Ryan Dadoun

UFA of the Day: Cody Franson

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Cody Franson

He set new career-highs in 2014-15 with seven goals and 36 points in 78 contests, which is in a way remarkable given how rough his reunion with Nashville went. The 27-year-old defenseman already had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto before he was sent to the Predators on Feb. 15 along with Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and what turned out to be the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Philadelphia and used to draft Travis Konecny).

At the time, Nashville was leading the Presidents’ Trophy race and setting the stage for what it hoped would be a lengthy playoff run. Nashville struggled following the trade though and Franson was limited to just 15:25 minutes per contest after averaging 21:23 minutes in Toronto.

In retrospect, Predators GM David Poile felt Franson wasn’t a good fit and he consequently won’t be back for the 2015-16 campaign.

That shouldn’t sour other clubs towards him though as an offensive defenseman with a right-handed shot tends to draw attention. The British Columbia-native has shown an interest in Vancouver and also is hoping that Toronto wants him back.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks might be in the mix as well.

Carolina gets Lack from Vancouver for third, seventh-round picks

Eddie Lack
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The Carolina Hurricanes have acquired goaltender Eddie Lack from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for 66th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and a 2016 seventh-round pick, according to Sportsnet.

Update: Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has confirmed the trade, per Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander.

The 27-year-old netminder has a 2.43 GAA and .917 save percentage in 82 career games. He comes with an affordable $1.15 million cap hit for the 2015-16 campaign, although he is eligible to test the unrestricted free agent market after that.

This move signals that Vancouver plans to open the season with 25-year-old Jacob Markstrom as its backup goaltender. Markstrom has a poor track record over his 50 NHL games, but he had a dominant 1.88 GAA and .934 save percentage in 32 contests with AHL Utica last season. He further raised his stock by posting a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage in 23 playoff games to lead Utica all the way to the Calder Cup Final.

Ryan Miller, who has two seasons remaining on his contract with a $6 million annual cap hit, will once again go into the season as Vancouver’s number one netminder.

Carolina now has three goaltenders inked to one-way contracts, including Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, so it is likely that the Hurricanes will make another move. It’s also worth noting that none of the three goaltenders are under their control beyond the upcoming season.

Related: Benning knows he ‘could get criticized’ for trading fan favorite Eddie Lack

Report: O’Reilly asked Avs for eight-year, $64 million

Ryan O'Reilly
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The Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly have always had difficulty seeing eye-to-eye when it came to his monetary worth. It took O’Reilly signing an offer sheet, which Colorado matched, to end his hold out in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign. When it was time to renegotiate in the summer of 2014, the two sides only narrowly avoided arbitration by inking a two-year, $12 million deal.

With O’Reilly now just one season away from becoming an unrestricted free agent though, he reportedly demanded a massive eight-year, $64 million payday, according to the Denver Post. Instead, Colorado dealt him to Buffalo last night along with Jamie McGinn in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st overall selection.

If those numbers are accurate, then that’s identical to Phil Kessel’s contract, which the Maple Leafs forward is only one season into. Kessel has recorded at least 30 goals on five separate occasions and has reached the 80-point mark twice. O’Reilly, while admittedly more notable for his two-way game, has only reached the 20-goal or 60-point milestones on one occasion and that was back in 2013-14. He took a hit last season, finishing with 17 goals and 55 points in 82 contests.

On top of that, now that Kessel is on the open market, his contract might be a detriment to the point where Toronto is reportedly willing to take a contract back to sweeten the pot.

We’ll have to wait and see how O’Reilly’s negotiations with Buffalo goes. In the short-term, the Sabres wouldn’t have a problem inking him to that kind of a deal, but the term might hurt them later as their young up-and-coming stars develop and eventually start demanding big raises. To give one example, if Jack Eichel has the kind of career Buffalo’s hoping for, then his first deal following his entry-level contract could be huge, as was the case for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Steven Stamkos before him.

That all being said, it’s possible that what O’Reilly wanted out of Colorado isn’t the same as what he wants from Buffalo. It could be that his history of having to battle the team for every new contract influenced what it would take for the Avalanche to keep him long-term. Either way, Buffalo is going into this with eyes wide open.

“You know going in when you make a trade like this that negotiations are going to be starting a high number,” Sabres GM Tim Murray told the Buffalo News. “We’re fully prepared for that.”

Get to know a draft pick — Noah Hanifin

Noah Hanifin
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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Noah Hanifin (D)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 203 Shoots: Left

Team: Boston College (NCAA)

Country: United States

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 3 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A potential top pairing defenseman that excels with the puck and can quarterback a team’s power play.

While Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are regarded as locks as the first and second overall picks, there isn’t the same level of consensus when it comes to the third selection. Hanifin is a top contender for that slot though after a strong rookie campaign with Boston College. Although he didn’t turn 18 until Jan. 25, Hanifin held his own against his older competitors by scoring five goals and 23 points in 37 contests.

He participated in the 2015 World Juniors, recording two assists in five games. While that tournament ended in disappointment for the United States, Hanifin helped Team USA win the gold medal in both the Under-17 and Under-18 tournaments in 2014. He also served as the captain on the Under-17 team.

Although his offensive play draws a lot of attention, Hanifin is sound defensively as well and capable of transitioning quickly. That’s one of the reasons he’s so highly regarded.

There’s plenty of talk about McDavid and Eichel being generational talents, but Hanifin also has star potential.

Seidel says:

“Hanifin’s a smooth-skating defender with the ability to jump into the rush and create odd man chances, yet also possesses the foot speed to get back into the defensive end and take care of his responsibilities. Although he isn’t the most physical player, he showed he’ll stand up for his teammates — like he did as a freshman at Boston College this season, often against bigger and older opponents. What’s more, his play as a 17-year-old for Team USA at the World Juniors showed that he relishes the big stage. He has the overall game to become a 25-minute a night defenseman in the NHL.”

NHL comparable: Keith Yandle

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

UFA of the Day: Andrej Sekera

Andrej Sekera
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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Andrej Sekera

The 29-year-old defenseman recorded 44 points with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2013-14, but that’s the only time he’s even reached the 30-point mark. He certainly didn’t come close to repeating that level of offensive success last season.

Which isn’t to say his campaign was bad. He still logged top-four minutes and looked good from an analytics perspective. He had a 54.2% five-on-five Corsi rating compared to his teams’ 51.1% when he was off the ice, which means that in terms of puck possession, an argument could be made that 2014-15 was one of his better seasons.

He started the 2014-15 campaign with the Hurricanes, but was shipped to Los Angeles on Feb. 25 in exchange for Roland McKeown and a 2016 first round pick. He made a good first impression with the Kings and they’ve shown interest in re-signing him.

He’s likely to get a significant raise after completing his four-year, $11 million deal, but the Kings might be able to accommodate him after they added their own suspension to Slava Voynov on top of the NHL’s, giving the team more certainty that he’ll be off the books next season.

If Los Angeles can’t re-sign him though, then Colorado’s quest for a left-handed defenseman might lead to Sekera, per the Denver Post.