Checking in on some rumors from around the NHL.
Blue Jackets still optimistic for Pierre-Luc Dubois signing before training camp
Pierre-Luc Dubois is one of the biggest restricted free agents that remains unsigned this offseason, and Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen remains adamant that they will get a new deal worked out before the start of training camp.
He appeared on NHL Network Radio this week and said he is not worried at all about the situation and compared to the Zach Werenski timeline from a year ago. Werenski signed a three-year contract just days before training camp started.
“I’m confident that we’ll have Pierre-Luc Dubois under contract before the first day of training camp…we’ve always had a good relationship with Pat Brisson (Dubois’ agent) and his company. We’ve had good negotiations with previous players that (have) had their contract up like Zach Werenski last year. We got it done just before training camp. (Werenski is a) huge part of our team, as is Pierre-Luc Dubois, so I’m confident things will get done.”
The Blue Jackets still have $9.2 million in salary cap space remaining this offseason, so even if some aggressive team wanted to try an offer sheet (not likely!) they would have no issue matching.
The far more intriguing aspect of this continued negotiation is what sort of contract it will end up being, and what the long-term impact of it will be. As we examined before, the Blue Jackets have a tendency of playing hardball with their players in these negotiations and they have a tendency to result in trades down the line. Dubois is the Blue Jackets’ best forward and a huge part of their future, making this a very important — and potentially delicate — contract negotiation.
Including Dubois, there are 23 restricted free agents that remain unsigned.
Dubois, Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders), Anthony Cirelli (Tampa Bay Lightning), Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils), and Dylan Strome (Chicago Blackhawks) are the most prominent names.
Things remain quiet on most of those fronts.
• The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly close to hiring former NHL forward Cory Stillman as an assistant coach. Stillman appeared in 1,025 NHL games, scoring 278 goals and winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. [Elliotte Friedman on Twitter]
• Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund are still two of the most prominent forwards available on the unrestricted free agent market, and both should be able to help provide some significant scoring depth to a roster this season.
Granlund reportedly has a desire to get his family settled before the start of the season and could be on the verge of making a decision in the coming days.
Granlund is an interesting case because things clearly did not work out for him as planned in Nashville, but he remains a very productive player. Even in a down year his goal-scoring and possession numbers remained right in line with his career norms. It was his assist numbers that took a major hit, which could point to some bad luck on a disappointing team. In the right situation he could flourish again offensively [Sportsnet]
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.