Despite some initial speculation early this off-season, it seems an NHL comeback for Pavel Datsyuk is unlikely. Speaking to Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press, agent Dan Milstein stated that Datsyuk’s probable landing spot remains his home town of Yekaterinburg with the KHL’s Avtomobilist. A free agent after wrapping up a very successful three-year stint with SKA St. Petersburg, Datsyuk made it known that he was leaving SKA and was hoping to land somewhere more familiar to he and his family. The 40-year-old center’s NHL rights are currently owned by the Arizona Coyotes, but they expire on July 1st with the start of the new league year. As such, there was some thought that he could return to the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent all 14 years of his NHL career. Datsyuk would be joining a team now run by fellow Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman and even in his advanced age, Datsyuk would have had the chance to return to a key role for Detroit. Although he recently visited the city and reportedly spoke to Yzerman and company, Milstein maintains that Datsyuk is more likely to settle into a cushy role in Yekaterinburg. “We are meeting in the coming days to discuss options and future plans,” Milstein said, but it seems that the decision is already close to being made. “It’s very likely Pavel will live up to his promise of playing for his hometown team in Russia.”
- In an article offering up some trade suggestions over the waning days of the NHL postseason for those teams no longer in the running, USA Today’s Kevin Allen notes that teams may not want to waste their time trying to pry a defenseman out of Carolina. The Hurricanes succeeded this season largely because of their strength on the back end and GM Don Waddell appears more concerned with maintaining that depth rather than leveraging it. Allen reports that the team is engaged in extension talks with long-time stalwart Justin Faulk, whose current contract expires after next season. Allen adds that the team is not interested in dealing Faulk or any of their top-four defensemen at this time, which certainly includes Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, and Brett Pesce, but may also include their big free agent addition from last summer, Calvin de Haan. The one defenseman who might have been dangled as trade bait is Trevor van Riemsdyk who, like Faulk, has only one year remaining on his contract. However, a long-term injury that will see van Riemsdyk on the sidelines to begin the season will probably put a damper on any trade talks. van Riemsdyk’s early-season absence will also allow youngsters Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean to see some NHL ice time, keeping all blue line parties content through another season at least.
- Offer sheets remain a rare occurrence in the NHL – the last came in 2013 – but that doesn’t stop talk from spreading every off-season that one of the top restricted free agents could finally land such an offer. One prominent RFA whose name has not been associated with an offer sheet thus far, perhaps should be, writes David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Schoen believes that center William Karlsson is a prime candidate for an offer sheet this summer. The Vegas Golden Knights are already buried in payroll and the off-season has yet to begin. CapFriendly estimates that they are already over the projected $83MM ceiling for next season, yet still have Karlsson, Nikita Gusev, Malcolm Subban, and others to re-sign. The Knights will be forced to move out salary regardless, but a substantial offer sheet signed by Karlsson may be too much for Vegas to match. Specifically, Schoen names the Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, and Detroit Red Wings as potential suitors, citing cap space and need for all four teams.
- While it is not a done deal, the Los Angeles Kings don’t appear worried about losing one of their key free agents. Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen reports that the Kings are close to extending Brett Sutter, the captain of the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Sutter, 32, is a respected veteran who Rosen states is a “great conduit between the coaching staff and dressing room.” An experienced and productive minor league forward, Sutter is the type of dedicated player that all organizations like to have around and it seems he will be back with L.A. for at least one more year.