San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).
Friedman noted the Penguins avoided arbitration with Drew O’Connor earlier this week. That opens a 48-hour contract buyout window this weekend.
General manager Kyle Dubas prefers not to use contract buyouts. However, Friedman said he’s had a couple of people tell him to keep an eye on this weekend as the Penguins could attempt to get this closed (referring to a Karlson trade).
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe also took note of the Penguins’ buyout window. He wondered if Dubas will use it to buy out the remaining two years of Mikael Granlund’s contract, potentially freeing up some salary-cap space to acquire Karlsson.
Yohe also envisioned other scenarios such as including Granlund in the package to acquire Karlsson from the Sharks, trading other veterans in cost-cutting moves, or the unlikely option of putting Jeff Carter on long-term injury reserve.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jacob Punturi examined the pros and cons of the Penguins potentially buying out Granlund. While it would provide significant immediate cap savings of around $4 million, it would also result in four years of dead cap space worth $1.38 million annually on top of what they’re carrying from their 2020 buyout of Jack Johnson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve previously mentioned my theory of Dubas buying out Granlund and then using the savings to put toward getting the Karlsson deal done. We’ll find out by the end of the weekend if that’s the case.
LATEST ON ELIAS LINDHOLM
NHL NETWORK: Friedman said things were quiet regarding Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm. He believes the Flames want to sign the 28-year-old to an eight-year extension in the range of $8 million to $9 million annually.
THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie and Shayna Goldman listed some potential trade destinations for Lindholm if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes, Blue Jackets and Wild have the depth in tradeable assets to tempt the Flames. I’m not convinced that the Leafs and Canucks could pull it off. Salary-cap space could also be a concern for some of these clubs even with the projected increase by $4 million next summer.
The Wild avoid arbitration with Filip Gustavsson, the Ducks and Troy Terry are far apart in their arbitration filings, and the Kraken’s Alex Wennberg calls out vile social media comments made against himself and his family. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild avoided arbitration with goaltender Filip Gustavsson as the two sides reached an agreement on a three-year, $11.25 million contract. The average annual value is $3.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustavsson’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for Aug. 4. The 25-year-old goalie is getting over $3 million per season more than what he was making on his previous contract. He earned it with a career-best performance in 2022-23, outplaying veteran Marc-Andre Fleury with a record of 22-9-7 in 39 games played with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and three shutouts.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson (NHL Images).
The Wild will likely start the season with Gustavsson as their 1-A netminder and Fleury as their 1-B. If the former carries over his strong 2022-23 play into this season, it won’t be surprising if the latter ends up getting fewer starts as he’s shifted into a backup role. Fleury turns 39 in November and is in the final season of his contract.
THE SCORE: The Anaheim Ducks and Troy Terry are far apart in their arbitration filings. The Ducks are seeking $4.5 million on a one-year contract while the winger seeks $8 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry enjoyed a breakout performance in 2021-22, leading the rebuilding Ducks with 37 goals and 67 points. His production dipped a bit last season with 23 goals and 61 points but he missed 12 games to injury and the birth of his first child.
Terry’s earned a raise over the $1.45 million annual cap hit of his last contract but it’s doubtful he’ll get $8 million. His agent probably filed that amount knowing that arbiters tend to settle on a middle-ground total.
CAP FRIENDLY: Terry’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.
Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic’s hearing is slated for today.
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Drew O’Connor and New York Rangers defenseman Brandon Scanlin’s hearings are scheduled for Aug. 4.
YAHOO! SPORTS: Seattle Kraken forward Alex Wennberg and his wife have called out the “BookTok” TikTok community over vile comments that have sexualized and harassed the player and his family for months.
Wennberg issued a statement noting that he’s been media trained to “bite my tongue and leave it”. However, he felt he had to speak up after people posted what he called “vile comments” on his wife’s Instagram account and on photos of the couple’s child.
He expressed his support of the BookTok community writing books and fiction about hockey but felt the aggressive language about real-life players crossed the line.
Felicia Weeren, Wennberg’s wife, recently called out the community for comments toward her husband that were sexually predatory and harassing. Wennberg and Weeren pointed out that some fans went so far as to direct message players with crass remarks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A player and his family should not be subject to harassment by so-called “fans” on social media. It remains to be seen if Wennberg’s statement will put a stop to the comments directed toward him and his family. The Kraken hasn’t publicly indicated what they intend to do regarding this issue.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils signed defenseman Kevin Bahl to a two-year contract extension worth an AAV of $1.05 million.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with forward Jesse Ylonen. The 23-year-old will earn $750K at the NHL level.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs inked winger Nick Abruzzese to a one-year, two-way contract worth $775K at the NHL level.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have promoted Amanda Kessel to the role of special assistant to president of hockey operations and general manager. Kessel is the younger sister of former Penguins winger Phil Kessel. She is also one of the most prolific players in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks will honor team owner Rocky Wirtz with two public ceremonies on Aug. 9 at the United Center. Wirtz passed away last week at age 70 following a brief illness. A private ceremony will be held on Aug. 8.
THE ATHLETIC: The Wirtz Corporation is purchasing the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League.
A look at five clubs that still might make some offseason moves in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton recently looked at five NHL clubs that still have to make some moves before training camp opens in September.
Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).
The Calgary Flames still have to determine what to do with centers Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund as well as defenseman Noah Hanifin. The trio is slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Shilton believes retaining their services would require the Flames to prove that they can still be a contender worth sticking with as standing pat isn’t the best way to do that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, will they make a major move to upgrade the roster in order to entice Lindholm, Backlund and Hanifin to stay?
Lindholm and Backlund expressed reluctance about signing contract extensions but haven’t told the Flames yet that they’re definitely heading to market next July. Earlier this month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Flames remain hopeful of re-signing Lindholm.
It may be too late to keep Hanifin in the fold. There were reports last month claiming the 26-year-old defenseman informed management that he wasn’t interested in a contract extension.
The San Jose Sharks have to find a trade partner for Erik Karlsson. Shilton compares his situation to that of Jakob Chychrun’s last summer. “We all know he’s going to be traded,” she writes. “It’s just a matter of when, and to where.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson recently admitted speaking to clubs like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs. Of these, the Penguins appear to be the front-runners. My theory is they’re waiting to sort out Drew O’Connor’s arbitration before pulling the trigger as they’ll have a brief second contract buyout window to free some some cap room to take on Karlsson.
The Hurricanes’ signing of Tony DeAngelo last week likely takes them out of the Karlsson sweepstakes. Over the previous two years, the Kraken made splashes in the free-agent pool but have yet to swing a blockbuster trade. As for the Leafs, it’ll require considerable salary-cap juggling to pull it off.
Shilton noted the Minnesota Wild have limited salary-cap space for 2023-24. Nevertheless, she believes they could still have some wiggle room once they’ve got Filip Gustavsson and Calen Addison under contract to perhaps boost their secondary scoring.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on how much it costs them to get Gustavsson and Addison under contract. The high number of teams with limited cap room this summer could force forwards such as Tomas Tatar, Josh Bailey and Pius Suter to considerable pay cuts to play this season. They could also take a chance on a young forward like Max Comtois.
The Washington Capitals have been aggressively trying to ship out veteran center Evgeny Kuznetsov. If they wish to be a playoff contender this season, they’ll need reliable forward depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve also been trying to move Anthony Mantha. However, their disappointing performances and expensive salaries for this season make them difficult to move without adding sweeteners, retaining salary, or both. They could end up retaining those two for the coming season and see how things unfold.
Shilton believes the Seattle Kraken need to address their goaltending if they wish to remain a playoff contender this season. Philipp Grubauer works better in tandem than as a primary No. 1 netminder. So far, their goalies for the coming season are Grubauer, Chris Driedger and Joey Daccord.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: UFA options include Martin Jones (who shared the duties with Grubauer last season), two 38-year-olds in Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak and the 35-year-old Alex Stalock. Kraken GM Ron Francis will have to go the trade route if he wants to find younger, more reliable backups.
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz has passed away, Wild GM Bill Guerin named the club’s president of hockey operations, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement yesterday through a statement on the club’s website.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement(NHL Images).
Bergeron, 38, thanked the many people who supported him during his 19-season NHL career spent entirely with the Bruins. They included the club’s ownership, management, coaches and teammates, as well as his family, his agents and the fans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, Bergeron was the greatest two-way forward in NHL history and among the great players in Bruins history. He was also one of the classiest and most-respected players to lace up skates in the NHL and should be a first-ballot inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Bergeron was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 12 straight seasons (2011-12 to 2022-23), winning it a record six times. He’s third among the Bruins’ franchise leaders in total games played (1,294), goals (427) and points (1040) and fourth in assists with 613. He helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013 and 2019), winning the Cup in 2011 and captaining them to 65 wins and 135 points (both NHL records) in 2022-23.
In addition to his NHL success, Bergeron was also a winner on the international stage. He won gold playing for Canada at the 2004 World Championships, 2005 World Junior Championship, and the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. He was also part of Canada’s Spengler Cup win in 2012 and the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Shukri Wrights wondered who will replace Bergeron as the Bruins’ captain. He mentioned long-time winger Brad Marchand and top defenseman Charlie McAvoy as possible candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing Bergeron as team captain will be a difficult task. Finding someone to fill his role as their first-line center is a much bigger challenge. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill.
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Rocky Wirtz, the chairman of the Blackhawks since 2007, passed away on Tuesday at age 70. Taking over following his father William’s death, he was responsible for the club’s ascension from an also-ran into a Stanley Cup contender, winning three championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus observed, Wirtz leaves behind a mixed legacy. While he resurrected the Blackhawks following years of stagnation during his father’s tenure as team owner, he was also the club’s chairman when Kyle Beach was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2010 by the team’s video coach at the time.
An investigation cleared Wirtz but several key front-office personnel were fired, including general manager Stan Bowman and team president John McDonough. He angrily shouted down his son and two reporters for mentioning Beach during a disastrous town hall event in February 2022. Wirtz subsequently issued an apology but was rarely seen at Blackhawks events after that.
STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild named general manager Bill Guerin as their new president of hockey operations.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: The New York Islanders are still awaiting a decision from Zach Parise if he’ll retire or return for another season. Parise, 38, completed his 18th NHL season, playing in all 82 games and scoring 21 goals while seeing time on their power-play and penalty-killing units.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed Eetu Luostarinen to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3 million. The 24-year-old forward is earning $1.5 million on his current contract which expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Luostarinen made significant progress in his three seasons with the Panthers. He saw top-six minutes last season, netting a career-best 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points.
NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 25, 2023
The Stars sign GM Jim Nill to a contract extension, the Hurricanes sign Tony DeAngelo plus the latest speculation on the Leafs, Rangers and Coyotes in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors
MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed general manager Jim Nill to a two-year contract extension. He is entering his 11th season with the Stars and became the first general manager in franchise history to win the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill did a fine job rebuilding the Stars in his early years, weathering some difficult times and bringing in young talent such as Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Jake Oettinger. They reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 and the Western Conference Final last season.
DeAngelo, 27, played for the Hurricanes in 2021-22 and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, who signed him to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $5 million. However, the Flyers bought out the final year of his contract earlier this month, making him an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo played a better-disciplined game during his first tenure with the Hurricanes which explains why the Hurricanes brought him back. They had a trade in place with the Flyers earlier this month to acquire him with the latter retaining half of his cap hit but the deal was rejected on a CBA technicality.
The Hurricanes were reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring San Jose Sharks blueliner Erik Karlsson. Signing DeAngelo likely takes them out of the Karlsson sweepstakes.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Minnesota Wild and goaltender Filip Gustavsson could be headed to arbitration to resolve his contract situation. Gustavsson, 25, is coming off a two-year contract with an AAV of $787,500. He filed for arbitration and his hearing date is Aug. 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustavsson and the Wild will make their respective contract submissions to the arbitrator 48 hours prior to his scheduled hearing.
Simmons doubts the Leafs will get anything close to equal value for Nylander in a trade. He recommends letting the 27-year-old winger play out the final year of his contract and then let him walk via free agency. Simmons argues the Leafs could use the money they would’ve paid Nylander to put toward “all kinds of possibilities for roster movement” between now and next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The latest reports on Nylander’s contract negotiations claim they’re not going well with the two sides far apart.
General manager Brad Treliving went through a similar situation in 2021-22 with winger Johnny Gaudreau while GM of the Calgary Flames. He hoped to re-sign Gaudreau but wound up watching the winger depart for Columbus as a free agent last summer.
That’s sparked speculation that Treliving won’t go through the same thing with Nylander. Others, meanwhile, share Simmons’ belief that they should retain him this season as the Leafs chase the Stanley Cup, let him walk next summer and use the cap room to bolster their depth elsewhere.
It’ll be interesting to see how Treliving addresses this. While he won’t get equal value for Nylander in the trade market, he could get a couple of promising young players in return who could blossom into future stars. However, if the “Shanaplan” remains pursuing the Stanley Cup this season, they’ll likely keep Nylander and watch him depart as a free agent next July.
TSN: Travis Yost considers the contract buyout possibilities for the Maple Leafs in the wake of Ilya Samsonov’s contract award via arbitration on Sunday.
With the Leafs now well over the $83.5 million salary cap, Yost believes a buyout is coming before their second buyout window closes barring a cost-cutting trade. He suggests oft-injured goaltender Matt Murray or defenseman T.J. Brodie as candidates, though buying out the latter could hurt their efforts to be a Cup contender this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yost also points out that the Leafs could place Murray on long-term injury reserve. However, they would have to be salary-cap compliant once he’s ready to return to the lineup. Of course, if injuries have ended his playing career they can place him on LTIR and buy out Brodie or someone else.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently noted an unusually large number of free agents remain unsigned. He wondered how many of them would accept one-year contracts or tryout offers and if the Rangers might be able to tap into that low-cost pool to fill out their roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi might not be able to play until much later in the coming season. He underwent double hip surgery and faces a long recovery period.
GOPHNX.COM: In his latest mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about why the Arizona Coyotes didn’t trade Nick Schmaltz this summer given how backloaded his contract was. Morgan believes they’re willing to absorb that cost given their shift to improving year over year as well as Schmaltz’s chemistry with high-scoring winger Clayton Keller.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan believes Keller wouldn’t have been very happy if Schmaltz was traded. He tied the franchise single-season points record (86) in 2022-23 with Schmaltz as his linemate.
Morgan was also asked about the trade rumors that swirled about Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka. While they’re always willing to listen to offers, management hasn’t put Vejmelka on the trade block.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi sign with the Leafs, the Wild acquire Pat Maroon, Kailer Yamamoto joins the Kraken, the latest on Max Pacioretty and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year, $5.5 million contract.
TSN: The Leafs also signed Max Domi to a one-year deal, this one worth $3 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Brad Treliving made up for his underwhelming moves on the opening day of free agency. Adding two forwards with offensive skills who also bring a physical edge to the roster, Treliving is attempting to address a longstanding issue for the Leafs during postseason play.
Boston Bruins winger Tyler Bertuzzi (NHL Images).
Bertuzzi, 28, is often sidelined because of his gritty style of play. Nevertheless, he has three seasons with 20-plus goals and 40-or-more points on his resume, including a career-best 30-goal, 62-point performance in 2021-22 with Detroit. Traded to Boston at the March trade deadline, he had 16 points in 21 regular-season games for the Bruins and was tied for the club lead in playoff points with 10.
This is a homecoming for the 28-year-old Domi, having grown up in Toronto and around the Leafs when his father played for the club. A skilled but inconsistent playmaker, he’s reached or exceeded 40 points five times in his eight previous NHL campaigns. Entering 2023-24, the Leafs will be his seventh team in nine seasons.
The high number of clubs with limited cap space made it difficult for Bertuzzi and Domi to find more lucrative offers with longer terms. By accepting one-year contracts, they can hit the open market again next summer when the salary cap is expected to jump by at least $4 million.
Cap Friendly indicates both signings push the Leafs to over $8 million above the $83.5 million cap. Teams are allowed to be above the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be compliant when the season begins in October. We’ll have a look at how they could address this in today’s Rumor Mill update.
SPORTSNET: The notable players available in the UFA market include Vladimir Tarasenko, Matt Dumba, Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, and Zach Parise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The amount of quality talent remaining in this shallow free-agent pool is quickly draining away. Kane isn’t expected to sign a contract anytime soon as he continues to rehab from a hip procedure. Bergeron remains undecided if he’ll return with the Bruins or retire.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Max Pacioretty hopes to prove he’s still the scorer he once was following two surgeries to repair a torn Achilles tendon. On Saturday, Pacioretty inked a one-year, $2 million contract with the Capitals. The deal also includes $2 million in performance bonuses.
TWINCITIES.COM/TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Minnesota Wild acquired forward Pat Maroon and minor leaguer Max Cajkovic from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2024. The Lightning retained 20 percent of Maroon’s $1 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maroon has a 16-team no-trade clause but Minnesota either wasn’t on that list or he agreed to go there. The three-time Stanley Cup champion is an affordable addition to the cap-strapped Wild, bringing considerable playoff experience and leadership to the roster along with an additional physical edge.
This is yet another cost-cutting move by the Lightning that bites further into their supporting cast. Their core talent remains intact but salary-cap limitations have forced them to cut into the roster depth that made them a perennial Stanley Cup finalist.
SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken signed Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. He was traded last week by the Edmonton Oilers to the Detroit Red Wings, who bought out the final year of his contract.
BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Sabres general Kevyn Adams has opted not to pursue a goaltender in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. He is prepared to go into this season with Eric Comrie and youngsters Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Devon Levi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer’s free-agent goalie market was thin on talent plus the cost of acquiring someone like Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebucyk and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart is expensive. Nevertheless, this is a gamble for Adams. Inconsistent goaltending could once again hamper his club’s chances of ending their long playoff drought.
THE TENNESSEAN: Mark Borowiecki has been hired by the Nashville Predators as a pro development coach. He announced his retirement as a player in May after 12 NHL seasons.