The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration with winger Alex Killorn by re-signing him Sunday to a seven-year, $31.25-million contract. The annual cap hit ($4.45 million), however, leaves the Lightning with just over $8.5 million of cap room and restricted free agents Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestinkov and Nikita Nesterov to re-sign.
Kucherov, 23, is completing an entry-level contract with an average annual salary of over $849K. Coming off two straight 60-plus point campaigns and leading the Lightning in scoring during the 2016 playoffs, he could push for a raise of around $6-million per season
The 23-year-old Namestnikov has a player-elected arbitration hearing slated for July 29. The versatile checking center is finishing up a three-year deal worth a base salary of $925K and could seek over $2-million annually.
Like Kucherov, Nesterov is also completing an entry-level contract. His slide down the Lightning’s blueline depth chart last season means there’s less a priority to re-sign him.
New contracts for Kucherov and Namestnikov could use up most, perhaps all, of the Bolts’ cap space for 2016-17. They’ll have no room for Nesterov, let alone for any roster additions. Read more
The Boston Bruins efforts to bolster their defense via the trade market hasn’t panned out so far. The asking prices for available blueliners such as St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba and Anaheim’s Cam Fowler are rumored to be expensive.
It could be time for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to consider his options via free agency. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty lists Kris Russell, James Wisniewski and Luke Schenn as possible blueline targets.
Russell, 29, is a top-four defenseman and shotblocking specialist. The 33-year-old Wisniewski missed all but one game last season to a knee injury. When healthy, he’s a good puckmoving blueliner. Schenn, 26, has a booming shot and plays a physical style.
This trio won’t address the Bruins long-term defensive needs. However, one of them could be a decent, affordable short-term option while Sweeney awaits for the trade market to improve.
The Buffalo Sabres took a gamble in mid-June when they dealt a third-round pick in the 2016 draft to the Nashville Predators for the rights to NCAA standout Jimmy Vesey. The hope was the Sabres would lock up Vesey before Aug. 15, the day the Hobey Baker Award winner is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
While the gamble may still pay off, Buffalo GM Tim Murray isn’t going to know whether or not he landed Vesey until the 23-year-old is able to test the open market. Vesey told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty that he had a “very good meeting” with the Sabres, but the 6-foot-2, 201-pound winger wants to at least hear from a few other teams about what they could offer him.
“We have a little bit of a short list going that I’ve worked on with my agents and my family,” Vesey told Haggerty. “We’re going to narrow it down as best as we can, and get through it as quickly as we can on Aug. 15.” Read more
The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but there is definite reason for optimism these days. That’s because GM Ron Francis has overseen a rebuild that has stocked the organization with an asset often in short supply – defensemen.
According to Mark Divver from the Providence Journal, the Buffalo Sabres sent an armada to Boston in the hopes of convincing left winger Jimmy Vesey to sign with the franchise. Vesey, whose rights were acquired from Nashville in the lead-up to the draft, is skating in his hometown and has a frenzy of activity surrounding his free agency decision.
The Boston Bruins search for skilled blueline depth continues in the aftermath of the opening-day NHL free-agent frenzy. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins were “kicking the tires” on free-agent shot-blocker Kris Russell.
Haggerty also speculates the Bruins could continue their search in the trade market. He suggests forwards David Krejci or Ryan Spooner could be dangled as trade bait.
With the Bruins signing free-agent center David Backes to a five-year, $30-million contract, Haggerty believes the 30-year-old Krejci has the most value to bring back a quality defenseman. He proposes the St. Louis Blues (Backes’ former club), Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild as possible trade destinations, as they have the type of puck-moving rearguards the Bruins need.
As the dust settles from the opening weekend of the NHL’s annual unrestricted free-agent frenzy, teams that missed out on the best UFA talent could turn to the trade market. For several clubs, that means pursuing a top-pairing defenseman.
After the Edmonton Oilers acquired Adam Larsson last week, GM Peter Chiarelli said he was pleased with his current D-corps. However, that hasn’t stopped speculation he could still be in the market for a skilled puck-moving rearguard.
Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic insists he intends to re-sign restricted free agent blueliner Tyson Barrie. However, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples suggests until Barrie and Avs coach Patrick Roy declare things are fine between them, the Oilers could still pursue the 24-year-old defenseman. TSN’s Bob McKenzie also shares this view.
Opposing centers in the Atlantic Division might want to start stocking up on Advil right about now, because they’re going to need it. If you don’t play for the Boston Bruins, David Backes is coming for you, and it’s going to hurt.
The Bruins not only replaced a lot of the physical identity they had lost when they signed Backes to a five-year deal worth $30 million, they also loaded themselves down the middle and have one of the most imposing center ice corps in the NHL. Backes joins David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron as the Bruins top three pivots. “You want to number them, that’s up to you,” Backes told TSN after he signed his deal.