With teams worrying about players’ second contracts more than ever, the Winnipeg Jets may have one of the most challenging tasks this summer when they have to lock up star forward Patrik Laine, who hits restricted free agency on July 1. While many may ask why not offer him what he wants, the Jets have two other serious issues, including an already full salary cap as well as the fact that Laine has proven to be wildly inconsistent so far in his early career.
While Laine still tallied 30 goals this past season (his lowest total of his career), 18 of those goals came in November with Laine scoring no more than four goals in any other month. Regardless, The Athletic’s Murat Ates (subscription required) writes that while a long-term deal could net Laine close to $9MM per season, he might even get more if he opts to take a bridge deal and bank on the potential to get back to 40 goals in the next two years. With the potential to hit his peak within that time, he could really hit payday if he waits. However, that could be an even bigger problem to the team’s long-term salary outlook.
- The Athletic’s John Glennon (subscription required) writes that while the Nashville Predators have been ranked near the bottom when it comes to the franchise’s prospect cupboard, the Nashville Predators have some hope. The team does have a team in the AHL, the Milwaukee Admirals, who have slowly developed players that are ready to compete for spots on the NHL roster such as Eeli Tolvanen, Anthony Richard and Yakov Trenin, while the team has added some college depth to bolster their depleted group of prospects. Much of the team’s problems is that they have traded many picks to add talent over the last few years, but Glennon adds that the team has drafted well with the picks it has had whether they are in college, in juniors or playing overseas.
- The St. Louis Blues will be missing a defenseman Saturday when they open up Game 1 against the Dallas Stars as NHL.com’s Chris Pinkert writes that Carl Gunnarsson will sit out after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 against the Dallas Stars in the second round. Veteran Robert Bortuzzo is expected to replace him in the lineup. Gunnarsson, a third-pairing defenseman, saw his playing time decrease somewhat in the second-round series.
- SportsDay’s Matthew DeFranks writes that one offseason task that the Dallas Stars must look at is what to do with defenseman Julius Honka, who has been a healthy scratch for the final four months of the season as he hasn’t played a games since Jan. 15. The former first-round pick in 2014 has fallen down the depth chart as he has slipped behind Jamie Oleksiak, Ben Lovejoy, Taylor Fedun, Joel Hanley, Gavin Bayreuther and Dillon Heatherington. “We’re going to sit down over the summer now and we’re going to decide is he a part of this group or is he an asset to go get something else?” said Dallas general manager Jim Nill. “That’s what we’ve got to figure out.”