The Lightning took care of some business on their back end yesterday when they re-signed Jan Rutta. Don’t be expecting their other pending UFA defensemen to follow suit quickly as Joe Smith of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that the team has yet to start contract discussions with Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn. Though Stralman had an injury-riddled season, he’s still likely to be viewed as a top-four blueliner on the open market which could make it difficult for Tampa Bay to re-sign him given their pending salary cap constraints. On the other hand, if Coburn is willing to take a big pay cut on his $3.7MM salary (a likely scenario given his limited role in 2018-19) he could make some sense to keep around as affordable veteran depth.
Elsewhere in the East:
- The Capitals have a pair of players that will be entering the final season of their contracts in July in center Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby. Both players indicated to J.J. Regan of NBC Sports Washington that they’re open to signing an extension this summer to forego testing the open market. The pair have only ever played for Washington but will be owed raises on their current deals. Backstrom’s $6.7MM AAV is well below market value for someone that has spent considerable time on the front line while Holtby ($6.1MM) is also fairly cheap for an established starter.
- While the lack of progress on an arena deal has led some to speculate that an ownership change or relocation could be on the table for the Senators, commissioner Gary Bettman told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch that the team isn’t for sale and moving them is not a consideration. Things were looking up in Ottawa with the proposed LeBreton Flats agreement but that deal fell apart with both parties involved ultimately taking each other to court. Meanwhile, Bettman wouldn’t confirm or deny if the league is involved in assisting the team with their search for a president of hockey operations.