The NHL has been the subject of a lot of discussion this week, with Jack Eichel and Gabriel Landeskog’s trade on Wednesday. How did the two players fare in their new homes? What does it mean for the future of hockey?
The expansion draft nhl is a new addition to the NHL that will allow teams to protect 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Teams will be able to select one player from each of the other 29 teams in order to fill their roster.
Teams scramble to sign players who can be everything from the final pieces of a championship puzzle to the spackle around the holes in their lineups as the NHL free-agent market officially opens on Wednesday — you can catch our simulcast of TSN’s “Free Agent Frenzy” coverage beginning at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN+ — as teams scramble to sign players who can be everything from the last pieces of a championship puzzle to the spackle around the holes in their lineups.
However, the free-agent season is about much more than athletes signing contracts. It’s about the transactions that enable clubs to make such acquisitions or gain salary cap space. It’s the offseason’s unforeseen patterns that come to define it. And it’s all about a superstar center and an expansion club in Seattle this summer, which has thrown the whole process into disarray.
As the start of free agency approaches, here’s what we’re hearing:
More: 2021 draft winners and losers Expansion draft takeaways
The current state of the Eichel Derby
The availability of Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel on the trade market is the most talked-about subject this summer.
There are three main factors in an Eichel trade. There’s also his health, which has caused clubs to take a second look at a guy they’d usually trade for in a heartbeat. Eichel has a disk herniation. He prefers surgery to replace a disk. The Sabres’ medical staff objected to the idea, with GM Kevyn Adams stating that Eichel would “possibly have surgery that has never been done on an NHL player before.”
Then there’s his contract, which runs through 2025-26 and includes a complete no-movement provision that goes into effect next summer. Some clubs may take the financial blow and use it to bring in Jack Eichel. Other clubs do things differently, particularly if they have contracts with young players coming up in the next several years.
Finally, there’s the price of acquiring Eichel. A first-round selection, a blue-chip prospect, and young NHL-rostered players, according to several sources.
It’s tough to predict the outcome of the derby. The Minnesota Wild have shown to be a reliable choice. The Montreal Canadiens were in discussions, but there’s contradictory reports as to how far they’ve progressed. According to several sources, the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres have been unable to reach an agreement on a trade. The Los Angeles Kings have been out for a while for the reasons stated above, but mostly because they want to see how the young players who have emerged as a result of their reconstruction appear in the NHL before sending them out to another club.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the epitome of “logical conclusions.” On Tuesday, they were able to get Marc-Andre Fleury off the salary limit by transferring his whole $7 million price charge to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Golden Knights had long been considered a potential destination for Eichel, given their significant attempts to acquire great players (Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo) and almost obtaining others (Erik Karlsson). They have the need for a genuine No. 1 center, as well as the selections and players to fill it. They may now have cap flexibility as well.
From Eichel’s camp and the hockey world, it’s expected that he’ll be dealt this summer. “He’s a player on our team, so I would have no issue at all if Jack Eichel is on our team when we start training camp,” Adams said over the weekend.
The Kraken’s attitude to their first spell of free agency
Many in the NHL are baffled by the Seattle Kraken. In 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights paved the way for free agency success, while Seattle took a different route.
“I felt they had a chance to do what Vegas did and acquire young players before moving them for their own versions of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. I was also curious whether they would compare themselves to the rest of the division and believe they could make the playoffs straight away “According to one NHL general manager,
However, Kraken GM Ron Francis soon discovered that this time around, clubs were considerably better prepared for the expansion draft.
“We spoke about it before we started. This was going to be nothing like what Vegas had gone through. It had been 17 years since there had been an expansion draft. Vegas did a fantastic job of exploiting the regulations and everyone’s lack of expertise in that kind of situation. They knew we were coming in the second that one was over. It was intended to be three years, but it ended up being four. As a result, they had far more time to prepare for us “he said
NHL clubs were not “inclined to make the same errors they did last time” with Vegas, he added.
The Kraken began their roster construction with the expansion draft, and will now seek to add free players and trades to complete their squad. Getty Images/Alika Jenner
“This is the way we’re going, I informed him. And that was the end of it. The side transactions were not mentioned. And it seems to me that many clubs said, ‘Here’s what you have, and you’re going to take it, and we’re not going to be caught in that position again,’ “Another NHL GM chimed in. “At the same time, they’ve had a year and a half to get a sense of the [environment] and put together their own roster.”
So the Kraken chose open cap space over a treasure trove of picks and prospects, focusing on free agency, rather than a treasure trove of selections and prospects like Vegas. They forced free agents Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson, as well as goaltender Chris Driedger, to sign contracts before the expansion draft.
Winger Jaden Schwartz was one among the players the Kraken sought during their free agency period. Seattle and Schwartz have essentially agreed on a framework for a contract; it seems that he simply needed some time to consider it before completely committing.
“They made the most of the UFA window by speaking with these players when no one else could. They put pressure on agents and athletes alike. On Wednesday, it’ll be fascinating to watch who they choose “According to one NHL GM.
Teams interested in signing Suter, who was bought out by the Wild along with Parise earlier this month, have been informed that the defender wants a long-term contract. Some suitors have been eliminated as a result of this. The Dallas Stars and the veteran defender seem to have a mutual interest, with Dallas perhaps giving him the longest deal.
If he doesn’t wind up in Dallas, the New York Islanders might be a good fit, since they are the team most people anticipate Parise to join.
RFA snubs are a trend to keep an eye on.
One pattern that has developed over the past two pandemic seasons is teams being more proactive with their limited free agents with arbitration rights. This seems to have gotten worse this offseason.
The Carolina Hurricanes traded Alex Nedeljkovic, a Calder Trophy finalist, before arbitration because they didn’t want to commit that much money to a still-unproven goalie. After being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings, he signed a two-year, $3 million AAV contract.
“They didn’t like the arbitration case and thought they could get a better deal somewhere else,” a source said.
The Hurricanes decided to move Alex Nedeljkovic rather than sign him to a new deal after an outstanding season. Getty Images/Scott Audette/NHLI
Pavel Buchnevich, who was arbitration-eligible and one year away from unrestricted free agency, was sent out by the Rangers. According to one report, if a suitable deal could not be found, the Rangers would walk away from him.
Conor Garland, a Coyotes forward who was part of the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade to the Vancouver Canucks, was eligible for arbitration. Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres was in the same boat, but his RFA status wasn’t the motivating reason for his desire to leave. Ryan Donato was not qualified by the Sharks. Mark Jankowski was not qualified by the Penguins. Dominik Kahun was not qualified by the Oilers.
What’s the deal with arbitration in the offseason of 2021? The similar arbitration contracts were inked before the league’s flat cap and pandemic economy, according to one player agent.
The agent said, “It’s a year or two behind the present financial [system].” “The contracts that are similar are pre-pandemic contracts.”
(Obviously, general managers are drooling over the compensation packages for arbitration in two years.)
If their clubs fail to qualify them or walk away from an arbitration decision, several restricted free agents will undoubtedly appreciate the freedom. However, some people might be better off going through arbitration since there’s no assurance they won’t accept a wage reduction in the flat-cap market.
In the end, walking away from an RFA typically results in the RFA taking a salary reduction as a UFA. The more this happens, the more the wealthy and the poor — or at least the comparatively poor — get separated among the participants.
“Teams are attempting to re-set the market, and this is one method to do so,” one agent said.
The tank is turned on.
There’s a reason why some clubs seem to be aiming to be, ahem, “less than competitive” next season.
“In back-to-back drafts, you have Shane Wright and Connor Bedard. There are some very excellent guys on the way “One NHL general manager said. “It seems that in the following two years, those youngsters will be, um,’sought after’ by teams in a very different manner.”
Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs is expected to be one of the first players selected in the NHL draft in 2022. Getty Images/Chris Tanouye
Wright, who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs, was the sixth player in the Ontario Hockey League to be given “special” status, following the likes of John Tavares and Connor McDavid in getting to play a year earlier.
Bedard, 16, had 28 points in 15 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League last season.
Another GM said, “Honestly, for some clubs, it’s the correct thing to do.” “It’s difficult to admit you’re not good. Realizing who you are and not pursuing it through expenditures or other means. You recognize where you are, make a commitment to do something, and follow through.”
On the market are the champions of the World Cup.
Everyone understands that the Tampa Bay Lightning must reduce their payroll. Because GM Julien BriseBois does not want to utilize a buyout, he’ll have to make some deals.
Because of the salary limit, the club is unlikely to bring back Blake Coleman or David Savard (on whom BriseBois gave his peers negotiation rights in trade, as he did for Barclay Goodrow and the Rangers). The 30-year-old Savard will be one of the finest defenders available, but the Montreal Canadiens seem to have the upper hand in signing the Quebec native.
There’s a lot going on in the desert.
The Arizona Coyotes have been one of the busiest teams in the NHL over the past two weeks, and they aren’t finished yet.
Some of the team’s stalwarts, including as Darcy Kuemper and Christian Dvorak, are still on the market. Keep an eye on a Dvorak trade that appeared to be brewing over the weekend — the Boston Bruins are one of the clubs involved.
The carousel of goaltenders in 2021
If you need a goaltender this year, there are lots of good options: Frederik Andersen, Linus Ullmark, Petr Mrazek, Jaroslav Halak, Antti Raanta, David Rittich, and perhaps Philipp Grubauer if the Avalanche don’t make a move. Brian Elliott is a veteran with a cheap price tag. As previously said, Arizona may still trade Kuemper. For players hoping for a huge contract, this might be a negative thing.
“The goalkeeper market will soon dry up,” one major agent said. “It always does,” says the narrator.
On Tuesday, the Golden Knights made their first move, dealing Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blue Jackets had planned to move a goaltender this summer, but it now seems that both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins will remain with the team.
Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Toronto are among the clubs searching for goalie assistance.
Are the Devils willing to pay a lot of money?
The New Jersey Devils are another club to keep an eye on.
There’s a lot of talk that they’re interested in free-agent defender Dougie Hamilton, in addition to their desire for an experienced goaltender to supplement Mackenzie Blackwood. In order to assist Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, they need to add experienced goal scorers to their flanks.
The Devils have more than $31.5 million in cap space available.
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