With the trade deadline quickly approaching, activity has started to pick up around the league. Here are the top stories from the past seven days.
Predators Add Forward Depth: The Predators added some depth down the middle, acquiring veteran Brian Boyle from New Jersey in exchange for a second-round pick. Boyle is in the midst of one of the best offensive seasons of his career with 13 goals under his belt already in 49 games while being above average at the faceoff dot once again. He’ll give Nashville another strong option for their penalty kill as well. The Preds weren’t done there as they brought back winger Cody McLeod from the Rangers for a 2020 seventh rounder. McLeod will add some grit in the absence of Austin Watson who is currently under an indefinite suspension.
Capitals Extend Copley: Evidently, Washington likes what they’ve seen from backup goaltender Pheonix Copley this season, handing the first-year netminder a three-year, $3.3MM extension. The 27-year-old has posted a 2.97 GAA with a .904 SV% in 20 appearances so far this season, numbers that are quite close to starter Braden Holtby. Worth noting, the three-year term means he will be under contract for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021, meaning that the Capitals will be able to leave him unprotected, fulfilling the requirement of having one goalie under contract being available to be selected.
Matthews Extension: There will be one less player in the upcoming class of high-end restricted free agents as Toronto inked 2016 top pick Auston Matthews. However, unlike some of the top youngsters in recent years, he opted to not sign a max-term, eight-year contract. Instead, he put pen to paper on a five-year, $58.17MM contract, an AAV of $11.634MM which sits second overall in the league behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. A whopping 93.7% of the deal will be paid out in annual signing bonuses on July 1st, meaning that his base salary will be the league minimum in each year of the contract. Matthews sits second on the Maple Leafs in goals this season with 24 in just 39 games while he sits 11th in the league in points per game. With this deal done, Toronto will now turn their focus to pending RFA winger Mitch Marner who is likely to command a somewhat comparable contract.
Kovalchuk Available: Less than a year ago, winger Ilya Kovalchuk was one of the more sought after unrestricted free agents on the open market. He ultimately signed a three-year, $18.75MM contract with Los Angeles and the move hasn’t worked out as well as they had hoped as he has just 26 points in 44 games so far. Accordingly, with the team clearly looking to sell before the trade deadline, the Kings have made the 35-year-old available for trade. Kovalchuk has a full no-move clause so he will have control over where he goes if they’re able to find a taker for his contract.
Carlyle Fired: With Anaheim having lost 19 of 21 games (many of which weren’t close), something had to give. GM Bob Murray had already tried tinkering with the fringes of the roster but clearly, that wasn’t enough and something more significant needed to happen. It finally did as Murray relieved head coach Randy Carlyle of his duties. Interestingly enough, instead of promoting AHL bench boss Dallas Eakins or one of the assistants in an interim role, Murray himself will take over behind the bench for the remainder of the season despite having no prior coaching experience.
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