The hockey world waits. What will happen with Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler in the days and hours leading up to the NHL Draft? Will he be moved? Will he stay in Vancouver?
It was a topic of conversation Monday, even as the Canucks introduced Willie Desjardins as the club’s 18th head coach in franchise history. At 29 years of age, Kesler has a no-trade clause in his six-year, $30 million contract with an annual cap hit of $5 million.
Based on the numerous reports, there are between two to six teams that he’s reportedly willing to waive that no-trade clause to go to. As of Monday, it appeared there were three teams – Anaheim, Chicago and Pittsburgh – he’d be willing to get dealt to.
The first round of the draft goes Friday. The Canucks appear to be in no hurry to resolve this situation before the draft.
“We’ll work with Ryan. As I’ve said before, Ryan’s a tremendous player, he’s got the assets that we want to have on this team,” said Vancouver’s president of hockey operations Trevor Linden.
“There’s absolutely no timetable there.”
Kesler’s name has been linked to trade speculation since February. While he denied reports back then that he requested a trade out of Vancouver, however in June, it was reported that even with a change in management, Kesler still wants to move on from the Canucks.
When the Edmonton Oilers traded Jordan Eberle over the weekend part of the reasoning was so they could clear salary cap space, presumably to help re-sign veteran defenseman Kris Russell.
On Friday, they completed that series of transactions.
According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the Oilers will announce a four-year contract for Russell later on Friday that will pay him a total of $16 million.
That comes out to a salary cap hit of $4 million per season. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug adds that the deal could also include a modified no-trade clause.
Russell has become an extremely polarizing player in the NHL over the past few years so this deal is sure to receive equal amounts of praise and criticism depending on what exactly you’re looking for from a defenseman.
He has never been a strong possession player and doesn’t have a lot of offensive ability — two things teams seem to be looking for on their blue lines right now — which leads to criticism from the analytics side of the sport. But because he is one of the NHL’s most fearless shot-blockers and consistently among the league leaders in that category he is loved as an old-school, defensive-defenseman. That ability was a big talking point for much of the 2016-17 season as the Oilers had their best season in more than a decade (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Cam Talbot played a pretty significant role, too).
Another part of the justification for the Eberle trade was the fact the Oilers needed some additional salary cap space because of the need to re-sign both McDavid and Draisaitl to long-term contract extensions.
Eberle on his own was going to account for $6 million in salary cap space this season.
Ryan Strome (the player acquired for Eberle) and Russell will account for $6.5 million.
Are the Oilers better off with Strome and Russell than they would have been had they simply let Russell walk and kept Eberle? That remains to be seen, but obviously the Oilers think they are.
It’s pretty obvious what sits atop Philly’s shopping list this weekend at the NHL Draft in Chicago:
“We’re going to look for the best option, and we’ll act on it,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “The option is figuring out the timing and who is available.”
Currently, the Flyers only have two goalies under contract — Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz. The former will be in Philly’s mix next year, but the latter’s situation is more complex. Stolarz is coming off major knee surgery and, at 23, lacks experience at the NHL level. He looked good in a seven-game cameo last season (4-2-1, 2.07 GAA, .928 save percentage), but that’s still a pretty small sample size.
So not surprising to hear the following, from CSN Philly:
Hextall would prefer to get a jump on free agency this weekend by making a deal to obtain a veteran goaltender that has two years or less on his contract and is not looking to break the bank.
Or obtain a UFA’s rights if a deal can be struck.
It looks as though the Flyers have all but moved on from Steve Mason, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction Hextall takes.
He does have some options.
Dallas needs to move on from either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi following the Ben Bishop trade and sign. Former Flames netminder Brian Elliott is available as a UFA, as is Vancouver’s Ryan Miller.
The Montreal Canadiens and pending unrestricted free agent Alexander Radulov are still working toward a new deal, but it sounds like they’re pretty far apart.
Radulov has reportedly asked the Canadiens for a six-year deal worth $7 million per season, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
On Friday morning, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported that the Canadiens aren’t exactly on the same page as Radulov’s camp.
Per Engels, Marc Bergevin’s longest offer to Radulov has been three years, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to get the job done at this point.
The 30-year-old Russian winger (he’ll turn 31 next week) was one of Montreal’s most consistent forwards in 2016-17. He scored 18 goals an 54 points in 76 games in his first season with the Canadiens.
Even though the Habs were able to land Jonathan Drouin in a trade with the Bolts, they could still use Radulov’s offense going into next season.
During a press conference on Thursday, Bergevin mentioned the possibility of trading Radulov’s rights away before he hits the open market on July 1st.
It sounds like this negotiation will come down to the wire.
Former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had been waiting to get behind the bench of another NHL team, and on Friday he was able to get his wish.
That is when the Florida Panthers announced that Capuano has been added to their coaching staff as associate coach.
He becomes new head coach Bob Boughner’s first big hire.
“I am thrilled to welcome Jack to our coaching staff,” said Boughner in a team statement. “He is a knowledgeable and experienced voice to have behind our bench that will work well with our young players.”
Capuano had spoken to the Golden Knights about their head coaching vacancy before they hired Gerard Gallant and earlier this week there was talk of him joining the Sabres as an assistant to Phil Housley.
The 50-year-old was fired by the Islanders in January after he led them to a 17-17-8 record. During his seven seasons behind the bench with the Isles, he had a 227-192-64 record. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure.