With the NHL regular season approaching quickly, many players will be put on waivers over the next several days. We’ll keep track of all of them right here:
With the NHL regular season approaching quickly, many players will be put on waivers over the next several days. We’ll keep track of all of them right here:
In addition to officially announcing the contract for Hudson Fasching, the Arizona Coyotes have released details on another signing. The team has inked restricted free agent Michael Bunting to a two-year, two-way contract. Bunting was eligible for salary arbitration, but will avoid it with his new contract.
Bunting, 23, was selected in the fourth round by the Coyotes five years ago, but only just made his NHL debut. The former OHL standout has had several successful seasons in the AHL, including 19 goals and 41 points in 52 games during the 2018-19 campaign. That was good enough for second on the team in both categories, while he easily led the club in penalty minutes with 84. A pesky forward that can both contribute offensively and get under an opponent’s skin, Bunting actually may have a future ahead of him in the Arizona bottom-six.
The question will be whether he can carve out that role this season, since he is no longer waiver-exempt. He cleared twice last season, once just as the season began and again later in February before the trade deadline, and will have to do so again to be sent to Tucson this season. The two-year term on his deal may actually help him clear again with teams hesitant to take on that commitment. He and Fasching both have work to do in order to contend for a spot this fall.
The Arizona Coyotes have signed another one of their restricted free agents, inking Hudson Fasching to a two-year, two-way contract according to CapFriendly. The deal will come with a $738K average annual value in the NHL.
Fasching, 23, was traded to the Coyotes in 2018 after failing to crack the Buffalo Sabres lineup on a consistent basis, but spent the entire 2018-19 season in the minor leagues anyway. The former University of Minnesota star had 33 points in 64 games for the Tucson Roadrunners, actually scoring the third most goals on the team. Still, it’ll be tough for him to crack the NHL lineup to start the year unless the Coyotes run into some more serious injury trouble.
That is of course as long as Fasching clears waivers at the start of the year, something that’s not necessarily a given after he has already been traded twice. Teams obviously somewhat value him, and given his 6’3″ frame and minor league scoring ability they could decide he’s worth a look on the fourth line.
Free agency is now a little more than a month away from opening up and there are quite a few prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. That’s not really the case for Arizona this summer as there are few big names for them to sign, but here is a breakdown of their free agent situation.
Key Restricted Free Agent: F Lawson Crouse – While the team may not have any truly elite players who will be restricted free agents, the team will make it a priority to sign Crouse, who put together an impressive season with Arizona as a key member of the team’s fourth line. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound winger took off in his third season with the Coyotes. The former 11th overall pick in 2015 by the Florida Panthers, the Coyotes acquired Crouse along with the hefty contract of Dave Bolland, and finally are starting to the move pay off. Crouse, not only 11 goals and 25 points for Arizona this year, more importantly, he contributed 288 hits, giving the team some much-needed physicality.
G Adin Hill – While he isn’t likely to be considered among the starting tandem next year in Arizona, the team saw quite an improvement by the 23-year-old Hill, who was recalled after the injury to both Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper mid-year, and fared well in a stint as the full-time starter as he won seven games for the Coyotes. While teams eventually started to figure him out, it was a good sign that Arizona has a young netminder ready to fill in, especially considering the injury history of both goaltenders. Hill finished the season with 2.76 GAA and a .901 save percentage in 13 appearances and will need to be re-signed to continue his development and he could eventually replace Kuemper once his contract runs out after the 2019-20 season.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Richard Panik – The Coyotes picked up Panik back in 2018 in hopes of adding a 20-goal scorer to their middle lines after he posted a 22-goal campaign with Chicago during the 2016-17 season. While Panik showed some flashes of offense, he has scored just 14 goals per season over the last two years. His ice time has also increased this year as he averaged a career-high 16:37. However, assuming general manager John Chayka continues to turn over his roster, Panik could be the odd man out and be a target for many teams looking for bottom-six production and a contract that goes with it. That doesn’t rule out a reunion, but when it comes to unrestricted free agents, the team doesn’t have too much to worry about.
Projected Cap Space: The Coyotes have more than $74MM tied up in 20 layers for next season, per CapFriendly. Even with the projected bump in the Upper Limit, the Coyotes don’t have as much room to maneuver as in previous seasons. The team does have two years remaining on the Marion Hossa contract, which should give the team an extra $5.275MM once the team places him on LTIR at the start of the regular season in October, but the team now has bigger contracts than in years past after new extensions for Nick Schmaltz, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jacob Chychrun kick in this summer. Many assume the team will try to get involved in the Phil Kessel discussions as Arizona is a team that Kessel has indicated he’d like to go to, but then Chayka may have to manipulate the cap again to free up some space. Regardless, don’t be surprised if Chayka doesn’t make several more moves to shake up this team.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
As always, Saturday is a busy night on the NHL schedule with ten games on tap (including the 1,000th game of the year and Jarome Iginla’s sweater retirement in Calgary) and most of the teams battling for Wild Card spots in action. Accordingly, there should be quite a bit of roster movement today. We’ll keep tabs on those moves here.
A substantial group of players again went untouched on the waiver wire yesterday, as there remains just one claim so far this season. Today, a new set of names become briefly available on their way down to the AHL. According to The Athletic’s James Mirtle, these 18 players have been placed on waivers by their respective teams today, highlighted by Ottawa’s longest-tenured player:
F Anton Blidh (Boston)
F Colby Cave (Boston)
D Jake Chelios (Detroit)
F Hudson Fasching (Arizona)
F Byron Froese (Montreal)
D Cody Goloubef (Boston)
F Ryan Haggerty (Pittsburgh)
D Brett Lernout (Montreal)
F Nick Lappin (New Jersey)
F Michael McCarron (Montreal)
F Mark McNeill (Boston)
D Robbie Russo (Arizona)
G Harri Sateri (Detroit)
F Hunter Shinkaruk (Montreal)
F Zack Smith (Ottawa)
F Jordan Szwarz (Boston)
F Chris Terry (Detroit)
D Rinat Valiev (Montreal)
Obviously, Smith is the star of this group and easily the biggest name to hit the wire so far this year. The decision to placed the veteran forward, a career Senator entering his eleventh season, on waivers is a curious one. Admittedly, Smith did not play well last season; beyond only recording 19 points in 68 games, he logged a brutal -32 rating, saw a drop-off in face-off success, and struggled in many possession metrics. Nevertheless, he remained a favorite of head coach Guy Boucher and saw a career high in ice time. After losing the likes of Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman this summer, Smith – while not the strongest player – was one of the few loyal locker room leaders left in Ottawa. There has already been a negative response, as Matt Duchene called the move “a kick in the balls” for the locker room, according to TSN’s Brent Wallace. For some reason, the team has decided to move on, one way or another. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Senators have been shopping Smith for some time and had trade interest, but were not able to come to an agreement with any of the teams not included on Smith’s limited list per his modified No-Trade Clause. Now, they will either lose him for nothing in return or have the ability to bury him in the minors if he clears. Such a demotion would clear $1.025MM in cap space of his $3.25MM salary. It is important to note when considering any potential claims, that Smith is signed for three more years, making his inclusion on waivers even more surprising.
The group of Canadiens could also offer some appeal, particularly the 23-year-old power forward McCarron. Although the 2013 first-round pick has not lived up to expectations yet, he has the one thing you can’t teach and that is size. At 6’6″, 230-lbs., McCarron has the frame to do some damage at his spot on the right wing if put in the right system with the right line mates. It hasn’t happened yet in Montreal, but some other team may be willing to take a shot. Veteran grinder Froese, who played in 48 games with the Habs last year, could also get a passing glance, while trade recent Montreal trade acquisitions Shinkaruk and Valiev are somewhat intriguing albeit not likely to be claimed.
Team in search of young, affordable fourth line help could look at the Bruins’ Blidh and Cave, although such a move is unlikely. The same goes for Haggerty, whose placement on waivers comes as surprise, given that no contract has of yet been announced with Pittsburgh for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin.
The Arizona Coyotes announced they have signed restricted free agents Michael Bunting, Laurent Dauphin and Hudson Fasching to one-year, two-way deals. The team included defenseman Trevor Murphy in their announcement, although Murphy’s deal was initially reported Friday. With these signings, the Coyotes have just one restricted free agent remaining in Marek Langhamer.
Bunting is coming off a breakout season with the Tucson Roadrunners. After two seasons in which he produced 11 and 13 goals for the AHL franchise, he broke out with a 23-goal performance this year, tied for the team lead in goals. The 22-year-old winger was a fourth-round pick in 2014 and was considered to be a late-bloomer at the time as he didn’t pick up hockey until well into his teens. His entry-level deal had him earning $925K.
Dauphin had a busy year last season as he was included in an offseason trade to the Chicago Blackhawks so the Coyotes could get veteran defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, but Arizona reacquired him at midseason along with Richard Panik in exchange for Anthony Duclair. The 23-year-old impressed the Blackhawks in training camp, but was inevitably sent to the AHL, where he combined for just nine goals, down from his 17 goals from the previous year. He did manage to get into a couple of Coyotes’ games, but is likely headed back to Tucson in hopes of bouncing back.
Fasching signs after coming over from the Buffalo Sabres’ organization exactly a month ago in a trade for college prospect Brandon Hickey and Mike Sislo. The 22-year-old winger came off a solid season with the Rochester Americans in the AHL, posting 12 goals and 30 points, which also included a five-game visit with the Sabres. Fasching spent three seasons playing for the University of Minnesota.
After acquiring defenseman Brandon Hickey from the Arizona Coyotes last month, the Sabres had until August to sign the Boston University product before he became an unrestricted free agent. Per The Athletic’s John Vogl, Buffalo has gotten a deal done, signing Hickey to a two-year entry-level contract.
The 22-year-old blueliner could have been an unrestricted free agent if he waited until Aug. 1. With the belief that they couldn’t sign him, Arizona sent him along with Mike Sislo to Buffalo for winger Hudson Fasching. Buffalo felt they could ink the four-year college veteran and now they have.
Hickey put up solid numbers at BU as he tallied six goals and 14 points this past season. At 6-foot-2, he provides Buffalo with some size and while he’s a better defensive player, is considered to have the skills to develop into a solid two-way player. He has already played with several Sabres’ players while at Boston University, including Jack Eichel, Evan Rodrigues and Daniel O’Regan.
Hickey likely will start the season with the AHL Rochester Americans and along with some of their other defensive prospects like Lawrence Pilut, Taylor Fedun, Zach Redmond and Matt Tennyson, the team should have quite a few talented pieces in their system.
Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is feeling lucky today. The Coyotes have announced their second trade of the evening, acquiring forward Adam Helewka from the division rival San Jose Sharks. In return, the Sharks land defenseman Kyle Wood from the ’Yotes. Arizona announced the deal with a team release.
While this is a minor trade, it is not inconsequential. Helewka, 22, was a fourth-round pick of the Sharks in 2015. Like Hudson Fasching, who the Coyotes acquired from the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the day, Helewka’s offensive totals as a younger player exceed what he has been able to produce so far as a pro. However, he too seems to be trending in the right direction with an AHL career-high 38 points this year and a strong albeit brief playoff showing. In one day, Chayka has added a lot of offensive upside to the Tuscon Roadrunners and may find that both of his acquisitions could be good depth pieces up front for the Coyotes.
As for the Sharks, they add impressive potential of their own in Wood. The 22-year-old blue liner was one of the top scoring defensemen and an All-Star in the AHL in 2016-17 with 43 points in 68 games. He was pegged as one of the favorites to fill the roster spot of Jakob Chychrun early this season while he was sidelined, but Wood too ran into injury issues which lost him an NHL chance and also cost him some games and production in the AHL. However, at full health he is a dangerous minor league asset. Although the Sharks are set for their seven starting defensemen going into next season, Wood is yet another strong young option for the San Jose Barracuda and it would be no surprise see him make his NHL debut next year. Wood is an impending restricted free agent though, and the Sharks GM Doug Wilson will first have to sign the young rearguard to a new deal.
It looks like another team will take a shot at signing prospect Brandon Hickey. The collegiate defenseman has been dealt for the second off-season in a row, this time from the Arizona Coyotes to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for minor league winger Hudson Fasching. Veteran forward and impending unrestricted free agent Mike Sislo will also head to Buffalo in the deal. Both teams have confirmed the trade and seem optimistic about re-signing their new prospects.
Hickey was originally acquired by the Coyotes last summer from the Calgary Flames as part of the Mike Smith trade. The Flames worried that they would not be able to sign the Alberta native, who they had drafted in the third round in 2014 but at the time had already played three seasons in the NCAA and was not yet looking to leave. A year later, the Boston University captain has graduated and apparently was not keen on signing in Arizona either/ He only has to wait until August to become a free agent, but the Sabres clearly hope to get him signed instead. A smart defensive blue liner with leadership qualities, Hickey would add experience and locker room presence to any pipeline and Buffalo could certainly use the blue line boost.
It’s likely that Buffalo was already given permission to have such contract talks with Hickey before this deal was made, otherwise it’s highly unlikely that they would have traded away a player like Fasching. Granted Fasching is an impending restricted free agent and, like Hickey, needs a new contract, the Sabres would have had more team control over Fasching than they do now with Hickey. Fasching also has pro experience, including 22 NHL games with the Sabres over the past three seasons. The 22-year-old American forward has not found the same offensive production in the pros that he exhibited with the University of Minnesota, but appeared to be back on track this season with a career-high 30 points in the AHL. Fasching brings a physical element that the Coyotes have often lacked and could be one of the top minor league options for the team moving forward.
As for Sislo, the 30-year-old forward put up good numbers in the AHL, but isn’t much of a threat to make a difference at the next level, whether he signs with the Sabres or another team. He may simply be a throw-in in this deal, given his impending free agency. This deal is primarily about two prospects getting a new opportunity to sign with a different team and filling specific, minor needs for each organization. It also continues a trend for each franchise: the BU-to-Buffalo pipeline for the Sabres and the Coyotes taking on high upside prospects that many others have written off.