Tight up against the salary cap for the next few years, Josh Yohe of The Athletic (subscription required) answers a number of mailbag questions about the Pittsburgh Penguins present and future. Among the tidbits of information is the scribe’s opinion that the team is likely to allow defenseman Ian Cole to depart via free agency this offseason.
Yohe writes that Cole, who is one of the team’s better defenseman is more likely of all their unrestricted free agents next year to be wearing a different sweater in the 2018-19 season. As Pittsburgh is already loaded with four defensemen making at least $4MM per year next season, Cole would likely be the odd man out for the Penguins, especially since there will likely be many teams offering big money to the blueliner. The 27-year-old has been a solid defender and likely could play a major position on another team’s top-four if given the opportunity.
- NBC Sports Tarik El-Bashir writes that Washington Capitals wing Jakub Vrana, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this year on Thursday, will return to the lineup today against the Minnesota Wild on the Capitals third line. He had just two points (both goals) in his previous 13 games. “I’m putting him back where he was … and I want to see him play really well tonight,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
- El-Bashir adds that Washington Capitals defenseman Christian Djoos, who suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday against the Nashville Predators and missed Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, did not skate today. “I don’t know exactly when he’s going to skate yet,” Trotz said. “He’s still day-to-day with the trainers. Once they tell me he can skate, he’ll be out there.”
Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times writes that with the Tampa Bay Lightning off to their best start in team history as they lead the league with a 15-2-2 record and 32 points, the team has a number of players who are also leading the NHL, including Nikita Kucherov, who leads the NHL in goals scored with 17; Steven Stamkos, who leads the league in assists with 25 and points with 35; and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the NHL in wins with 14.