The Blue Jackets have started contract talks with soon-to-be restricted free agent center Pierre-Luc Dubois, reports Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch. GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicated a desire to get this done relatively quickly, stating that “The sooner we get these things done, the better opportunity we have to make the team better”. Columbus has nearly $74.5MM in commitments for next season already although that includes LTIR-bound Brandon Dubinsky which would allow them to spend up to $5.85MM over the Upper Limit. Still, that doesn’t leave much room to re-sign Dubois who they would like to sign to a long-term deal and their other RFAs while having space left over to try to add pieces. That’s why getting something done with the 22-year-old would be ideal for Kekalainen who would have a much better idea of his financial picture heading into free agency next month.
Elsewhere around the NHL:
- A decision still hasn’t been made regarding extended training camps for the seven teams that didn’t participate in the NHL’s Return to Play, notes Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated talks are ongoing with the NHLPA but with no firm date for the beginning of training camps to begin, it’s unlikely that there will be any concrete plans on this for a while.
- Oilers center Riley Sheahan was believed to be seeking $2MM per year to sign an extension midseason, relays Postmedia’s David Staples. The veteran had to wait until early September to sign a one-year, $900K deal for this past season and while he took a lot of faceoffs, he only managed to pick up eight goals and seven assists in 66 games. Between that and the flattened cap environment, Sheahan’s next contract may wind up being closer to what he made in 2019-20 compared to that previous asking price.
- The Ducks aren’t sure yet about bringing backup goaltender Ryan Miller back for next season, GM Bob Murray told Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription link). The 40-year-old has spent the last three seasons in Anaheim and has been working out with an eye on playing in 2020-21 if it’s the right situation. Miller had a base salary of $1.125MM this season with another $1.2MM in performance bonuses and posted a 3.10 GAA with a .907 SV% in 23 games. Anaheim is quite tight to the Upper Limit already for next season (although Ryan Kesler will probably be on LTIR again to give them some flexibility) so if the veteran does return, another incentive-laden deal would make sense.