The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is scheduled for this evening, and though Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have both pulled out due to illness and injury there are still an incredible amount of talented players taking part. Most notable however may be the final entrant in the fastest skater competition: Kendall Coyne. A member of the US Women’s National Team, Coyne will take MacKinnon’s place after the Colorado Avalanche forward suffered a foot injury this week. The Olympic gold medalist is known for her speed and posted a 14.226 yesterday during event testing according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN. Though that wouldn’t have been enough to dethrone Connor McDavid last year, it would have put her ahead of Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin and Josh Bailey in the competition. We’ll see what Coyne can do tonight, along with the rest of the competitors:
The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement Metropolitan captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.
The full rosters are as follows:
*Denotes team captain
One final skater spot on each roster has yet to be announced, as it will be determined by the “Last Man In” fan ballot, a concept borrowed from Major League Baseball. The format of the current All-Star Game, which requires one representative from each team on these smaller 3-on-tournament rosters, was bound to cause some confusion with the initial selections. Seven top-twenty scorers were not selected – Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Leon Draisaitl, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Phil Kessel, and Gabriel Landeskog – and several will inevitably remain out of All-Star participation even after the fan ballot additions. Morgan Rielly, the league’s top-scoring defenseman, and Mark Giordano, enjoying an elite season on both sides of the puck, are two surprising omissions on the blue line. Several of the league’s top goalies are also going to miss out, ineligible for the fan ballot, including Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The “Last Man In” will be an intriguing new addition to the All-Star process, with nominees to be named shortly, but more than a few notable names will be left out regardless. Meanwhile, the health of players like Price and Chabot for Team Atlantic and Hall for Team Metropolitan will bear watching, as those players may opt to skip the All-Star festivities, opening up more players to selection.
As if being an Ottawa Senators fan wasn’t hard enough right now, a report surfaced this morning that suggested Mark Stone wanted out of the city when his contract expired at the end of this season. Stone settled with the Senators this offseason on just a one-year deal that will pay him $7.35MM this season and qualifies for unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2019. The 26-year old forward was asked about the report after practice today, and denied it vehemently.
I love it here. This has been a great month for me, I’ve enjoyed my previous four years here and I want to continue to be here.
As a player you’re looking to win every time you step on the ice. No matter who you’re playing with, no matter who’s in the lineup you have to look at it the same way. Obviously [the Senators front office] has said they’re rebuilding, but I think for the guys in this locker room we’re looking to win hockey games and looking to win as many as we can.
Stone could potentially be one of the very best forwards available on the open market next summer if he decides not to re-sign with the Senators, and can’t actually put pen to paper on a contract extension until January 1st, 2019. Even if he is enjoying things right now, it’s a dangerous situation for the Senators to be in given their expected struggles this season. Still, Stone has never said anything to make Ottawa believe that he wouldn’t be willing to stay and was even in discussions on a long-term deal this offseason at one point.
- Not only do the Florida Panthers have a new captain in Aleksander Barkov, but today they announced their entire leadership group. Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau will all wear an “A” as alternate captains at various times this season, solidifying that group of five as the core of the team going forward. Among them, only Yandle is older than 25 while Barkov and Ekblad are still just 22 and 23 respectively, giving the Panthers a chance to keep most of the group together for a long time. In fact, all five are signed through at least the 2021-22 season and should help Florida return to the playoffs at some point in the next few years.
- Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) is reporting that Gustav Olofsson has suffered another shoulder injury, and there is fear that it is serious. Olofsson underwent an MRI yesterday, but there has been no update from the team as of yet. The 23-year old defenseman played 41 games for the Wild last season and could have perhaps battled for a full-time spot had he not suffered the injury. Selected in the second round five years ago, Olofsson has been limited by injury throughout his professional career and will hope for good news this time around.
The San Jose Sharks are playing both buyer and seller at this year’s trade deadline. The Sharks are currently second in the Pacific Division, looking to hold off the Ducks, Kings, and Flames, and are known to be looking for scoring help up front. They have been attached to names like Evander Kane, Rick Nash, and really most high-profile forwards on the market. At the same time, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the team has requested a no-trade list from veteran forward Joel Ward. Ward, 37, is an impending free agent who has fallen out of favor in the San Jose lineup. He has a six-team no-trade list that he can use to slightly reduce the number of possible destinations, should he be traded. Ward has played in only 46 games this season, with just 11 points to show for it, but more importantly, has seen his once-valued penalty kill role diminished, along with his even strength ice time. Ward can still be an asset for many teams as both an experienced locker room presence and reliable two-way depth option, but he’s worth much more to another contender than the defense-conscious Sharks. A trade is far from a certainty, but is a definite possibility now that a list has been officially requested.
- An unexpected suitor has entered the bidding for New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Sportsnet’s John Shannon believes that the Florida Panthers have interest in the top-pairing defenseman. Going up against divisional foes like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, as well as many others, the Panthers will try make the top offer for McDonagh, as the Rangers continue their fire sale. The Panthers are still fighting for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference this season, and McDonagh would be a major help with that, but more likely the motivation for the Cats is to bring in McDonagh for next season and with the intent of extending him. PHR recently identified a top-four defenseman as a need for the Panthers going forward, and McDonagh would round out quite the top four in Florida with Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, and Michael Matheson.
- Count both Johnny Oduya and Tomas Plekanec as the latest big-name players being held out of lineups tonight prior to the deadline. Dreger says that Oduya’s benching is just precautionary, but that the Ottawa Senators are working on trading the veteran defenseman as part of their own fire sale. The news of Plekanec, from TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, comes after a report yesterday that the Montreal Canadiens have received an influx of interest in the veteran center over the last 24 hours. Both players are expected to be moved in the coming days.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we will be taking a closer look at the situation for each team. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? Next up is a look at the Florida Panthers.
The Florida Panthers are in a difficult situation with the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching. Few truly consider the team to be a playoff contender, but the fact of the matter is they are not that far out from a postseason spot. Florida currently sits in 12th in the Eastern Conference and nowhere close to an Atlantic Division berth, which admittedly is an uninspiring scenario. However, trailing the New York Islanders by eight points with a whopping six games in hand, the Panthers don’t need an unrealistic stretch to catch up. Yet, what is problematic is their upcoming slate of games leading up to the trade deadline, in which they play four games, all of which are against bona fide playoff teams. An 0-4 result this week would not be much of a surprise, but could deter GM Dale Tallon from continuing to pursue a playoff berth. At the same time, a positive result against strong competition could instill hope in the team and urge them to make a deal to improve the roster. The Panthers’ deadline role is still very much up in the air.
25-23-6, 4th in the Atlantic Division
To be determined
Deadline Cap Space
$33,124,940 in deadline cap space
41/50 contracts per CapFriendly
2018: FLA 1st, ARI 2nd, FLA 3rd, VGK 4th, FLA 5th, FLA 6th, FLA 7th
2019: FLA 1st, FLA 2nd, FLA 3rd, FLA 4th, FLA 5th, FLA 6th, FLA 7th
The Panthers may not be buyers at the 2018 deadline, depending on their next few games, but can they really be “sellers” in the traditional sense? Florida has just two impending unrestricted free agents with any value: veteran forward Radim Vrbata and AHL import goalie Harri Sateri. Neither player will net Florida much at the deadline, as neither is more than a luxury depth addition, rather than a difference-making acquisition. The team decided to move forward with an extension for Colton Sceviour, who otherwise might have drawn ample deadline attention. What remains is a roster that offers little to contenders. However, where the Panthers could make a move is trading away players with term for other players with term, rather than participating in the rental market. While they may be happy to move the likes of Jamie McGinn or Derek MacKenzie, the Panthers will have to deal value for value if pursuing some of the bigger available targets. Defenseman Alex Petrovic, a restricted free agent this summer, appears destined to leave Florida sooner rather than later, while young forwards Denis Malgin, Maxim Mamin, and Dryden Hunt and rookie defenseman Ian McCoshen will surely be in demand.
The Panthers don’t have much in the way of prospect depth, especially on defense, so may be hesitant to deal away too many draft picks or their high-value picks, including a potential lottery pick this season. Henrik Borgstrom is a near untouchable, and could even make his NHL debut this season if the Panthers are in the hunt, whereas 2017 first-rounder Owen Tippett is definitely a non-starter. Adam Mascherin or Aleksi Heponiemi won’t enjoy the same protections and could be moved in the right deal.
1) Top-six winger with term
The only reason the Panthers would move any of the aforementioned young players is to bring in a long-term asset. Tallon and company have made it known they are looking for a top-six winger to round out a really strong top-six group. With names like Mike Hoffman, Max Pacioretty, Mats Zuccarello and more reportedly available, Florida is one team willing to make a major deal in-season to acquire such a name. A young roster player, prospect, and draft pick could be enough to land one of these experienced scorers, which will serve the Panthers this season and beyond.
2) Starting defenseman with term
Interestingly, the Panthers’ main focus appears to be at forward when the team actually scores at a decent clip, but struggles to prevent goals against. Florida is very attached to Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, and the recently-extended Michael Matheson, and for good reason; the trio have been excellent this season. The other half of the defense corps has been less impressive and both Petrovic and Mackenzie Weegar don’t seem to be long-term fits. The Cats could surely benefit from adding another body on the blue line that has a some years remaining on their contract. Such a deal could easily be made in free agency or on the summer trade market, but if the right player at the right price becomes available – such as an Oscar Klefbom for example – the Panthers will be interested.
3) Draft picks
At the end of the day, with their playoff chances caught in limbo and no desperation to make major deals, the most likely deadline strategy for Florida will be to simply trade away impending free agents or other expendable pieces for the best draft picks they can get. The cupboard is basically bare when it comes to defensive depth in the pipeline. A great quantity of picks in the next draft or two should help to rebuild the system on the back end as well as at other positions.
Midway-through the 2017-18 NHL season, it is nearly impossible to predict what rosters could look like following the 2019-20 season, more than two years away. Trades, free agency, and much more shape teams often in ways that no one sees coming. With that said, it seems like another Expansion Draft is coming to add the league’s 32nd team, the Seattle __________, and the timeline most are suggesting is a June 2020 draft date. Like it or not, the general managers of the other 31 NHL need to be keeping that in the back of their mind with each move they make over the next two seasons.
However, it could be that some have already made decisions that could impact their roster protection plans more than two years from now. The structure of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft will the remain the same, allowing for teams to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters regardless of position and one goalie from being selected. The one caveat that threw more than a few teams for a loop last June was that all players with No-Movement Clauses (NMC) in their contracts had to be protected, unless the players voluntarily chose to wave them i.e. Marc-Andre Fleury. So, with that one aspect of the expansion process in mind, it is possible to look ahead at certain long-term contracts to see, assuming those players don’t waive them ahead of time, who could be locked in for protection in 2020 or which teams will have more flexibility without any such players:
Arizona Coyotes (0) – The only NMC players on the Coyotes are defensemen Alex Goligoski and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson will be a free agent in the summer of the projected Expansion Draft and Goligoski’s clause will have shifted to a Modified No-Trade Clause. Arizona will likely have complete flexibility.
Calgary Flames (0) – There is no one on the roster with a NMC and no one that will predictably get one by the end of the 2019-20 season. Kudos to GM Brad Treliving.
Los Angeles Kings (0) – Kings’ captain Anze Kopitar in their only NMC player right now and even his clause will have shifted to No-Trade by 2020. L.A. is free and clear.
Nashville Predators (0) – GM David Poile does not seem to be a fan of NMC’s in his recent long-term deals and in the new NHL expansion era, that’s a good thing.
New Jersey Devils (0) – see Calgary Flames
New York Islanders (0) – The Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk contracts already look bad for the Isles. They would be much worse if their NMC’s didn’t expire soon. With John Tavares and Josh Bailey both candidates for NMC’s should they re-sign in New York and a defense that needs a re-haul, the Islanders could lose some flexibility, but they should be fine.
Toronto Maple Leafs (0) – The Leafs have no NMC players under contract beyond 2019-20 right now. That could easily change with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander in need of extensions, but Toronto should still be in a good spot. After all, those are players that would protected regardless.
Vancouver Canucks (0) – Loui Eriksson’s NMC shifts to a No-Trade Clause following this season and will be an afterthought by 2020. It’s fortunate, as Eriksson’s tenure in Vancouver has not gone according to plan.
Vegas Golden Knights (0) – The Golden Knights didn’t sign or trade for any players with NMC’s and only drafted two – Marc-Andre Fleury and David Clarkson – who already had them and they both expire before the Knights would be set to become the NHL’s second-newest team. With that said, the current Knights’ roster will see a lot of turnover in the next two years and they may struggle to avoid NMC’s completely.
Washington Capitals (0) – GM Brian MacLellan has avoided NMC’s in any of his recent mega-deals. If he can do it again this summer in his attempt to re-sign (or replace) John Carlson, then the Caps will be in good shape for another round of expansion drafting.
Winnipeg Jets (0) – The NMC in Bryan Little’s contract will both kick in and expire between now and June 2020. The Jets should be left with a fully flexible lineup.
Boston Bruins (2) – There’s little concern that Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron will still be playing at a high level in two years. Their NMC’s should be a non-factor for Boston. If David Krejci and, especially, David Backes still had their NMC’s too at that time, there would be a real logjam up front. However, both will have shifted to Modified No-Trade Clauses by then, potentially saving the Bruins from making tough decisions about their many talented young forwards.
Carolina Hurricanes (1) – As important a job as he’s had in Carolina, Jordan Staal will never be the star forward that finally puts them over the top. If his NMC causes a problem in 2020, he could easily be traded to a contender to play a complementary role. The Hurricanes need to retain as many promising young forward assets as they can in hopes of one day finding that true superstar.
Colorado Avalanche (1) – There are mixed opinions on Erik Johnson, but he has a leadership role for the Avalanche and will be key in grooming a strong crop of up-and-coming defensive prospects. The Avs won’t lose sleep about having to protect him in expansion, especially if he’s still one of their top-pairing guys in two years.
Columbus Blue Jackets (1) – The Blue Jackets were one of the biggest losers in the most recent Expansion Draft. They might be smart to sell off Nick Foligno if there’s any risk that history repeats itself.
Dallas Stars (3) – Call it optimism about his play in his first season in Dallas, but the NMC for Alexander Radulov doesn’t seem like it will be a major issue even after a couple more years. Of course, Jamie Benn’s NMC will also be a non-factor. Ben Bishop on the other hand may not be the goalie the Stars would prefer to keep in two years. As of now, there’s no immediate competition though.
Detroit Red Wings (1) – Detroit only has one NMC player who will still be under contract in 2020-21 (and another season after that), but it’s Frans Nielsen, who has been a major disappointment for the team since coming over from the New York Islanders. He could throw a wrench in their plans if he continues his downward trend over the next two seasons.
Minnesota Wild (2) – The Ryan Suter and Zach Parise mega-deals will still be making an impact in 2020, but with most of the core locked up throughout that season and no other NMC contract likely on their way, Minnesota should be okay in the Expansion Draft.
Montreal Canadiens (2) – Even if the Canadiens continue to struggle through two more seasons, there will be few Habs fans that blame superstar goalie Carey Price. His NMC won’t be an issue because the team would never dream of leaving him exposed. Jeff Petry on the other hand could be a problem. Luckily (?), it doesn’t look like Montreal will have many defenders worth protecting even in the next couple of seasons.
Ottawa Senators (2) – Some things never change. The NMC’s for Bobby Ryan and Dion Phaneuf were problems for the Senators in this past Expansion Draft and they’ll likely be problems again next time around. If Phaneuf is traded between now and then, that alleviates some concern for Ottawa. Good luck moving the Ryan contract though.
Philadelphia Flyers (1) – Only Claude Giroux has and predictably will have an NMC come June 2020. That’s a pretty safe situation for Philly.
San Jose Sharks (1) – Marc-Edouard Vlasic plays a confident, stay-at-home defensive game that often ages nicely. He looks to be the only NMC in San Jose in 2020, which shouldn’t cause a stir.
St. Louis Blues (1) – Patrik Berglund will be on the wrong side of 30 and still under a NMC when the potential 2020 draft rolls around, but with the rest of their core signed long-term without NMC’s, the Blues should be pretty safe.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2) – Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman may be the two safest NMC contracts in the NHL. Fortunately, Ryan Callahan’s otherwise-problematic NMC expires just prior to projected 2020 Expansion Draft.
Anaheim Ducks (3) – Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler will all be 35+ and still be NMC-protected in 2020. That’s a large chunk of your protected forwards to dedicate to players in the twilight of their careers. Some up-and-coming young talent could leave Anaheim again in this next Expansion Draft a la Shea Theodore.
Chicago Blackhawks (4) – The downside to signing all of your core players to long contracts with NMC’s could hit the Blackhawks hard in the next Expansion Draft. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be well past 30 and Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith will be in their mid-to-late 30’s during the 2020-21 season, but all four will need to be protected ahead of that season, which could force other promising younger players out of Chicago’s protection scheme. At least they’ll narrowly avoid having an issue in net with Corey Crawford’s contract expiring prior.
Edmonton Oilers (2) – Milan Lucic and Kris Russell. Each two years older than they are now. Those aren’t exactly players that a team wants to be forced to keep. It’s foreseeable that one or both could have a negative impact on the team’s protection plan.
Florida Panthers (3) – The Panthers probably won’t mind having three players locked up come Expansion 2.0. The team knew what they were doing when they signed Keith Yandle long-term. Even in his mid-30’s, Yandle will be a reliable player and a leader for the young Florida defensive core. Sure, they considered asking him to waive his NMC this past June, but they never actually did. Yandle won’t be a major issue in two years unless his play falls off considerably. There should be no concern whatsoever over Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, whose NMC’s kick in later on in their contracts. The same might not be true about Evgeni Dadonov, whose been somewhat underwhelming so far in Florida, but luckily his contract runs out just prior the probable draft date.
New York Rangers (4) – Although they will have near total control over their forwards, outside of Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers could be in a tough position with their protection schemes in net and on the blue line in 2020. Then-38-year-old Henrik Lundqvist will require protection, as will underachieving defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc Staal. New York is apparently readying themselves for somewhat of a rebuild, which could mean some of those players are traded beforehand. Otherwise New York could face quite the dilemma.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) – It seems unlikely, even years from now and in their mid-30’s, that the NMC’s for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or Phil Kessel would cause trouble for the Penguins. Injury-prone defenseman Kris Letang could be different though. Being forced to protect him after another two seasons of hard minutes could be difficult to swallow. Pittsburgh also has some work to do filling out the forward corps between now and 2020. GM Jim Rutherford would be well-served to avoid acquiring or handing out any further NMC’s.
It wasn’t long ago that the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the worst franchises in the NHL, making the playoffs once in just eleven seasons and suffering an epic collapse in that one postseason appearance. Therefore, it was fittingly a surprising and exciting story line when the young 2016-17 Maple Leafs made the playoffs and even gave the President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals a run for their money in the conference quarterfinals. Toronto had finally turned it around.
This season however, expectations have changed. In an especially weak Atlantic Division, the Leafs have, for all intents and purposes, already locked up the third Atlantic playoff spot and are simply looking to strengthen their roster for what seems to be a collision course with the Boston Bruins in the first round, a rematch of their 2013 blunder. While much of that preparation will simply be maintaining a healthy roster and polishing their play through the rest of the regular season, there is also much anticipation that further additions to the team are in order to give the team a shot at the Stanley Cup this spring.
Trade speculation is natural for contenders, but it isn’t always rational. There has already been a notion among many sources that impending unrestricted free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Leo Komarov will be used as the team’s own “rentals” and that the Leafs could be unlikely to add a forward. There’s also the fact that Toronto has next to no cap space to make a typical picks/prospects-for-player rental deal. Yet, fans are still eager to grasp at any rumors of the Leafs adding a big-time defenseman or another depth piece up front.
Case in point: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported earlier today that rookie defenseman Travis Dermott’s number was suddenly changed from #3 to #23 without his approval. The reaction from Toronto fans was overwhelmingly that the team was set to acquire a veteran player with the #3. Even SB Nation’s Maple Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets was quick to post a somewhat laughable list of potential former Leafs whose #3 could be saved for retirement alongside a more serious list of current #3’s throughout the league who could be future Leafs. The vast majority of that list are defenseman, which lends some credence to the theory, but many – Seth Jones, John Klingberg, Brayden McNabb, Tucker Poolman – are likely untouchable and others – Kevin Bieksa, Chris Bigras, Nick Jensen – are likely of no interest to Toronto. Could the Pittsburgh Penguins really be ready to move on from Olli Maatta? Would the Leafs really be willing to take on the Keith Yandle contract or the risk of uber-physical Radko Gudas? Or was the number change simply due to some other decision that carries far less weight than Toronto fans would like it to?
Only time will tell what moves the Maple Leafs make prior to the Trade Deadline, but the expectations are not going away any time soon. Toronto’s Stanley Cup window has only just opened, but the hockey-crazed city is ready for their first title since 1967 and fans will be eager to see the club add additional pieces to strengthen the roster. The Leafs will continue to be a team to watch through the next month and a half, but that doesn’t mean every little piece of information on the rumor mill is worth taking seriously.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri is entering his ninth season of playing NHL hockey and for the first time ever, the 27-year-old broke the 30-goal plateau last year. Yet the center who feeds Patrick Marleau and Leo Komarov, believes he can do it again, according to Jonas Siegel of The Athletic (subscription required).
Siegel analyzes whether Kadri can, in fact, accomplish his boast. He writes that Kadri has one major asset that’s in his favor — to have a key role on one of the best power play units in the league, which he does. He scored 12 of his 32 goals last year on the power play, which was eighth in the league. Now with Marleau around added to the team’s arsenal, Kadri could very likely accomplish that feat.
However, one other thing that Siegel points out is that Kadri has learned a lot after having played in more than 400 games. His experience has taught him where to set up in front of the net, how to anticipate a scoring opportunity and quick reactions.
- Sam Cardichi of Philly.com writes that Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Sanheim will likely stick with the Flyers for the time being after a bounce-back game against the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately, that means that 22-year-old defenseman Samuel Morin will likely be sent down to Lehigh Valley soon, despite a strong preseason and receiving three healthy scratches in the team’s first three games.
- NBC Sports Adam Gretz breaks down the Florida Panthers future salary cap situation after the team locked up defenseman Michael Matheson to an eight-year, $39MM contract Saturday. He writes the team now has nine players who are signed through the next four seasons, of which six are 25 years or under and they total $47.3MM combined. The group of Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, and Nick Bjugstad lead their youth movement, while they also have Keith Yandle, Roberto Luongo and James Reimer locked up. However, Gretz writes that since the team doesn’t have any upcoming big contracts to hand out, the team will have a significant amount of cap space to fill out their roster with even more talent, suggesting that the Panthers are heading in the right direction.
- Along with the recall of Thomas Chabot, the Ottawa Senators also recalled defenseman Christian Jaros on Sunday. The 21-year-old defenseman came over from Sweden just this year and has played in just two games for the Belleville Senators, picking up one assist. He and Chabot will fill in for all the team’s defensive injuries.
5:53 PM: It’s a done deal. Less than an hour after Friedman’s report, TSN’s Bob McKenzie has confirmed that Matheson and the Panthers have come to terms on an eight-year, $39MM contract extension. The deal, worth $4.875MM per year, would make Matheson the fifth-highest paid player for Florida and a top-fifty paid defenseman in the league if the 2018-19 season were underway. The extension puts Matheson in the same salary zone as players like Sami Vatanen, Justin Faulk, and Morgan Rielly.
The contract breaks down as follows, per CapFriendly:
2018-19: $3MM salary, $500K signing bonus
2019-20: $3.5MM salary
2020-21: $3.5MM salary
2021-22: $5MM salary
2022-23: $4MM salary
2023-24: $4MM salary, $2.5MM signing bonus
2024-25: $4MM salary, $2.5MM signing bonus
2025-26: $4.5MM salary, $2MM signing bonus
5:15 PM: According to Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman, the Florida Panthers are working toward an eight-year extension in the neighborhood of $40MM with one of their defenseman. Keep in mind Aaron Ekblad already signed an extension last year and 2017-18 marks the first season of his eight-year, $60MM, while Keith Yandle is already on to year two of his seven-year, $44.5MM free agent contract from last summer. No, the star Florida defenseman that Friedman is reporting on is… Michael Matheson?
To be fair, Matheson did play in 81 games with the Panthers last season and led the team in even-strength ice time on ice. However, those 81 games were only good enough to be tied for second among Florida defenseman and he ranked third in overall average time on ice. Matheson scored 17 points, tied for fourth among Panthers’ blue liners, and his 69 hits was fifth among that group. Matheson led the team with 118 blocked shots, but that mark put him only 70th in the NHL. This was all while the Panthers endured a disappointing season and missed the playoffs after winning the Atlantic Division the year before. Matheson is a solid defenseman, but he didn’t really excel at anything in particular in 2016-17 and didn’t necessarily help the team win. When it comes to a long-term extension though, consistency is the key and Matheson has been this good for a long time, right? Except, last year was his rookie season. Matheson has been a name in hockey for years now – a first-round pick in 2012 and a prolific career at powerhouse Boston College – but in reality he has just 84 NHL games under his belt and is just one year removed from a season spent almost entirely in the AHL.
So, why is GM Dale Tallon reportedly throwing this kind of money at him? Why could Matheson soon be paid more and for longer than the likes of Roman Josi and John Klingberg after just one alright NHL season? It could be that Panthers, who admittedly have seen more of Matheson than anyone else, see something more from the 23-year-old. Of course, it could also be, that after trading away Jason Demers, this extension is the result of some panic setting in. Ekblad is coming off a down season with some lingering injury concerns, Yandle is on the wrong side of 30, and Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic tend to be one-dimensional players. With Ekblad, Pysyk, and Petrovic all young, right-handed rearguards, that side of the defense could be set for the long haul, even if there are some concerns. However, on the left side, Matheson and Yandle are the only two established NHLers on the roster with nearly no high-end defensive prospects in the system. It seems likely that Florida sees Matheson as a worthy gamble because he is all they have to gamble on. Is that worth upwards of $40MM? Maybe not, but at least waiting until later in the season to gauge Matheson’s development could help to alleviate some of the risk. (Update: They didn’t.)
On the heels of yesterday’s report that both Keith Yandle and Dion Phaneuf had been asked to waive their no-movement clauses in order to be exposed for the upcoming expansion draft, speculation is running rampant around the league on who else will be asked. Below is the full list of players who currently require protection due to their clauses. The deadline to submit a request to a player is 4pm CDT today, while the player must inform the team of his decision by the same time on Friday June 16th. Because the Stanley Cup Finals ended last night, Nashville and Pittsburgh will not receive an extension and will need to submit their requests at the same time as every other team.
Elliotte Friedman was on Sportsnet radio today and mentioned that the Anaheim Ducks have spoken with Kevin Bieksa about possibly waiving his clause, something examined at length in our recent Ducks Expansion Primer.