalli points out the Coyotes nearly moved Garland leading up to this season’s trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland has arbitration rights and is completing a two-year, $1.55 million contract. He’ll attract plenty of attention if the Coyotes decide to move him.
Seravalli cites sources claiming there was friction this season between Evander Kane and some of his San Jose Sharks teammates. He’s also coming off his best season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane was the Sharks’ leading scorer this season with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games. He’s also signed through 2024-25 with a $7 million cap hit and a three-team trade list. As Seravalli suggests, general manager Doug Wilson could face choppy waters here.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Coyotes get that much for OEL. Their goal is to shed the remaining six years (at $8.25 million annually) of his contract so they’ll probably have to settle for much less because of the flattened salary cap. Heck, it’ll be a win if they can move him without absorbing part of his cap hit.
He speculated the Hurricanes might be unable to give Foegele the extra playing time he seeks. Clearing out Voracek’s contract could give the Flyers the cap flexibility they need, perhaps by enticing the Seattle Kraken with a draft pick. Cap flexibility for the Panthers would also be behind moving Stralman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foegele’s stuck behind Andrei Svechnikov and Nino Niederreiter on the Hurricanes depth chart at left wing. It will be interesting to see how they handle this situation.
Voracek lacks no-trade protection but carries an $8.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Maybe the Kraken would be interested but it could take a significant pick to tempt them.
Stralman turns 35 in August, carries a $5.5 million cap hit for next season with a 16-team no-trade list. Two words to Panthers GM Bill Zito: good luck.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with Eichel, Seravalli summarizes why those players could be shopped this summer. Those factors have been previously documented here in the Rumor Mill based on various media sources, including Seravalli during his TSN tenure.