- Detroit’s farm team in Grand Rapids has announced the signing of winger Kirill Tyutyayev to a one-year, AHL deal for next season. The 20-year-old was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) of the Red Wings back in 2019 and spent this season with Yunost Minsk in Belarus where he picked up 11 goals and 21 assists in 43 regular season games while chipping in with 10 points in 13 playoff contests. Drafted out of Russia, there is no designated time that Detroit has to sign him by; accordingly, this deal gives them an opportunity to give him a look in North America on a short-term commitment compared to an entry-level deal while reserving the ability to retain his NHL rights if he opts to go back overseas for 2022-23.
Red Wings Rumors
The KHL off-season opened today and the league did not waste any time in making moves that have meaning to NHL fans. A number of familiar names have hit free agency today and some are already agreeing to new deals. Meanwhile, others are being traded on the first day to do so, including the rights to some players currently in North America. Keep up with all of today’s action as the KHL’s clubs get their summers started early with significant moves:
- One of the first players to sign with a new team early this morning was former NHL forward Teemu Pulkkinen. A Detroit Red Wings draft pick who also spent time with the Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, and most recently the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017-18, Pulkkinen will be entering his fourth season in the KHL and is already on to his fourth different team. After splitting this season between Dynamo Moscow and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, collecting 30 points in 46 games, Pulkkinen has signed a two-year deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk. The 29-year-old has scored at a .67 per-game clip in his KHL career and shows no signs of slowing down.
- SKA St. Petersberg and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod have made an interesting futures swap, trading the rights of two current NHLers. Torpedo received the rights to Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi (as well as minor league forward Danil Voyevodin) while SKA landed the rights to young San Jose Sharks goalie Alexei Melnichuk. The deal is tricky on a number of levels; while Puljujarvi is undoubtedly the biggest name in the trade, it is Melnichuk who commanded the larger side of the return. It was also KHL powerhouse SKA who received the prospect netminder and gave up the established scorer. This could be a simple case of different likelihoods of those player rights having any value. While Puljujarvi previously left the Oilers for Europe, he has finally found his NHL stride in his return this season and is unlikely to leave again. Even if he does, Puljujarvi may just return home to the Finnish Liiga as well. On the other hand, Melnichuk was born and bred in the SKA system and the team may have some insight into his future plans. The 22-year-old keeper is valued by the Sharks and even made his NHL debut this year in his first season in North America, however his AHL play has underwhelmed and he doesn’t look like a realistic full-time NHL option for San Jose next season. If the young goalie grows tired of playing in the minors in North America, he would probably be happy to jump back to his old team and take on a starting role in the KHL.
- Former Boston Bruins forward Joonas Kemppainen has signed a one-year extension to remain with SKA. The Finnish power forward didn’t work out in his lone NHL season back in 2015-16, recording five points in eleven games with Boston, but has been a productive player in the KHL for five years now. That includes a 15-goal, 29-point campaign with St. Petersberg this year that earned him an extension. The 33-year-old veteran is not a candidate to ever return to North America, but still has plenty to offer in Russia.
- Vladimir Zharkov feels like ancient New Jersey Devils history at this point, but the former top prospect continues to produce in the KHL. Zharkov, 33, spent four seasons with the Devils early in his career and was a nice fringe piece, but lacked starting upside. In the KHL since 2012-13, Zharkov has become a reliable two-way forward and locker room leader, spending many years with top programs like CSKA Moscow and Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Now he’s off to the top team in the league, signing a two-year deal with recently-crowned Gagarin Cup champions Avangard Omsk, replacing the veteran presence of the departed Ilya Kovalchuk.
- Torpedo jumped right back into the action, signing an exciting forward to a one-year deal. Marek Hrivik gave his all to a career in North America, developing in the QMJHL and spending six seasons primarily in the AHL for the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames. However, he never could earn a full-time opportunity and returned home to Europe in 2018. Even then, his first go-round in the KHL did not go all that well. However, after back-to-back stellar season in Sweden, he is ready to give it another try with Torpedo. Hrivik totaled 81 points in 90 games with the SHL’s Leksands IF these past two years and if that can translate to the KHL then the 29-year-old could become a star in Russia.
- Another trade involving NHL property has landed, but this one could have more immediate dividends. Defending champions Omsk have acquired the rights to Boston Bruins prospect forward Peter Cehlarik from Yaroslavl in exchange for the rights to Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kodie Curran. Cehlarik, 25, is already in Europe, having left Boston this past off-season to join Leksands IF in Sweden. Cehlarik always showed great promise in the AHL, but couldn’t translate it to the NHL for the Bruins. After recording 20 goals and 40 points in 45 SHL games this season, Cehlarik may want to return to Boston, who continues to hold his rights, in an attempt to prove himself once more. However, the talented winger could be tempted to join the KHL’s current kings this off-season instead. As for Curran, 31, he already did his stint in Europe and made his return to North America. The Calgary native spent the previous four seasons in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden before earning his first NHL contract with the Ducks this past off-season. While he hasn’t see any action in Anaheim just yet, he has 11 points in 17 AHL games this season and his one-way, $1MM contract still has another year remaining. However, if Curran is still not being utilized by the Ducks after next season and doesn’t draw any other NHL offers as a result, he has a new home to return to in Europe in Yarolslavl.
- After signing his entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, Pyotr Kochetkov has inked another deal – a one-year extension with Torpedo. The 21-year-old landed in Novgorod late in the season, but excelled down the stretch and in the postseason with save percentages of .931 and .932, respectively. Kochetkov could very well be in line for the starting role for Torpedo next season while playing on loan from Carolina.
Patrick Roy is a Hall of Fame goaltender and a former NHL head coach and executive. However, since 2016 he’s been out of the league entirely. He’s now hoping to change that. According to agent Neil Glasberg, who was recently hired by Roy, the experienced hockey mind is looking for a way back to the top league in the world and he’ll take any opportunity that presents itself.
Roy is currently the head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Ramparts, a role he returned to in 2018 after previously working in those roles for the team since 2003. Of course, Roy was also the head coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche from 2013 to 2016.
With so much experience in various departments, Roy is not looking to focus on just one type of NHL opportunity. “He could be a president of hockey ops. He could be a GM. He could be a co-GM. He could be a head coach,” Glasberg stated. “It’s going to be situational.”
Roy had previously been linked to head coach and president opening with the Ottawa Senators and could circle back with the team on a potential role. His hometown Montreal Canadiens are currently operating with an interim head coach, as are the Buffalo Sabres, while there could be openings with the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets among other this summer. In the front office, any number of teams could have openings – or make openings – in order to add Roy to the staff. As Glasberg notes, they will wait to see what becomes available this off-season and make a decision from there. With so many possibilities, the hope is to see Roy back in the NHL soon.
Larkin, 24, will end his season without even reaching ten goals, a disappointing output even if the year didn’t really mean anything in the long-term. Detroit is just at the beginning of a full rebuild and had no plans on reaching the postseason. Still, we’re now two years removed from the outstanding 32-goal, 73-point breakout for Larkin and everyone is waiting for him to reach those heights again.
While this injury doesn’t sound like it will affect his training for 2021-22, there’s not a lot left to play for this season. The Red Wings can give his minutes to younger players–including Joe Veleno, who could make his NHL debut in the coming days–while Larkin resets and gets ready for a year where Detroit could actually be pushing for a playoff spot.
After the Red Wings traded away Anthony Mantha, it’s interesting to watch what happens with the rest of their previous core, Larkin included. The 24-year-old has just two years remaining on his current contract before unrestricted free agency, but is also the captain and most consistent offensive player. GM Steve Yzerman has set up the Detroit cap situation with not a single player signed beyond the 2022-23 campaign, meaning if you don’t perform, he can go in a different direction.
As seasons continue to come to a close in Europe, moves are being made that have NHL ramifications. Some hint toward a player making the jump to North America, while others cement the opposite, and still even more remain ambiguous. Today in particular, a number of NHL prospects have left their current clubs, opening up possibilities for what move may come next:
- Los Angeles Kings prospect forward Martin Chromiak isn’t leaving anyone guessing. The 2020 pick has spent this season at home in Slovakia, but played in the OHL last year and has now returned to North American in short order with his season over. The AHL’s Ontario Reign, affiliate of the Kings, have signed Chromiak to an amateur tryout agreement for the remainder of the season, reports L.A. beat writer John Hoven. This could potentially lead to an entry-level deal for next season for Chromiak or could simply be the first step toward returning to the OHL or perhaps even the AHL next season. Either way, things are looking up for Chromiak, who unfortunately is most well-known right now for his precipitous drop in the 2020 NHL Draft. A near-consensus second-round pick entering the draft, NHL teams clearly disagreed with the draft pundits on Chromiak, who fell to L.A. in the fifth round. Now with a chip on his shoulder and a nice Slovakian season behind him, Chromiak is ready to prove himself in North America.
- Two Dallas Stars prospects could be on their way to North America shortly as well. Following their loss in the SHL quarterfinals, Farjestad BK has announced the departures of a number of players. Among them were the Stars’ 2018 and 2019 third-round picks, Oskar Back and Albin Eriksson. Both are big, strong, well-rounded forwards with several years of SHL experience and seem likely to be looking for a new challenge. Farjestad did not state definitively that the duo were set to sign their NHL entry-level contracts, but it is a safe assumption. More uncertain is what the next move might be for defenseman Linus Arnesson, who was also among the list of departures. Arnesson, 26, is still property of the Boston Bruins, who selected him in the second round in 2013. Arnesson spent a few seasons in the AHL early in his career before returning home to Sweden, but may be looking for a second chance after improved play in the SHL over the past four years. He may also just be looking to capitalize as a free agent in Sweden.
- It was not all bad news out of Farjestad, as they did announce a new three-year extension with former Chicago Blackhawk Victor Ejdsell. The hulking center never quite did find his place in North America, but has been very productive for Farjestad over the past two years. At 25, a three-year deal does not eliminate the chances that Ejdsell could make an NHL comeback, but it does become more unlikely. A native of Karlstad, where Farjestad plays, Ejdsell called the team his “home” in the press release and may be committed long-term to the club.
- Two coveted young players are leaving Swedish second-tier club MODO, but it is unclear what is next for either one. MODO has announced that William Wallinder and William Stromgren will not return to the team next season. Wallinder was the first pick in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft, going No. 32 overall to the Detroit Red Wings. A big, but smooth-skating defender who played a major role for MODO as a teenager, Wallinder may already be prepared for the North American pros. Stromgren is a 2021 draft-eligible prospect with a similar late-first/early-second draft stock to Wallinder. The big sniper is more likely than Wallinder to stay in Sweden for another year or two, but could also be tempted to play in the CHL next season. The team who selects him in the upcoming draft will have a say as well.
- The Red Wings have ruled out wingers Robby Fabbri and Evgeny Svechnikov for tonight’s game against Chicago, notes MLive’s Ansar Khan (Twitter link). Fabbri has missed more than two weeks with an upper-body injury but has resumed skating while Svechnikov was injured in Thursday’s morning skate and is listed as day-to-day.
- Still with Detroit, prospect Joe Veleno should be recovered from the concussion that caused him to miss the final three weeks of his SHL season by the time his quarantine period is done, mentions Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. The 21-year-old was a first-rounder of the Red Wings back in 2019 and played in 46 games with Malmo this season, recording 20 points while spending time both at center and on the wing. While he’s reporting to AHL Grand Rapids for the time being, head coach Jeff Blashill suggested that Veleno could see some NHL action down the stretch as well.
The Detroit Red Wings have signed another impressive young forward, reaching a three-year entry-level contract with Lucas Raymond. The deal will kick in for the 2021-22 season and, according to PuckPedia, carry a cap hit of $925K. The contract includes up to $850K in Schedule “A” performance bonuses and $1.65MM in Schedule “B” bonuses each season.
Raymond, 19, was the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 draft behind the trio of Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, and Tim Stutzle. The Swedish forward spent this season in the SHL, once again suiting up for Frolunda. In his second full season for the professional club, he was given even more responsibility and ended up with 18 points in 34 games.
While that number doesn’t jump off the page, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Raymond’s offensive upside. The 5’10” winger has brilliant vision and routinely creates space for his teammates by drawing defenders into him before finding a passing lane. He’s best with the puck on his stick, carrying it through traffic or protecting it in the offensive zone. His future will likely be riding shotgun with the Red Wings best goal scorer, racking up points while still being a dangerous shooter in his own right.
Of course, there’s still development to go for the top pick, but getting Raymond under contract means we may see him in the NHL as soon as next season. The fact that he has years of professional experience will only help his transition to the NHL or AHL in 2021-22, should the Red Wings decide that North America is best for him. Of note is the fact that since Raymond’s birthday falls in March, his contract will be able to slide even next season–meaning he will have to play in at least 11 NHL games in 2021-22 to burn the first year.
Perhaps the story of the NHL Trade Deadline, since it certainly wasn’t the quantity of trades or the numerous star players on the move, was the advent of the third-party salary cap broker in trades. Three different deals were made at the deadline that included three teams, with the third team strictly being used as a means to retain salary on the centerpiece player moving to a contender short on cap space. In each one, the third team retained the maximum 50% of salary after the seller had also retained 50%, leaving the buyer with just 25% of the player’s cap value. For their part, the third team received a draft pick from the buyer and were able to shed a minor league salary as well.
The Tampa Bay Lightning first used the Detroit Red Wings to broker the trade of defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tampa had been expected to be quiet at the deadline given their miniscule cap space, but ended up getting one of the best defensemen on the rental market. Next, the Toronto Maple Leafs employed the San Jose Sharks as the middle-man for their acquisition of Nick Foligno, again from the Blue Jackets. Toronto had little cap flexibility and a long shopping list at the deadline and would not have been able to add Foligno without help. Finally, San Jose volunteered to be the third team again the deal that sent Mattias Janmark from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas has had the worst cap situation of any team in the league this season, restricted from making standard roster moves and several times forced into short-handed lineups. Yet, using this new three-team retention format they were able to add a top rental.
This all poses a question that at least a few other NHL clubs have been asking: should this be legal? The NHL has cracked down on salary cap circumvention in the past and there appear to be some who believe this is simply the newest version, allowing cap-strapped contenders to acquire players that they never could otherwise. However, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun on the latest edition of “Insider Trading“, this is one perceived problem that the league will not tackle. LeBrun reports that the league has been well are of this method of trade and were not fooled by the deals made at the deadline this year. After all, it was more than three years ago now when the Pittsburgh Penguins seemingly invented this formula – albeit in a more complete hockey trade – in the Derick Brassard deadline deal with Vegas and the Ottawa Senators. The Golden Knights then used the format to their advantage just last year, adding Robin Lehner from the Blackhawks via a cap-retention pitstop in Toronto. Clearly, there is a group of teams who have taken to this specific style of three-team trade, with Vegas and Toronto chief among them, and there are others who are not happy about it. As such, the NHL has already done its due diligence on the legality and will not take action.
Their reasoning? There simply is no cap circumvention occurring here. LeBrun relays that the league has no issue with a third team being used solely for cap retention, as hockey capital is being acquired by all parties. The Red Wings and Sharks received mid-round draft picks in exchange for their assistance and were even allowed to help balance the checkbook by sending out another contract. The NHL feels that this is a valid use of cap space as an asset to make a legitimate trade. So while it does create situations in which the rich get richer without otherwise having the cap space to do so, all parties are being reasonably compensated within the NHL rulebook. Teams may not like it, but that doesn’t make it illegal. And with the flat cap environment likely to continue for another year or two, this style of trade isn’t going away any time soon.
The NHL Trade Deadline may be over, but noteworthy player movement continues. With NCAA and Europeans ending, there are players becoming available with NHL appeal for next season and beyond. Track their movement right here:
- One of the heroes of the NCAA Champion Massachusetts Minutemen has found his first pro contract. UMass leading goal scorer Carson Gicewicz has signed a two-year AHL contract with the Rockford Ice Hogs that begins next season, hypothetically keeping him with the club through the 2022-23 season. However, if Gicewicz continues to find the back of the net in the pros as he did in his final collegiate season, the Chicago Blackhawks may be forced to make him an entry-level offer before then or else risk losing him to another NHL team. Gicewicz was one of the best goal scorers in the NCAA this season, recording 17 tallies in 28 games. He finished fourth overall, behind such top NHL prospects like Montreal’s Cole Caufield and Colorado’s Sampo Ranta. While Gicewicz was a grad transfer at UMass, following four years at St. Lawrence, making him an older prospect at 24, he still brings plenty of potential to the pros. However, the first step will be to show that this season wasn’t a fluke after his first four collegiate season left a lot to be desired. If Gicewicz keeps it up though, his time on an AHL deal could be short.
- Vadim Shipachyov has long been an intriguing name to NHL fans. The KHL superstar has been scoring at elite levels for a decade, begging the question of what he could bring to North America. With 637 points in 646 KHL games, Shipachyov has long has the label of one of the best players outside of the NHL. Even after a failed attempt at making the jump with the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural 2017-18 season, Shipachyov has continued to score at a torrid, league-leading rate in Russia and many still wondered if he could try again in the NHL and find success with another club. Well today that question has been answered, likely for the final time. Shipachyov, now 34 years old, has signed a three-year extension with KHL powerhouse Dynamo Moscow, likely putting to rest any thoughts of an NHL comeback. A two-time Gagarin Cup champion, three-time KHL points leader, and six-time KHL All-Star, Shipachyov will just have to settle for his accolades in Russia having never really given North America a fair shake.
- The SHL’s Malmo Redhawks have worked quickly to clarify their plans for the off-season following an early playoff elimination. The team has announced that nine of their players on expiring contracts will not return to the team. Among that list is Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno, who obviously will not be back after spending the season on loan with the QMJHL out of action. However, a surprise separation came in the form of Oskar Magnusson, a 19-year-old prospect of the Washington Capitals. The 2020 seventh-round pick has been developing in the Malmo system for many years, but has failed to make much of an impact in his recalls to the top club, so they have cut ties. Magnusson will have to find a new team with which to continue his development, likely still in Sweden but leaving open the option to jump to North America if the Capitals feel that is the best step. One final familiar name leaving Malmo is veteran forward Matt Puempel. Unable to find an NHL contract this off-season, Puempel joined the Redhawks in January. However, he only played in 15 games with the team, recording five points. Without much luck in his first foray into Europe, Puempel could look to return to North America this off-season. With 87 career NHL games and a long history of AHL scoring success, there should be a job for him at some level.
While trade deadline day itself was largely quiet with most of the big moves being made the night before, one of the final moves on Monday was a significant one with the Capitals acquiring winger Anthony Mantha from the Red Wings for wingers Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick.
The move came as somewhat of a surprise considering Detroit wasn’t in a position to sell high on Mantha, who had been a healthy scratch recently. Meanwhile, the same could be said for Vrana while Panik had recently cleared waivers. On the surface, none of these players seemed like potential change of scenery candidates and yet combined for the biggest deal of the deadline.
From Washington’s standpoint, while Mantha is the bigger name, the numbers between him and Vrana are relatively similar in recent years. Going back to 2018-19, Mantha has averaged 0.70 points per game and Vrana 0.65 despite Mantha logging nearly four minutes more per game in ice time. Mantha has battled multiple injuries over that span and has played in 38 fewer games. So why do they do the deal? Finances would seem to have a lot to do with it.
Vrana is a restricted free agent this summer and is in line for a raise on his $3.35MM AAV; it’s not entirely implausible to think he could look at Mantha’s $5.7MM price tag through 2023-24 as the ballpark range for a target. At that price, he’d be more difficult for the Capitals to move and they’d have had a hard time fitting him in with Panik’s $2.75MM for two more years on the books as well. Now they have Mantha in that spot for three years at a fixed price tag with an underperforming contract gone as well.
As for Detroit, their motivation is a bit clearer. They get a similarly productive player in Vrana who they hope can be more productive with more ice time. With plenty of cap space, they can easily afford the raise he’ll get this offseason and it’s worth noting that the 25-year-old does have arbitration eligibility. It also allowed them to absorb Panik’s deal without any concerns and the veteran should be able to contribute as well. Getting those two assets plus first- and second-round picks gives them the potential for comparable production now and future pieces of the puzzle down the road.
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