The NHL is expected to announce its decision on a possible expansion to Las Vegas by June 22. More details recently emerged regarding the guidelines for an expansion draft that could affect this summer’s trade market .
It was originally believed players with no-movement clause carrying partial no-trade clauses (such as Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury) wouldn’t be protected from the draft. However, that only applies to players whose contracts expire at the end of 2016-17. That also includes those with full no-movement clauses. Those with contracts that run through 2017-18 must be protected.
Entering the NHL off-season, it appears the league’s projected increase in the salary cap to $74 million could fall short.
Each year, the NHLPA votes on approving a five-percent escalator clause. If the players vote against it this year, the cap ceiling could drop. Last Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the cap could fall to under $70 million.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cites a source with ties to the PA claiming the cap would drop to $69.3 million if the players reject the escalator. If they approve it, the ceiling rises to $72.8 million.
With the NHL draft and free agency fast approaching, speculation persists in the Boston media over what Bruins GM Don Sweeney will do to bolster his D-corps.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports free agency isn’t Sweeney’s preferred route this summer. However, he points out that puck-moving blueliners such as the New York Rangers’ Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski of the Dallas Stars could be available if the Bruins GM opts to dive into the free-agent pool.
Haggerty also reports of trade rumors suggesting young defenders such as Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets, Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche and Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks could be available. However, he worries the Bruins could lack the resources to land one of them.
With the July 1 start of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agency period less than a month away, speculation is ramping up over possible destinations for several of this summer’s top free-agent stars.
Heading the list, of course, is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. The solid performance of the Lightning in the 2016 playoffs without their 26-year-old captain — sidelined for all but one post-season game recovering from blood-clot surgery — raises questions over his future with the Bolts.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports both sides remain interested in getting a deal done before July 1. He claims Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told Stamkos during their end-of-season interview that re-signing him remains the club’s priority.
Could the 2016 Stanley Cup final be the last time we see Evgeni Malkin in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform? That’s the opinion of Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, who believes the Penguins could trade the 29-year-old center in the off-season.
Kypreos and colleague Doug MacLean cite Malkin’s lack of speed in the 2016 playoffs, especially in five-on-five situations. “He (Malkin) wants to play a slower game than they (the Penguins) want to play,” MacLean said. Kypreos thinks this summer couldn’t be a better time for the Penguins to move Malkin, suggesting it makes no sense for them to move forward with he and Sidney Crosby both on the payroll.
MacLean wonders how good Malkin would look in Montreal if the Canadiens don’t get Tampa Bay Lightning captain (and pending free agent) Steven Stamkos this summer. He also suggests the Vancouver Canucks as a destination.
Earlier this season, some speculation suggested the Vancouver Canucks might pursue Los Angeles Kings left winger (and Vancouver native) Milan Lucic via free agency. The Kings and Lucic, however, are reportedly working toward a new deal that will keep him in L.A.
The Canucks could find another local boy potentially available on July 1 to help them on the wing. St. Louis Blue right winger Troy Brouwer recently told Vancouver’s News 1130 radio he’s thought about joining the Canucks. “Family and friends, playing for my hometown, it would be an experience for sure,” Brouwer said.
Lacking skilled depth on right wing, the Canucks could use the services of the 30-year-old Brouwer. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder is experienced, durable, physical and has three 20-plus goal seasons on his resume. He’s also coming off a strong playoff performance, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games.
After falling short in their quest to return to the Stanley Cup final, changes could be coming for the Tampa Bay Lightning. With limited salary-cap space and several key players to re-sign both this summer and next, GM Steve Yzerman faces some difficult decisions.
Assuming a $74-million salary-cap ceiling for 2016-17, Yzerman has over $21 million in cap space to work with. Captain Steven Stamkos is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, while forwards Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn are restricted free agents.
Yzerman also has to look ahead to next summer, when goaltender Ben Bishop and top defenseman Victor Hedman become eligible for UFA status. Notable RFAs include netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy and forwards Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.
Having come up short in their quest to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 46 years, the St. Louis Blues face a possible off-season of change.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance believes the Blues should re-sign coach Ken Hitchcock to another one-year contract. He cites how Hitchcock guided the club to their first Western Conference final in 15 years and how they also overcame injuries to key players during the regular season.
TSN’s Darren Dreger, however, speculates Hitchcock’s tenure in St. Louis could be coming to an end. He believes certain coaches, such as Hitchcock, have a shelf life, suggesting he may have squeezed all he could out of the Blues players.