While the Sabres still have another year and a bit to sign goaltending prospect Erik Portillo, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News notes that there are doubts both internally and league-wide that the netminder will actually sign with Buffalo. The 21-year-old was a third-round pick back in 2019 (67th overall) and was quite impressive with Michigan last season, posting a 2.14 GAA along with a .926 SV% in 42 games. While Portillo has two years of college eligibility remaining, he will be eligible to opt for free agency next August since it will be four years since he has been drafted. If Buffalo isn’t able to sign him after the 2022-23 college season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them try to trade his rights to a team he’d be willing to sign with.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic:
- While the Red Wings had the cap space to get involved in the chase for John Klingberg, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press outlines why they didn’t. Such a move would have forced them to trade Filip Hronek and with the trade market being as weak as it is right now, GM Steve Yzerman would have been hard-pressed to get full value in return, even with Hronek being on a team-friendly deal for two more years. They have over $10MM in cap space, per CapFriendly, and while that amount will go down once Filip Zadina and Jake Walman re-sign, they’re well-positioned financially to try to add someone as the offseason progresses.
- If the Bruins are forced to make a cap-shedding trade to accompany Pavel Zacha’s eventual deal plus the potential returns of UFAs Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe suggests that winger Craig Smith is the likely candidate to be moved. The 32-year-old has one year left on his contract with a $3.1MM cap hit. He has been pretty consistent in recent years, notching at least 13 goals and 31 points in each of the last four seasons and is coming off a 36-point campaign. Unlike some teams that are trying to shed negative-value contracts, Smith’s isn’t in that category but with so few squads looking to take on money, Boston would be hard-pressed to get a quality return for the veteran if they have to go that route.