After losing Jason Pominville, Alex Tuch and Erik Haula this offseason the Minnesota Wild have some open spots that will need filled this season.
They are hoping that 2016 first-round pick Luke Kunin will be one of the young players that is capable of stepping up to fill one of them.
By all accounts he was one of the most impressive players at the Wild’s development camp and has his sights set on making the roster this season.
“My first camp was about putting a footprint down and trying to get the organization to see what I’m all about,” Kunin said this week, via the Pioneer Press. “I want to show growth and get better every day. That’s the way I like to look at things.”
The Wild selected Kunin with the No. 16 overall pick in 2016 and he followed that up with a pretty dominant performance this past season at the University of Wisconsin where he scored 22 goals and added 16 assists in 35 games. He was a point-per-game player in his two years with the Badgers before turning pro.
He ended up getting a brief look with Minnesota’s AHL team, the Iowa Wild, at the end of last season and made an immediate impact with five goals and three assists in his first 12 games.
With big money players like Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise at the top of the lineup the Wild had to shed some salary this offseason by trading veterans Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella to help create space to re-sign restricted free agents Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund (neither has happened yet).
They will almost certainly get significant raises and become part of that big money core. As long as teams are going to invest that much money in the top of the roster it is always going to be essential to have cheap, young talent filling spots on the roster to make an impact for a low cap hit.
Based on what he showed in his brief look in the AHL last season, as well as his pedigree as a top-16 pick in the draft, there is reason to believe that Kunin could be just that type of player for Minnesota.
Even after reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016-17 there is still probably some skepticism as to how good the Ottawa Senators will be this upcoming season and whether or not they can repeat that success.
They didn’t do much to add to that roster over the summer outside of the addition of gritty forward Nate Thompson on a two-year contract from the Anaheim Ducks.
Thompson is excited about the opportunity to join the Senators and believes the success of the team last season was not a fluke.
“This team now is ready to win,” he told Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun this past week. “I don’t think this was a Cinderella team, it was the real deal. They have a pretty good window to win games and hopefully do something even more special.”
It’s going to probably be a little more difficult this season given some of the improvements that have been made by teams around them (Tampa Bay and Toronto should be better than they were a year ago; Montreal and Boston will still be fierce contenders as well) and the fact the Senators themselves might see a bit of a regression in the standings if their overall play doesn’t change much. Keep in mind, for all of the success they had in the playoffs this was still a team that gave up more goals than it scored during the regular season. That is not typically a recipe for long-term success.
Thompson, who will turn 33 at the start of the season, will be relied on primarily to fill a bottom-six role and perhaps help in the faceoff circle. He is coming off of a 2016-17 season in Anaheim that saw him be limited to just 30 games, scoring one goal and adding one assist before recording six points (two goals, four assists) in the playoffs for the Ducks on their run to the Western Conference Finals. He spent the past three seasons playing for the Ducks and also has experience playing for Senators coach Guy Boucher during their time together in Tampa Bay.
David Poile got some work done Saturday.
The Nashville Predators re-signed Viktor Arvidsson on the day the two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled. The new deal? Seven years at a total of $29.75 million — an annual average value of $4.25 million for a player that just scored 31 goals while playing on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.
The Predators made a run at the Stanley Cup last month, doing so with great goaltending from Pekka Rinne, a top-four group of defensemen that you can argue sets the standard around the league and a talented group of forwards — a number of them with age on their side.
They didn’t win it all, but Poile was recognized for his work by claiming General Manager of the Year.
This is likely among the reasons why.
Roman Josi still has three years left on his deal, while Mattias Ekholm, who was a valuable and reliable top-four d-man playing alongside P.K. Subban, has five years remaining on his deal.
With the Arvidsson contract completed, the priority is now to get Johansen — a restricted free agent — signed. At age 24, he’s Nashville’s No. 1 center coming off a 61-point season, which completed his three-year, $12 million deal.
He was also in the midst of a terrific playoff performance before he suffered a thigh injury and postseason-ending surgery. He’s in line for a significant raise from the $4 million AAV he made on his last contract.
The Predators have about $14.5 million remaining in cap space, per CapFriendly.
The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.
Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.
Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.
A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.
Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.
While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.
“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”
Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.
One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.
Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley
Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.
Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.
The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.
From The Tennessean:
Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean.
Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category.
Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.
Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.
Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.