While all eyes are on John Tavares of the New York Islanders as we get closer and closer to July 1, 2018, Craig Custance of The Athletic examines the impressive list of other top names headed for unrestricted free agency next summer. Custance updates us on the current situations for each one, including interesting notes on several impending KHL free agents.
The most intriguing one out of Russia will once again be Ilya Kovalchuk, who last year wasn’t able to find a deal because of the rights New Jersey still held. Those rights will expire after the season because he’s now 35, making him free to sign with anyone in the league. Custance expects it to take “a multi-year deal in the $6 to 7 million range,” but notes that he is still seen as a potential impact player around the league. Kovalchuk has 20 goals and 36 points in 31 games for St. Petersburg this season.
- Also from The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun speaks directly to Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello about the recent Nikita Soshnikov recall, and how it was partially forced by a clause in his deal that would have allowed him to go back to Russia. Interestingly, Lamoriello tells him that even had Soshnikov been assigned to the KHL the Maple Leafs would have retained the ability to recall him at any time. Instead, the team brought him up and are excited about how he’s played this season in the minor leagues. With 12 points in 14 games for the Toronto Marlies, Soshnikov was arguably their best player so far this year.
- Marco Scandella has been fined $5,000 for slashing Patric Hornqvist last night, the maximum amount allowed under the CBA. It’s not the first time Scandella has been disciplined by the Department of Player Safety, as he was fined and suspended previously for checks to the head. Some New York fans might even be familiar with his slashing prowess (h/t @myregularface) from his days with the Minnesota Wild.