Pro Hockey Rumors Sat, 22 Jul 2017 01:04:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pro Hockey Rumors 32 32 Coyotes Re-Sign Tyler Gaudet Sat, 22 Jul 2017 01:04:41 +0000 The Coyotes inked forward Tyler Gaudet to a one-year, $650K deal on a two-way contract. TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reported the deal via Twitter.

Gaudet has played in a handful of games with Arizona, appearing with the club in the past three seasons and seeing the most time during the 2015-16 campaign. He played in 14 games, potting a goal and three points. Last season, he played in just four games with the Coyotes, notching an assist. With AHL affiliate Tuscon, Gaudet played in 62 games, scoring six goals and adding 16 assists.

Competing with a crowded roster, this certainly a depth move for the Coyotes, who have added some critical pieces this offseason, acquiring Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers and Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago.


East Notes: Patrick, Tatar Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:24:41 +0000 The Philadelphia Flyers tweeted that Nolan Patrick is just fine, indicating that it was either an abscess or a boil afflicting his face. Yesterday, the problem forced Patrick off the ice. The second overall pick of the 2017 draft, Patrick’s injuries were well documented and allowed Nico Hischier to sneak up in terms of draft stock. This seems to be nothing more than a blip on the radar, and Patrick would presumably be available sooner rather than later.

  • Several members of the Detroit media weighed in on the re-signing of Tomas Tatar and it sounds like the 26-year-old winger is just relieved to be finished with the renegotiation of his contract. Mlive’s Scott DeCamp writes that the process was “stressful” and is excited that everything worked out. From DeCamp:

    “I really, really wanted to stay,” he said. “I think Detroit is where I belong. I have so many friends, the fans are awesome. I have a great relationship with guys in the locker room, so it would be really, really hard to have a one-year deal and kind of not knowing what was going to come in the future. I’m extremely happy that I could stay and we found a way to sign the deal.”

    Tatar told DeCamp, and Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News that with last season being a “disappointment” for the team after missing the playoffs, he expects to be better along with the rest of his teammates. Kulfan adds that general manager Ken Holland will now look to lock up forward Andreas Athanasiou, who along with defenseman Robbie Russo, is still without a contract.

Blackhawks Notes: Sharp, Saad, DeBrincat Fri, 21 Jul 2017 22:54:04 +0000 The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus (along with various Chicago media) tweeted quite a bit from the beginning of the Blackhawks Fan Convention as players and personnel were available to the media. It was a reunion of sorts as two former players returned to field questions. Patrick Sharp returns to the place where he saw much success, saying that he had some of his “best years” playing for Joel Quenneville in Chicago. Lazerus tweets that Quenneville could use Sharp with Jonathan Toews, and to expect the veteran winger to see top six minutes, which may not thrill some fans.  Brandon Saad confirmed that he would be on a line with Toews, which was the belief of many after Stan Bowman swung a deal to re-acquire the forward. The Athletic’s Scott Powers tweeted video of different interviews which included Quenneville, Patrick Kane talking about the Panarin trade, and Sharp’s return to Chicago.

  • Several hockey analysts are “tapping the brakes” when declaring Blackhawks prospect as the next big thing. The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton and Chicago SportsNet’s Tracey Myers both covered this, with Clinton adding onto Myers’ analysis.  First, the salary cap limits who the Hawks can add to the roster, and the only player as of now who can shuffle to the AHL without passing through waivers is Nick Schmaltz. Should Marian Hossa go onto the LTIR, more than enough money would be available for many in Rockford to go onto the roster. Second, head coach Joel Quenneville isn’t exactly one to hand out ice time to kids. Clinton notes that DeBrincat is only 19, and the only players under 21 to see significant ice time during Quenneville’s tenure were Kane and Toews. Of course, Clinton notes, Toews was the captain and Kane was a budding superstar. Further, Clinton writes that Schmaltz, considered one of Chicago’s best prospects, struggled to stay in the lineup last season, showing that cracking the NHL lineup and then staying on it is far more difficult than it appears. Realistically, Clinton believes that the Hawks have the luxury to “over-season” players and allow them time to grow into a role–something that DeBrincat may very well do.
Calgary Flames Sign Juuso Valimaki To ELC Fri, 21 Jul 2017 21:32:02 +0000 The Calgary Flames have signed their first-round pick from the recent draft, inking Juuso Valimaki to a three-year entry-level contract. The salary and bonus structure has not been released, but you can bet he’ll come in at the maximum $925K with some Schedule A perfomance bonuses.

Valimaki was selected 16th-overall last month after an outstanding season with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. The Finnish defenseman put up 61 points in 60 games, while also suiting up for his country at the World Junior Championships (where he registered two points). The 6’2″ 212-lbs defender may not have the offensive upside that his point totals suggest, but would rank close to any other defender in the draft in terms of two-way consistency. Those who critiqued Timothy Liljegren—who went just after Valimaki to the Toronto Maple Leafs—for his poor decision making skills could never say the same about the newest Flames prospect, as Valimaki is hardly ever caught out of position or turning the puck over.

While he still has some developing to do if he wants to be the two-way rock the Flames are hoping for, they can afford to wait with the group they already have in the NHL. Valimaki can be brought along slowly and eventually replace some of the minutes Mark Giordano will be ready to give up as he heads into his mid-thirties. As Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet points out, Valimaki’s entry-level contract will likely slide until the 2019-20 season unless he’s brought up sooner than that for more than nine games. If he does pan out as an NHL defender, his entry-level deal would end just as Giordano’s current deal is coming off the books.

Tomas Tatar Signs Four-Year Deal With Detroit Red Wings Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:06:38 +0000 Even after the arbitration hearing went down yesterday, the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar have come to an agreement on a long-term contract. The four-year deal will pay Tatar $21.2MM, for an average of $5.3MM per season. With less than 24 hours left before an arbitrator made a decision on a one-year contract, the two sides found common ground that will keep Tatar in Detroit for a few years more. The breakdown is as follows: Tomas Tatar

  • 2017-18: $4.875MM salary + $1.125MM signing bonus
  • 2018-19: $5.5MM salary
  • 2019-20: $5.5MM salary
  • 2020-21: $3.2MM salary + $1MM signing bonus

Craig Custance of the Athletic pointed out this morning that the two sides could still reach an agreement in time, and we’ve seen this before in cases like P.K. Subban who signed an eight-year deal after his arbitration hearing in 2014. Tatar was set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and would have been one of the most interesting names at the trade deadline if Detroit hadn’t been in playoff contention this year.

Now, the Red Wings have more work to do. With Tatar signed, the team is now more than $3MM over the salary cap for next season with Andreas Athanasiou still to sign. The team does have Johan Franzen still under contract and heading for long-term injured reserve, but like in Toronto and Chicago the team may not want to use “summer LTIR” because of the restrictions it comes with. Instead, they could look to move out some of the hefty contracts for their declining veterans through trade or a buyout.

Like Ottawa earlier today when they signed Ryan Dzingel, this move will open a second 48-hour buyout window for the Red Wings on Monday that they could use to clear cap space. Buying out Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson would give them around $2.6MM in savings each next season, though both seem unlikely candidates to be cast aside from the only teams they’ve ever known. Mike Green, effective but expensive leads the list of trade candidates, as he is on the final year of his current contract and likely doesn’t fit into the Red Wings timeline going forward. Moving his $6.0MM cap hit would provide quite the cap relief, if they could ever find a buyer to give them some real value in return.

Salary cap issues aside, this contract actually comes in with less total money than the five-year $25MM contract that Tatar reportedly turned down. Though it is a slightly higher cap hit, it seems as though holding firm worked out for Ken Holland in the end as he got the player for a reasonable contract. Tatar signs at the same cap hit as Ondrej Palat in Tampa Bay, a player with similar production throughout his career. Even if Detroit does decide to throw in the towel and try a real rebuild, this deal is still palatable enough to move for a solid return.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was first to break the deal, while Craig Morgan of AZ Sports provided the financial breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Snapshots: Gaudreau, Wingels, AHL Signings Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:57:48 +0000 Johnny Gaudreau was on Philadelphia CBS radio this morning, and gave a quote that partially stopped the hearts of many Calgary Flames fans listening in.

I’ve got a ton of family here, all my friends…all my friends come back here, all my good friends and kids that I’ve played with my whole life are from South Jersey. It would be sweet to play here some day. You never know in sports, but there’s a lot of support back here in South Jersey and the Philly area.

This can probably be put up there with Drew Doughty’s comments on playing in Toronto from earlier this offseason, as something said just to appease the listeners of the radio program Gaudreau was on at the time. After all, he did sign a long-term deal with the Flames last summer and said at the time that he’d like to play his whole career with Sean Monahan in Calgary if he could. Still, it’s something to remember for the summer of 2022 when a 28-year old Gaudreau is destined to be an unrestricted free agent.

  • The Blackhawks got some bad news today, as Tommy Wingels suffered a broken foot during his offseason training and will miss 6-8 weeks of the offseason. He is still expected to be ready for training camp, though missing two months of his offseason is never a good thing. Wingels was brought in on a one-year deal by the Blackhawks this summer to help fill out their bottom six with affordable veterans, after a season in which he produced just 12 points. It’s been a steep fall from his career-high of 38 in 2013-14, and he is best suited to a fourth line role at this point.
  • The Toronto Marlies added a player from development camp earlier today, and also re-signed Alex Gudbranson to a two-way minor league deal. Gudbranson spent a few games with the Marlies at the end of last season on loan from the Minnesota organization, but will join Toronto full-time next year.
  • Darryl Sutter won’t be in the Los Angeles Kings organization next season, but his son will. Brett Sutter, the former Calgary Flames prospect has re-signed with the Ontario Reign on an AHL contract. He scored 36 points with the Reign last year, after coming over from the Iowa Wild in 2016.
Poll: Who Will Be The Top UFA In 2018? Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:55:17 +0000 The 2017 offseason is already at the point where people have started looking ahead. Despite big contracts still coming for Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Johansen and other restricted free agents, October can’t seem to come quick enough. Instead of ranking the top remaining free agents for this year (a poll that Jaromir Jagr won a few weeks ago) let’s look even further and start to project the summer of 2018.

Obviously, this is an extremely early version of this question as players will be re-signed, traded, and bought out within the next twelve months to make the hockey landscape completely different. Carey Price, once considered one of the top free agents for 2018 has already signed his huge extension, and most of the players on this list will join him.

That uncertainty should play a big role in your decision. Instead of just picking the top player on the list (which would make for a very boring poll in this case), decide who you think will actually get to free agency and be the top name on the market. Explain in the comments why you chose a certain player, or who else we needed to include in the poll.

[Mobile users click here to vote!]

Morning Notes: Tavares, Predators, Pospisil Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:52:23 +0000 The chatter on John Tavares continues incessantly, with the days ticking down before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018 (345 remain). Today, Brett Cyrgallis of the New York Post writes that while the fans may be tapping their toes in anticipation, there isn’t reason to panic just yet. Cyrgallis conducted a poll of people “in and around the NHL” that supported Garth Snow in his patient approach.

The Islanders are still in arena limbo, and missed the playoffs last year despite 94 points. This summer has seen the addition of Jordan Eberle, and a return to the post season would do nothing but help sway Tavares to re-sign long term. As Arthur Staple of Newsday points out on Twitter, there remains an extremely low chance the team deals Tavares this summer.

  • The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse to replace the outgoing Phil Housley as an assistant coach for 2017-18, and have promoted Kevin McCarthy to associate head coach. Muse is a shooting star in terms of coaching prospects, jumping straight from a USHL championship with the Chicago Steel to an NHL bench at just 35 years old. Before taking the job with Chicago, he had been an assistant coach for several seasons at Yale under Keith Allain, a former NHL assistant and goalie coach.
  • The Toronto Marlies have signed Kristian Pospisil to a two-way minor league contract, bringing him into the system after an excellent development camp. The Maple Leafs will have no contract slots left after signing Connor Brown, meaning they can only give out these types of minor league deals until moving out some bodies. Pospisil played with first-round draft pick Eeli Tolvanen this year for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, scoring 40 points in 48 games. Passed over in the draft multiple times, the 6’2″ winger was a free agent and able to sign with anyone.
Ilya Kovalchuk Still Has “Dreams Left” To Accomplish In NHL Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:08:34 +0000 If you’re sick and tired of hearing about Ilya Kovalchuk this summer, know that it isn’t over just yet. After a long back and forth that ended in the Russian sniper signing back with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL for another season, he’s not finished with his desire to return to the NHL. According to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express, Kovalchuk today said that this would be his last year in the KHL, and that “there are some dreams left” in North America. Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk of course left for the KHL in the middle of a 15-year contract from the New Jersey Devils, spurning many fans along the way. His return this year would have been predicated on the Devils completing a sign-and-trade, something that he won’t have to worry about next year. His rights are relinquished by the team when he turns 35, and he’ll be granted unrestricted free agency on July 1st.

It’s unclear how many teams would have interest in the then 35-year old, as there are some restrictions on contracts signed at that age. It would however allow him to sign a one-year incentive laden contract, built with a low salary and performance bonuses for games played, points scored and other things. That’s if he doesn’t get multi-year options, as many believed he was after this year.

Coming off a 78 point season in the KHL last year, it’s clear that Kovalchuk can still play at a high level, but whether that game translates back to the NHL is unclear. Remember this is a player who twice scored 52 goals in a season, and was one of the most dynamic mixes of speed and power in the entire league.

This seems like the end of the Kovalchuk rumors for now, but as the 2017-18 season comes to a close expect it to ramp back up. For now, Russia will look forward to having him on their Olympic roster and SKA will try to win another Gagarin Cup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Ryan Dzingel Signs With Ottawa Senators Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:27:58 +0000 Though he was scheduled for an arbitration hearing today, Ryan Dzingel has signed a new contract with the Ottawa Senators. The two-year deal is worth a total of $3.6MM, closer to Dzingel’s ask of a one-year $1.95MM contract than the team’s proposed $1MM pact. Though he’ll cause a $1.8MM cap hit, here is the salary breakdown: Ryan Dzingel

  • 2017-18: $1.5MM
  • 2018-19: $2.1MM

Dzingel put up a solid first full season this year, registering 32 points and contributing in all situations. His speed and secondary scoring touch are a solid addition to any lineup, and for just $1.8MM per season is a solid bargain. He’s already 25, which means this contract takes him right to unrestricted free agency, but the Senators could keep the price down by not buying out any UFA years.

That marks the last restricted free agent for the Senators this summer, and with it they have opened a short buyout window for themselves. Each team that had at least one player file for salary arbitration is given this window whether or not the decision comes from the arbitrator or the two sides come to their own agreement, as in this case. They’ll have 48 hours starting on Monday to perform any further buyouts.

Getting players like Dzingel in under cheap contracts for next year is important for Ottawa, as they’re facing new deals for Mark Stone, Kyle Turris and Cody Ceci in the summer of 2018. Not to mention the whopping contract that’s coming for Erik Karlsson a year later, that could rival Connor McDavid’s $12.5MM per season. The next couple of summers are going to be very interesting for the Senators.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

West Notes: Arizona’s Arena Search, Martinook, Blues Fri, 21 Jul 2017 01:58:31 +0000 As the Coyotes continue to look for a new arena, one option that appears to now be off the table is a joint venture with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, reports Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.  Suns owner Robert Sarver said that he is focused on upgrading their current arena instead of pursuing a new facility.

This marks the second time in recent months that a potential partnership is off the table for the Coyotes, who saw their proposed plans with Arizona State University fall through back in February.   The team is locked in at their current facility for just the 2017-18 season although the expectation is that they will agree to another short-term lease as they continue to pursue sites for a new arena within the area.

Elsewhere out West:

  • Still with the Coyotes, Jeff Helperl, agent for RFA winger Jordan Martinook, told Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan (Twitter link) that the two sides are close on a new deal but that he thinks the team may still prefer to go to arbitration. The hearing is scheduled for July 26th.  Martinook is coming off a career year in Arizona, recording 11 goals and 14 assists in 77 games while averaging 15:41 per night in ice time.
  • After inking Colton Parayko to a five-year, $27.5MM contract earlier today, the Blues have about $3MM in cap space per CapFriendly. Despite that, don’t expect St. Louis to be too active the rest of the offseason.  GM Doug Armstrong told reporters, including Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that they would like to keep as much wiggle room as possible under the salary cap.  While that not only would give them more space to work with for in-season movement, it also will help them hedge against a flat salary cap moving forward, something Armstrong acknowledged that he expects to happen for the foreseeable future.
Arbitration Breakdown: Tomas Tatar Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:56:56 +0000 After not being able to reach terms on an agreement, the Red Wings and winger Tomas Tatar had their arbitration hearing today.  Assuming they’re unable to reach a settlement before the arbitrator’s decision is rendered, what type of one year deal might Tatar be in for?

The Numbers

Oct 21, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar (21) skates with the puck in the third period against Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsTatar put up his third straight season with at least 20 goals and 45 points after collecting 25 goals and 21 assists in 81 games with Detroit in 2016-17.  His 25 tallies marked the second highest single-season total of his career.  He ranked third in team scoring in large part due to a strong finish to his year where he recorded 18 points (11-7-18) in March and April, spanning 21 contests.

The Red Wings gave Tatar a career high in ice time, as he logged 17:17 per night which was nearly three minutes a game more than 2015-16.  Despite that boost in playing time, his point-per-game average was no different between the two campaigns at 0.56 which is something that the team likely brought up during the hearing.

Potential Comparables

Here are some comparable players and their contracts within the range of submissions from both sides ($4.1MM by the team, $5.3MM by Tatar).

Chris Kreider (NY Rangers) – Stylistically speaking, Kreider plays a different way than Tatar but at the time his current deal was signed (last offseason), he was coming off a similar season statistically with a point-per-game average of 0.54 while logging nearly 16 minutes a night.  His cap hit checks in at $4.625MM but it’s worth noting that his deal bought out two RFA years.

Gustav Nyquist (Detroit) – Nyquist had a better platform season (54 points in 82 games) than Tatar did but their career numbers thus far are quite similar.  The Wings were able to lock Nyquist up a couple of years ago for four years at an AAV of$4.75MM and the deal only contained one RFA-eligible season which is the situation Tatar is in.

Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay) – His deal was just reached recently and could stand to impact Tatar’s contract.  Johnson is coming off a couple of injury-plagued seasons (conversely, Tatar has been healthy the last three) but has either equalled or surpassed Tatar’s points-per-game averages over the past four seasons while also playing a bigger role.  He checks in at $5MM and considering the impact he has, Detroit can make a compelling case that Tatar should check in at a lower cap charge, especially for just one year.

Comparable contracts are restricted to those signed within restricted free agency.


Most of the comparable contracts check in between 6.3% and 7% of the salary cap which, in 2017-18, increases to $75MM.  That provides a salary range of $4.725MM and $5.25MM.  It’s hard to imagine that Tatar will get close to his one-year asking price; not many do when it comes to arbitration awards.  The midpoint is $4.7MM which is close to the lower end of the range based on percentages and that’s the likelier outcome here as quite often deals will fall around the middle mark.  Based on that, I’d project the award to come in at $4.75MM.

What will be interesting is if talks can rekindle on a long-term pact.  Tatar has already turned down five years at $5MM which is pretty close to market value for a player who shifts between the first and second lines.  If Detroit adds a little bit more to their offer, it might be enough to get something done as it’s hard to envision Tatar landing considerably more on the open market next summer unless he has a career season in 2017-18.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Metropolitan Notes: Pittsburgh’s Center Search, Quenneville, Severson Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:52:48 +0000 After losing Nick Bonino to Nashville in free agency, the Penguins have a vacancy to fill at their third line center position.  In a reader chat, Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that the team has only earmarked roughly $2MM towards filling that spot which will limit their options.

While the Pens have more than $10MM in cap space at the moment, most of that will be spent when they reach new deals with winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Brian Dumoulin, both of whom are expected to go through arbitration.

The remaining UFA market is largely weak down the middle aside from Mike Fisher (who isn’t expected to leave Nashville if he returns for another season).  As things stand, Matt Cullen, Pittsburgh’s fourth line pivot this past season, is one of the more prominent names available.  Accordingly, that spot is likely going to be filled via the trade market but it’s reasonable to expect that nothing much will happen on that front until they get their remaining restricted free agents re-signed first.

Other notes from the Metropolitan:

  • Although he was drafted as a center, the Devils feel John Quenneville is best suited as a winger moving forward, AHL bench boss Rick Kowalsky told NJ Advance Media’s Chris Ryan. Kowalsky added that the 21-year-old is comfortable on both wings which could help get him to the NHL quicker.  New Jersey has a lot of talent down the middle and added number one pick Nico Hischier as well as bottom six center Brian Boyle to the mix this offseason so a position change for their top pick in 2014 was already looking like a likely outcome.
  • Still with the Devils, GM Ray Shero noted to The Record’s Andrew Gross that there’s no rush to lock up RFA blueliner Damon Severson. The 22-year-old is coming off his entry-level contract and didn’t have arbitration rights this offseason.  Shero added that there are several different options when it comes to Severson which suggests they will be exploring short-term and long-term offers in the weeks ahead.
Flames Re-Sign Garnet Hathaway To One-Year Deal Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:51:51 +0000 The Flames have come to terms with one of their remaining restricted free agents, announcing that they’ve come to terms with winger Garnet Hathaway on a one-year, two-way contract.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hathaway split 2016-17 between Calgary and their AHL affiliate in Stockton, a role he will likely apprise next season.  In 26 games with the Flames, he had a goal and four assists while averaging a little over nine minutes per game of ice time.  In his NHL career, he has eight points (1-7-8) in 40 games, all with the Flames.

At the minor league level, the 25-year old has been more productive.  This past season, he had eight goals and 12 helpers in 31 games with the Heat and has tallied 77 points over the past three years.

With the signing, Calgary now has five remaining restricted free agents.  Of those, only Sam Bennett is a full-time NHL player.  Their other RFAs are goalies David Rittich and Jon Gillies as well as defensemen Brett Kulak and Tyler Wotherspoon.

PHR Live Chat Transcript: 07/20/17 Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:05:44 +0000 Click here to read a transcript of this week’s live chat with PHR’s Gavin Lee.

Marek Mazanec Signs With Nashville Predators Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:46:19 +0000 Despite rumors that the team would move on from Marek Mazanec this year and him even clearing waivers earlier this month, Craig Morgan of AZ Sports reports that the Nashville Predators have inked the restricted free agent goaltender to a one-year, two-way $650K contract. Mazanec was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 27th, but will avoid it with his new contract.

Armed with the knowledge that no other team would take a chance on him and the upcoming hearing, the Predators were able to bring back a depth goaltender on the minimum contract. Though Mazanec has fallen well behind Juuse Saros as the potential backup for Pekka Rinne next year and a possible future starter, he does have 31 games of NHL experience and a fine track record in the AHL. To get that one a two-way deal is excellent, as they’ll have to pay Mazanec just $100K next year in the minors.

It’s interesting to see where Mazanec will fit in exactly, as the team also added both Anders Lindback and Matt O’Connor in free agency this year. All three will have to find playing time somewhere in the minor leagues, unless a move is made to deal one of them elsewhere. A loan to another AHL club is another option.

The Predators now have just Ryan Johansen, Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson to worry about as restricted free agents, the latter of which has his hearing scheduled for Saturday after exchanging figures this morning with the club. With almost $19MM in cap space left, they should be able to easily fit the last three into their system.

Snapshots: Tatar, McNeil, Umberger, Tuulola Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:11:58 +0000 Tomas Tatar’s arbitration hearing took place this morning, at the conclusion of which the arbitrator was given 48 hours to reach a decision on his salary for next season. Tatar cannot be awarded a two-year contract through arbitration since he will reach unrestricted free agency next year, but as Craig Custance of The Athletic points out could still work out a long-term deal with the Red Wings before the decision come in. We saw a similar situation play out in 2014 with P.K. Subban, who had his hearing with the Montreal Canadiens before signing an eight-year contract a day later.

Last week it was reported the two sides were still quite a bit away in terms of an agreement, with Tatar turning down a five-year $25MM contract. While they may have worked closer to a deal, a one-year decision through arbitration would likely spell the forward’s end in Detroit. Tatar would immediately hit the trade block if he hadn’t already, with many teams likely after him as a rental piece as the season went on. If Ken Holland and the Red Wings didn’t think they could get a deal done, they would have to look long and hard at any proposals for Tatar that would improve the club long-term.

  • The Syracuse Crunch have signed Reid McNeill to an AHL contract, taking him away from the St. Louis organization where he spent 2016-17 and adding him to the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate. McNeill was a sixth-round pick of the Penguins in 2010, but has never been able to turn his size and defensive ability into a tryout at the NHL level. In 61 games last year split between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Chicago Wolves, he registered ten points.
  • Dallas Stars beat writer Mike Heika of SportsDay held a Q&A with readers and answered all sorts of questions regarding the Stars and their big offseason moves. One of them revolved around R.J. Umberger, who has signed a professional tryout with the team after a full year away from the game. Heika believes the invitation to camp is more of a friendly opportunity handed out by Umberger’s former coach in Ken Hitchcock than a real tryout for the Stars this season. If Umberger can show he’s healthy and rejuvenated, a successful camp under a familiar system could look good around the league. Now 35, Umberger could potentially sign a one-year contract with performance bonuses, though those kinds of deals come with risks as well.
  • The Montreal Canadiens have re-signed Yannick Veilleux on a two-way minor league deal. The contract will pay different amounts depending on whether Veilleux plays in the AHL or ECHL this season. Veilleux spent last year in the Montreal system bouncing between the two leagues, finding some success with St. John’s. Selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Blues once upon a time, he’s still waiting for his first chance at the NHL level.
  • The Calgary Flames will watch Eetu Tuulola return to Finland for the upcoming season, leaving the Everett Silvertips where he had played in 2016-17. Tuulola was a sixth-round pick of the Flames in 2016 and tried his hand in the Canadian junior ranks with 31 points in 62 games. He’ll play for HPK in Finland’s Liiga next year, a professional team that can offer a bit more development opportunity than Everett.
Looking Ahead To 35+ Contract Situations Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:28:42 +0000 In the NHL, signing players after they turn 35-years old comes with some added restrictions and capabilities. For one, those players are now eligible for one-year contracts that include performance bonuses, a way to mitigate risk for the team while still providing opportunities for previously successful players. The big restriction though, is that the cap hit of any contract signed after 35 will stay on the books regardless of what happens with the player. Whether their bought out or retire, the team will still face the full cap hit for the entire length of the deal.

This year, we saw Colorado swallow their pride and buy out Francois Beauchemin even with this extra clause, and they will face the full $4.5MM cap hit this season. Mike Cammalleri, who is now 35 himself and was similarly bought out will not fall under this rule because he signed his contract several years ago. Only if the contract is signed after 35 does it come into effect.

With that clear, let’s look at some of the players who will be under contract for the 2018-19 season and could potentially cause their teams a cap hit without actually playing for them. Here are all the 35+ contracts that will still be active after the coming season.

Patrick Marleau – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Patrick Marleau to a three-year, $18.75MM contract this offseason and took a substantial risk in doing so. Marleau turns 38 before the season starts, and though he has been known to keep his body in great shape throughout his career is clearly on the regular downward trajectory every player experiences. The Maple Leafs did an interesting thing to reduce some of their risk however, by front-loading Marleau’s contract and paying nearly the whole thing out in signing bonuses. Patrick Marleau

On July 2nd 2019, a few months before the final season of the contract begins, Marleau will have just $1.25MM left owed to him. Though he’ll be 41 for that season, and still carrying a $6.25MM cap hit, he’ll be a near-free option for a team struggling to hit the cap floor. That’s assuming he’s not still effective and the Maple Leafs want to keep him around, though they will be paying their young players like Auston Matthews a good chunk of the cap and may need the room. Marleau does have a no-movement clause, but if he’s set on retiring anyway it likely wouldn’t matter to him if his contract was traded.

Justin Williams – Carolina Hurricanes

Williams signed a two-year deal with the Hurricanes to return to the place he won his first Stanley Cup, and he comes with very little risk for the club in terms of retirement. Still a very effective scoring option, last season Williams actually registered his highest goal total since his days in Carolina a decade ago. It’s hard to see how he would fall so far in 2017-18 to make him think retirement was the only option.

That said, there is always a chance that a 35+ player could fall off a cliff production wise or just reach a point in his life that he wants to move on from hockey. If he did that next summer, the Hurricanes would be on the hook for a $4.5MM cap hit with no player to show for it. Luckily, the Hurricanes are one of those cap floor teams and an empty hit like that would pose no issue to their salary structure. They’d rather have an effective Williams in the lineup, but this deal came with almost no risk.

Ron HainseyRon Hainsey – Toronto Maple Leafs

Here come the Maple Leafs again, who handed out two multi-year deals to 35+ players this offseason. Hainsey comes fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with the Pittsburgh Penguins in his first taste of the playoffs, and will be expected to log difficult minutes in Toronto to take some pressure off their young group. His two-year, $6MM deal also comes front loaded should the team need to move him next summer.

Hainsey will be 38 when the contract expires, and some have already started to point out his deficiencies as the years roll on. With the Maple Leafs having to make decisions on James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, William Nylander and Leo Komarov next summer, any further decline from Hainsey could be a problem. With no buyout relief available, the Maple Leafs would likely have to bite the bullet and keep him around through the end of the deal.

Alex Burrows – Ottawa Senators

It took a two-year extension from the Ottawa Senators to get Burrows to waive his no-trade clause at last year’s deadline, and that number will be tough to watch for the team should he continue his rapid decline. For a player who once scored 35 goals in a season, Burrows had just 24 the last two combined. While he did show some better jump in the Ottawa lineup, the team has several young players who will deserve more playing time over the next couple of seasons.

$2.5MM isn’t the end of the world, but when you’re a team who works on a tight internal budget like the Senators every dollar can mean a lot. Without the buyout option and the risk of Burrows hanging it up, that $2.5MM could haunt them next summer. Luckily, it will expire before the team needs to shell out the dollars for Erik Karlsson, who will be eligible for extension next offseason but won’t have his expected record-breaking deal kick in until 2019-20.

Ryan Miller – Anaheim Ducks Ryan Miller

Anaheim took a risk handing out a 35+ contract to Miller, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him wanting to retire just yet. He’s now closer to his offseason home with actress Noureen DeWulf, and $2MM per season to backup John Gibson seems like a perfect scenario 37-year old goaltender. Even though he could suddenly turn ineffective, their faith in Gibson and his similar inexpensiveness (he’s owed just $2.3MM in each of the next two seasons) covers their back.

Derek MacKenzie – Florida Panthers

The two-year extension the Panthers gave their captain last summer was a surprising one, if only because you don’t usually see players of his stature receive a guaranteed contract a year before they’re due for one. MacKenzie signed his first 35+ contract, but it comes at such a small cost—$2.75MM total over two years—that it poses little risk. The team wouldn’t need to buy him out, and even if he were to hang up his skates next summer they would have plenty of cap room. Besides, the Panthers have had great success with 35+ contracts in the past—just ask Jaromir Jagr.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Morning Notes: Hischier, Duchene, Moses Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:31:08 +0000 When the New Jersey Devils strode to the podium at the NHL Entry Draft this year, there was one name on their minds: Nico Hischier. The Swiss-born forward playing in Eastern Canada had flown up draft boards with a big season, and would become the first-overall pick ahead of long-expected Nolan Patrick. Immediately Devils fans started speculating on where Hischier fit in both long and short term on the team, hoping maybe he could even crack the roster as an 18-year old.

Mike Morreale of now reports that Devils’ coach John Hynes expects Hischier to play center right from the beginning, and doesn’t need the protection of starting on the wing. That would push someone else aside, and as Morreale projects that would be Adam Henrique moving to the wing. Remember, the Devils also brought in Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson to the forward group, giving them half a dozen players capable of lining up in the middle.

  • Craig Custance of The Athletic was on Sportsnet 960 radio this morning, talking mostly about his outlet’s new take on sports journalism. He did offer an interesting take on the Matt Duchene situation though, saying that there has been some frustration around the league that Joe Sakic is holding out for “a homerun”. Custance says that Colorado is “really trying to win that deal and do it lop-sided” which is holding up any potential move. With the Avalanche struggling to reclaim relevancy, and with bad trade examples in recent history, Duchene has to be a win for the franchise.
  • Stevie Moses is back in North America for the 2017-18 season, signing a one-year AHL deal with the Rochester Americans. Moses has had quite the hockey career so far, from lighting up the NCAA with the University of New Hampshire, to leading the KHL in goal scoring in Jokerit’s first year in the league (ahead of players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov). Though he’s had AHL stints before, the undrafted Moses has never made it to the NHL and still would have to show something new in his game to get there.
Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville Predators Exchange Arbitration Figures Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:59:36 +0000 Though Colton Parayko has avoided arbitration with the St. Louis Blues, the other hearings are still rapidly approaching. Viktor Arvidsson is set to have his heading on Saturday, and has exchanged figures with the Nashville Predators. The team has offered a two-year deal worth $5.5MM, while Arvidsson wants just one year at $4.5MM according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

The gap of $1.75MM seems quite large, but unlike in the MLB an arbitrator does not have to side with one figure or the other. The actual salary could come somewhere in between. Just like Parayko however, the team still has 48 hours to try and get a deal done that would lock up Arvidsson longer than two years.

Arvidsson’s case is an interesting one. The undersized winger wasn’t drafted until he was already 21 years old, and even then just in the fourth round. Another year and a half in the minors, and he has just 142 NHL contests under his belt at age-24. He did break out this season for 31 goals and 61 points and no one doubts his talents, but as Mike Furlano explained this week there are certain things you can and can’t bring up in arbitration hearings. Arvidsson’s relative inexperience is definitely something the team will use against him.

The fact that he’s 24 also poses some problems to a long-term deal. Arvidsson is just three years away from unrestricted free agency, so any term beyond that would be paying for years that he believes would be his prime earning period. If he believes he can maintain this production (and why wouldn’t he) it would be a huge bidding war for his services on the open market. It’s difficult for the team to extend that much capital and give him anything close to fair market value on his UFA years though after just one season, making it a tough negotiation for both sides.

Colton Parayko Signs Five-Year Deal With St. Louis Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:54:27 +0000 With the arbitration hearing for Colton Parayko about to start, the two sides have agreed upon a five-year, $27.5MM contract. The deal will keep Parayko in St. Louis until he is 29, at which point he will be an unrestricted free agent. While the average annual value will be $5.5MM, the contract breaks down as follows:

  • 2017-18: $6.5MM
  • 2018-19: $6.5MM
  • 2019-20: $5.525MM
  • 2020-21: $3.35MM
  • 2021-22: $5.625MM

Colton Parayko

This is quite the contract for both sides, as the Blues will buy out two UFA years from Parayko in exchange for a strong cap number next season. There are 32 other defensemen who will be paid at least $5.5MM next season, meaning Parayko will need to continue to perform at quite a high level in order to justify the contract. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for the young defenseman, as his first two years have been excellent and he looks ready to take another step forward.

If you were to look at Parayko without knowing anything about him, he might seem to you to be a hulking defender that could be useful on the penalty kill but probably lacks skating ability or offensive upside. His 6’5″ frame and incredibly long reach brings more visions of Hal Gill than Paul Coffey. Nothing could be further from the truth though, as Parayko combines incredible stick handling with a sharp first pass and above average elusiveness to create offensive chances on the regular.

Blues fans will be incredibly pleased with the deal, as it brings in a budding superstar behind captain Alex Pietrangelo in terms of salary, and allows them the flexibility next season to worry about Robby Fabbri’s next deal and finding a replacement for Paul Stastny (unless Brayden Schenn is that already). The team now has six defensemen under contract for next season, a group that would rank among the best in the league in many categories. Parayko came in third among defensemen in ice time last year behind Pietrangelo and veteran Jay Bouwmeester, but without Kevin Shattenkirk in town for the whole year will likely be asked to do even more this season.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was first to break the deal, giving us the length and total. Craig Morgan of AZ Sports gave us the year-by-year breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Nolan Patrick Dealing With Infection Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:09:43 +0000 Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers were excited to finally see top pick Nolan Patrick lace up his skates and take to the ice today, but they will have to wait at least a little longer. According to GM Ron Hextall, Patrick is dealing with “an infection in his face” and will not skate today.

Patrick signed his entry-level contract just a few days ago, and is expected to compete for an NHL roster spot right away at this fall’s training camp. The second-overall pick has one of the more polished games of anyone selected this year and could likely step into a sheltered role with success. He’ll have to put his injury history behind him though, as he missed much of this season because of sports hernia surgery, only to go under the knife again just before the draft.

Those injuries already cost Patrick the top draft slot, as the New Jersey Devils went with Nico Hischier at #1 instead. The Flyers’ happy to even be picking that high after winning a lottery selection, jumped all over the long-touted WHL centerman who has NHL bloodlines and the size to compete. His future lies in the top six of the Philadelphia lineup, but how long it takes him to get there is still uncertain.

Some AHL Players Allowed To Go To Olympics Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:54:31 +0000 The Associated Press reports that players on AHL-only contracts will be allowed to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics. According to the report, the AHL sent a memo to all of its clubs articulating that players may be loaned to Olympic teams from February 5-26. The men’s ice hockey tourney runs from February 9-25.

What the memo doesn’t say, however, is whether players on NHL two-way contracts, or those players loaned to the AHL, will be eligible for the Olympics. Most signs point to no, however, as that would open up a loophole allowing teams to send its young, waiver-exempt players to the AHL for the purposes of playing in the Olympics. It would also be inconsistent with the league’s mandate that all players with NHL contracts are barred from the Olympics.

The AHL does not have a designated break during the two-week Olympic period, but the league is used to teams losing its best players as a matter of course. Players leaving for the Olympics is no different then players being recalled for two weeks. Unfortunately for national teams, however, the crop of AHL-only players may be only marginally better than those in the NCAA or Europe.

Minor Moves: Finn, Moore, Johnston Wed, 19 Jul 2017 22:55:25 +0000 After spending most of last season in the ECHL, Matt Finn has reached a deal with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on a two-way AHL deal. Just like a two-way NHL contract, that means Finn will be paid different amounts between the ECHL and AHL. He will not count towards the New York Islanders’ contract limit.

Just 23, Finn has been a disappointment since being selected 35th-overall by the Maple Leafs. During his days for the Guelph Storm of the OHL, and before that in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, Finn was a dynamic two-way defenseman capable of racking up points while also shutting down the opponent’s best offensive weapons. That next-level ability disappeared in professional hockey, and he’s bounced up and down between the two minor leagues for several years.

  • The San Jose Barracuda have inked Bryan Moore and David Makowski to one-way AHL contracts, bringing them in after successful seasons with the Allen Americans of the ECHL. The pair combined for 101 points in 86 games for the club, but will now get their chance to play in the AHL. Makowski, a defenseman, is best known for his play at the University of Denver where he captained the Pioneers to a NCHC Championship in 2014.
  • The Manitoba Moose have hired Marty Johnston as an assistant coach, bringing him away from Carleton University in Ottawa. Johnston has coached there for seven seasons. A former minor league player, Johnston is an up-and-coming coach who may get a head coaching chance in the AHL at some point in the next few years. For now he’ll get the chance to work with some of Winnipeg’s top prospects, including Jack Roslovic and Kyle Connor if they don’t make the Jets out of camp.
Andrei Svechnikov To Sign With Barrie Colts Wed, 19 Jul 2017 21:49:16 +0000 Hockey fans in North America will get another close look at the potential 2018 first-overall pick this season, as Mike Morreale of reports that Andrei Svechnikov will indeed sign with the Barrie Colts and play in the OHL. Svechnikov was the first pick in this year’s CHL Import Draft, and will leave the USHL for the Canadian junior squad.

Born in Russia and brought up through the Ak Bars Kazan junior system—where he once scored 53 points in just 13 games— Svechnikov came over to play for the Muskegon Lumberjacks last season and showed off his immense offensive upside. In 48 games played mostly as a 16-year old, Svechnikov scored 58 points and trailed just Buffalo Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt and undrafted 18-year old Zach Solow in points-per-game.

Svechnikov is already 6’2″ and strong enough to compete with players three years older than him, has excellent speed and incredible skill. Already in the conversation for the first-overall pick, he’s just scraping the surface of what he can do physically on the ice, and could easily develop into an even more dangerous power forward within a few years. He’ll head to Barrie to work with coach Dale Hawerchuk (a first-overall pick in his own right) to try and help the franchise bounce back.

After five straight winning seasons, the Colts were the very worst team in the OHL this season with just 17 wins all year. With a player like Svechnikov in tow, they will immediately be improved. Whether that’s enough to get them into the playoffs may be another story altogether.

Owen Tippett Signs Entry-Level Contract With Florida Panthers Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:48:31 +0000 The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with their top draft pick Owen Tippet, after rumors have swirled that he may make the team out of camp. The bonus structure hasn’t been released yet, but as the 10th-overall pick you can at least expect some Schedule A bonuses to be included in the deal.

PHR has been touting the value of Tippett for quite some time, and Dale Tallon has been clear with his excitement over the former Mississauga Steelhead. He released a statement on the signing today:

I’m thrilled to sign Owen to his first NHL contract. Owen is a natural goal scorer with a bright future and he already possesses NHL-ready size and speed. We’re looking forward to watching him compete for a spot on our NHL roster at training camp this fall.

Indeed, with the Panthers still only having 10 or 11 forwards penciled into their group due to their previous NHL experience, Tippett will be battling with several other prospects for the chance to break camp with the team. Scoring 44 goals last year in junior, Tippett is a budding power forward with a wicked wrist shot that already uses his body to create space for himself in the attacking zone. While he can get caught drifting around waiting for the puck instead of creating turnovers, he was one of the most dangerous players in the OHL last season with it on his stick.

So far, Florida has lost 74 goals this summer from the various departures of Jon Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Jaromir Jagr and Thomas Vanek, and will need to replace them somehow. The additions of Radim Vrbata and Evgeny Dadonov start that process, but giving Tippett a full-time role could close the gap even further. To do it, he’ll likely have to beat out prospects much older than him like Jared McCann or Henrik Haapala, not an easy task.

Kyle Okposo Will Participate In DBL Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:40:15 +0000 Kyle Okposo played his last game of the season for the Buffalo Sabres on March 27th, ending up hospitalized in a neurological intensive care center before the conclusion of the season. Though Okposo would be discharged a few days later, many fans worried about his future not only with the team but in hockey at all. Since then there have been several reports of his progress, and an expectation that he will be ready for the start of the season. That idea was furthered today when Da Beauty League, a Minnesota-based amateur summer league for current and former NHL players, announced that Okposo will make his debut tonight.

The league has an incredible group of players this season, led by Minnesota-born stars like Ryan McDonagh, Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin. Even top draft pick Casey Mittelstadt is there this season, playing on Martin’s team. For fans in the area, it offers a extremely inexpensive way to see some of the league’s best players up close in an unfamiliar setting. For Okposo, it will just be nice to see him back on the ice.

He’ll be expected to be a big part of the Sabres turnaround after they signed him to a seven-year, $42MM contract last summer. The deal looked pretty good in it’s first season, as Okposo put up 45 points in 68 games and was the Sabres’ All-Star participant. With more health, including from Okposo, the Sabres should be much improved. Whether they can force their way into the playoffs is still yet to be seen.

Morning Notes: Schmidt, Texier, Ikonen Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:29:19 +0000 The Vegas Golden Knights have their first arbitration hearing coming up with defenseman Nate Schmidt, scheduled for August 3rd. Despite that, Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the two sides have had productive talks and are positively progressing towards a deal before the hearing. Schmidt is one of the most exciting young players for the Golden Knights, with excellent speed and dynamic puck-moving ability.

He was stuck behind several other names in Washington, but it’s expected he’ll play a big role for Vegas this year as he heads into his age-26 season. If he does settle for a one-year deal through arbitration, he would still be a restricted free agent next year. That’s if the team doesn’t work out a long-term deal with him first.

  • Alexandre Texier, the 45th-overall pick from this year’s draft will be heading to Finland next year to continue his development. The French center will suit up for Liiga’s KalPa for the next two seasons, before reevaluating his position with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Texier is just 17 years old still, but has shown some tremendous raw potential in terms of skill and offensive ability. The Finnish league is notorious for creating solid two-way forwards, something the Blue Jackets will hope Texier picks up on during his time there.
  • Joni Ikonen, the Montreal Canadiens’ second-round pick will also return to KalPa according to Uffe Bodin of Hockeysverige. Ikonen played the last two seasons in Frolunda of the SHL, and showed off in the U18 World Juniors this season with 8 points in 7 games for Finland. Selected 58th-overall, Montreal is hoping he can stay at center long term. He’ll develop at home for at least one more season before they try to bring him over to North America.
  • The New York Islanders have promoted Greg Cronin from assistant to associate coach for next season, keeping him on Doug Weight’s staff for the time being. The Isles had already hired Kelly Buchberger and Scott Gomez as assistant coaches, rounding out a staff with a ton of experience either on the ice or behind a bench. Cronin has been an assistant with the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, while also holding head coaching jobs in the AHL and NCAA.
Rangers Sign Goalie Alexander Georgiev Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:04:22 +0000 Wednesday: The team has officially announced the contract.

Monday: The New York Rangers have made an interesting off-season move, signing Russian goaltender Alexander Georgiev to an entry-level contract. The 21-year-old keeper, who went undrafted in 2014 and 2015, was a free agent playing in the Finnish Liiga. CapFriendly reports that he’ll now head across the Atlantic to join the Rangers organization on a three-year deal worth $792.5K at the NHL level.

Although undrafted, Georgiev has begun to make a name for himself on the international stage in recent years. Unlike most promising Russian prospects, Georgiev left the country to join TPS in Finland for the 2014-15 season. His performance as the backup for the team – a 2.21 GAA in 14 games in 2014-15 and a 2.28 GAA in 10 games in 2015-16 – caught the eye of the Russian World Junior team. Not only did Georgiev make the team, he started five games at the 2016 tournament. He then took over as the starter for TPS this past season, posting a stellar 1.70 GAA and .923 save percentage in 27 games as just a 21-year-old in a men’s league. The young goalie has plenty of upside to go along with many questions about his game as well.

Yet, his current resume seems to have been enough for the Rangers to give him a shot in the AHL. With Henrik Lundqvist and the newly signed Ondrej Pavelec as a solid one-two punch at the NHL level, Georgiev will certainly head for the minors, where he can compete for starts on the Hartford Wolf Pack. After losing Magnus Hellberg to the KHL and choosing not to re-sign Mackenzie Skapskithere’s definitely room for someone to take control in Hartford. Georgiev will battle incumbent Brandon Halversona 2014 second-round pick who struggled in his first pro season, and Bowling Green University’s Chris Nellwho also struggled in his brief AHL showing at the end of last season. Georgiev may just end up as the AHL starter, and candidate to see NHL time, when all is said and done.

Valeri Nichushkin Will Return To NHL In 2018-19 Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:55:19 +0000 Though it’s been expected for some time, due to the year remaining on his contract in the KHL, the Dallas Stars have announced that Valeri Nichushkin will not return to the NHL until the 2018-19 season. Instead, he’ll play his final year for CSKA Moscow and hope for even better results.

Nichushkin, 22, signed in the KHL last fall after a falling out with then head coach Lindy Ruff but immediately hinted that he hoped to return to the Stars one day. Now, with Ruff gone and Ken Hitchcock in place the team hopes to bring him back in and nurture the immense talent he brings to the table. Selected 10th-overall in 2013, Nichushkin brings size, speed and a nose for the net but hasn’t been able to put it all together just yet. In 34 games with CSKA last season, the 6’3″ winger 24 points. Showing flashes of brilliance at times, he needs to bring more consistency to his game if he’s to fit into the rigid Hitchcock system and fulfill his potential in the NHL.

A return to the league this year would have required a buyout of his contract, but instead he’ll take the opportunity to suit up with one of the best teams in the Russian league. It will be interesting to see how he’s deployed, but North American onlookers would certainly hope he and Kirill Kaprizov could be put together to form an immensely talented duo. The pair would bring incredible youth and skill to the team, and fans in Dallas and Minnesota would be sure to get some interesting highlights to watch.

Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa Senators Submit Arbitration Figures Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:15:51 +0000 Just like Colton Parayko and Tomas Tatar yesterday, Ryan Dzingel and the Ottawa Senators have exchanged figures for their upcoming arbitration hearing. Dzingel is scheduled for a hearing on Friday morning, and has asked for a $1.95MM salary according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The team has countered with a $1MM offer. The two sides still have almost 48 hours to work out a deal, and GM Pierre Dorion told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen they would like to avoid a hearing if possible.

Dzingel took a big step forward in his first full season, scoring 14 goals and 31 points for the Senators in 81 games. His presence was felt in all situations, as the 25-year old winger uses his speed to create chances of the rush and disrupt passing lanes in the defensive zone. He’s come a long way since being a seventh-round pick in 2011.

A one year deal would leave Dzingel a restricted free agent next summer again, allowing the Senators to continue negotiations on a long-term deal. Even if the arbitrator settles on the full $1.95MM ask, it’s a fine price to pay for a solid secondary scoring option that can move up and down the lineup. With the Senators suddenly flush with center depth, it will be interesting to see who Dzingel lines up with to start the season.

Making Your Case At An Arbitration Hearing Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:33:21 +0000 With the salary arbitration figures for Tomas Tatar and Colton Parayko leaking today, it is worthwhile to take a look at what actually goes on at an arbitration hearing. Salary arbitration determines a player’s salary through a hearing governed by a third-party arbitrator. The arbitrator takes all the permissible evidence into account in deciding how much a player should be paid per year. This section outlines three key elements of that process: term, permissible evidence, and the decision.


The party being brought to salary arbitration chooses whether the decision is for one or two years. If a team chooses, however, they are restricted to one year if the player is eligible for unrestricted free agent the following year.


Parties can present witnesses, affidavits (sworn written testimony), documents, statistics, and any other relevant evidence during the hearing, subject to certain restrictions (see more below). The CBA suggests the following preferred evidence:

  • the player’s overall performance in previous seasons;
  • number of games played in context of injuries or illnesses (or lack thereof);
  • length of service in the league or with the team;
  • how much a player contributed to the success/failure of his team last season;
  • special qualities of leadership or public appeal relevant to his team responsibilities (i.e. the intangibles).
  • performance of players considered comparable to the player in question by either party; or
  • compensation of players considered comparable to the player in question by either party.

As stated above, this list is subject to certain restrictions.  The CBA prohibits parties from introducing or using the following:

  • any contract signed outside restricted free agency, including one signed after a team exercises a walk-away right;
  • any contract of a player not considered a comparable by either party;
  • any contract otherwise permissible that is signed less than three hours before the hearing starts.
  • qualifying offers;
  • the negotiation history between the parties, including any offers made;
  • testimonials, videotapes, newspaper columns, press game reports, or similar materials;
  • references to walk-away rights;
  • any award issued by an arbitrator that preceded a team exercising its walk-away rights;
  • a team or NHL’s financial condition;
  • a team’s salary cap (or floor) situation;
  • any salary arbitration award issued in ’05-’06; or
  • compensation information for salary arbitration awards issued before July 22nd 2005.

There are three main takeaways from the evidentiary rules. One, the arbitrator’s decision is based largely on a player’s stats and intangibles, and the compensation received by players with similar stats and intangibles. Two, visual evidence such as highlight reels and game tape do not factor in to the arbitrator’s decision. This makes any determination strictly fact-based. Finally, if, during a players hearing, a comparable player signs an otherwise admissible contract, that contract cannot be used as evidence by either party.


The arbitrator’s decision comes within 48 hours after the hearing closes. The decision states:

  • the contract term (one or two years as mentioned above);
  • NHL salary to be paid by the team for that term;
  • whether it is a two-way contract, and how much the player is paid in the AHL; and
  • a statement explaining the decision.

Walk Away Rights

A team may reject an arbitration decision in a player-elected salary arbitration if the award is $3.9MM or more per year. That threshold increases by the same percentage rate that the average league salary increases.

A team does not have unlimited walk away rights. Rather, the number of times a team can reject a decision is tied to the number of decisions issued. A team facing up to two decisions has one walk away right. A team facing three of four decisions has two walk away rights. Finally, a team facing five decisions has three walk away rights.

The consequences of rejecting a decision depends on whether the club elected a one or two year term. If the decision is for a one year term, the player immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent. If the decision is for a two year term, the player and team enter into a one year contract for the salary awarded. The player becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of that year.

Blue Jackets GM Talks Roster Moves Tue, 18 Jul 2017 23:36:32 +0000 Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen spoke to the team’s radio play-by-play announcer BobMcElligott today about the Blue Jackets’ offseason, touching on roster moves, trade rumors, and the upcoming season.

On the Panarin-for-Saad deal, where Columbus traded Brandon Saad back to the Chicago Blackhawks for Artem Panarin, Kekalainen said that he was looking for a “game-breaking type of player,” and one “who can win you the tight games.” Most importantly, the GM said, was Panarin’s one-on-one skill that creates offense by itself.

On coach John Tortorella, Kekalainen emphasizes that the coach has a “great feel for what each player is all about,” but will get frustrated if a player lacks work ethic, stating that “Tortorella does not like players who don’t work hard.” The GM then intimates that Tortorella may not be the only organizational member who thinks that way.

On the expansion draft deals, where Columbus made moves to protect their young prospects, Kekalainen explains that his prospects were too valuable to lose. Because Columbus could lose one of three important young players, the team had to either trade all three, or find a way to protect them. The team ended up losing William Karlsson, but kept the likes of Josh Anderson, Ryan Murray, David Savard, and Joonas Korpisalo.

Finally, on free agency, Kekalainen states that the team would rather build from the draft than to sign key players as free agents. Columbus is not known as a hot free agent market, and they have not historically been a big player for elite free agents. The GM also expects last year’s 3rd overall pick Pierre-Luc Dubois to challenge for a roster spot at camp.

Snapshots: Shattenkirk, Fortin, Klee Tue, 18 Jul 2017 22:03:03 +0000 While it had been rumored for quite some time before Kevin Shattenkirk signed with the New York Rangers that the free agent defensemen only wanted to play in the Northeast because of the proximity to his home, he mentioned two other things when discussing his decision at a press conference today. One, the potential for the Rangers to really compete right away in the Metropolitan division, and two the chance to play with Ryan McDonagh.

As Matt Calamia writes for, Shattenkirk and McDonagh have played together at various tournaments for many years, and the newest member of the Rangers is excited to get started. It doesn’t hurt that legendary New York defenseman Brian Leetch was his favorite player growing up, someone many Rangers fans hope he emulates for the next four years.

  • Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alexandre Fortin is three weeks removed from sports hernia surgery according to Scott Powers of The Athletic, but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September. Fortin was invited to the Hawks’ development camp last summer and earned himself an entry-level contract despite having been passed over in multiple drafts. Now 20, Fortin has an outside chance at even making the Chicago roster out of camp if he shows up and impresses as much as he did last year. More likely he’ll head to the AHL and keep developing, waiting for a chance with the NHL roster.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Ken Klee as an assistant coach for their AHL squad this season, his first coaching job in men’s professional hockey. Klee had been the head coach for the US Women’s National Team for several years coaching them to gold at both the 2015 and 2016 World Championships. In 934 NHL games, Klee registered 195 points and 880 penalty minutes.
Colorado Avalanche Sign Three Players Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:37:24 +0000 The Colorado Avalanche have signed Duncan Siemens, Felix Girard and Gabriel Bourque to one-year, two-way deals for the 2017-18 season. The team did not release any financial details on the contracts. All three players were restricted free agents this summer, and though Siemens and Bourque were both arbitration eligible neither filed.

Siemens is perhaps the most interesting and confounding player of the trio, an 11th-overall selection who has still yet to make an impact at the NHL level. His professional career to this point has been a huge disappointment, but a glimmer of hope yet remains. At the end of last season, Siemens played three games with the club and actually showed he may still have some potential as a Mark Borowiecki-type physical presence on the back end. Though the offensive upside he showed in junior has all but disappeared, the 10 hits he recorded in three games (including six in a single contest) gave fans some hope.

Girard and Bourque, both former Nashville Predators prospects came to the Avalanche in the past year to try and take the next step in their careers. Bourque signed with the team last summer on a professional tryout which earned him a contract, while Girard was the return for Cody McLeod in a mid-season trade. At very different points in their careers, Bourque is trying to hold onto the last strings of his NHL career while Girard is just trying to earn a promotion for the first time. Both will see substantial time in the AHL next season.

That leaves the Avalanche with three restricted free agents, in three very different circumstances. One, Matt Nieto filed for arbitration and will have a hearing on July 31st should the two sides not find a common ground. Two, Rocco Grimaldi is hoping for a deal to prove that his big time AHL scoring talent can translate to the NHL if given the chance, and three, Nikita Zadorov and a potential long-term deal to keep one of the Ryan O’Reilly trade pieces in Colorado as a young building block. That all comes under the shadow of the KHL for Zadorov though, as rumors have persisted that he has a deal in place with CSKA Moscow should he be unable to reach a contract with Colorado.

San Jose Sharks Sign Marcus Sorensen To Two-Year Contract Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:07:28 +0000 The San Jose Sharks have handed out a two-year contract to restricted free agent Marcus Sorensen, bringing him back after his first season in North America. No financial details have been released so far, but it’s unlikely Sorensen earns much more than the minimum salary of $650K.

Sorensen was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2010, but went unsigned by them while playing in Sweden. The 25-year old signed a one-year entry-level deal with the Sharks last year, and split the year between the NHL and AHL levels. In 19 NHL contests he registered just four points, but showed more promise for the San Jose Barracuda with 34 points in 43 games.

The winger should compete for a spot with the Sharks to begin the season, but as a waivers-exempt player could be used as a potential reinforcement instead. With the team losing some speed with the departure of Patrick Marleau, Sorensen would be a help in various situations. Whether he’s ready for an increased role is still yet to be determined.

Pontus Aberg Signs With Nashville Predators Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:03:46 +0000 After handing out a three-year deal to Frederik Gaudreau yesterday, the Nashville Predators have signed another playoff surprise. The team announced a two-year contract for Pontus Aberg worth $1.3MM total.  Aberg will earn the minimum salary of $650K each year.

Though he played just 15 games for the Predators during the regular season, the team turned to Aberg to provide some offensive jump in the playoffs, inserting him into the lineup for 16 games. Playing just under 13 minutes a night, Aberg provided five points in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup final, and showed flashes of the high potential he’s put on display at the AHL level.

Aberg was selected in the second round five years ago, and has been a goal-scoring master since coming over to North America. In 199 AHL games with Milwaukee, he’s scored 72 goals including 31 in just 56 games this season. That ability to find the back of the net is hard to come by, and the Predators will hope he can deliver at least part of that production in the NHL next year. Aberg is no longer waiver-exempt, meaning he’ll likely stay up with the club this year and try to force himself into a bigger role.

The Predators still have four restricted free agents to sign, including Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen. The pair represent the bulk of the offensive production for Nashville, and are incredibly important to get locked up under workable terms. Arvidsson’s arbitration hearing is set for Saturday, though there is still plenty of time to work out a long-term contract before then.

Boston Bruins Re-Sign Austin Czarnik Tue, 18 Jul 2017 19:50:18 +0000 Tuesday: The team has officially announced the signing.

Monday: A day after extending young goalies Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban, the Boston Bruins have come to terms with another one their restricted free agents. According to CapFriendly, two-way forward Austin Czarnik has re-signed with the Bruins on a one-year, two-way deal. Czarnik will make just $675K at the NHL level, which may end up being a bargain for GM Don Sweeney and company after a solid rookie season.

Czarnik, the former captain of the Miami University RedHawks and a highly sought-after college free agent in 2015, has found success in all aspects of the game so far in his pro career. In 2015-16, Czarnik, alongside Boston’s Frank Vatrano and former Bruin Seth Griffith, had a breakout campaign in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, scoring 61 points in 68 games in his first pro season. Czarnik led all AHL rookies in points, and that offensive production earned him an NHL shot last season. The small, shifty center took on an important bottom-six role for the first half of the season, recording 13 points in 49 games and leading the team’s third penalty kill unit. While Czarnik did not show the same offensive explosion, he proved that he had the intelligence, composure, and versatility to be an NHL player. Czarnik was eventually returned to Providence for much of the second half and the postseason, where he again was an offensive juggernaut with 23 points in 22 games, but has earned another shot in Boston in the near future. Czarnik is one of many young forwards who will fight for a roster spot this season, including fellow two-way forwards Noel Acciari and college teammate Sean Kuralyveteran minor leaguers Tim Schaller and Kenny Agostinoand promising prospect scorers Jakob Forsbacka KarlssonZach SenyshynJake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarikand Danton HeinenCzarnik may need some luck to hold off a plethora of NHL-ready talent, but has the advantage of NHL experience on his side.

With Czarnik signed, the Bruins’ only two remaining restricted free agents are a couple of notable names: 21-year-old star winger David Pastrnak and play-making third-line center Ryan SpoonerWhile Boston is high on Czarnik and other young forwards, with more than enough competition as is, many also believe that they could stand to add another veteran winger into the mix as well. However, such a move will likely come after the extensions for Pastrnak and Spooner are over with. Negotiations with Pastrnak have been ongoing for a while now and Spooner has his arbitration date set for July 26th, so it’s only a matter of time before the Bruins have more news to announce. Re-upping Czarnik is another step in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done in Boston.

Detroit Red Wings Sign Martin Frk Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:34:42 +0000 The Detroit Red Wings have come to a one-year agreement with forward Martin Frk, signing the restricted free agent for the 2017-18 season. The deal is a two-way contract worth $650K in the NHL. Frk was not eligible for salary arbitration this summer.

Frk is coming off a Calder Cup victory with the Grand Rapids Griffins that saw him continue his excellent scoring performance throughout the playoffs. With a combined 65 points in 81 games, Frk was one of the most reliable options for the Griffins for most of the season. There was a period during the year when Frk was actually claimed by Carolina and suited up for two NHL games before making his way back to the Detroit organization.

Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Frk has come slowly through the Red Wings development system to become a genuine NHL option for next season. With back to back 27-goal seasons in the AHL, he’s shown a nose for the net and an ability to contribute on special teams. Detroit, looking for any help they can get up front could take a long look at Frk in training camp this season.

Snapshots: Yakupov, Olympics, Meier Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:06:22 +0000 When Nail Yakupov didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Blues this spring, many people around the league believed it may take a move overseas to find new life in his career. We even wrote on the subject here on PHR, saying that a move back to the KHL seemed like his best option. Yakupov was clear that wasn’t his goal, and instead he secured a one-year, $875K contract from the Colorado Avalanche who may prove to be an even better fit.

Andi Duroux of BSN Denver takes an incredibly thorough—and extremely insightful—look into the career of the 2012 first-overall pick, and how that career can get back on track with last year’s last place team. Yakupov should have every opportunity in Colorado to show he can still produce offensively, but will need to show he can play in both ends of the rink to take advantage of his immense potential. If he does, he could be in for a big raise next summer.

  • While rumors of the NHL having a backup plan to still possibly go to the 2018 Olympics seem far-fetched, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet does bring us some news on that front. It looks like players that are on AHL-only contracts will be allowed to represent their country in the games, but not those on two-way deals currently playing in the AHL. It will be interesting to see if a player who has signed his entry-level contract but is playing in the junior ranks would be included in this, but either way that leaves some interesting names for the potential squad. While Team USA may be made up of many collegiate players, other more veteran options with international experience like Peter Mueller, who was playing on an AHL deal with the Providence Bruins last year could be considered. For Team Canada, recent CHL free agents like Darren Raddysh and Stefan LeBlanc could join the veterans playing internationally.
  • A question that has come up several times in our Live Chats is that of a potential replacement for Patrick Marleau in San Jose. After the long-time Shark signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency, fans of the team were looking around hoping someone would be brought in to replace his spot in the top six. Kevin Kurz of CSN was asked a similar question about how the lines will shake out, and he projected Timo Meier to take the left wing spot beside Logan Couture on the second line. That would be a big responsibility for the 20-year old Meier, after making his NHL debut this season with just six points in 34 games. The ninth-overall selection in 2015, he has all the makings of a top-line power forward but has yet to put it all together and find any consistency in his game.
Vegas Golden Knights & Trade Deadline Capital Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:08:52 +0000 As we look back at the recent NHL Expansion Draft, it seems as though the Vegas Golden Knights had a very clear plan. Three tenets seem to influence most if not all of their selections. Vegas Golden Knights

  1. Leverage your opportunity to gain draft picks and young players in exchange for taking a bad contract.
  2. If unwilling to deal, take players with some value and only one or two years remaining on their contract.
  3. If no players like that exist, take a pending free agent to avoid burdening your cap.

Though some may look at this and see an obvious strategy, it is amazing how closely the Golden Knights followed it. A quick look at their CapFriendly page and you can immediately see that they avoided players who were under contract long-term in the draft, as they currently have 16 players that will be unrestricted free agents either next summer or the year after that. Their only long-term contracts are Reilly Smith, David Clarkson and Erik Haula—players they acquired in trade (the Wild gave them the chance to sign Haula)—and Cody Eakin, who is under contract for a third season.

That cap flexibility is paramount to the Golden Knights, as it was never about building through the expansion draft. Almost none of the assets gained through a direct selection should play much of an impact on the team long term, and because of it GM George McPhee will be holding court on another transaction season next year. The trade deadline should be hugely influenced by the Golden Knights, with a large number of assets on the market.

James Neal, David Perron and Jon Marchessault, arguably the three most prolific offensive weapons the Golden Knights selected in the draft are all UFAs next summer, and would each command a hefty price on the open market. Established goal scorers are moved each spring for big packages, and each of these three are no different.

Brayden McNabb and Luca Sbisa headline the pending UFAs on defense and could each fetch a solid return at the deadline, especially if given increased roles for Vegas. Even Jason Garrison could be of some interest if the team is willing to retain a portion of his already (at that point) prorated salary. Garrison will probably get some powerplay time with the Golden Knights to boost his value come the deadline.

Past the UFAs, the team also has several pending RFAs already in their mid-twenties. Colin Miller for example will turn 25 just after the season begins, and is three years away from unrestricted free agency. It’s unlikely that the team competes for a Stanley Cup while Miller remains a cheap option, meaning moving him in the next year could fetch the biggest return. As a puck-moving defensemen he should get plenty of opportunity to show off his offensive upside.

Though some players will be moved out before the season starts because of the simple fact they currently have too many, it’s not unlikely that the Golden Knights will be holding all the cards come February once again. They could easily have half a dozen players on any trade bait list, and add to the impressive number of draft picks they already own.

Lightning Sign Michael Bournival Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:05:20 +0000 Tuesday: The team has officially announced the signing.

Friday: The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed RFA forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650K at the NHL level, reports TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie. The 25 year-old forward was arbitration eligible.

The former 3rd round pick in 2010 has bounced between the AHL and NHL in his short career. Originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, Bournival was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Ryan O’Byrne. He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Canadiens after the 2015-16 season, and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the offseason as a free agent.

Last season he put up 2G and 1A in 19 games for the Lightning, and 9G and 10A in 38 games for the AHL Syracuse Crunch. He scored an additional 8G and 7A in 22 playoff games for those same Crunch. With 108 career NHL games under his belt, time is running out for Bournival to make an impact at the NHL level. The Lightning do not seem to have room for a player to make the team out of camp, so Bournival will have to capitalize on any mid-season call-ups.

Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues Exchange Arbitration Figures With RFAs Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:46:44 +0000 Arbitration is coming fast and furious later this week, with the hearings kicking off on Thursday with Colton Parayko and Tomas Tatar. Before that happens, teams and players need to exchange figures for the arbitrator to rule on. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is reporting that the St. Louis Blues have submitted a two-year offer for $7MM (total), while Parayko wants a one-year deal worth $4.85MM. Friedman also reports that the Detroit Red Wings have offered Tatar $4.1MM, while the forward has asked for $5.3MM.

Unlike baseball, the arbitrator does not need to decide with one side or the other and can find a “middle-ground” salary for the player. Both of these teams would have walk-away rights from a potential decision, though it would be hard to see either of them allowing Parayko or Tatar to hit the open market. As always, a deal before the hearing is still likely between both sides as cases rarely actually reach arbitration.

Parayko, 24, is known as a budding superstar around the league but doesn’t have the experience or huge point totals to give him much leverage in the process. That said, there is leeway for an “intangibles” component which can use things like leadership and public appeal to sway the decision. Parayko is extremely popular in St. Louis as the team and fans see him as a building block for any future contender.

Tatar, 26, on the other hand has a much longer track record of success in the NHL after completing his fourth full season, but cannot be awarded a two-year deal because of his proximity to unrestricted free agent. It seems likely that the two sides will either take the one-year deal and part ways next summer, or somehow find a long-term deal that works. It was recently reported that Tatar turned down a five-year, $25MM deal and it’s clear that he values himself much higher than that.

Overseas Notes: Pirri, Brule, Villacher Mon, 17 Jul 2017 23:22:42 +0000 Despite some early reports, it remains unclear whether free agent forward Brandon Pirri is leaving the NHL or not. News out of local sources in Switzerland made it sound as if the young scorer had already come to an agreement with the ZSC Lions of the NLA. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of hockey’s top news-breakers, did some digging today and has doubts about the deal. Friedman believes that Pirri still plans on staying in North America, despite what is likely ample interest from European clubs. Pirri, still just 26 years old, has not been tendered a qualifying offer in back-to-back years, despite racking up 47 points in 121 games with the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and Florida Panthers over the past two seasons. Before that, Pirri notched a 22-goal season for the Panthers in 2014-15. Yet, often described as a one-dimensional player, Pirri has been unable to find a long-term NHL home. Will he wait out the market or take a minor league deal, as Friedman suggests, or will eventually succumb to the pressure of overseas offers, like that of ZSC, and leave North America?

  • One former NHLer who first turned to the ZSC Lions when he could not find a new NHL team was Gilbert BruleThe sixth overall pick of the 2005 NHL Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Brule left for Swtizerland in 2012 after his once-promising career had produced only 95 points in 296 NHL games over seven pro seasons. Brule attempted a comeback the following year, but found a similar lack of success and moved on to the KHL, where he has played ever since. According to a press release from Russian club Traktor Chelyabinsk, Brule is on the move again, but still within the KHL. Traktor has acquired the now 30-year-old forward for cash compensation from Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. Brule is coming off his best pro season in 2016-17, after posting 42 points in 52 games between Neftekhimik and Medvescak Zagreb. Brule will look to stay hot in the final season of his contract after finishing in the top 25 in points per game last season in the KHL.
  • Brule’s former team, Medvescak Zagreb, has now left the KHL and has re-joined the EBEL, a league based mostly out of Austria, but that includes other European clubs like Zagreb, a Croatian team, and others from the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, and Slovenia. While league re-alignment has been a major story for the EBEL, another has been the active off-season for Villacher SV, the lowest-placing Austrian team in 2016-17. In the past two days, Villacher has added arguably the two biggest names of any EBEL signings this summer in Rob Flick and Ben WalterFlick, a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and a well-regarded enforcer, had been unable to crack an NHL lineup despite solid defensive play and moderate offense in the AHL and ECHL. The 26-year-old finally found his scoring touch with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season, notching 63 points in 60 games and will now look to keep that going with Villacher. Walter, a veteran of lower-level European hockey, was one of the top scorers in the EBEL in 2014-15 with 43 points in 50 games. Walter was a fifth-round selection of the Boston Bruins in 2004, and unlike Flick, saw 24 games of NHL action with the Bruins, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils. While Flick and Walter may not be massive names by any means to most North American fans, their relative talent level make them huge acquisitions for Villacher.
Matt Martin Speaks Out On John Tavares Free Agency Mon, 17 Jul 2017 21:43:58 +0000 Since John Tavares didn’t sign a contract extension with the New York Islanders when he became eligible on July 1st, most of the hockey world has started to speculate on what it means for his future. Tavares will be a free agent in the summer of 2018, and will have contract discussion follow him all year like Steven Stamkos a year ago. Though Tavares has never said anything that would make you think he wants to leave New York, many believe the uncertainty regarding their future arena plans and the relative disappointments on the ice throughout Tavares’ career could push him to greener pastures. John Tavares

For what it’s worth, former teammate and friend Matt Martin of the Toronto Maple Leafs—a long speculated destination for the Toronto-born Tavares—doesn’t think so. Martin spoke to Brian Compton of about several things including Tavares’ pending free agency, and made it clear that he supports any decision his friend will make.

As a friend of mine would it be great to have him? Absolutely. But I want him to do whatever will make him happy and wherever he feels where he can win and be successful is what you hope for.

Like Stamkos, Tavares would enter free agency as a young superstar capable of starting a bidding war between a dozen teams if not more. Top line centers in their prime don’t hit the market very often (see: never), and Tavares could easily challenge Connor McDavid for the title of highest paid player in the league should he make it that far. McDavid earned $12.5MM per season but was giving up just four UFA seasons and left money on the table to help the Oilers. Tavares will be just 27 next summer, and would basically have no comparables in free agency since the salary cap was introduced.

The speculation is only going to continue until a contract is signed, even though that may last until after next season like Stamkos last year. The Tampa Bay Lightning forward even met with other teams in the pre-July 1 window, but eventually settled at home for an eight-year deal. A similar script would be a distraction all year for the Islanders, but is a real possibility.

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