On the afternoon that NHL teams are required to file qualifying
offers for their restricted free agents, we have news of a number of
players who have been placed on waivers and will become UFA’s on July 1.
Jonathan Cheecho (Ottawa), Petteri Nokelainen and Jim Vandermeer
(Phoenix), Ville Koistinen (Florida) and Alex Kotalik of the Calgary
Flames were all placed on waivers, with their respective teams expecting
to buy out their contracts if they do indeed clear waivers. They could
also be picked up by another team, who would then be on the hook for the
rest of their contract.
The two most notable names on that list are Cheechoo and Kotalik.
Kotalik was nothing but a looming disappointment in New York and
Calgary last season, with just three goals with the Flames after he was
acquired from the Rangers via trade. If the Flames don’t buy him out, he
may be reassigned to the AHL or Europe.
For Cheechoo, it’s likely
he spends next season in the AHL. If the Senators do buy out his
contract, it’s going to be tough for the winger to get a one-way
contract after several years of struggling offensively. He had just five
goals in 61 games last season, just five years out from leading in the
NHL in goals scored.
Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.
It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.
“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”
Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.
Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.
Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.
“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”
Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.
The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.
“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”
Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.
The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.
If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.