The past season was Milan Lucic’s first season as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and it appears as if it could very well have been his last.
If Lucic isn’t signed to a new deal by the Kings by July 1, the 28-year-old power forward will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Though there had been talk about Los Angeles extending Lucic’s contract both during the season and after the Kings were eliminated from the post-season, it appears the two sides are either further apart than first believed or that Los Angeles could be going another direction.
During an interview Monday with Vancouver’s NEWS 1130, Lucic’s agent, Gerry Johannson, said that the Kings and his client haven’t spoken recently and, with less than a month to go until free agency opens, Lucic is preparing to hit the open market. Read more
SAN JOSE – When the San Jose Sharks desperately needed to change their complexion and GM Doug Wilson needed to save his job, the GM turned to Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi and it all worked out rather nicely.
When the Sharks needed to change the complexion of the Stanley Cup final and they needed to save their season, the same two players came to the rescue. With a decade separating the time when the two of them basically came out of nowhere, Ward and Donskoi are kindred spirits, in a way. And they’re also, for the time being at least, the saviors of the season for their contributions in the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3.
Regardless of what anyone believes about Alexander Radulov away from the rink, there’s no way to deny he’s an immensely talented offensive player that has the potential to change a game. Even with that said, his free agency ask is certain to make teams scoff.
During TSN’s Insider Trading segment, Darren Dreger reported that teams have been kicking the tires on Radulov, who is set to make his NHL return after four seasons in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. The Red Wings being one of the clubs who has been in pursuit of Radulov, but Detroit GM Ken Holland and Radulov may be worlds apart when it comes to the salary he’ll earn in 2015-16.
“The belief is the Red Wings are comfortable with a one-year deal around $4 million,” Dreger said. “But a couple of NHL sources have indicated he wants two years at $7.5 million per (season).”
No, that’s not a typo, and don’t adjust your monitor. Radulov has reportedly asked for a two-year, $15-million deal. Per CapFriendly, that would put Radulov in a tie for the 19th largest cap hit in the NHL next season, matching the annual salary of Jason Spezza, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and the (likely departing) Pavel Datsyuk. Read more
The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t quite match last year’s brilliance but, considering the obstacles they faced this spring, they should be darned proud of what they accomplished.
They won two playoff rounds and reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final without Steven Stamkos, their best player. They went 9-2 without their second-best defenseman, Anton Stralman, before getting him back in for Game 2 against Pittsburgh. They lost their franchise goalie, Ben Bishop, in Game 1 against the Penguins and still pushed them to the brink. With a little more luck on the health front, the Bolts easily could’ve matched last season’s Stanley Cup final appearance and maybe even won it all.
The 2015-16 season should thus be considered a resounding success. The Lightning also have a lot to look forward to going forward. Before we anoint them serious 2016-17 contenders, however, they have many problems to solve this off-season. Few if any GMs have a longer, more significant laundry list than Steve Yzerman. Tampa is the summer’s most interesting team. Here are five crucial storylines to watch.
Busting out with big performances in the playoffs can significantly impact players’ paycheques in seasons to come if they hit free agency directly after their spring heroics, small sample sizes be damned. Look at what Bryan Bickell got after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013. The big fella scored nine goals in 23 playoff games. He was 27, and his career regular-season high at the time was 17 goals, but he was a big part of the 2013 championship run and thus earned himself a pretty penny. It cost Chicago four years at a $4-million cap hit to keep Bickell. He’s since become an albatross for GM Stan Bowman.
We’re seeing a similar bust-out effort from another hulking winger this season who happened to win a Stanley Cup of his own with Chicago in the past: Troy Brouwer of the St. Louis Blues. We know he’ll get a big payday as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Which other pending UFAs have earned extra dollars thanks to their playoff performances? Here are five names to consider. I’ve ruled out the restricted free agents, as there are too many soon-to-get-richer youngsters to count, from Nikita Kucherov to Jonathan Drouin to Jaden Schwartz. This also isn’t just a list of the best UFAs, period. Kyle Okposo, for example, played well in the post-season, but he was due a massive July payday anyway, and his strong effort in two rounds for the Isles didn’t change that.
Let’s focus on the UFAs who have increased their projected dollar figures specifically because of their work in these playoffs.
Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch may be headed to unrestricted free agency a little early if a report by the Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch comes to fruition. According to Garrioch, there are major rumblings that the Ottawa Senators will not qualify the pending restricted free agent this summer, forcing the defenseman onto the open market.
Wiercioch would cost the Sens at least $2.7 million should Ottawa choose to qualify him and based on his recent returns, that’s a lot of money. At a lower cap hit (which any team could sign the blueliner to this summer) there is certainly some value in the 25-year-old, but new Senators GM Pierre Dorion seems to be taking a decisive stance early in his tenure. And I like it.
We listened and waited for Jaromir Jagr to finish laughing.
There should be no sweeter sound to a Florida Panther fan right now. Jagr spoke to reporters, including THN, on a conference call Friday a day after signing a one-year, $4-million extension with the Florida Panthers, and he had a case of the giggles. He couldn’t take seriously the concept of his body breaking down. That’s how good he feels physically, at 44, after completing his 22nd NHL season. Aging is so far off the radar that he perceives the idea almost as a joke if asked about it.
When the New York Rangers cleaned out their stalls Tuesday morning, defenseman Dan Boyle cursed out a couple of reporters he felt were unfairly critical of him and refused to start his breakup interview until they left the scrum. We’re going to chalk that up to a proud veteran who is going down swinging and will probably look at that incident after second sober thought with regret.
But in a way, Boyle and his rant – which will almost certainly be his last as an NHL player – provide a microcosm of the situation that is facing his soon-to-be-former team. Boyle could have gone quietly into the night or he could have come out with one last flurry. He chose the latter.