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Mike Smith, happy in Arizona, has not considered waiving no trade clause

With the Arizona Coyotes sitting in 29th place in the NHL standings and in the middle of a full-scale rebuild it is only natural to assume they are going to be one of the sellers heading into the trade deadline over the next month.

Martin Hanzal, an upcoming unrestricted free agent, is one player on the team that has had his name in the rumor mill for a few weeks now.

Another veteran that could be intriguing to a contender might be veteran goalie Mike Smith, who still has two more years after this remaining on a six-year, $34 million dollar contract.

That deal also includes a no-trade clause, which could help Smith dictate where he goes if the Coyotes decide they want to move him.

On Saturday, Smith told Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic that he has not considered waiving his no-trade clause and that he is happy with the direction of the team and wants to be a part of it what it can become in the future.

From McLellan:

“Obviously, everyone wants to be in a position to win and get in the playoffs and be a competitive team and that’s no different for me,” he said. “I think I want to be in a position to have a chance to win before my career’s over, but I feel like this is moving in the right direction. Things can turn around fairly quickly here. I want to be a big part of that.”

Smith also talked about the Coyotes giving him a chance to play as a full-time starter and the comfort that comes for him and his family being able to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

Smith is representing the Coyotes at this weekend’s All-Star game with a .917 save percentage in his 30 appearances. He has been with the Coyotes since the start of the 2011-12 season and has been a fairly consistent average to above average starter in the NHL. A lot of teams in the league can do a lot worse for a starter.

If the Coyotes did decide to move him, and if Smith did consider waiving his no-trade clause, he could probably be useful for a number of teams around the league that are challenging for playoff spots or missing a goaltending to help put them over the top.

The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars being two of the more obvious potential landing spots should it get to that point. The Philadelphia Flyers, currently sitting with a sub-.900 save percentage and two goalies that are unrestricted free agents after this season could be another sleeper team in that market.

The problem the Coyotes would run into if they went in that direction are the fact that Smith, at 34, still has two years remaining on his deal at a salary cap hit of more than $5.6 million per season. That is a big price tag to take on for a goalie that age, especially for a contender that might already be pressed against the cap this season and in future seasons.

There is also the fact teams in the market for a starting goaltender could have other options.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning facing an uphill battle to reach the playoffs, and with Ben Bishop on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent, it seems logical to assume he would be available before the deadline. The Pittsburgh Penguins still have their goaltending situation to address and even though it doesn’t seem likely to happen during the season, there is still the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury being available.

The Coyotes enter the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak with Smith getting the win in all three games, stopping 87 of the 92 shots (.945 save percentage) he faced.

Their 16-28-6 record is better than only the Colorado Avalanche, but a promising farm system loaded with young talent (seven of which have already made their NHL debut this season) offers some hope for the future.

Cullen signs with Wild, opting against retirement (and Penguins)

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Matt Cullen is going home, but that doesn’t mean that he’s retiring from hockey.

Instead, the Minnesota native decided to sign a one-year, $1 million deal with the Minnesota Wild. It’s unclear why, precisely, Cullen didn’t ink a deal to try to “threepeat” with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Wild note that his deal also includes $700K in potential performance bonuses.

This will be the 40-year-old’s second run with the Wild. His first run came from 2010-11 through 2012-13, where he appeared in 193 regular-season games and five postseason contests for Minnesota.

Cullen managed back-to-back 30+ point seasons with the Penguins while providing useful all-around play as a veteran center. If he can maintain a reasonably high level of play, this gives the Wild quite the solid group down the middle, even with Martin Hanzal gone.

Oilers ink Draisaitl to monster eight-year, $68 million deal

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The Edmonton Oilers have locked up their cornerstone players for the foreseeable future.

They didn’t come cheap.

Just weeks after signing Connor McDavid to a eight-year, $100 million deal, the Oilers signed fellow forward Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year, $68 million deal. The contract carries a $8.5M average annual cap hit and, combined with McDavid’s $12.5M, will now cost the Oilers $21M annually through 2025.

McDavid certainly warranted his payday. The same can be said of Draisaitl.

The 21-year-old just wrapped his three-year, entry-level deal, and couldn’t have done so in finer fashion. Draisaitl enjoyed a terrific season, platooning between the second-line center position and the wing alongside McDavid, and finished with 29 goals and 77 points.

Then, the playoffs happened.

Draisaitl had a terrific postseason, racking up six goals and 16 points in 13 games. At the time of elimination he was sitting second among all scorers — trailing only Evgeni Malkin — and was downright brilliant in Edmonton’s seven-game loss to Anaheim, finishing with 13 points.

More to follow…

 

Report: Vegas among teams in on Pens draftee Byron

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Will Butcher isn’t the only college free agent garnering interest in free agency.

University of Maine senior Blaine Byron, Pittsburgh’s sixth-round pick in ’13, has passed on signing with the club and can now ink with a team of his choosing. Per The Hockey News, the four “lead suitors” for Byron are Vegas, New Jersey, Ottawa and Buffalo.

Byron, 22, is coming off a great year. He racked up 18 goals and 41 points in 36 games, finishing tied for 18th in the country in scoring. It’s unclear where he would’ve fit in the Pittsburgh organization, though, and one has to think the signing of Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese might’ve played a factor in his departure.

In a recent Tribune-Review piece, Byron did make a list of the club’s top-20 prospects, coming in at No. 17.

Yesterday, Butcher — the reigning Hobey Baker winner — announced that he wouldn’t sign with Colorado, the team that drafted him four years ago. Instead, Butcher will parlay a successful senior campaign at Denver University into interest on the open market.

Under Pressure: Barry Trotz

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This post is part of Capitals Day on PHT…

When the Capitals hired Barry Trotz three years ago, they said he was “the only coach we coveted,” calling him “an ideal fit to help lead our club.”

And in many ways, Trotz has been an ideal fit. He’s led to the club to consecutive Presidents’ Trophies, racking up 156 wins over the course of three seasons. He won the 2016 Jack Adams as coach of the year. Players have performed exceptionally well on his watch: Braden Holtby won his first-ever Vezina, Alex Ovechkin racked up a pair of Rocket Richard trophies and both Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov were named All-Stars.

Despite all this, Trotz is now coaching for his job. Essentially.

A string of disheartening playoff failures — each more painful than the last — have put him in an uncomfortable and pressure-packed situation. He’s heading into the the last of his four-year deal with no contract certainty beyond.

Yes, it’s true Caps GM Brian MacLellan didn’t make any changes with Trotz or to his coaching staff following the Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh.

But MacLellan didn’t offer an extension, either.

Brian Burke once likened this scenario to being a lame duck. Trotz refused to see it that way, insisting that he wasn’t worried about the spot he was in.

“No,” he told CSN Mid Atlantic in June, when asked if not having a contract changes his approach at all. “It has 0.0 effect on me, actually. Not at all. I think it might have [had] an effect 10, 12 years ago for me. Not now. It has zero effect.

“I’m not worrying about that at all.”

This is pretty much on par with Trotz’s messaging from the moment Washington crashed out of the playoffs. While his players were visibly dejected and downright hurt during locker clean-out day, the 55-year-old was upbeat.

Defiant, almost.

Trotz talked about how the team’s window wasn’t closed, and how it would eventually “break through that barrier.” He suggested “laughing at the past” could “ease us into the future.”

The assembled media took note of this, which contrasted the vibe of his visibly distraught players. So it was asked — why did he seem more upbeat than his players?

From the Washington Post:

“Put it this way — I haven’t slept in two friggin’ days. To say that I don’t feel very distraught, that really sort of angers me, because talk to my family to see if I’m distraught.

“I have to be positive in terms of, ‘do I think we’re going in the right direction?’ Yes, and I’m positive of that. But we haven’t broken through. That’s why I’m probably the way I am. I also said we didn’t get to where we wanted to get to.

“That angers me. When something doesn’t go your way, you can roll up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself. I don’t.”

That Trotz took this approach isn’t surprising. Coaching is a leadership role, and there didn’t seem to be any point to piling onto what was already a fairly miserable day in D.C.

So hey, why not keep that vibe going when it comes to contract uncertainty?

Trotz will likely continue to do so, even in the face of growing pressure. And pressure will continue to grow. Remember, there’s one final and very important dynamic at play — right next to Trotz behind the Washington bench is assistant coach Todd Reirden. The same Todd Reirden who’s thought to be a head-coach-in-waiting, and has been tied to previous openings in Colorado and Florida.

Fun times in Washington. As they always are.