It’s only a few days until July 1 and defenseman Brendan Smith still doesn’t have an extension in place with the New York Rangers.
Not to worry, says his agent. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Smith is going to sign elsewhere.
“No one should read anything into the fact that we don’t have a deal yet,” Anton Thun told the New York Post. “You’re never really close until it’s done, but both sides are trying to make it happen. We’ll have to see.”
Thun told the Post a month ago that Smith, an unrestricted free agent, was “open” to returning to the Rangers.
But there’s also been speculation that the Blueshirts will pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency, which would probably mean less money available for Smith.
It remains to be seen if the Rangers will, indeed, make a big push for Shattenkirk. The addition of Anthony DeAngelo in the Derek Stepan trade may have lessened their urgency in that regard.
“He’s a puck-moving right-handed defenseman that can run the power play and shoot the puck,” GM Jeff Gorton said of DeAngelo, per Sporting News.
Nail Yakupov, the first overall draft pick only five years ago, has become an unrestricted free agent.
The 23-year-old winger was not extended a qualifying offer by the St. Louis Blues, thus providing him UFA status. He played 40 games for the Blues in 2016-17, battling a knee injury and scoring just three goals.
Yakupov wants to remain in the NHL, saying in May he has zero plans to return to Russia. It’s possible he could re-sign with the Blues at a lower salary than his qualifying offer would’ve been.
If not, there are 30 other teams he can speak with now.
Yakupov is currently in the conversation with Alexandre Daigle and Patrik Stefan in terms of biggest first overall busts in NHL history.
He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.
One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.
That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.
“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”
Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.
Kassian, 26, seems to have salvaged his NHL career after missteps in Vancouver and Montreal. The big winger had seven goals and 17 assists in 79 games for the Oilers during the regular season. But it was in the postseason where he really made an impact — especially in the first round against San Jose.
Twice Kassian scored game-winning goals against the Sharks. He was also a physical force:
Granted, Kassian was less noticeable in the second round, but the fact he received a three-year commitment from the Oilers speaks to the organization’s belief that he’s truly turned his life around.
More news out of Dallas, where the Stars have signed defenseman Esa Lindell to a two-year, $4.4-million contract extension.
From the release:
Lindell, 23, posted 18 points (6-12=18) in 73 games played for Dallas during the 2016-17 regular season, his first full season in the NHL. He finished second on the team by averaging 21:52 of time on ice per game and his +8 plus/minus rating finished third. Additionally, he finished second on the team with 119 blocked shots and tied for fifth with 93 hits.
The Stars still have a couple of restricted free agents on the back end. Both Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are arbitration-eligible. Lindell was not.