The Florida Panthers did not enter this past off-season with all that much space under the salary cap ceiling, yet still went and handed out over $20MM in AAV to Sergei Bobrovsky, Anton Stralman, Brett Connolly, and Noel Acciari. As a result, the team has just $788K in cap leeway and no way to alleviate that pressure without making a move. Seeing as defenseman Mark Pysyk heard his name on the rumor mill last season, when the Panthers had ample cap space, the pressure on him has increased tenfold to prove that he is a valuable contributor to the team and not just $2.73MM in wasted space. Pysyk, an impending unrestricted free agent at year’s end, likes Florida and would like to stay with the team. However, he’ll find it hard to make his case that he should stick around when he is not on the ice. As The Athletic’s George Richards writes, Pysyk has found himself in a unfamiliar spot through the team’s first two games as a healthy scratch. New head coach Joel Quenneville opted to go with MacKenzie Weegar and Josh Brown as his bottom pair to begin the year, leaving Pysyk in the press box. Fortunately for Pysyk, he’s expected back in the lineup on Tuesday according to Quenneville. “He was always in consideration. He has some experience, gives us some versatility on the back end and can play both sides,” the veteran coach remarked. Yet, the trick is that even if Pysyk plays well in his return to the lineup, it doesn’t guarantee his safety from a trade. With his contract expiring, the 27-year-old is an expendable asset, especially for a team that hopes to contend for a playoff spot and could be eyeing cap space to make a trade addition of their own on the blue line later this season. If Pysyk is playing well and drawing attention from other teams, he could very well be on his way out of town. The two-way defender has heard those rumors before though, and all he can do is continue to focus on brining his best to the Panthers’ lineup whenever he’s active in hopes of proving he’s worth more as a long-term fit than as a cap dump.
- Optimism was high to begin the season in Arizona and Coyotes GM John Chayka isn’t about to overreact to an 0-2 start to the year. However, The Athletic’s Craig Morgan admits that one valuable member of the team could become expendable if the team’s struggled do continue. The status quo has changed for Alex Goligoski, as the veteran defenseman’s No-Movement Clause expired last season and has been replaced with a Modified No-Trade Clause of a mere eight-team no-trade list. Morgan is adamant that the team has shown no desire to move Goligoski to this point, but at 34 years old and with only one year remaining on his contract beyond this season, Goligoski could be more valuable to a contender than to Arizona, especially if this season proves to be yet another step in the rebuilding process rather than the much-awaited jump to contender status. With a field of 22 possible suitors, there would surely be interest in the reliable puck-moving defender, even with his $5.475MM cap hit. The Coyotes hope it doesn’t come to that, but Goligoski will be a name to keep an eye on later this year if Arizona’s season begins to slip away.
- It’s not strange for a team to be painfully close to the salary cap this season, and the Calgary Flames are just one of many teams who will have to manipulate the cap constantly this season to maintain what little flexibility they have. However, an easier solution would be to trade a high-salary player and Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg writes for SB Nation that the team is actively looking to make a “financially-motivated trade”. The name that has come up in trade conversation for more than a year now is back in the rumor mill already: Michael Frolik. Steinberg notes that Frolik has not looked great through the team’s first two games and his $4.3MM cap hit isn’t earning him the benefit of the doubt. Steinberg believes that the Flames should not hesitate to move Frolik if the opportunity arises, as he feels the likes of Andrew Mangiapane, Tobias Rieder, Austin Czarnik, and Alan Quine could easily make up for Frolik’s absence. If there isn’t a market for Frolik, Steinberg adds that the team could consider moving Mark Jankowski as well. The 25-year-old center is not as much of a salary cap stinger, but Steinberg writes that the drop-off in salary between he and Quine is a larger gap than the drop-off in talent, believing the AHL veteran to be more than capable of taking over for Jankowski. With solid depth to make up for potential trade casualties, the Flames could make a move sooner rather than later and work on banking cap space for later in the year, as the team was criticized for not adding more at the deadline last year ahead of their short-lived playoff run.