The quality of players hitting the open market today after not receiving qualifying offers is much higher than in recent years past, as teams facing frightening salary cap crunches do not want to issue expensive offers or risk possible arbitration decisions. However, many of these top names officially becoming unrestricted free agents may not be done with their current team’s just yet. The poster boy of this idea is Ryan Hartman, acquired by the Dallas Stars yesterday only to not receive a qualifying offer today. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the team was unable to negotiate with Hartman in the short time after he was acquired and did not want to risk the potential award that he could land in arbitration. Dallas obviously made the deal knowing this was a possibility and LeBrun notes that they plan to use the waning days of early negotiating rights to their advantage in hopes of signing him. The same story rings true for the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Ben Hutton. The team did not want to pay Hutton his $2.8MM qualifying offer, nevertheless what he might make in arbitration, especially as they pursue another top defenseman in Tyler Myers, so the team tried to find another solution. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwhal reports that they tried first to trade Hutton, but to no avail. The only other possibility was to let him reach UFA status, negating his arbitration rights, and try negotiating a deal with a lower salary. It seems like a stretch for Vancouver, but so long as they have rights to Hutton, they’ll try their hardest to work out a deal. One last name that may not be headed elsewhere after all is young forward Curtis Lazar. The Calgary Flames did not feel Lazar was worthy of a near-$1MM qualifying offer or potential arbitration battle, but they also have not closed the door on re-signing him, writes beat reported Kristen Anderson. The Flames are continuing negotiations with Lazar’s camp in hopes that he may return at a lower number. However, after Lazar was given just one NHL appearance this season, one would think that he will look for a better opportunity elsewhere next season.
- Swiss hockey site He Shoots He Scores reports that a deal is imminent between NLA star Gaetan Haas and the Edmonton Oilers. The site relays the news directly from Haas’ agent, who claims an offer has been submitted and will be signed. The 27-year-old forward is coming off back-to-back dominant seasons, recording 30 goals and 79 points in 97 games overall for SC Bern. A two-way center who plays a complete game, this will be Haas’ first venture out of Switzerland, other than international competition, and the Oilers will hope his game can translate. This would be Edmonton’s second import of the off-season already, along with Swedish forward Joakim Nygard, as the team continues to seek affordable scoring help.
- Arizona State University continues to benefit from being the lone NCAA on the west coast by sweeping up the sons of former nearby NHLers. The Sun Devils received another notable commitment recently from none other than the son of Arizona’s most beloved hockey player, Shane Doan. Josh Doan, 17, announced that he will stay close to home by playing for the program, beginning in 2021-22. Doan was drafted by the USHL’s Chicago Steel last year and will likely spend a season or two with the team before arriving at Arizona State. Doan now joins Carson Briere and Jackson Niedermayer as sons of famous hockey fathers all committed to ASU. Add in recent New Jersey Devils draft pick, goaltender Cole Brady, and the future is looking bright for the upstart Sun Devils program.