Friday, June 24, 2016

Red Wings Drop Datsyuk's Contract, Coyotes Move Up

To Arizona Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Pavel Datsyuk F 37 66 16 49 1 $7.5 mil
2016 1st Round Draft Pick (16th - Jacob Chychrun)
To Detroit Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Joe Vitale F 30 1 0 0 1 $1.117 mil
2016 1st Round Draft Pick (20th - Dennis Cholowski)
2016 2nd Round Draft Pick (53rd)

The drama that was the looming cap hit for Pavel Datsyuk has come to an end and to no one's surprise, it was the Arizona Coyotes who were able to take that cap hit on and move up in the draft in the process.

The Red Wings didn't really want to give up too much for a team to take on their burden, where there were rumours of them having to deal some of their key roster players to get the job done.  Well, this didn't end up being the case, as they were able to swap 1st round picks, acquire another pick and a depth player instead.  Not a bad job, really.

The Coyotes were high on the free-falling Jacob Chychrun, who was slated to be a much-higher draft pick last Summer, so when the opportunity presented itself, the new GM for the team jumped on it and did the deal.

The immediate hockey pool impact is next to nothing, but with the Red Wings clearing out over $6.4 million in cap space for next season, they immediately become big players in the free agency market, which starts their sneak-a-peek tomorrow.

Flames Nab a Number One in Elliott

To Calgary Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Brian Elliott G 31 42 23 54 1 $2.5 mil
To St. Louis Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
2016 2nd Round Draft Pick (35th)
Conditional 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick

It was no secret that the Calgary Flames were shopping hard for a starting goalie this weekend and the comments were made that they were not going to leave this weekend in Buffalo without one in tow.

Mission accomplished.

The Flames took advantage of a goaltending glutton in St. Louis, acquiring Brian Elliott from the Blues for a 2nd round pick in this year's draft and another 2018 pick, if Elliott was to sign an extension with the club, which he can do officially after July 1st.

Elliott was caught in a tough situation in St. Louis, playing alongside Jake Allen, who the team had already tabbed as the number one goalie of the future, but the veteran had to come up big, when their future number one star was injured heading into the playoffs and couldn't make the starts.  Elliott shone his way into the Conference Finals, where they eventually lost to San Jose, but none of the blame could fall on Elliott, who played exceptionally well.

The Flames are well-endowed in draft picks this year, so giving up one of their 2nd round picks wasn't a struggle for Elliott and in the 31-year old, they will get a scrappy goaltender, who will come to work every night.  He also comes to town with a very reasonable cap hit and if the Flames were to extend him before the season started, they would be very likely to keep that cap number low for a few more seasons.

With the move made, the Flames currently have a projected roster of 15 players at a cap cost of $50.7 million, which is still below the cap floor for the coming season.  Of course, the Flames still have some big signings to make this Summer, re-signing the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, before we really get down to brass tax.

Blackhawks Shift Shaw to the Habs

To Montreal Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Andrew Shaw F 24 78 14 34 0 RFA
To Chicago Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
2016 2nd Round Draft Pick (39th)
2016 2nd Round Draft Pick (45th - MIN)

There was a fair amount of chatter out in the public domain about Andrew Shaw being a potential piece to move for the Blackhawks this Summer, as they try and retool underneath a salary cap ceiling that didn't see very much of a raise this year.

Once the Canadiens were able to move some salary out, see the previous deal with Lars Eller heading to Washington, the Habs all kinds of bargaining power with the future restricted free agent, looking to give him a deal, worthy of his potential contributions to the team moving forward.

The addition of Shaw, once signed, should give the Canadiens another player that does a decent job of combining skill and grit, being a difficult player to play against.  I think given the make-up of the Canadiens before his acquisition, I think the team will be able to find some quality minutes for him and his responsibility will grow and his production should grow with it.

The 24-year old is coming off of a deal that had a $2 million cap hit and I would imagine that his cap hit moving forward will hover around the $3.5 million range, given his experience and championship ring, not to mention the team's commitment to bringing him into the fold.

Eller to the Capitals for Picks

To Washington Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Lars Eller F 27 79 13 26 2 $3.5 mil
To Montreal Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
2016 2nd Round Draft Pick
2017 2nd Round Draft Pick

The Montreal Canadiens were the team that really got the draft off with a bang, of course, that was after the 1st pick overall was selected.  They began the night with a deal that saw forward Lars Eller head to Washington for a couple of picks, one early on Saturday and the other next Summer, both 2nd round selections.

Eller, a crafty veteran, who rounded out the pool worthy rankings for all forwards, finishing 216th in scoring among the group.  He saw some time in the 2016 draft pool and has been a bit of a regular.  The Capitals should be able to find a good spot for him, as he does have some streaky scoring runs through the year, not unlike some of their current roster of players and should provide solid minutes on the second or third line.

The Capitals are filling up their roster, albeit in pencil, with a good number of names in the early part of this off-season, as they now have 16 names on their projected list and still have $13.3 million to spend, before they hit the ceiling.

For the Habs, they clear out a little bit of cap space moving forward, as they were not quite done on the night.  They moved to having about $15 million in space below the ceiling left and they had about seven spots left to fill on a full 23-man roster.  That's not too bad in the cap management department.

Fringe Signings (Jun 24)

As we draw closer and closer to Gary Bettman's welcome to the Entry Draft, let's quickly go over a signing that happened since the last fringe signing post. The Philadelphia Flyers extended the contract of defenseman Radko Gudas on Thursday night, giving him a 4-year deal, reportedly worth $13.4 million.

The 26-year old defender was headed towards restricted free agency and had arbitration rights for the Summer, but now he'll go right into unrestricted free agency, once this deal is done.

In the 2016 season, the Czech defender finished with 5 goals and 14 points in 76 games, but was mainly kept around for his physical presence.  He was the 122nd ranked defender in scoring, which could be useful in a Waiver Draft, when 14 other defensemen got hurt.

Kicking off Friday afternoon was a contract extension for Dallas Stars defenseman Jordie Benn, who was scheduled to go to unrestricted free agency next week. The elder Benn brother signed a 3-year extension, reportedly worth $3.3 million to stay with the club.

Benn picked up 3 goals and 12 points in 64 games in the 2016 season and did make a brief appearance in last season's pool and may be an outside candidate for a Waiver Draft pick-up here as well.  The Stars' current depth at the position is fairly shallow, which would project more minutes on him, but it's still early in the off-season to say for sure.

Amidst all the trade rumours, the Tampa Bay Lightning were taking care of some housekeeping of their own, re-signing forward J.T. Brown to a new 2-year contract, saving him from restricted free agency with arbitration rights.

Brown moved into a full-time role with the Lightning last season, playing in 78 games and picking up 22 points, good enough for 244th among all forwards in scoring.  The 25-year old is moving in the right direction, in terms of career trajectory.  If he can somehow find his way into limited top six minutes in 2017, he would certainly be a good mid-season option in the Waiver Draft.

Buyout Period (Jun 24)

Prior to the opening round of the entry draft, it was reported that the Minnesota Wild informed forward Thomas Vanek of his impending buyout, removing his remaining year on his current contract from the active roster.  With Vanek owning a no-movement clause in his contract, he can avoid the waiver process and go directly to unrestricted free agency.  Just hours before the draft commenced, the buyout occurred and you can add Vanek to the list of available free agents.

The move makes for some considerable savings for Minnesota's cap budget, in the neighbourhood of $5 million for the coming season, as the team's hit for the buyout in 2017 would be $1.5 million, against his $6.5 million cap hit he would have, if he stayed with the club.

Vanek still has some hockey pool value to him, as he finished 126th in forwards scoring last season, picking up 18 goals and 41 points in 74 games with the Wild, but he might not have the same value he once had.  Be sure to consider your options carefully here.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fringe Signing (Jun 23)

It's a 2-year contract extension for William Karlsson from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday afternoon, which will carry a $1 million cap hit for each season.  "Wild Bill" had a pretty good season with the Blue Jackets, establishing himself as an everyday player, appearing in 81 games last season, scoring 9 goals and 20 points.  He wasn't quite pool worthy with those numbers, but the 23-year old may have gained more than enough experience to really turn his third NHL season into a very good one.  He certainly could make for an interesting sleeper pick late, if you're in a deep draft.

Fringe Deal (Jun 23)

The Florida Panthers continue to be one of the busiest teams leading up to the entry draft, as they used one of their long-time prospects in a deal that brings in a potential back-up goalie, sending forward Rocco Grimaldi to the Colorado Avalanche for Reto Berra on Thursday.

Berra appeared in 14 games with the Avalanche last season, winning five, and now has the lead for the back-up role behind Roberto Luongo, as Al Montoya appears to be heading to free agency next week.  Berra was the 62nd ranked goalie last season and could see adequate time in Florida, playing behind a retooled defense.  With Calvin Pickard ripe for an NHL job, Berra was certainly expendable for a deal.

Grimaldi was a 2nd round pick in 2011, but has only appeared in 27 games for the Panthers in total, unable to break into the lineup on a full-time basis.  With the Avalanche's forward depth somewhat in question, there is certainly some potential for earning a spot in that lineup, assuming he can bring it all together in training camp.

Yandle Lands On His Feet in Florida

It looks like the New York Rangers will get that conditional 4th round draft pick next year after all.  The Florida Panthers announced on Wednesday night, that they have inked defenseman Keith Yandle, who they acquired the rights of in a deal with the Rangers earlier in the week.  That deal was for one pick and a conditional pick, if he had signed... well, the deal is done.

Yandle, 29, signed a 7-year deal, $44.45 million deal on Wednesday, giving him the highest cap hit on the team for the foreseeable future in Sunrise.  This works out to be $6.35 million cap hit per season, which is a top 50 hit in the NHL today, a very sizable number indeed.  Of course, this deal will also include a no-movement clause, which will now play into any expansion draft talks, with Las Vegas on the horizon.

It was a decent 2016 for Yandle in the Big Apple, where he finished 141st overall in pool scoring, 16th among all defensemen, scoring 5 goals and 47 points in all 82 games.  His offensive talents will join the likes of Aaron Ekblad and Dmitry Kulikov to form a fairly dynamic trio.  The assembly of this Panthers team is coming along quite smoothly.

As for the cap, the big hit gets the team out from under the floor, by my projections, which only sits at 16 players right now.  The Panthers have about $13.4 million left in space to use for seven spaces and there are some good entry-level players that could still make the jump up for next season.

We're getting the feeling that the Panthers will have a pretty good push next season.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

NHL to Expand to 31 Teams, Next Up: Las Vegas

Well, there's no immediate impact to the hockey pool, but there will be some impact, starting in the 2018 season, when there will be one more roster to choose from.  There will be a new team in Las Vegas, subject to get started in the 2018 season and preparations will get started right away, now that the rubber stamps have been inked and slammed down on the proclamations.

The first benefit to us poolies is that we'll have another starting goalie to choose from on all the rosters, which is truly a good thing for us.  So, the team that begins play won't exactly be climbing the standings too quickly in year number one, but with the way that the expansion draft should work, they won't be too far off and they will have a decent shot at some quality talent in the 2017 entry draft as well.

There are going to be some players that will certainly benefit from some added ice-time, moving to a team that will offer added minutes to their newly-acquired depth.  The impact on other teams around the league won't be too drastic, as the expansion draft will only cost them one player, offering up a new job to a player in their system, which offers more options for us poolies, adding another chance here and there for a diamond in the rough.

It's far too early to speculate how everything will play out, because there will be an entire season for a lot of players to audition for their spots on the protected players list, while those who are not protected will be agonized over, before anything gets done.  Nevertheless, there will be plenty of coverage and guessing and all that crap, as we move through the 2017 season.

Personally, I think these are some exciting times, as the league expands, it certainly does make the hockey pool a little bit more exciting moving forward.  More players allows for more teams in the next few years and maybe a few less complaints about how many goalies we'll take in a given year.

If you're going to try and figure out how things are going to pan out, here is a brief list of the new rules that will be applied to the expansion draft next year, around this time.  I think there will be some work done on one of my other blogs, working on some scenarios, because there will be some points in time where I'll be bored, between now and then.

Fringe Signings (Jun 22)

The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Scottie Upshall on Wednesday morning, giving him a new 1-year deal, reportedly worth $900,000.

It has been a couple seasons since Upshall was pool worthy, but he was still able to play in 70 games for the Blues in 2016, posting 14 points.  Those aren't quite going to cut it for being picked in the draft, but Upshall will probably continue to hang around, possibly getting a shot around the Waiver Draft.

The signing of Upshall, especially to a very reasonable cap number, is rounding out the St. Louis lineup and giving them a rounded number on how to approach their pending free agents.  I currently have them with six open spots on their roster and $14.2 million to play with.

Job Done in Arizona, Goligoski Signs

The Arizona Coyotes have moved a step closer to becoming a bit more relevant in the Western Conference, convincing Alex Goligoski to put pen to paper on a 5-year deal on Tuesday night.

Goligoski was snapped up by the Coyotes from the Dallas Stars last week, trying to take advantage of their cap crunch by offering a little compensation for the chance to talk to the veteran defender.  The move paid off, as their exclusive negotiation rights kept their eyes on the prize and now they have wrapped him up for a cap hit of $5.475 million per year, just a shade under their premier defender, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The 30-year old defender should bring a little bit more offensive flair to the Coyotes' blueline for the new season, as he was the 33rd ranked defenseman in scoring last season, picking up 37 points in all 82 games for the Stars last year.  I wouldn't expect quite those sort of numbers in year one in Arizona, since the Coyotes' offense isn't anything close to what the Stars have, but he should still give a boost to some of their young scorers and a definite shot in the arm on the power play.

As for cap numbers, the new cap floor number is $54 million and Arizona still has some work to do to fill up that space.  I would say that this team currently has 10 locks on their roster, they are holding onto Chris Pronger's remaining year on his deal and they still have $16.1 million left to even get to the floor at the moment.  Goligoski's cap hit is certainly a welcome one to their books and their roster, there's no doubt.

2016-2017 Salary Cap Number Announced

Salary CapOn Tuesday night, the NHL announced one of the biggest pieces to the overall puzzle for next season, the salary cap payroll range! Huzzah!

Well, thanks to the clause owned by the Players Association, we'll see a slight lift in the cap ceiling this season, as it will go from $71.4 million to $73 million, which will also lift the floor up to $54 million.

Some reports were suggesting that if the players didn't use their growth factor clause, the cap would have dropped, likely below $70 million for the coming season and that would have put a serious dent in free agency for the coming season.

There are still a good number of teams that have their projected rosters below the salary cap floor, but the Summer has only gotten started.  Once July 1st hits, we'll see plenty of deals for players that will take those teams back into the budget window and there shouldn't be much for complaints.

Teams that are going to be hurt still, after this announcement, will be those with active bonus overages and potential overages for the coming season.  The increase wasn't very much and those bonuses will be tough to swallow in this tough time we're living in.

Nevertheless, we move forward!  Onward and upward...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lecavalier Officially Files His Paperwork

Vincent Lecavalier, a member of Stuart's 2008 1st place team in the hockey pool, has officially called it quits, as per his agreement, when the Kings offered to trade for his services from the Flyers this season.

Lecavalier, the 1st overall pick in 1998's entry draft, enjoyed a very productive NHL career, which spanned 1,212 regular season games and 75 playoff games between Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, where he scored 421 regular season goals and 949 points, 26 playoff goals and 56 points, a Stanley Cup and a Rocket Richard Trophy in his case.

Unfortunately, his overall value in the hockey pools has dropped over the years, which coincides with his perceived value by NHL teams, which showed a decline in ice-time and a decline in scoring.  Those sort of elements will greatly reduce your usefulness in the pool.

Lecavalier did make an appearance in the 2016 regular season hockey pool, after his arrival in Los Angeles, he did have a quick resurgence in the scoring department, picking up 10 goals and 17 points in 42 games, leading up to the playoffs, but his playoff run was ended in five games.

Jets Re-Up Hutchinson

The Winnipeg Jets were the only team to have three pool-worthy goalies in last season's hockey pool rankings and they now have all three signed on for next season, after the signing of Michael Hutchinson on Tuesday morning.

Hutchinson avoided restricted free agency by signing a 2-year deal, each year reportedly worth $1.15 million.

In the 2016 season, Hutchinson was ranked 54th among all goalies, the last worthy keeper in the rankings, finishing with 9 wins and 18 points in 30 appearances for the Jets.  He would be projected to be the team's back-up for the 2017 season, at least, which may limit his value for the hockey pool in the coming year.

With this signing, it does mean that this could be a fairly crowded situation, especially with Connor Hellebuyck having made a very positive impression, when Ondrej Pavelec was down with injury last season.  Hellebuyck will be in the final year of his entry-level deal and will likely be looking for full-time work in the NHL before too long.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Yandle's Rights Head to Florida

To Florida Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Keith Yandle D 29 82 5 47 0 UFA
To New York Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
2016 6th Round Draft Pick
Conditional 2017 4th Round Draft Pick

The cards are being laid on the table early in draft week, as the Florida Panthers are looking to upgrade their back end with the services of Keith Yandle, to which they will have to negotiate a new deal with straight away.

The Panthers acquired the rights to the potential unrestricted free agent for a late round pick in this draft and if he is to sign with the Panthers, the Rangers would also receive a 4th round draft pick in the 2017 draft.

If Yandle makes it to market, he will be a coveted player, as he does possess a lot of the offensive attributes that teams are looking for in that number one, quarterback role for a team's power play, which is undoubtedly helpful in 5-on-5 situations as well.

Now the question is, will he or won't he?  Sign, that is.

Toronto Adds Andersen, Then Sign Him

To Toronto Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
Frederik Andersen G 26 43 22 51 0 RFA
To Anaheim Pos Age GP G/W P Years Cap
2016 1st Round Draft Pick
2017 2nd Round Draft Pick

Well, this changes the last pick in the mock drafts, now doesn't it?

The Anaheim Ducks have acquired the 30th overall pick, Pittsburgh's 1st round pick, from the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Toronto's 2nd round pick next year for restricted free agent-to-be goalie Frederik Andersen, as the Leafs try to shore up their goaltending for the coming season.

Remarkably, in my mock draft, I had the Leafs taking Carter Hart, the goalie of the Everett Silvertips, so there was a need for a goalie in there somewhere, the Leafs just opted for a little more experience.

In Andersen, the Leafs will get a goalie who has been able to log some big minutes for the Ducks, but a goalie who has also benefited greatly from a stout defense in Anaheim, not unlike their current number one goalie, Jonathan Bernier, back in the days with the Kings, before getting dealt out east.  This move will undoubtedly give the Leafs some much needed depth at the position and it will likely set a guy like Garret Sparks back a few years, but if the move is to take Auston Matthews and run for the playoffs, they at least have some help on their last line of defense.

The Ducks, on the other hand, are now putting the ball firmly in John Gibson's court, as the plan was a year or two ago (or so we were to assume) and it will be his crease to start the 2017 season.  This will certainly increase his hockey pool value for the coming year, no doubt.

In return in the deal, the Ducks get two very good draft picks, in all likelihood, because anything in the 1st round will be decent and there are no guarantees that the Maple Leafs will turn this ship around completely in one Summer, so that 2nd round pick still has potential to be very good.

With that 30th pick, I could definitely see the Ducks going after another forward, if they choose to use it, possibly a young centre like Cliff Pu could be on their radar with that pick.

UPDATE: Not long after I had shut down the blog writing process down, the Maple Leafs went ahead and signed Andersen to a 5-year, $25 million deal, working out to a $5 million cap hit per season.

Already, the commitment has been made to Andersen to take over the number one job in Toronto, which will have a significant hit to Bernier's projections this Fall and this is truly something to keep an eye on through camp.

Fringe Deal (Jun 20)

This deal has a little bit more promise than a fringe deal, which is why it gets a mention, but with no NHL experience, it's not a big deal... yet.

Ahead of the draft weekend, the Nashville Predators have dealt the rights to the highly touted NCAA forward Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres for a 3rd round pick.  Vesey, who has been in the Predators system since the 2012 draft, where they took him in the 3rd round, decided against signing with his original NHL club and was looking towards free agency, starting August 15th.

The Sabres, who own a plethora of draft picks in this weekend's entry draft, were willing to take a shot at an early negotiation with the top prospect, trying to lure him into a system, which is already ripe with young talent.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Top Prospect Signings (Jun 19)

Word came early on Sunday afternoon that the Chicago Blackhawks had signed NCAA standout forward Nick Schmaltz to his entry-level deal, taking him out of the program a couple of years early. Their 2014 1st round draft pick could have stayed at the University of North Dakota for at least another season, but the NHL came calling and it is probably exceptionally hard to turn down a team like the Blackhawks, who may think that he's ready to go.

Schmaltz is listed as the Blackhawks' top prospect in their Future Watch issue, but at age 20, he was thought to be staying in college for another year, which is why he wasn't on the Pool Outlook post last month.  With the Hawks trading Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina, it opened up a spot in their top nine and now they have another top prospect to audition for the part.  Definitely a name to watch out for at the draft.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Datsyuk Takes His Puck and Heads Home

On Saturday, Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk finally confirmed that he will forego his last year on his current contract, in order to go back to Russia to play at home and be closer to his family.  The move has been hanging above the heads of both the player and the team for quite some time, but now the move is official and the repercussions can now unfold.

It is a pretty worst-case scenario for the Red Wings, as he signed a 3-year contract extension in 2013, which would take him through the 2017 season, but it was also considered to be a 35+ contract, which by CBA bylaws, will count against Detroit's salary cap, regardless of whether he plays, terminates or retires.  Therefore, the Red Wings will have to deal the contract, if they want to be players in the free agency market, trying to replace the veteran who is out the door.  After a deal is done, then the contract will be terminated and that team will be stuck with the cap hit for the season.  On the plus side, once the contract is terminated, there are no actual dollars to be paid out on the contract.

Back to the celebration of the player, as the 37-year old played in 14 NHL seasons, all with the Red Wings, playing in 953 games, scoring 314 goals and 918 points.  His career-highs in points came both in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, where he picked up 97 points in both years, scoring a career-high 32 goals in the 2009 season.

In the Opiated Sherpa draft pools, the two-way centre appeared on three money-winning teams, a 1st place finish in 2008, part of a 3rd place finish in 2012 and a 2nd place team in 2013.  It has been a few years since he was on a money-winning team, but he has a legacy in the pool, which will be missed.

Instead of playing in the NHL, he will play his remaining hockey years back home in Russia, as he wished to be playing still, but closer to his family.