With the free agent period set to open tomorrow morning, there are several interesting options available. One of those is Michael Del Zotto, who has shown flashes of brilliance in an otherwise underwhelming career so far. Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130 in Vancouver is reporting that the Canucks are the leading candidate on Del Zotto, after some productive talks during the free agent window.
Though Del Zotto isn’t a game-changing name, he does bring some upside and relative youth from a fairly stagnant market. At just 27 he’s one of the younger defensemen available and has shown the ability to be a 40-point player in the past. Vancouver, looking for assets to perhaps flip at the deadline would do well in taking a chance on the former Flyer. We ranked Del Zotto #24 among our Top 50 Free Agents, expecting him to get a two-year contract.
- The checkbook might have to come out for Ryan Johansen, as the Nashville Predators center is looking for $8.5MM per season on a long-term contract according to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. While the final number may come down substantially, Johansen does have a strong case as a restricted free agent. Though he’s only 24, Johansen already has six seasons under his belt in the NHL and thus would be giving away almost entirely UFA years in any long-term deal. After his fourth-straight 60-point season and checking basically every other box you want from a #1 center (size, defense and faceoffs) he has a lot of leverage in any negotiation. For what it’s worth, only five centers in the entire league have a cap hit of $8.5MM or above: Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby.
- Craig Morgan of AZ Sports tweets that four teams have reached out to agent Terry Bross in regards to Shane Doan, but the long-time Coyotes forward won’t make a decision for a while yet. It’s not even clear if Doan will actually play next season, but all signs point to him wanting to suit up once again. It probably need to be a legitimate role on a contender to coax Doan to come aboard, and it’s unclear where that will be. Doan ranked #35 on our free agent list, but wasn’t even included in the top 50 on two ballots. It’s clear that opinions are mixed on whether he has anything left to contribute around the league.
- Michael Russo of the Star Tribune has a couple of notes to pass along today, the first being that Thomas Vanek has had a few teams reach out including the Florida Panthers. Vanek has strong ties to the Minnesota community, but Russo doesn’t mention the Wild as a possibility for the 33-year old forward. The other note is concerning Marco Scandella and a continuing interest from the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo has been trying to improve their defense for a while, and Minnesota is still expected to move at least one defender before the start of the season.
- Dinamo Riga has signed former NHL goaltender Justin Peters, ending for now his struggle in the minor leagues. Peters got into three games for the Coyotes this season, but has spent the majority of his time in the AHL the last few seasons. A second-round pick by Carolina in 2004, he’s played in 83 games in his NHL career, registering a .901 save percentage.