TSN.ca’s Kristen Shilton recently listed five questions the Toronto Maple Leafs must still address this summer. Among them was what to do about right winger Joffrey Lupul.
The oft-injured Lupul, who turns 33 in September, has two seasons left on his contract at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause. Shilton wonders if the Leafs will ride out those remaining seasons, package Lupul in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.
While the Leafs successfully dealt away supposedly untradeable players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, Lupul won’t be easy to move. His trade value is low and few teams can afford his cap hit.
The Leafs could try shipping him off to a club with lots of cap space and no notable restricted free agents to re-sign, such as the Carolina Hurricanes ($16.7 million in cap room) or the New Jersey Devils ($13 million). However, these teams are all above the salary-cap minimum of $54 million and aren’t facing any pressure to take on another contract.
Alex Burrows saw what his friend and former teammate Chris Higgins went through last season and is trying to avoid a similar situation as he prepares for his 12th NHL season.
Higgins struggled, found himself in the American Hockey League after the Canucks were unable to find a trade partner, and was bought out by the club in June.
Burrows is coming off a season in which he saw his ice time dwindle to 15:10 a night – his lowest in seven seasons — and was a career-worst minus-13. His nine goals and 22 points in 79 games were his lowest totals since injuries limited him to just 49 games during the 2013-14 season.
Throughout last season, Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov was frequently mentioned as a potential trade candidate. Entering this off-season, speculation persisted the 2012 first-overall draft pick would be dealt at some point.
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli was certainly busy in recent weeks, shipping left wing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson and inking free-agent winger Milan Lucic. As speculation persists over other possible moves by Chiarelli, forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are mentioned as possible trade chips.
Yakupov, however, scarcely received mention until earlier this week. On Tuesday, Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov took to Twitter to shoot down a rumor claiming the Florida Panthers might deal defenseman Alex Petrovic to the Oilers for the young Russian forward. Read more
The Vancouver Canucks made some off-season moves in hopes of increasing their scoring this coming campaign, adding Loui Eriksson to potentially play alongside the Sedin twins and locking up youngsters Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem.
And while the Eriksson signing all but guarantees the Canucks another 20-goal player for the 2016-17 season, there are still some questions about the young contingent of players.
Baertschi, 23, looked to finally hit his stride with a 15-goal campaign and he could have a 20-goal season in him if he catches fire or finds chemistry with his linemates. However, Canucks GM Jim Benning doesn’t seem too keen on simply gambling that Baertschi’s scoring ability will continue to increase. For that reason, he wants to add another scorer.
“We’d like to add a proven scorer who brings some grit to take the pressure off Sven, so he can keep developing at his own pace,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma. “He took a big step last year and wants to prove to people that he has more to give. But I don’t know where he’s going to end up (next season). At some point, that (second line) is where he’s going to be, but maybe he plays on the third line with the capability of playing on the power play and potentially scoring 15 to 20 goals for us.” Read more
It may not happen immediately, but at some point Anaheim fans will want to remember this news: Travis Green, who has been pegged as the next in line for an NHL coaching job for a couple years now, could have been the Ducks’ bench boss for 2016-17.
The Vancouver Canucks made a notable splash in this summer’s free-agent pool by signing right winger Loui Eriksson. They could still be in the market for an additional forward.
Jason Botchford of The Province reports the Canucks have been quietly trying to make a deal to land another impact player. He cites GM Jim Benning saying his club would like to acquire a gritty scoring winger.
Botchford claims the Canucks, on the opening day of free agency, were believed trying to package “an unappealing contract with a valuable asset” in hopes of clearing salary-cap room to pursue a forward. He wonders if Buffalo Sabres left winger (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane or Colorado Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog might be among their targets. Botchford also claims a trade involving defenseman Luca Sbisa was thought by some to be discussed.
The Vancouver Canucks solidified their goaltending situation on Thursday inking Jacob Markstrom to a three-year extension worth $11 million. The deal carries an annual average value of $3.67 million.
Markstrom had one year remaining on his two-year, $3.1 million deal and was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-17 season.
On the opening day of NHL free agency, 131 players signed contracts worth a combined total of more than $650 million, according to capfriendly.com. While Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, David Backes and Andrew Ladd dominated headlines, signing big-money deals as the best players available, most teams were also filling gaps in organizational depth with signings you may not have even heard about.