One major decision that the Anaheim Ducks must make is decide what to do with longtime star Corey Perry, who has struggled with injury and a decline in play recently. The former superstar scorer saw his totals drop to 19 goals in 2016-17; 17 goals in 2017-18; and just six goals, albeit in 31 games last season. With two years remaining at $8.625MM, the team must decide whether to keep him around or buy him out.
Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required), in a mailbag piece, writes that the team might be better off challenging the 34-year-old to attempt a comeback rather than a buyout. If the team attempts to buy him out, it would save quite a bit of money this season, but still leave them with a $6.625MM cap hit for next season, all for paying him not to play for them. The team has to hope that Perry can bounce back with a 20-goal campaign and make his contract look acceptable. Unfortunately, Perry’s six goals and 10 points over 31 games last year only would have translated to 16 goals and 23 points over a full season. Probably not the return, the would like.
- Sportsnet’s Eric Francis writes the Calgary Flames should be worried about losing forward Sam Bennett to an offer sheet. The scribe writes that Bennett, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, is the type of player who wouldn’t cost too much in compensation for other teams as a contract between $1.82MM and $3.65MM would only cost a team a second-round pick. Considering the salary cap issues that the Flames are in with the need to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk, several other restricted free agents and two starting goaltenders, the team might not be willing to spend $3.65MM to retain the 22-year-old Bennett, who scored 13 goals and 27 points last season. Francis writes that the Vancouver Canucks could be the perfect team to attempt to sign Bennett to an offer sheet.
- In a separate piece, Francis writes the Flames must also make a decision on whether to bring back goaltender Mike Smith, who struggled for much of the season until the end when he played much stronger for the Flames in the stretch run of the season. Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has indicated a willingness to return next season, but would there be better options? While Robin Lehner, Sergei Bobrovsky and Petr Mrazek would all likely be out of Calgary’s price range, the team could consider trading for a goalie such as Jake Allen or attempt to sign Semyon Varlamov, who at 31, might come at a reasonable price.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, in his 31 Thoughts column, writes that the Vegas Golden Knights are likely to explore trading away the contract of David Clarkson. If the Golden Knights can find a team that would be willing to take on his $5.25MM cap hit, it could seriously ease some of Vegas’ salary cap concerns as the team is already projected to be above the salary cap for next season with just 19 players under contract so far. One benefit is that Clarkson is due only $3.25MM in cash, which could make him easier to trade to a team with extra cap room along with either a prospect and/or pick.