The Los Angeles Kings have decided that burning a year of Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s entry-level contract isn’t worth it at the moment, and have instead sent him back to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL for the remainder of the season. Anderson-Dolan had played five games so far with the Kings, recording his first NHL point and getting a taste of what life is like in professional hockey. He’ll now return to the junior ranks and likely compete for a spot on Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championship. Los Angeles has recalled Sean Walker from the AHL to fill the roster spot.
Some may remember Frank Corrado from his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, patiently waiting for a turn in the lineup that never seemed to come. Corrado was in the Maple Leafs organization for nearly two full seasons, but only played 41 games with the club and routinely sat in the press box as the extra instead of even getting playing time at the minor league level. Dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017, he at least was given the chance to suit up more often for their AHL affiliate, though still didn’t receive much NHL playing time.
Corrado is now heading back to that Maple Leafs organization, as the now 25-year old defenseman has signed an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies to try and get his professional career back on track. Coming off a major knee injury, he’ll try to work his way into the defending Calder Cup champions lineup and show he still has enough left to challenge for an NHL role.
Corrado was originally selected by the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, but has played in just 76 NHL games and 175 regular season AHL contests over parts of seven seasons. That’s an impressively low total for a defenseman who has shown at times to be a quality puck-mover and capable of handling himself at both ends of the ice. Though the NHL is now several steps away, he’ll be given another opportunity at the AHL level.
Another week is underway in the NHL and the Nashville Predators find themselves alone in first place with 14 points. Their +12 goal differential also leads the league, as they look to repeat as Presidents Trophy winners this year. While all the other teams around the league try to catch them, we’ll keep track of the minor moves made to get them a little closer.
- Marek Mazanec has been returned to the AHL by the New York Rangers, who have recalled Alexandar Georgiev in his stead. The goaltenders had been swapped to give Georgiev some playing time, and will likely continue to be flipped back and forth throughout the season. Georgiev has played just one NHL game this season and allowed seven goals, but is still expected to be the primary backup for Henrik Lundqvist.
- Troy Grosenick is on his way up to the Nashville Predators to serve as Juuse Saros’ backup, while the team has sent Miroslav Svoboda down to the minor leagues. Grosenick has a 3-0 record with the Milwaukee Admirals so far this season, and will come up to help Saros fill the skates of Pekka Rinne while he’s on the shelf.
- The Dallas Stars have recalled Justin Dowling, rewarding the minor league veteran for his strong early play in the minor leagues. Dowling hasn’t played an NHL game since the 2016-17 season, but is valuable depth for the organization given his strong offensive history in the AHL.
The Carolina Hurricanes are going to have to make a goaltending decision before long, as Scott Darling is almost ready to return to the net. The team activated the injured goaltender today and sent him to the minor leagues on a conditioning stint. Darling will start for the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday evening, but could force the NHL team to waive either Curtis McElhinney or Petr Mrazek before long, unless they’re planning on carrying three goaltenders.
After a promising start to the season the New Jersey Devils have dropped back to back games against the Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers, and will now welcome the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators to town on Thursday night. With that in mind, the team has recalled former KHL defenseman Egor Yakovlev from the minor leagues. It didn’t take long for Yakovlev to make an impact with the organization, recording seven assists in his first seven AHL contests including two in his very first game.
Signed last May to a one-year, entry-level contract, Yakovlev is making his North American debut after playing for the last six seasons in the KHL. The mobile defenseman loves to skate the puck out of trouble and found success for years in the KHL and internationally until seeing his ice time drop dramatically in 2017-18 with SKA St. Petersburg. That’s a common occurrence for a player who has indicated he’s on his way to North America, though there’s no confirmation he was sat for that reason.
If he does get into the lineup, the 27-year old will fit in with a defense corps that moves the puck extremely quickly and tries to create tempo all over the ice. The team did have seven other defensemen, but has placed Steven Santini on injured reserve after suffering a broken jaw this weekend when a puck struck him in the face. The club has also recalled forward Kevin Rooney, who had been sent down in a paper transaction yesterday.
While the mutual preference of both the Maple Leafs and winger William Nylander would be to get a long-term deal done, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that this no longer appears to be an option. He notes that there isn’t an AAV that is high enough for Nylander’s liking that fits in with Toronto’s salary structure for 2019-20 and beyond.
With that in mind, the Leafs are basically down to two options – either sign him to a bridge contract or trade him and by all accounts, the latter route is something they have no interest in going at this point nor has Nylander requested a move.
Accordingly, the bigger question now is how long the bridge deal will be. Although the 22-year-old has gone through his entry-level contract, only two of those seasons qualified as counting towards UFA status as he failed to play in 40 games back in 2015-16. As a result, Nylander is still five years away from being able to become an unrestricted free agent. That gives Toronto the opportunity of pursuing a three-year bridge pact instead of the standard two while still leaving him with a couple of arbitration-eligible seasons at the end of the deal. In doing so, they’d also have a much better idea of what they can afford long-term as by then, both winger Mitch Marner and center Auston Matthews will be locked up as well.
As most core players coming off of their entry-level deals sign long-term deals, there aren’t many comparable contracts in recent years to work with. One that would be close is Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov. Following two straight seasons of over 60 points (same as Nylander), the Russian inked a three-year, $14.3MM contract. That took up 6.53% of the salary cap at the time; that percentage of the current cap today would work out to an AAV of just over $5.19MM which would seemingly represent the ceiling of a Nylander bridge deal. A contract like that could very well be back-loaded as well to yield a higher qualifying offer at its expiration.
Toronto GM Kyle Dubas has stated on many occasions that he believes that he can keep the core of the team together even after bringing in John Tavares this offseason. Given the state of where things are, it appears that he’ll have to settle for giving Nylander a short-term deal to make that happen.
The Bruins have started discussions regarding a contract extension for defenseman Charlie McAvoy, reports Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos (video link). He noted that the blueliner wants to avoid going the route of a bridge contract so a long-term deal is the focus here.
The 20-year-old is only in his second full NHL season after he burned the first year of his entry-level pact in 2016-17 when he suited up in six postseason contests. He’s off to a very strong start to his sophomore campaign with six points in seven games while logging just shy of 21 minutes per night on a fairly deep Boston back end.
However, his overall lack of NHL experience (just 76 games between the regular season and playoffs combined – less than one full season) could certainly complicate things. While there is cause for optimism that McAvoy will become one of the better offensive blueliners in the league, the lack of a track record in the pros could give Boston GM Don Sweeney some pause if the asking price comes in too high.
Kypreos suggested that Florida’s Aaron Ekblad could be a comparable second contract that McAvoy’s camp might push for. He is in the midst of an eight-year, $60MM pact that has really been a market-setter for defensemen coming off of their entry-level deals.
However, Ekblad had two full seasons under his belt at the time that deal was signed and has the draft pedigree of being a first overall selection, elements that aren’t in place here for McAvoy. However, their platform seasons are somewhat similar in terms of point production – McAvoy averaged 0.51 points per game last season while Ekblad checked in at 0.46 in his second year.
Even with that, it would be hard to envision McAvoy getting that much of a commitment this early from the Bruins. However, it could certainly be used as a starting point of negotiations which are likely to pick up in the weeks to come.
While McAvoy is Boston’s most prominent potential restricted free agent, they have three other notable youngsters that are also going to see their entry-level deals expire after the season in blueliner Brandon Carlo as well as wingers Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen. They have just shy of $64MM committed to 16 players for next season per CapFriendly so while it’s going to cost a lot to get McAvoy locked up long-term, they have the financial flexibility to get a deal done without causing much of an issue when it comes to the salary cap.
While Sweeney will certainly be keeping an eye on the trade market in the weeks and months to come as he likely will be looking to add before the trade deadline, a new deal for his top young defenseman is also going to be near the top of his priority list at that time.
This offseason could be a very interesting one assuming that teams don’t lock all the potential unrestricted free agents to contract extensions in the coming months. The Athletic’s Craig Custance (subscription required) breaks down the top 25 UFA’s this coming offseason with an update on how contract negotiations are going.
One interesting note is for the No. 3 UFA in Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky, who is rumored to be asking for Carey Price money (around $10.5MM). That might be too much money for Columbus to offer, especially for a 30-year-old goaltender. Custance adds that the team could easily get outbid for the netminder’s services by the New York Islanders who might be extremely aggressive in adding a franchise-changing goaltender. Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello is known to be a big fan of impact goaltenders, which goes all the way back to Martin Brodeur when he was in New Jersey.
After all, in 315 games between Philadelphia and Columbus, Bobrovsky has a .922 save percentage, two Vezina Trophies and has finished in the top 10 in Vezina voting four times.
- The Philadelphia Flyers had lost four of six games before Saturday’s game and Sam Carchidi of Philly.com writes that head coach Dave Hakstol decided to make a change as he separated his top pair defensemen in Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov which turned out to be key in their 5-2 win over New Jersey. Gostisbehere was matched with Christian Folin, while Provorov was paired with Robert Hagg. The top four held to the Devils to just 21 shots on goal in the victory. Provorov was also much more noticeable on the offensive end of the ice. Previously held to just one point in the first seven games of the season, the 21-year-old posted two assists on Saturday. “(Hagg) is a little heavier body to play with Provy in some of those situations,” said Hakstol. “He obviously has a different look than Ghost. He doesn’t do as much with the puck, but he provides a heavier presence, so that changes the look of that pair.”
- Speaking of lines, the St. Louis Blues shook up their lines Saturday as well as center Ryan O’Reilly found himself with two new wingers Zachary Sanford and David Perron on the second line, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas. After his line put up two goals and three assists Saturday (including O’Reilly’s first goal as a member of the Blues), that line may not break up any time soon. “I thought ’O’Ry’ was outstanding obviously in all areas of the game,” Yeo said. “So that line gave us some really good minutes.”
- NHL.com’s Gary Lawless writes that some of the Vegas Golden Knights’ success in their last three games comes from moving defenseman Nick Holden into the top-four. The veteran defenseman was originally signed to serve as a third pairing defenseman this offseason, but with Nate Schmidt (suspension) and Deryk Engelland (injury) both out, Holden has filled in admirably, averaging 18:54 ATOI. Holden did have a similar role back in 2016-17 when he was with the New York Rangers, so the 31-year-old already has quite a bit of experience playing in that role.
- After a postseason run last year where Dallas Stars prospect Denis Gurianov was often a healthy scratch and was beginning to look like a bust, the 21-year-old seems to have turned the corner early this season as he has been dominant as he enters his third year with the AHL, writes SportsDay’s Matthew DeFranks. The 12th-overall pick in the 2015 draft is starting to show off his potential as he is riding a five-game scoring streak and has five goals and seven points in seven games.
Sunday: The Oilers announced they have placed Rattie on injured reserve. The team has recalled Cooper Marody from the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL to replace him on the roster. The Oilers acquired Marody’s rights from Philadelphia in March and were able to sign him away from the University of Michigan. The 21-year-old already has two goals and six points in the Condors first five games.
Saturday: The Edmonton Oilers announced that Ty Rattie, who was forced to leave Thursday’s game against Boston with an apparent injury, will be without the promising winger for a couple of weeks with a muscle injury in his midsection.
The 25-year-old winger made a name for himself in the preseason when he led the league in goals with seven. That string of performances won him a spot on the team’s first line next to Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but Rattie has not been able to continue his goal-scoring streak into the regular season. He has a goal and an assist in five games. The injury is a big blow to a player who has been working hard to earn a full-time role in the Edmonton lineup. He has played 54 games in the NHL, but spread out over six seasons.
The Oilers intend to promote 2017 first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto to the top line while Rattie is out. The fast-skating 20-year-old has a goal in five games, but if he can find some chemistry with McDavid as many people have predicted could happen, that could end Rattie’s time on the first line, one of the best lineup opportunities in the NHL.