The Blue Jackets would like to keep defenseman Ian Cole in the fold, notes Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (subscription required). The pending unrestricted free agent was acquired from Ottawa (who had previously added him from Pittsburgh) at the trade deadline and he played an important role, logging over 18 minutes a night in 20 regular season games and better than 19 minutes per game in the playoffs. Cole is set to earn a considerable raise from the $2.1MM cap hit on his current deal; Portzline surveyed some NHL agents and their expectation for his next contract checks in around $4.5MM per year.
Elsewhere in the East:
- While the league, in general, has been gravitating towards bypassing the bridge contract in favor of a long-term deal as entry-level contracts expire, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculated in an appearance on 630 CHED in Edmonton (audio link) that Maple Leafs winger William Nylander could be a player to get a bridge deal. He notes that Nylander’s end to his season (which saw him briefly dropped to the fourth line) will have hurt his leverage and accordingly, it would make more sense for the 22-year-old to go short-term and try to boost his value. Doing so would also give Toronto a bit more flexibility to work with in terms of trying to add to their roster this summer.
- It doesn’t appear the Capitals will have center Nicklas Backstrom in the lineup for Game Two of their Conference Final series against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Head coach Barry Trotz told reporters, including Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post (Twitter link), that while Backstrom is working out on his own, he wouldn’t be participating in any on-ice work today. He is dealing with a hand injury that kept him out of their series-clinching victory last round against the Penguins. Trotz also added that he is optimistic that he will play at some point in the series and that he remains listed as day-to-day.