In order to pay Hamhuis, Flyers will have to make more moves

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Carter4.jpgNow that the Philadelphia Flyers have acquired the negotiating rights
to Dan Hamhuis, the question is now whether they’ll be able to sign him
or not.

According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers currently sit just
over $8 million under the $56 million salary cap for next season with 17
players under contract. The Flyers have 11 forwards under contract but
just four defensemen, with Lukas Krajicek, Danny Syvret and Mike Rathje
all set to become UFAs this summer. It’s unlikely the Flyers will be
keeping any of those three, especially with Hamhuis now on the
negotiating table.

More importantly, the Flyers will be looking to
keep defenseman Braydon Coburn, who was absolutely incredible during
the playoffs this past season and who will become a restricted free
agent after making $1.4 million last year. The Flyers will certainly aim
to keep him, will want to sign Hamhuis and will need at least one more
defensemen, two forwards and will likely be looking to acquire a new
goaltender.

Hamhuis will be looking to make at $4 million a season
and has all of the leverage on his side when it comes to negotiating
with the Flyers, and if you factor in Coburn’s salary for next season
that’s likely at least $6 million tied up between the two defensemen;
nearly two-thirds of the remaining cap space with six spots still open.

If
the Flyers do hope to sign Hamhuis and keep Coburn — giving the Flyers
what is likely the best blue line in the NHL — then you can almost
guarantee that one of the top forwards on the Flyers will have to be
traded, and in the best case scenario be traded for a goaltender. There
is some thought that the Flyers will be shopping one of Jeff Carter,
Scott Hartnell or Simon Gagne in order to free up salary space.

Here’s
a scenario that makes sense. A trade with the Los Angeles Kings that
sends Carter to LA in exchange for either Jonathan Quick or Jonathan
Bernier. You have to think that the Kings would be much more willing to
part with Bernier, who makes $843,000 next season over Quick, although
either would work well for the Flyers. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a
straight up trade, but with those major pieces the trade would work for
both sides.

The Flyers would instantly free up $3-4 million in cap
space, while either acquiring a solid starting goaltender to go with
their top defense or at the very least a very capable goaltender who can
work in tandem with Brian Boucher. Obviously the Flyers would prefer
Quick, who is under contract for three more seasons at $1.8 million per
year, but the extra cap space here will be key.

The Flyers aren’t
done making moves over the next week, not if they hope to sign Hamhuis
and especially if they aim to keep Coburn as well. Expect one of the top
forwards on the Flyers to be on the market and it’s very likely they’ll
be traded; if not, then Hamhuis tests the open market and the Flyers
get a seventh-round draft pick next summer.

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

Washington Capitals v Vancouver Canucks
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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.