NHL News & Notes to 02 Jul 2019

A few news items from around the NHL. I wrote most of these notes before the July 1 UFA signing frenzy, to see who signed where and for how much look here.

League

  • Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5 M. The cap floor is $60.2 M. The salary cap for the 2018-19 season was $79.5 M and $75 M in 2017-18. Some experts say when the USA TV deal, signed in 2011 for $2 B for 10 years with NBC Sports expires in 2021, the cap will increase by a greater percentage than in the past few years.
  • The League announced that Montreal will host the 2019-20 Entry Draft.  The event will be held on June 26 & 27, 2020 at the Bell Center. Quebec native Alexis Lafreniere is expected to go first overall. This past season playing for Rimouski in the QMJHL, Lafreniere recorded 37 goals and 68 assists for 105 points in 61 games.
  • Cuban-American billionaire Alex Meruelo was approved as the majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes at the recent Board of Governors meeting that was held in Las Vegas. Former Coyotes owner Anthony Barroway retains a 5% ownership position. The sale will officially close sometime in July 2019.
  • Some of the recent rule changes were announced in the past two weeks including:
    • After a PP or icing, the offensive team gets to pick which side the face-off in the offensive zone will occur on.
    • 3rd coaches challenge added (in addition to goalie interference and off-side) – for missed stoppages of play in offensive zone leading to a goal such as illegal hand pass, missed high stick, missed puck hitting the out of play protective netting. If a coach calls for a video review and the call is not overturned, a 2 min penalty is assessed and if they are wrong on a second challenge, a double minor is assessed. Also, for major and match penalties, the ref who made the call can review it at the penalty box after they assessed the penalty and confirm it but at least a minor penalty would be assessed. The on ice officials have final call. Commissioner Bettman added the two minute and four minute penalties for failed coaches challenge have been introduced to deter coaches from overusing challenges. Bettman said the objective with the coaches challenges is for it to be used for clear missed calls only.

Seattle

  • The Oak View Group announced that Palm Springs is the location for their new AHL franchise. The AHL entry fee is $5 M which Oak View Group will be paying plus they need to build a new arena (the whole Seattle NHL team project is completely privately funded). The whole securing of an AHL location was something now Oilers coach Dave Tippett worked on before he left the Seattle franchise. The new Palm Springs arena is in the downtown area of the city and the land is owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (the new building will be built on tribal land). Live Nation (entertainment company) is a partner on the arena deal and will bring live entertainment events to the new building. Construction of the new building is planed to start in February 2020 and the new building will seat 10,000 fans.
  • Former NHL goaltender Sean Burke interviewed with Seattle for their vacant GM position. Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito was also in the running for the position but decided he wanted to remain with the Columbus organization. Another name that gets mentioned, though I don’t believe he’s been interviewed, is former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. His contract with Carolina expired on July 1, 2019 (he was in a private real estate business position after leaving the Hurricanes GM role but I am not sure he is still doing that) and there is some talk he wants to get back into the NHL in a management position. He was a co-GM at the spring World Hockey Championships for Team Canada. The Oak View Group has said they’ll hire a GM as soon as this summer, if they find the right person.
  • Oak View Group CEO Tod Leiweke was at the Entry Draft in Vancouver with a Seattle contingent as Seattle is hoping to host an Entry Draft as soon as June 2021. Seattle also has to hold an expansion draft in advance of their first season, mostly likely in September of 2021, so it’s not clear if it’s plausible that they’d hold both before playing their first NHL game.
  • Seattle hired Alexandra Mandrycky as Director of Hockey Adminstration. Mandrycky, 28, was with the Minnesota Wild for a time doing hockey analytics and player evaluation. Tod Leiweke said recently Mandrycky will have input into the team’s GM hire process. Mandrycky has an Engineering degree from Georgia Tech.
  • The KeyArena renovations are in the interior building demolition stage and all indications are that things are progressing on schedule.

Team Management

  • The Anaheim Ducks have promoted Dave Nonis to assistant GM. His previous title was consultant to GM Bob Murray. Also with the Ducks, David McNab has been promoted to Senior VP of Hockey Operations & has signed a 2 year contract extension.
  • The GM of the Year, Don Waddell, does not have a contract in place for the 2019-20 season but has verbally agreed to stay in the role as Hurricanes General Manager. Waddell said he and owner Tom Dundon have a good working relationship but have yet to agree to a new contract. The Hurricanes have added 3,000 new season tickets holders since the start of last season.
  • The St. Louis Blues announced a 3 year contract agreement with head coach Craig Berube. No dollars figures were disclosed.
  • Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol joined the Leafs as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff. Hakstol joins Paul McFarland Leafs assistant coaches. Hakstol will focus on the defense while McFarland will work with the forwards and PP group.
  • The New York Islanders added former Leafs assistant coach Jim Hiller as an assistant coach on head coach Barry Trotz’s staff. Hiller is a noted expert on running the PP.
  • Former St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne joins the Ottawa Senators as an assistant coach on head coach DJ Smith’s staff. With Jack Capuano and now Payne, the Senators have two former head coaches on their coaching staff. Payne was most recently an assistant coach on Sabres then head coach Phil Housley’s staff and, before that, was an assistant coach with the LA Kings where he won a Stanley Cup in 2014.
  • Arizona hired former Sabres head coach Phil Housley as an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff. Housley will work the Coyotes defense group. Before being the Sabres head coach the past two seasons, Housley was an assistant coach in Nashville where he was responsible for the team’s defense group. Coyotes GM John Chakya said he was very happy to add Housley as he had other offers and chose to work with the Coyotes. Head coach Rick Tocchet added the Coyotes want to play and up-tempo style and Housley will be key in training the defense group to move the puck from the d zone to the forwards quickly.
  • The Oilers added former Arizona Coyotes assistant coach Jim Playfair as one of Oilers head coach Dave Tippett’s assistant coaches. Playfair will be responsible for the Oilers defense group. Playfair was a Tippett assistant coach with the Coyotes from 2011 to 2017.
  • The Los Angeles Kings added Trent Yawney as an assistant coach on head coach Todd McLellan’s staff. Yawney will reportedly work with the Kings defense group. It’s Yawney’s forth Pacific Division team that he’s been an assistant coach on. Yawney joins Kings assistant coach Marco Sturm and goaltending coach Bill Ranford on Kings head coach Todd McLellan’s staff.
  • The Coyotes also added former player Scott Walker, who was the Canucks Director of Player Development for the past four years, as a special assistant to GM John Chayka. They also promoted Jake Goldberg to AGM and Phil McRae to Director of North American Scouting. Also, Brian Stewart was appointed to Director of Pro Scouting. It’s not clear if the sale to new owner Alex Meruelo has any effect on the Coyotes front office hires.
  • The Flyers added former player Nick Schultz as a Player Development Coach. Schultz played for the Flyers from 2014-17 plus played for the Minnesota Wild when Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher was there as GM.
  • The Nashville Predators added former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi as a Defense Development coach. They also added Sebastien Bordeleau as a Player Development coach and Dave Rook as a Goaltending coach. Rook had been a consultant to Nashville for the past 5 seasons. Rook was previously a goaltending coach with the OHL London Knights for 6 seasons as well as with St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets.
  • The Minnesota Wild added former player Matt Hendricks as Assistant Director of Player Development. Hendricks will work with the Wild Director of Player Developer, Brad Bombardier, and assist in player evaluation and implement programs to continue player development in the Wild organization. Hendricks just recently announced his retirement as an NHL player.
  • Ottawa Senators added former player Clarke MacArthur in their Player Development Dept. MacArthur will work part time with the Senators players and prospects. MacArthur was recently on the ice coaching at the Senators summer development camp. MacArthur had an abrupt end to his playing career due to concussion problems so it’s good to see him back in the game.
  • Former NHL player Steven Reinprecht has joined the Avs front office in a player development role.  Reinprecht was also recently coaching at the Avs summer development camp.
  • Anaheim Ducks added former player Francois Beauchemin in their player development department that is run by Director Todd Marchant.
  • Charlotte Checkers AGM/Director of Hockey Operations/head coach Mike Vellucci has left the Hurricanes organization to join the Penguins as head coach of their AHL team, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. Vellucci won the Coach of the Year award in the AHL and delivered Charlotte their first Calder Cup this past season. Vellucci was with the Charlotte organization for the past 5 seasons and, before that, spent 14 years coaching in the OHL (Plymouth Whalers) where Pens current GM Rutherford oversaw the team (when he was GM with Carolina & former Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos owned the Whalers). With Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan entering the final year of his contract, it will be interesting to see how the 2019-20 season plays out in Pittsburgh.
  • Canucks GM Jim Benning enters the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract. No word from the organization if they plan to talk to him about an extension.
  • Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is also entering the final year of his contract. In 191 games as Bruins head coach, Cassidy has a record of 117-52-0-22. GM Don Sweeney said they plan to extend Cassidy.
  • Former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is apparently in discussions with multiple teams about a front office position. The Vancouver Canucks are one team that have said they’ve talked to Chiarelli. Canucks GM Jim Benning and Chiarelli worked together in the Bruins front office in the past.

Entry Draft 2019

  • In the first round, by position, there were 11 centers, 11 defenseman, 5 RW, LW 4 and 1 goaltender selected.
  • Apparently trade discussions were fairly quiet at the draft. The GM’s just had just received their team cap number, $81.5 M, the evening before.
  • Some of the Canadian teams first round selections:
    • Canucks (10th overall): Russian Vasili Podkolzin (6’0” / 190 pounds) was ranked as high as 4th going into the draft. Starred for Russia at the summer Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Team captain, led the tournament with 8 goals and 11 points in 5 games. Has 2 years left on his contract in the Russian league and says he wants to stay in Russia before playing in the NHL. Expected to play for Russia at the Christmas time World Juniors that are in the Czech Republic.
    • Oilers (8th overall): Swedish defenseman Phillip Broberg. Experts says he could be like Oilers number one defenseman Oscar Klefbom but better. Six foot four and 200 pounds, 18 years old, with elite level skating ability. Broberg is eligible to play in the AHL in the 2019-20 season or back home in Sweden. Sounds like it could be Sweden where he’ll represent his country at the World Juniors Tournament in December/January.
    • Flames (26th overall): Jakob Pelletier a small (5’9” & 160 pounds), speedy and skilled winger. Recorded 39 goals and 50 assists (89 points) in 65 games with Moncton of the QMJHL this past season.
    • Winnipeg (20th overall ) – this is the first round pick acquired in the Trouba trade and the Jets took a Finnish defenseman named Ville Heinola. Heinola said he models his game after fellow Finn Miro Heiskanen. Heinola recorded 14 points on 2 goals in 34 games in a Finnish league in 2018-19.
    • Leafs (2nd round, #53 overall) – Nick Robertson a 5 foot 9 LW who, with the OHL Peterborough Petes this season, had 27 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 55 games played. Robertson was born in Michigan. Said to be a shifty, strong forechecker with good offensive skills.
    • Montreal (15th overall) –  Cole Caufield. 29 goals and 12 assists for 41 points in 28 games playing for the USA National Development Program. One scout said he’ll score more goals at the NHL level than Alex DeBrincat but I don’t believe that myself (.42 goals per game at age 19 and 20 in his first two NHL seasons for DeBrincat).
  • The Red Wings made the first surprise pick going with a German born defenseman named Moritz Seider at 6th overall. He was rated #15 going into draft weekend. Seider is reportedly both strong offensively and defensively plus has high end hockey sense. Reportedly impressed at the Wings recent summer development camp.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted another Foote – as in former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote’s kid, Nolan. Nolan went 27th overall and this recent season with Kelowna of the WHL recorded 36 G & 27 A for 63 points in 66 games played. The ‘Bolts already have Nolan’s brother, Cal Foote (2017 /14th overall), a defenseman that played the recent season for the Lightning AHL team in Syracuse (31 points in in 76 games on 10 goals). Nolan signed his 3 year entry level contract four days after the end of the entry draft.

Scuttlebutt

  • The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to match the offer sheet presented to Sebastian Aho. Montreal offered Aho a 5 year deal at $8.454 M with a lot of the money paid in July 1 signing bonuses. The talk was Aho was looking for $9 M – $9.5 M on a long term deal with the Hurricanes but no deal between the Hurricanes and Aho was close to being signed. Aho signed the offer sheet from Montreal which means Carolina has one week to match. The five year term walks Aho right into UFA status at age 26 (same deal Auston Matthews got) which Hurricanes GM Don Waddell admitted was not something they would have done.
  • The Wild are trying to reach an agreement with defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 29, who is one year from UFA status. Spurgeon recorded 43 points in 82 games while playing an average of over 24 minutes/game this past season with the Wild. He’ll make $5.187 M in the final year of his deal in 2019-20.
  • The Wild have the oldest roster in the league and just signed 32 year old Mats Zuccarello for 5 years at $6 M. It was a move that surprised some people.
  • Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (4th overall 2016) has apparently asked the team for a trade. Oilers GM Ken Holland said he only make deals that benefit the team so if he can’t work out a trade for the player that benefits the team, Puljujarvi won’t be dealt. Puljujarvi’s agent spoke out and said Jesse won’t play in Edmonton in the 2019-20 season saying if he’s not traded he’ll play in Europe but his first choice to play in the NHL. The player is currently rehabilitating from surgery he had on both his hips but sounds like he’s recovering well. Puljujarvi turned 21 years old in May. Oilers GM Holland is reportedly asking for a top prospect from another team in return for Puljujarvi.
  • San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton says he plans to return for the 2019-20 season and he’s not looking at it as his final year saying he hopes to play as long as he enjoys it. GM Doug Wilson said Thornton, 40, is an inspiration to his teammates and they are very happy he’ll return in 2019-20.
  • Was reported Monday night that Vegas is shopping Russian forward Nikita Gusev. Gusev recorded 82 points in 62 games in the KHL this season is suppose to be the top player that is not in the NHL currently. Vegas signed him to a one year deal and near season’s end and he did not get into a single NHL game. He’s is now a 26 year old RFA. The Golden Knights have apparently tried to reach a contract agreement with him but they are not close and Vegas is right up against the $81.5 M salary cap. Gusev is suppose to be looking for about $3.5 M – $4 M / season on a multi year deal.
  • The Sharks would like to apparently move back-up goaltender Aaron Dell who has one year remaining on his contract at $1.9 M. Dell did not have a strong 2018-19 season; his goals against average was 3.17 and SV%.886.
  • With Joe Pavelski leaving the Sharks for the Dallas Stars (3 years at $7 M /season), some experts believe Logan Couture will be named the next Sharks captain. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said head coach Peter DeBoer will choose who will be the Sharks new captain.
  • New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall, one season from UFA, is expected to play out the 2019-20 season with the Devils and do his UFA situation in the same manner Leafs star John Tavares did, that is look at offers and decide in the few days leading up to July 1, 2020. All indications point to him not negotiating with the Devils during the upcoming season. Hall has said his number one objective when looking at his options on July 1, 2020 is a chance to win a Cup; so far in his nine year NHL career, he’s played in just 5 playoff games (last season with New Jersey).
  • Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, one year from UFA status, is apparently being shopped around the league. Faulk, 27, had 35 points in 82 ‘Canes games in 2018-19 while playing 22.5 minutes/game.
  • Winnipeg Jets 22 year old center Jack Roslovic (a Columbus native) is an RFA and needs a new contract. Apparently, he recently fired his Columbus-based agent who had represented him for over 6 years because he wants a solution to his lack of playing time at the NHL level. Roslovic was drafted 25th overall in 2015. In the 2018-19 season, the recorded 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points which averaging 9:45 mins/game. Roslovic is now represented by former NHL’er Claude Lemieux.
  • Former 1st rounder Patrik Berglund is trying to catch on with an NHL team. Berglund, part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal that saw him go to Buffalo from St. Louis, went home to Sweden before Christmas (2018) because he said he lost interest in playing. No word if any team is willing to give him an opportunity. In 23 games with the Sabres this past season, he recorded 2 goals and 2 assists. Berglund was drafted 25th overall in 2006.

Star Class of 22/23 year old RFA’s

  • Some say the star RFA’s are looking to see what Leafs Mitch Marner signs for. Some of these top 22/23 year old RFA starts include:
    • Lightning Brayden Point (41 G & 51 A for 92 points in 79 games played) 1.16 PPG as a 22 year old
      • GM Julian BrisBrois said at the draft the two sides continue to work at it but they are not yet close to a deal. Talk is the team would like to do a 2-3 year deal while the player was hoping for something in the 5 year range. Point has been clear that he really wants to stay with the Lightning organization. He recorded two less points than Marner so Point would be in about the $9 M /season range. As a center, some say his value would exceed that of a winger like Marner.
    • Avs Mikko Rantanen (87 points in 74 games, 1.17 PPG as a 22 year old)
      • Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and Mikko Rantanen’s agent, Mike Luit, are trying work out a new contract for the RFA forward. Doesn’t sound like a deal is near but talks are cordial. Rantanen recorded 87 points in 74 games in the 2018-19 season for the Avs. The Avs have the most cap room of any NHL team at $27 M so that part is not an issue.
    • Flames Matthew Tkachuk (77 points in 80 games on 34 goals)
      • GM Brad Treliving is trying to bridge the gap in Tkachuk’s asking price and what the team is willing to pay. No numbers have be disclosed publicly but would seem the number to get the player signed would be about $8 M /season. There is some discussion as to whether the Flames will bridge the player, i.e. sign him to a shorter term deal. If I had to guess based on some of Treliving comments, it will be a 4-5 year deal and not the max 8. Flames initially said they didn’t not want a player to exceed Mark Giordano’s $6.75 M/season (same as Johnny Gaudreau) but Tkachuk’s new deal will for sure make him the highest paid Flames player.
    • Canucks Brock Boeser (26 G & 30 A)
      • Word is Boeser is looking for about $7.5 M on a 4 or 5 year deal. A contract agreement is reportedly not close but talks are progressing.
    • Sharks Timo Meier (66 points on 30 goals in 2018-19)
      • The Sharks reached a 4 year contract agreement with Meier at an annual rate of $6 M which is an excellent team-friendly deal. Meier, 22, had a very good post season and has developed into a top player on the team. Thirty goals and thirty six assists for 66 points in 78 games plus 15 points in 20 post season games.
    • Jets forward Kyle Connor
      • Other teams reached out to Connor during the RFA speaking window but the player wants to remain in Winnipeg. Thirty four goals and 66 points this past season for 22 year old Connor.
    • Jets forward Patrik Laine (30 goals and 50 points)
      • Expected to sign a bridge deal with the Jets as in a short term deal, 3-5 years. Jets are trying to develop Laine’s overall game as he’s been, so far, a goal scorer that lacks some value when the goals are not going in.
    • Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (26 points in 82 games) 22 years old. Went 7th overall in 2015. Averages 25 minutes a game.
      • Apparently, the Flyers and the agent for Provorov are not close at all in the financial valuation of the player.
    • Leafs Mitch Marner (94 points in 82 games on 26 goals)
      • The players agent and GM Dubas are trying to find common ground somewhere between $9 M -$11 M per season range. Sounds like it will be a 4-5 year term and not a max, 8 year term. The player wants to be compensated the same as Auston Matthews, 5 years for $11.6 M, but the organization sees him more in the Mark Stone/Nikita Kucherov, $9.5 M /season, range. Teams did reach out to Marner during the RFA speaking window but, so far, no team is willing to do an offer sheet where the Leafs, if they didn’t match, they’d get four first round picks. Sounds like discussions were more around gauging his interest in moving on from the Leafs.

Hockey Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees

  • Builders Category
    • Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. Won a Cups with 2 different franchises, Carolina (1) and the Penguins (2). He’s just the 7th person since NHL expansion in 1967-68 to achieve that.
    • Jerry York – 1,000 wins as a NCAA college coach at Boston College
  • Players Category
    • Hayley Wickenheiser – she won 4 Olympic goal medals. Is the Leafs assistant director of player development. Also working on completing a medical degree from University of Calgary.
    • Sergei Zubov – some say the greatest Russian born defenseman to ever play in the NHL. Zubov is 2nd in points for a Russian born NHL defenseman with 771 (Sergei Gonchar had 811 points).
    • Guy Carbonneau – 3 Cups, two with Montreal and one with Dallas, one of the top defensive forward all-time. Won the Selke award 3 times (1988, 1989 and 1992)
    • Vaclav Nedomansky – former LA Kings pro scout and played 421 NHL games (122 G & 156 A) back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
  • Daniel Alfredsson was eligible as was Vincent Lecavalier and Patrik Elias but they were not selected.

NHL Awards

  • Vezina (Top goaltender): Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning goaltender enters the 2019-20 season on the final year of his contract and experts say he could be in the $9 M range for his next deal. He’s the top goaltender in the league and he’s just 24 years old. He already holds the Lightning franchise record for shutouts in the regular season with 18.
  • Flames captain Mark Giordano was the first Flames player to win a Norris trophy for the league’s top defenseman. Gio was the forth player to win the award at age 35 or older (Nick Lidstrom, Al MacInnis and Doug Harvey the others). Gio received 96.5% of the first place votes.
  • St. Louis Blues forward and Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly became the first player since Bob Gainey back in the 1978-79 season to win the Selke trophy (top defensive forward) and Conn Smythe (playoffs MVP) in the same season.
  • Islanders head coach Barry Trotz became just the 6th person to win the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year twice.
  • Wild forward Jason Zucker, winner of the King Clancy award for humanitarian work, said at the awards he wants to go to a team that wants him. Zucker has been mentioned in trade going back to last season. He was in a Flames deal (Michael Frolik for Zucker at the trade deadline) that fell through at the last minute and also in the Phil Kessel to Minnesota deal that Kessel veto’ed.
  • The League’s first and second all-star teams were announced at the awards:
    • First Team
      • Ovechkin-McDavid-Kucherov
      • Giordano-Burns
      • Vasilevskiy
    • Second Team
      • Marchand-Crosby-Kane
      • Carlson-Hedman
      • Bishop
    • All Rookie Team
      • Anthony Cirelli-Elias Pettersson-Brady Tkachuk
      • Rasmus Dahlin-Miro Heiskanen
      • Jordan Binnington

Transaction

  • The Penguins dealt Phil Kessel, Dane Birksand a 2021 4th round draft pick to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (23rd overall in 2017). No salary was retained by either team. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said Kessel asked for a trade multiple times this past season but Kessel denies that. There was talk since the end of the regular season the Penguins wanted to move a core player. From the Arizona side, Coyotes GM John Chayka said because Galchenyuk is one season from UFA, they could of lost him for nothing at the end of the 2019-20 season. Kessel apparently has a very good relationship with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. Tocchet was a Penguins assistant coach before taking the head coaching position with the Coyotes at the start of the 2018-19 season. The Coyotes identified goal scoring at the top area they were looking to improve on this off-season. Based on his 2018-19 points, Kessel would of led the Coyotes in points by 35. Kessel, 31, has 3 seasons left on his contract at $6.8 M /season. He didn’t have to waive his no trade clause as part of the deal as Arizona was not on his “no trade” list. Galchenyuk, 25, has one year left at $4.9 M. Kessel is four games from 1,000 for his career (823 points). He won two Cups with the Penguins.
  • San Jose signed defenseman Erik Karlsson to a max 8 year deal at an annual average value (cap hit) of $11.5 M, $92 M total. Because Karlsson re-signed with San Jose, Ottawa receives a 2nd round draft pick in 2021. Some experts were surprised GM Wilson gave Karlsson a max term as the highest paid defenseman. This past season, Karlsson struggled all season with injuries.
  • Former Rangers and Jets forward Kevin Hayes signed a 7 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA. It’s 7 seasons at $7.14 M /season. The deal includes a full no move clause in the first 3 seasons plus draft expansion protection and a modified no trade clause (12 teams he can’t be traded to) for the remaining 4 seasons. Hayes’, 27, highest point total in 5 full NHL seasons is 49 but he shows improvement year over year. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said Hayes is a top “200 foot player” who is skilled both offensively and defensively. Hayes is apparently also very good on the PK as well.
  • Former Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba was finally dealt landing with the New York Rangers (the deal is Trouba for Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk and the Rangers first round draft pick in 2019 which turned into 18 year old Finnish defenseman Ville Heinola) . Trouba, 25, was a RFA but wanted a trade to an American city as his fiancee is in medical school and wanted to work in the ‘States. The Rangers and Trouba are apparently in discussion about a long term deal, expected to be a max 7 year contract, at a rate of about $7.5 M – $8 M /season. Trouba was 13th in defenseman points last season with 50.  The Rangers have really managed their re-build well starting from bringing in Boston College hockey coach David Quinn to drafting Kaapo Kakko (2019, 2nd overall) plus adding top prospect defenseman Adam Fox in a trade with the Hurricanes. Forward Lias Andersson (7th overall in 2017) is expected to be an NHL star. Also, their first rounder from 2018 (9th overall), Vitali Kravtsov, is a highly rated young player. Rangers 28 goal scorer Chris Kreider is one year from being unrestricted. The organization values his goal scoring ability and have discussed a new deal with him but it’s not clear if they’ll be able to agree on terms. Head coach David Quinn said at the draft the Rangers are aiming to get back in the post-season in the 2019-20 season.
  • Vegas signed forward William Karlsson, 26, to a max 8 year deal at an average annual rate of $5.9 M /season. Vegas has no state income tax so it’s a popular place to play for the players. Karlsson apparently really wanted a max term deal and the team pushed for a lower AAV and the two sides reach a deal. Karlsson recorded 56 points on 24 goals in the 2018-19 season. The contract includes clause of 10 team’s he can’t be traded to.
  • The Cup champs Blues signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.75 M. He was a July 1 UFA.
  • The Canadiens signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a two year contract at an annual rate of $1.5 M /season. Reilly recorded 3 goals and 11 points in 57 games in 2018-19.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a 2 year deal at a AAV of $1.7 M. Coburn, 34, was a July 1 UFA. He made $3.7 M last season. The Lightning are one of the teams that are need every dollar of cap space as they have to yet sign Brayden Point.
  • The Sharks, another cap team will cap problems, traded defenseman Justin Braun to the Flyers for the Flyers second round draft pick in 2019 plus the Flyers 2020 third round draft pick. Braun played 9 season in San Jose recording 154 points on 25 goals. The move was related to the Sharks signing of Erik Karlsson (8 years at $11.5 M /season) as the Sharks don’t have enough cap room for all their good players.
  • The Dallas Stars placed forward Val Nichushkin on waivers to allow them to buy out his contract that has one year left. Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall in 2013. In 57 games this past season, the Russian forward recorded zero goals and 10 assists. He returned to the NHL at the start of the 2018-19 season after playing in Russia for 2 seasons. He was due to make $2.95 M in the 2019-20 season but as a less than 27 year old, the player gets just 1/3 of the contract amount paid over 2 seasons. The Stars also didn’t offer forward Brett Ritchie a qualifying offer which makes him a UFA (he signed in Boston for one year at $1 M). Add to the Pitlick trade and the Stars cleared some cap space. Nichushkin’s agent says his client hopes he can sign a contract to play in the NHL for the 2019-20 season.
  • Vancouver placed forward Ryan Spooner on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Spooner was due to make $4 M in the upcoming, 2019-20 season. He had 3 goals and 9 points in 52 games with the Canucks, Oilers and Rangers last season. The Canucks cited the recent retirement of Roberto Luongo that saw the Canucks hit with what’s called a “cap recapture penalty” of about $2.2 M that counts against their cap plus with the cap not increasing as much as expected they had to buy out a player.
  • The Flyers signed defenseman Travis Sanheim to a bridge deal, 2 years at $3.25 M /season. Sanheim, 23, was a first round selection of the Flyers from back in 2014 (17th overall). In 82 games this past season, he recorded 35 points on 9 goals which was 2nd on the team for points from a defenseman. I heard GM Brad Treliving say it’s positive the Flyers could bridge a 23 year old player adding it’s getting more challenging with young players out of their entry level deal.
  • The Flyers also signed veteran goaltender Brian Elliott to a one year, $2 M contract to back-up Carter Hart. GM Chuck Fletcher was also talking to Cam Talbot but Talbot wants to be a #1 not a back-up. Talbot ended up signing a one year deal with the Flames for $2.75 M.
  • Bruins defenseman signed Steven Kampfer a 2 year deal at an annual rate of $800,000. Kamper was a July 1, 2019 UFA.
  • Anaheim signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a one year deal for $1.125 M. Miller will back-up starter John Gibson. Miller became the winningest USA-born goaltender in history last season.
  • Ottawa signed forward Anthony Duclair to a one year deal at $1.65 M. Duclair was an RFA.
  • The Flyers bought out defenseman David Schlemko who had one year remaining on his deal ($2.1 M).
  • With Sergei Bobrovsky signing with the Panthers, Columbus signed their back-up from last season, Joonas Korpisalo, to a one year contract extension at $1.15 M.

Trades

  • New Jersey acquired defenseman PK Subban at the draft from Nashville. Going to Nashville were Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies and two second round draft picks. No salary was retained by Nashville which was key for Preds GM David Poile. The Leafs were in discussions with Nashville but I don’t believe could take on all of the $9 M / season Subban is owed. Subban said he is excited about the trade and he’s going to New Jersey to win a Stanley Cup. Subban has three more years left on his contract and should add a lot to the Devils -both on and off the ice. With Nashville, their captain Roman Josi is one year from UFA and GM Poile plans to re-sign him.
  • Tampa Bay, needing to clear cap space, traded forward JT Miller to the Canucks for goaltender Marek Mazanec, a third round draft pick (2019) and a conditional first rounder. If the Canucks make the post-season, the Lightning get the Canucks first round draft pick in 2020. If the Canucks don’t make the post-season, the first rounder bumps to 2021. The Lightning needed to clear cap space as they’ll have to pay RFA forward Brayden Point between $8 M and $9 M on a new deal.
  • Chicago acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela from Carolina in exchange for goaltender Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling. De Haan recorded 13 assists in 74 regular season game in the 2018-19 season. Apparently the Hurricanes were looking to shed salary in the deal with an eye to other possible moves. Chicago was looking to improve their defense with experienced defenders that are good on the PK and and this trade, plus adding Olli Maatta earlier this summer, are steps in that direction.
  • Dallas acquired forward Ryan Hartman, 24, from the Flyers in exchange for center Tyler Pitlick. Hartman had 26 points last season on 12 goals while Pitlick recorded 12 points on 8 goals. Pitlick has one year left on his contract, at $1 M/season, at which point he’ll be a UFA. Hartman was acquired by the Flyers at the trade deadline is an RFA so he needs a new contract. Hartman was not issued a qualifying offer by the Stars so is a July 1 UFA but Stars GM Jim Nill is reportedly still interested in signing the player. Pitlick, 27, is a physical/energy player than can make a play if an opportunity presents. In 47 games this past season, he recorded 8 goals and 4 assists while averaging 13 mins/game.
  • Vegas dealt forward Erik Haula to the Hurricanes for forward Nicolas Ray and a conditional 5th round pick in 2021. Haula, 28, played in just 15 games in the recent season as he suffered a leg injury in a game against the Leafs in Toronto. Haula scored a double OT winner against LA in the first round of Vegas’ first ever playoff series against LA. It was another cap clearing move by Vegas.
  • Vegas also dealt defenseman Colin Miller to the Sabres for a second round draft pick in 2021 and a 5th rounder in 2022. Miller’s name has been mentioned in trade for a while. Vegas President of Hockey Operations, George McPhee, said they are looking to promote one of their young prospect to replace Miller adding they want to give the young players hope that they can make the NHL club with hard work and patience. Miller, 26, has three seasons left at $3.875 M. Vegas is about $1 M over the cap even with this deal but the trade was, in part, about getting their cap under the $81.5 M limit.
  • The Capitals traded forward Andre Burakovsky to Colorado for forward Scott Kosmachuk and a 2020 second round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.
  • Avs traded forward Carl Soderberg to Arizona for defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third round draft pick. Avs GM Joe Sakic said the deal was about getting some of the young Avs centers like Tyson Jost & JT Compher more playing time. Both Jost (10th overall in 2016) and Compher has good post-seasons.
  • Florida traded goaltender James Reimer to Carolina for Scott Darling and a 6th round draft pick. The Panthers then bought out Darling making him a UFA. Reimer had spent the past 3 seasons with the Panthers and struggled a bit in 2018-19 with a 13-12-5 record and a 3.09 GAA with a .900 SV%. Reimer has two years left on his contract at $3.4 M /season. The Panthers saved $2.17 M on their cap in 2019-20 and $1.07 M in 2020-21.

Leafs

  • Leafs shook up their roster a lot so far this off-season.
    • Going out:
      • Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Ron Hainsey and Tyler Ennis to Ottawa.
      • Calle Rosen to Colorado
    • New additions:
      • Cody Ceci, Jason Spezza (says his dream as a Toronto-born player would be to win a Cup as a Leaf), Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot
  • GM Kyle Dubas said he’s taking a page from the Raptors and going for a championship in 2019-20.
  • Nazem Kadri had been the longest serving player on the Leafs roster. A former Leafs GM Brian Burke draft pick, 7th overall, back in 2009 he seemed like a loyal player and was proud to be a Leaf. Avs GM Joe Sakic said he was looking to add some scoring depth and Kadri adds that. Sakic said Kadri will be the Avs second line center.
  • Tyson Barrie is a terrific offensive defenseman; he recorded 59 points in 78 games in 2018-19 and stood out in the post-season. The Leafs will only have him for one season, though, as he’s a UFA on July 1, 2020. The Leafs are paying only $2.75 M of Barrie’s $5.5 M salary. The Avs pay the rest as per terms of the trade. As a comparison, Ottawa is paying defenseman Ron Hainsey $3.5 M for next season.
  • New Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot (15 G & 27 A) is expected to file for arbitration (he’s an RFA) and should get about $3 M /season on a new deal.
  • Morgan Rielly is the only Leafs defenseman under contract after next season. The organization’s need to shore up their blueline will remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
  • New defenseman Cody Ceci needs a new contract as an RFA. The Senators tried to sign him but apparently the two sides were not close to a deal.
  • Three of the Leafs most consistent players on the penalty kill, Brown, Hainsey and Zaitsev are gone so the team may need to address that.
  • The Leafs expect 24 year old Russian forward Ilya Mikheyev (six foot two, 190 lbs) to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Babcock said the other day, the player is a big part of the future of the team. He signed a one year deal ($925,000) in May and was in the KHL the past few seasons.  He recorded 45 points on 23 goals in 62 games this past season with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
  • GM Dubas used the money that would of been paid to Marleau to sign Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. Kapanen, 22, gets a 3 year deal at $3.2 M /season and Johnsson, 24, got a 4 year deal at $3.4 M. Both players are Marlies graduates and seemed like they really wanted to stay with the Leafs organization.
  • Zach Hyman said the other day he is taking baby steps in his recovery from ACL surgery on his knee. He’s not yet been cleared to start skating and said he wants to make sure the knee is 100% healthy before he start getting back on the ice.
  • Leafs signed depth players Michael Hutchinson and Martin Marincin. Both contracts are one year at the league minimum, $700,000. Goaltender Hutchison went 2-3-0 with a 2.64 GAA and 1 shutout in 5 starts with the Leafs in 2018-19.
  • The Leafs play on opening night of the 2019-20 season, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 against Ottawa at Scotiabank Arena.
  • The Leafs lead the league in amount of player salaries paid in July 1 signing bonus money. They pay approx $47 M of an $81.M year cap in July 1 signing bonuses. Trades occur on July 1, such as the Zaitsev move to Ottawa, because the Leafs pay the signing bonus on July 1 ($3 M of his $4.5 M cap number) and Ottawa only pays Zaitsev $1.5 M for the season but $4.5 M counts against Ottawa’s cap. For a team that may not reach the cap floor, it works out well for the Senators. The Sharks payout the second most money in July 1 signing bonuses at about $26 M but it’s half of what the Leafs pay. Even with a hard cap, teams always find ways around it to benefit their organization. It appears to be a cap system that’s fair to all teams, but the reality it some teams can’t pay $81 M in cap dollars (Ottawa/Carolina).
  • The Leafs director of sports science and performance Dr. Jeremy Bettle has left MSLE and taken the same role with the Anaheim Ducks organization. His new title with Anaheim is Director of High Performance. Bettle joined the Leafs from the NBA New Jersey Nets in 2015.

Canucks

  • The Canucks organization announced Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have their #22 and #33 jersey’s retired in a ceremony at Rogers Arena sometime in February 2020. The organization will also have a week long celebration of the Sedins during February 2020.
  • Retired player Alex Burrows is getting his name inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honor. Burrows will join Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund with the honor.
  • GM Jim Benning signed defenseman Alex Edler to a two year contract at $6 M /season. Elder was going to be a July 1, 2019 UFA and has said many times when asked, he only wants to play in Vancouver. Edler’s deal includes a full no move clause for both years of the contract. Canucks head coach Travis Green said he is happy Edler re-signed as he’s still a top defenseman plus is a role model for the Canucks younger players both on and off the ice.

Retirement

  • Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement last week. Luongo placed a full page ad in one of the Vancouver newspapers thanking the fans in Vancouver. Luongo is 3rd in all-time goalie wins with 489 (Brodeur has 691 and Patrick Roy has 551) and 2nd in goaltender games played (1,044). Luongo leaves the NHL leading two franchises in all-time wins with the organization, Vancouver (252) and the Florida Panthers (230). Lu is 9th in all-time shutouts with 77 (Brodeur leads that list with 125). Luongo went 4th overall in the 1997 Entry Draft and retires with 3 year remaining on his contract (there was some talk he may go on the Long Term Injury Reserve List).
  • Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik announced his retirement last week. Orpik had a 15 year NHL career playing 1,035 NHL games and won 2 Cups. Orpik was drafted 18th overall in 2000 by the Penguins after winning an NCAA title at Boston College. Orpik won one Cup with the Penguins, 2009, and one with the Capitals, in 2017-18.
  • Former Penguins forward Max Talbot has retired from the League. Talbot played the recent season in the KHL. Talbot is going to work for CAA Hockey (player agency). Talbot was part of the Penguins 2009 Cup winning team.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, 34, was diagnosed with a degenerative back problem that will force him to retire. Callahan has one more season left on his contract at $5.8 M but the team will most likely place him on long term injury reserve (LTIR) which provides some portion of cap relief for the team. Callahan had 17 points in 52 games last season for TB.

Odds & Ends

  • The Vancouver Canucks are holding their 2019-20 training camp in Victoria.
  • Stars GM Jim Nill indicated recently he’s getting calls on defenseman Julius Honka and it sounds like he’ll be moved at some point. Honka was a 1st round, 14th overall, draft pick in 2014 but has not been able to make it full-time at the NHL level. In 29 games in 2018-19, he recorded no goals and four assists.
  • Hurricanes captain Justin Williams has not yet decided if he’ll continue his playing career. He said he doesn’t want to move his family again so it seems as though if he doesn’t play with the Hurricanes in 2019-20, he’ll retire.
  • Colorado has one of NHL’s top young defense with Cale Makar (4th overall 2017), Bowen Byram (4th overall 2019), Samuel Girard (47th overall 2017) and Conor Timmins (32nd overall 2017).
  • Also with the Avs, with goaltender Semyon Varmalov signing with the Islanders as a UFA, GM Sakic says the team will start the season with Philipp Grubauer as the starter and Pavel Francouz as the back-up.
  • UFA defenseman Adam McQuaid is still dealing with post concussion symptoms after an Andrew Shaw elbow back 2 months ago. His agent said recently his recovery time is undetermined. McQuaid, 32, ended the season with Columbus but also played with Boston and the Rangers in 2018-19.
  • Ottawa has approx $58.6 M in allocated cap space for the 2019-20 season and has to reach the $60.2 cap floor by the start of the new season.
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