The NHL Buyout Barometer – Metropolitan Division (Part I)
Chris Kreider sidelined with a fractured foot, the red-hot Golden Knights and Flyers continue their winning ways and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jakub Voracek tied a career-high with four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Rangers 5-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game road winning streak. Claude Giroux also scored twice as the Flyers (81 points) moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly loss for the Rangers (74 points) as winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot in the first period. They remain two points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lengthy absence for Kreider could prove fatal to the Rangers’ playoff hopes. He sits third among the Blueshirts in goals (24) and provides a physical presence to their forward lines.
The Flyers vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins (80 points), who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 28 saves as the Ducks held on for the win. Jason Zucker scored both goals for the Penguins, who’ve lost five straight games.
Netminder Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for his first victory with the red-hot Vegas Golden Knights by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Reilly Smith tallied twice for the Golden Knights (80 points), who’ve won eight straight and hold a six-point lead atop the Pacific Division. Vegas winger Mark Stone missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock kicked out 24 shots to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0, with Zach Parise scoring a goal and setting up two others. The Wild (71 points) are just one point out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Jackets have lost 10 of their last 11 games and cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 76 points. Jackets winger Alexander Wennberg returned to action for the first time in 12 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are two teams going in different directions. The Wild have won six of their last 10 and are rising in the Western standings, while the Blue Jackets are danger of tumbling out of a playoff spot.
The Colorado Avalanche picked up their fifth straight win by edging the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Avs goalie Pavel Francouz turned aside 45 shots while Tyson Jost tallied two goals. Colorado (83 points) moved three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for second place in the Central Division. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho extended his points streak to 14 games. Carolina sits two points behind the Blue Jackets.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine remains doubtful for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Laine took a shot off his foot in Wednesday’s win over Washington. X-rays revealed he didn’t suffer any broken bones.
SPORTSNET: Oilers defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined three-four weeks with a knee injury.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders loaned winger Josh Ho-Sang to the St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Sources also say the Islanders will play all their playoff games this season and next at Nassau Coliseum, as well as their entire 2020-21 regular-season schedule. The Isles are expected to begin playing in their new arena at Belmont Park in 2021-22.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The AHL approved the transfer of ownership of the San Antonio Rampage to the Golden Knights, “as well as the relocation of the franchise to Henderson/Las Vegas.”
Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Frederik Andersen, Carey Price and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: An upper-body injury to Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen overshadowed their 5-3 defeat to the Florida Panthers. Andersen suffered the injury following a first-period collision with Panthers winger Frank Vatrano. Before that, the Leafs goalie was a bit slow getting re-set after being bumped twice. No word yet regarding his status for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Panthers (63 points) moved into third place in the Atlantic Division, pushing the Leafs out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were down 1-0 before Andersen’s injury. They took as 3-1 lead after backup Michael Hutchinson came in, but gave up four straight third-period goals. If Andersen’s sidelined long-term it’ll be a serious blow to the Leafs playoff hopes. It could also push general manager Kyle Dubas into the trade market for help. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.
Stephen Johns scored his first goal in nearly two years as the Dallas Stars downed the New York Rangers 5-3. Johns recently returned to action after being sidelined since 2018 by a head injury. Stars center Joe Pavelski scored twice within 16 seconds in the first period.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made 16 saves in a 3-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings. Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Matt Niskanen were the goal scorers. The Flyers (65 points) have won six of their last eight games and hold the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference.
Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, and Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 2.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen revealed his recent one-game benching was due to missing practice on Friday because he overslept.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The flu has sidelined Canadiens netminder Carey Price from tonight’s game with the New Jersey Devils.
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg (upper body) was placed on injury reserve. He’s expected to miss three-to-four weeks.
TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks claimed defenseman Nick Seeler off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Local police have cleared Flyers mascot Gritty in the alleged assault of a 13-year-old fan in November.
Check out the latest on the Blue Jackets, Stars, and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline notes the possibility of Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson heading to New York to take over the same role with the Rangers. He wonders how that might affect the club’s management. He expects goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and left winger Artemi Panarin will depart via free agency on July 1.
While the Jackets will attempt to re-sign center Matt Duchene, Portzline said there’s talk he could have his eye on the Nashville Predators or perhaps a return to the Ottawa Senators. They could also re-sign winger Ryan Dzingel but Portzline cautioned against overpaying. He doesn’t expect center Alexander Wennberg will be moved but suggested Brandon Dubinsky could be a buyout candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $51 million invested in 15 players. If ownership is willing to spend to next season’s projected $83 million salary cap, they’ll have over $31 million in cap room.
That’s more than enough to re-sign everyone but it appears Panarin and Bobrovsky will hit the open market on July 1. They’ll have to be replaced and the Jackets could go the free agent route to do so. Goaltender Robin Lehner would be a prime target if he doesn’t re-sign with the New York Islanders. If Buffalo Sabres left wing hits the open market the Jackets could be among the suitors.
It’s imperative they re-sign Duchene, who hasn’t ruled out returning with the Jackets. Otherwise, they risk having nothing to show for mortgaging their future to acquire him. Dzingel didn’t pan out as hoped and they could pass if his asking price is too expensive.
Given their cap space, there’s no urgency to buy out Dubinsky. He carries a $5.85-million annual cap hit through 2020-21. A buyout would lead to a $1.95-million annual cap hit over the next four years. His full no-trade reverts to a modified no-trade on July 1 with a 10-team no-trade list. The no-movement remains in place to prevent demotion to the minors.
Wenneberg might benefit from a change of scenery. However, the decline in his production over the past two seasons hurts his trade value. The Jackets would probably have to pick up part of his $4.9-million annual average value (through 2022-23) to move him. A buyout would free up considerable cap space but would stretch through 2026-27.
SPORTSDAY: Kevin Sherrington expects Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be back after a solid rookie season as bench boss. General manager Jim Nill’s status, however, could be tenuous. Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, and Jason Dickinson were drafted by Nill, who also acquired goalie Ben Bishop and winger Mats Zuccarello.
However, the Stars had the third-worst goals per game (2.55). Captain Jamie Benn appears to be wearing down. Nill must re-sign Zuccarello and doesn’t have much cap space to do much else.
Josh Lile doubts the Stars will re-sign restricted free agent forwards Brett Ritchie and Mattias Janmark. He advocates bringing in more speed and skill to their forward lines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Nill’s in any danger of losing his job this summer. However, his offseason moves will determine if he has a future in Dallas beyond next season. They’ve got a superb goaltending tandem in Bishop and Anton Khudobin (another Nill signing), a defense corps anchored by Lindell, Heiskanen, and John Klingberg, and some promising youth up front.
Nevertheless, they must bolster their secondary scoring to take the burden off the Benn line. Zuccarello was a fine addition. I can see him agreeing to a three- or four-year deal with a no-movement clause (for expansion draft protection) for around the same annual cap hit as his current $4.5 million.
With over $60.7 million committed to 15 players, they can afford to re-sign Zuccarello and restricted free agents Lindell and Dickinson. There should also be room to add another scorer via trade or free agency.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks considers John Davidson a lock to join the Rangers as their new president. He also expects the Blueshirts will attempt to sign Panarin, but they’ll face competition from the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks.
In other Rangers speculation, winger Chris Kreider has a year remaining on his contract. If the Rangers decide to trade him, Brooks believes the acquiring team must re-sign him to an extension to maximize the return for the Blueshirts. He won’t have as much value to teams like the Edmonton Oilers or Winnipeg Jets if he’s looked upon as a one-year rental player.
Rangers defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith could be buyout candidates. Brooks also doesn’t rule out Vladislav Namestnikov or Jimmy Vesey becoming cost-cutting trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $63.8 million tied up in 19 players, the Rangers have room to make a significant addition via free agency this summer. Buyouts of Shattenkirk and Smith will prove costly in 2020-21 so they’ll have to be prepared for the cap hit in that season.
As for Kreider, it’ll be interesting to see how the Rangers play this. If they can’t reach a suitable agreement by mid-June they could attempt to move him during the 2019 NHL Draft weekend (June 21 and 22).
Hurricanes take 2-0 series lead over the Islanders, Avalanche ties their series with the Sharks, Hart Memorial Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 1-0 deficit with early third-period goals to defeat the New York Islanders 2-1 and take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Warren Foegele and Nino Niederreiter scored 48 seconds apart for the Hurricanes, who lost goaltender Petr Mrazek (lower body) and defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk (shoulder) and Saku Maenalanen (hand) to injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders outplayed, out-hit and out-chanced the Hurricanes throughout this game but managed just one goal and got caught napping on those Carolina goals. Hurricanes backup Curtis McElhinney, who replaced the sidelined Mrazek in the second period, made 17 saves for the win. It was a costly victory for Carolina. Mrazek is listed as day-to-day, Maenalanen requires surgery and is expected to be out 10-14 days, while Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour believes van Riemsdyk won’t be returning anytime soon.
Tyson Barrie had a goal and two assists and Philipp Grubauer kicked out 31 shots as the Colorado Avalanche edged the San Jose Sharks 4-3, tying their second-round series at a game apiece. Brent Burns scored twice and set up another for the Sharks, who weren’t happy over what they considered an icing that went uncalled led to Barrie’s goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche put forth a better effort in this contest compared to Game 1. As a result, they return to Denver for Games 3 and 4 having stolen a game from the Sharks in San Jose, giving themselves an opportunity to build some momentum heading into the third game.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, “given annually to the NHL player voted to be most valuable to his team.”
THE ATHLETIC/OTTAWA SUN: Frequent healthy scratch Alexander Wennberg skated for the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of their series with the Boston Bruins. Ryan Dzingel, acquired by the Blue Jackets from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline, was a healthy scratch as he’s disappointed thus far in the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wennberg could be back in the Blue Jackets lineup for Game 3 tomorrow in Columbus. After tallying 12 points in 21 games with the Jackets (along with 44 in 57 games with the Senators), Dzingel went scoreless through five playoff games.
THE ATHLETIC: Bruins high-scoring winger David Pastrnak may be second on the club in scoring this postseason but he’s struggled with consistency thus far.