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Smith-Pelly, Mrazek, Duclair among those not getting qualifying offers

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Monday was the deadline for the NHL’s 31 teams to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. Players that did not get a QO would then be able to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and there are some notable names among that group.

A lot of the players that get non-tendered are ones that have arbitration rights and by non-tendering them teams can avoid that situation while still trying to work out a new contract. The trade off there is they risk losing them on July 1.

Perhaps the biggest name to be non-tendered on Monday is Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Capitals announced on Monday that he was not among their RFA’s to receive a QO but that they are still negotiating with him in the hopes of coming to an agreement on a contract. His QO would have been worth $715,000.

Smith-Pelly’s story is a complicated one because he had a rather forgettable regular season that saw him score just seven goals and only nine assists in 76 games. Along with that he posted rather poor underlying numbers (only 44 percent possession) and averaged just a little more than one shot on goal per game. It was not really a performance that would have inspired the Capitals, a team already tight against the salary cap, to bring him back.

In the playoffs, however, he came through in a huge way by matching his regular season goal output (seven) and scored some massive goals for the team in the Stanley Cup Final, including a game-tying goal in the third period of their Game 5, Cup-clinching victory against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Along with his playoff heroics for the Capitals, Smith-Pelly was also the victim of one of the ugliest moments of the 2017-18 NHL season when a group of Blackhawks fans were kicked out of (and banned from) the United Center for directing racist taunts in his direction as he sat in the penalty box.

During the Cup Final he also went on record talking about why a visit to the White House in the event of a Capitals invite would be troublesome for him, saying that he had already made up his mind on not visiting.

The Capitals can still attempt to re-sign him to a new contract but after signing John Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension over the weekend they have just a little more than $13 million in cap space remaining with only 16 players under contract.

Among some of the other more notable players to not receive a QO:

Petr Mrazek, Philadelphia Flyers: With goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth injured for the stretch run, the Flyers were desperate for goaltending help and traded draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings to acquire Mrazek. His time with the team was, to say the least, ugly. In 18 games between the regular season and playoffs Mrazek managed only an .890 save percentage. Over the past two seasons with the Red Wings and Flyers his save percentage is just .900.

Anthony Duclair, Chicago Blackhawks: After a promising first full NHL season that saw him score 20 goals with the Arizona Coyotes, Duclair’s production has regressed over the past two seasons and he was eventually traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2017-18 campaign. The change of scenery and fresh start did not really seem to do much for him in the short-term, at least not enough to make the Blackhawks extend him a QO, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. He is still only 22 years old and has a lot of talent so he is going to be an attractive buy-low free agent for a team in need of some young skill.

Derrick Pouliot, Vancouver Canucks: After being selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pouliot’s career simply has not developed as hoped to this point. The Penguins gave up on him prior to this season and traded him to the Canucks where he would go on to play a regular role. In 71 games he scored three goals and recorded 19 assists.

Tobias Rieder, Los Angeles Kings: The Kings acquired Rieder in the middle of the season in an effort to add some much-needed speed to their lineup. He scored four goals and recorded two assists in 20 regular season games with the team but was held off the scoresheet entirely in their first-round playoff loss when they were swept in four straight games. Rieder’s production has been pretty consistent over the first four years of his career, averaging around 12 goals and 30 total points per season.

Related:
PHT Power Rankings: The Top-20 NHL Free Agents
Time For Sabres to upgrade in goal after not qualifying Robin Lehner

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Where Avs are at after re-signing J.T. Compher

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The Colorado Avalanche’s offseason continues to come into focus, even as we’re in more of a housekeeping mode, rather than a more exciting time of dramatic renovations.

Earlier, the Avalanche signed intriguing new addition Andre Burakovsky at a bargain $3.25 million rate. While I would’ve been even more excited if the Avalanche would have bought more term, it’s still a nice move, and Burakovsky’s still slated to be an RFA after this one-year re-up expires.

The medium-sized moves continued on Wednesday, with Colorado handing forward J.T. Compher an interesting four-year deal reportedly worth $3.5M per season.

Overall, it’s fairly easy to understand. Compher scored both 16 goals and assists on his way to 32 points last season, despite being limited to 66 games. He quietly logged a lot of minutes (17:29 TOI per game), and had some utility, although the Avalanche might be wise to ease some of his PK duties going forward.

You can dig deeper into certain numbers, or make some tough comparisons, and start to feel not-quite-as-good about Compher’s new contract.

After all, Compher possesses the same contract as now-former teammate Alex Kerfoot, who will carry $3.5M for four seasons with Toronto. On one hand, it’s not as though Colorado necessarily chose to keep Compher over Kerfoot; it’s very plausible that the analytics-savvy Maple Leafs wanted Kerfoot to make that Nazem KadriTyson Barrie deal work, in the first place. On the other hand, the comparisons are natural when you consider their identical deals. Comparing the two using visualizations including Evolving Hockey’s Regularized Adjusted Plus/Minus (RAPM) makes this contract look less appealing:

via Evolving Hockey

Compher doesn’t need to equal or exceed Kerfoot’s value to be worth $3.5M per year to the Avalanche, though, and there’s a solid chance that they’ll be fine with this contract.

It does open up an opportunity to ponder where Colorado is, though.

The Avalanche still have a big-ticket item to re-sign, as Mikko Rantanen is one of the many RFAs heading for a big raise alongside the likes of Mitch Marner and Brayden Point. If Colorado can convince Rantanen to sign somewhere in the team-friendly range that the Carolina Hurricanes enjoy with Sebastian Aho, or the borderline insane deal the San Jose Sharks landed with Timo Meier, then Colorado would continue to look like one of the smartest people in the room.

But how many steps have the Avs taken after upsetting the Flames in Round 1 and pushing the Sharks hard in Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey projected next season’s lineup, figuring that Compher will center a third line with two sneaky-good analytics wingers in Colin Wilson and Joonas Donskoi, while Kadri could center a second line with Tyson Jost and Andre Burakovsky around him.

Losing Kerfoot stings, but on paper, that does seem like a middle-six that could ease some of the burden for that all-world trio of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog. It’s also plausible that the Avs could try to move different pieces around to see if one of MacKinnon or Rantanen could carry their own line, thus diversifying the Avs’ attack.

Yet, with the Central Division continuing to look like a beastly group, it’s tough to say where Colorado fits. Is this team more wild-card material, or will a boosted supporting cast push them to a new level? There’s also the possibility that things don’t work out the same way as they did in 2018-19, from that MacKinnon line slowing to maybe the goaltending falling short.

Whatever value Compher ultimately brings, along with newcomers like Burakovsky, Kadri, and Donskoi, a mild itch for something bolder remains for some of us (I blame the NBA’s run where the West is revolutionized every week, seemingly). At least Avs fans can let their imaginations run wild, as there could be some space left over, even after Rantanen gets paid:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Golden Knights make dream come true for young fan battling cancer

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He may not be on the payroll, but 13-year-old Doron Coldwell is a Vegas Golden Knight through and through.

But his story begins long before the Golden Knights stepped onto the ice for their inaugural season in 2017-18. As documented during a “My Wish” segment this summer on ESPN, Coldwell’s connection with the Golden Knights began with some heart-breaking news.

At first, the tests were inconclusive.

In June 2013, Coldwell’s mother Liat, a nurse, had noticed that his glands were swollen but a series of tests didn’t result in any concrete diagnosis of a problem.

“That started the rollercoaster ride for the next two years of he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this,” said Brett Coldwell, Doron’s father. “But he wasn’t getting any better.”

Liat feared the worst.

“I had a very bad feeling that we were dealing with cancer,” she said.

Those fears would become reality. The diagnosis would finally come: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His chemotherapy began in 2017.

Weakened by his treatments, Brett said that at one point Doron told him that “worst-case scenario, I guess I get to go be with Jesus.”

Instead, Doron, with a little help from the Golden Knights, began to heal.

“The chemo was working,” Doron said.

Gold being the color of pediatric cancer, Liat refers to her son as her ‘Golden Knight’.

And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and with the help of the team that helped him heal — his cancer in remission — Doron recently became an official Golden Knight for a day.

Doron got a chance to meet the team. A locker bearing his name was in the team’s dressing room and for the first time, he got outfitted in goalie gear and received the full pre-game experience, including being introduced to an assembled crowd at City National Arena, the team’s practice facility.

With a little instruction of Marc-Andre Fleury, Doron was stopping Vegas’ top goalscorers with ease on an unforgettable day.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Stamkos best of an era; Russian Rangers revival

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Steven Stamkos is the best shooter of the salary cap era. (Raw Charge)

• What active NHLers are Hall of Fame worthy? Here they are, ranked. (Yardbarker)

• Pittsburgh has players who rank among the best, worst at converting shots into goals. Who are they? (Pensburgh)

• Russian invasion fueling Rangers revival. (Featurd)

• Why the folding of the National Women’s Hockey League could be best thing for the sport. (AZ Central)

• Panthers view Bobrovsky signing as needed element for return to playoffs. (NHL.com)

• It’s time to move on from Jon Gillies. (Matchsticks & Gasoline)

• Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• NHL stands out when strengths of major pro leagues are pondered. (StarTribune)

• The latest on the changes and improvements coming to NHL 20. (Operation Sports)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seattle close to naming Ron Francis as GM

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a person with direct knowledge tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not made an announcement.

The expansion Seattle franchise is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL’s 32nd team.

After longtime Detroit GM Ken Holland went to Edmonton, adviser Dave Tippett left Seattle Hockey Partners LLC to become Oilers coach and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon and Columbus’ Bill Zito got promotions, there was a limited pool of experienced NHL executives to choose from for this job. Francis fits that bill.

The 56-year-old has been in hockey operations since shortly after the end of his Hall of Fame playing career. All of that time has come with the Carolina Hurricanes, including four seasons as their GM.

Carolina didn’t make the playoffs with Francis in charge of decision-making, though his moves put the foundation in place for the team that reached the Eastern Conference final this past season.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports