It’s a gorgeous mid-August day. The only ice of importance should be floating in your Arnold Palmer.
So, naturally, your mind is on hockey rumours.
Here’s the latest buzz being generated on the unsigned (Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, Jarome Iginla), the unextended (Paul Maurice), the untraded (Matt Duchene), and the unimpressed (Evgeny Kuznetsov).
Pastrnak waiting for Draisaitl to make him richer? Or is a trade on deck?
All due respect to your Connor Brown paranoia, but of the 19 restricted free agents who remain jobless in mid-August, the most important contract negotiations are those involving Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Boston’s David Pastrnak — two versatile, explosive, 21-year-old point producers coming off career seasons.
According to CSNE.com Bruins insider Joe Haggerty, Pastrnak’s camp is waiting on Draisaitl to set the financial bar for second-most dangerous forward on a team.
Boston and Pastrnak, Haggerty notes, had made progress on a long-term deal around six years at $6 million per, which would slide him under Brad Marchand’s $6.125 million cap hit. The big money earned by Connor McDavid, Ryan Johansen and Evgeny Kuznetsov this summer could benefit Pastrnak, who could end up making more than the more accomplished Marchand after all.
That former NHL general manager and current NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton tweeted the possibility of a Pastrnak trade Monday did little to calm the nerves of Bruins fans, a group who has seen its share of dynamic 21-year-olds moved ahead of their prime.
“I’m sure they can get this worked out,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask told the Boston Herald Monday. “That’s the game nowadays: These young guys, when they come out of their first contract, they’ve had great success and they want to get paid. That’s just the world we live in. I guess sometimes with the cap situations, it can put teams in a tough spot.
“He’s proven he can be top goal-scorer in the league and he wants to get paid. You can understand both sides of it. I have no idea what he’s asking, what the situation is. But I’m sure they’re going to find a solution at some point.”
We recently asked former Bruin Dominic Moore, who had a front-row seat to the Czech’s breakout campaign, just how good Pastrnak is.
“He’s one of those run-and-gun kind of guys with nothing to lose. He plays a happy-go-lucky style. He’s incredibly athletic and gifted. Guys like that are always learning, too,” Moore said.
“He had a long streak in the season where he didn’t score a goal. He can put too much pressure on himself. Guys like that are at their best when they’re free, with nothing to lose.”
Haggerty reports that the notion of Draisaitl making $9 million a year is too rich, and that he can see both RFA forwards settling more in the $7 million to $7.5 million range, using Vladimir Tarasenko’s 2015 contract as a comparable.
Funny that Peter Chiarelli could have an affect on the Bruins’ big summer re-signing.
Here’s Haggerty’s take on Lawton’s tweet: “By all accounts the Bruins currently have no appetite for trading Pastrnak, and this first volley of rumors would appear to be more about message-sending in negotiations rather than actually shipping out another elite young hockey player. If the trade stuff goes beyond that, then Don Sweeney, Cam Neely and the rest of the Bruins organization will begin destroying all the goodwill they built up with a pretty solid end kick to their season last year.”
Jets’ Maurice remains unsigned beyond 2017-18
The notion of a lame-duck head coach or GM doesn’t quite fly in today’s NHL. Even if the man in charge enters a season on the hot seat, he’s usually given an extra year on his deal to help soothe egos and keep those dasdardly rumour mongers at bay.
So the Anaheim Ducks extended Randy Carlyle and the Columbus Blue Jackets took care of John Tortorella this summer, well in advance of camp opening.
Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice hasn’t enjoyed the recent success of those previous two bench bosses, however, and does not have a job in place beyond 2017-18.
Paul Wiecek of the Winnipeg Free Press examined the situation, throwing out a few possibilities for the delay.
With head coach salaries on the rise, does Maurice want a juicy raise? Or more than a one-year extension in term? Is Cheveldayoff hesitant to give an extension to a coach who has yet to deliver a post-season win over three-and-a-half seasons?
“Paul has my full support,” Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff assured at the Jets’ season-ending press conference.
“Every contract I’ve ever done took about 10 minutes,” Maurice said.
That was more than four months ago.
“Actually I haven’t heard anything lately,” Jets spokesman Scott Brown told Wiecek. “But it’s not a topic I ask about until told.”
It’s a topic worth monitoring.
Iginla fit for the Oilers?
As unrestricted free agent Jarome Iginla continues to weigh his options, fans and content-makers are happy to push the future Hall of Famer toward certain teams.
Like, the Edmonton Oilers, on a one-year, bonus-heavy deal and a bottom-six role. Hey, he was born there! And, oh, how Flames fans would hate it.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal is not entirely convinced, though.
“If Iginla is willing to play a Grumpy Old Man role (third line wing and second unit power play), it’s possible he could help the Oilers. He will amp up the pressure on Puljujarvi and Slepyshev to compete for and earn a spot. But if the two younger players were to win this competition, would Iginla be OK sitting in the press box? Would he be OK playing 50 or 60 games in a more limited role, taking on that Matt Hendricks roster spot?” Staples writes.
“I like the idea of more depth and more competition, but team chemistry is also crucial. If Iginla expects to be a top-six forward or to hell with it, he’s not a good fit here. But if his mindset is to do all he can and anything he can to help a young team on its path to Stanley Cup contention, then he might be able to help.”
We prefer the idea of Iginla going full Team Canada this winter instead.
How the Red Wings can soothe their cap issues
Detroit currently sits atop the league’s Cap Trouble leaderboard, reaching about $3.95 million above the ceiling, and that’s with RFA Andreas Athanasiou unsigned. (Johan Franzen’s $3.95 million cap hit will be stuffed on long-term injured reserve, though.)
Never say never, but few hockey men not named Ken Holland are pegging the Red Wings as a playoff contender this season, which makes his cap situation all the more concerning.
Big spenders better be big winners.
MLive.com takes a look at ways the Wings can get cap compliant.
Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening, Ryan Sproul and Niklas Kronwall are all recovering from injuries, so there may be opportunity to place another player on LTIR before the season begins. Sproul, Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm, Peter Mrazek, and Mike Green could all be used as trade bait if/when a competing team loses a player to injury in camp — although we see Green, especially, as more of a deadline rental.
Failing that, Detroit may be forced to waive a player like Sproul at the risk of losing a 24-year-old right-shot D-man.
Lawsuit may dampen St. Louis arena improvements
The Scottrade Center’s proposed $64-million makeover will have to hurdle a legal snag.
Alderwoman Cara Spencer, former state House Rep. Jeanette Oxford and former city counselor James Wilson name the city, the St. Louis Blues and the Blues’ ownership group, Kiel Center Partners, in a lawsuit arguing that the publicly funded renovation project is unconstitutional, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Kiel Center Partners said in a statement to the Associated Press that it considers the lawsuit “frivolous.”
NHL retirement could be Ovechkin’s ticket to Olympics
Will Alex Ovechkin join former NHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk, Andrei Markov and Pavel Datsyuk on a Russian national squad that may have its best shot at Olympic gold since 1988?
It’s a question that will undoubtedly pop up at training camp and could linger into January.
The “easiest” way for Ovechkin to make good on his vow to participate at PyeongChang Games, Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey points out in a column, might be retirement. (Hey, Kovalchuk and Datsyuk did it.)
Ovie could easily become the KHL’s most handsomely paid sniper, but such a move his would mean turning his back on a guaranteed $40 million the Washington Capitals have committed to him through 2020-21. That kinda cake buys a lot of dreams.
Ovechkin appears to be holding his breath for a last-minute change of heart on NHL policy, but this could get sticky.
“It is an individual club decision on whether he would go,” NHLPA chief Donald Fehr said last month.
Tocchet: ‘Animal’ Chychrun won’t be out for a year
We’re thinking the new Arizona Coyotes coach will be good with the quotes.
Rick Tocchet recently spoke to NHL.com and offered up some strong words on prospect Dylan Strome’s big-league hopes.
“I don’t’ want him to come in and think we’re going to stick him on the checking line and play three minutes a game,” Tocchet told the league’s site. “If he’s going to make our team, we’ve got to play him and let him be creative with the puck … I want him to be able to hang on the puck and make plays. I don’t want him to all of [a] sudden try to be a checker or a guy who just keeps dumping the puck in because he’s nervous or whatever. I want him to make plays.”
Although there is no estimate for the return of defenceman Jakob Chychrun, who underwent knee surgery for a training injury this month, Tocchet is certain he’ll be back sometime in 2017-18.
“He’s just a beast,” Tocchet said. “If this happened to somebody else, you might have a guy who’s out for the year. I don’t know the timeframe, but it’s not for the year. It’s something that he’s going to bounce back [from]. He’s an animal. It’s almost like we’ve got to crank this kid down a little bit.”
Duchene rumours will not go away until he does
With Matt Duchene opening up about his frustration, we have to wonder if the push for a trade will intensify as training camp approaches.
The Penguins and Predators continue to be linked to the centre in rumours, and now the Sabres have popped into the conversation.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen — firmly in go-for-it mode — was asked by NHL.com if he’s still in the hunt for Duchene.
“If there’s a good player available that helps our team, we’ll look at it. It has to make sense for us in the long term as well as the short term. We’re not going to sell all our assets to try and get better for this year or the next little while. We have to keep our long-term options in mind,” Kekalainen said.
Matt Duchene has some sweet hands : pic.twitter.com/CCksNnMCNR
— From The Faceoff (@FromTheFaceoff) August 12, 2017
Daily reminder: Jaromir Jagr needs a job
Kuznetsov hears your Capitals hating, and he does not approve
With the off-season departures of so many core contributors, some analyst types believe the Presidents’ Trophy winners have taken a step backwards this summer.
This ticks Evgeny Kuznetsov off.
“I don’t like when people say we’re a bad team right now,” Kuznetsov told NHL.com during the European Player Media Tour. “That’s bull to me. It’s not about the names. It’s about the guys when they come together.”
Departing free agents will be replaced with youth from within the Caps’ system. Get familiar with names like Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Madison Bowey, and Christian Djoos, all of whom are in their early 20s.
“Our goal is to get a playoff spot,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We should go one step at a time, get ourselves in the playoffs, and then we’ll go from there. As you know, everything can happen in the playoffs.”
Mazanec leaves Predators
When Czech goaltender Marek Mazanec filed for arbitration with the Nashville Predators this summer, GM David Poile promptly placed him on waivers, as if to prove that no NHL team wanted to pick him up.
Though Mazanec and the Preds did settle on a one-year, $650,000 contract in late-July, the 26-year-old netminder has instead opted for the KHL, where he’ll see more ice time and be closer to home.
Mazanec inked a one-year deal with Slovakia-based HC Slovan Bratislava, the club announced Monday.