When the NHL’s free agency window opens next summer, few players project to be as valuable on the market as St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. The forward is entering the final year of a seven-year, $52.5MM deal and though he’ll be 32 years old when he hits free agency, he will in all likelihood find another fairly long-term deal somewhere near the $7.5MM AAV he currently holds. The impending free agency is also a driving force behind the Blues’ decision to extend young forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou with matching eight-year, $65MM contracts now, insuring against an O’Reilly departure. Perhaps not to worry though, as O’Reilly told the media, including NHL.com’s Lou Korac, that he would like to remain with the Blues going forward and that some form of dialogue has already started. Still, the former Selke winner cautioned that he feels “no real urgency” to get a deal done right now. O’Reilly admitted that when he was a younger player, there may have been a feeling of more urgency, but now he understands that he has other things he needs to focus on first with the start of the season, and understands that Blues GM Doug Armstrong has other things to focus on right now too.
- Aaron Portzline of The Athletic provided updates on a pair of important Columbus Blue Jackets centers. Team Captain Boone Jenner was absent from training camp today as head coach Brad Larsen attempts to manage his workload early in training camp as the veteran comes off an injury which forced him to miss the final 23 games of last season. Assuring Jenner stays fresh and healthy heading into the season will be important for Columbus, who will rely on him, among others, for important secondary scoring behind their pair of superstar wingers in Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau. Also of note is Cole Sillinger, who is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury after a collision on the first day of training camp.
- Amid the teardown and rebuild of the Chicago Blackhawks, defenseman Seth Jones told Ben Pope of The Chicago Sun-Times he has no regrets about signing his eight-year extension with the team last summer. He admitted seeing many of his teammates traded over the past few months was frustrating, but said he plans to look at the bigger picture and be patient, this year especially. Locked in for eight more seasons at a $9.5MM AAV, Jones figures to be one of the only Blackhawks not moved out in the rebuild, but the star blueliner will have the opportunity over the life of the contract to be part of the future structure as the team tries to rise to prominence once again.