There’s a goalie competition coming to Detroit. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that free agent goalie Calvin Pickard is poised to sign a two-year deal with the Red Wings when the market opens tomorrow. As Seravalli notes, that will pit him against Jonathan Bernier for the backup role behind Jimmy Howard. With Howard, 35, signed through just next year but both Bernier and soon Pickard signed for two more years, the time share in net next season in Detroit could be fascinating. Not only could the two veteran goalies battle to be Howard’s understudy next season, but they could be in line to replace him a season later. Neither keeper found much success in 2018-19. Bernier, who some expected to beat out Howard for the starting job, instead posted the worst numbers of his career – a .904 save percentage and 3.16 GAA – in 35 appearances. Pickard fared even worse, allowing an .875 save percentage and 3.86 GAA in a season split between the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes. Pickard’s advantage in the battle though will be his price point, expected to be low after a down year, compared to Bernier’s $3MM mark.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs are lacking the cap space to do much of anything other than adding affordable depth pieces. Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reports that one such deal is already done. Former AHL MVP Kenny Agostino is expected to sign a two-year, one-way contract with the Leafs, though Dater does not provide any salary details. Agostino, 27, finally got a full-time look in the NHL last season, playing in 63 games with the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils. Agostino recorded 24 points on the year, a mark that Toronto would be very happy with if the winger comes in at a low cost.
- It was a year of change for Taylor Leier, who experienced both his first trade, moving from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Buffalo Sabres, and his first season spent exclusively in the AHL. Despite qualifying for Group 6 unrestricted free agency, it seems the 25-year-old forward has place emphasis on familiarity instead of opportunity. The Rochester Americans, affiliate of the Sabres, have announced a one-year AHL contract with Leier. The signing comes as a bit of a surprise, considering Leier spent the entire 2017-18 season in the NHL and has been a very productive AHL player. Young and capable, Leier seemingly would have been a good fit for a two-way deal somewhere, but apparently would rather stay put in Rochester, perhaps in hopes of convincing Buffalo that he is worthy of an NHL contract.
- Spoiler alert! Although he acknowledges that they are just educated guesses and provides few details, TSN’s respected insider Bob McKenzie has offered some insight where some of the biggest UFA names may end up tomorrow. McKenzie believes that Columbus teammates Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky may not end up as a package deal after all. He thinks that Panarin, and possibly Semyon Varlamov, could land with the New York Islanders, while Bobrovsky goes alone to the Florida Panthers. Those moves would then leave the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets as the likely to suitors for Robin Lehner. McKenzie also states that a long-term deal for Mats Zuccarello with the Minnesota Wild appears to be close to done.