Julius Honka

Stars’ Honka joins Finnish team with NHL opt-out clause

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Julius Honka has joined fellow unsigned restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi in Finland as he awaits a trade from the Dallas Stars.

The 23-year-old Honka, who requested a trade last month, has signed with Liiga’s JYP Jyväskylä, the club he where he played youth hockey, on a deal that includes an NHL opt-out clause. Like Puljujarvi, who’s currently with Oulun Karpat, the blue liner has until Dec. 1 to sign with a team before he’s ineligible to play in the NHL this season. Once he plays a game in Finland, he will require waivers if he signs an offer sheet. If he’s traded and then signs, waivers is not required.

The 14th overall pick in 2014, Honka has had a difficult first three seasons in the NHL. He’s played only 87 games with the Stars and saw average his ice time hit 13 minutes in each of the last two seasons. He was a regular healthy scratch last season.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said in September that a trade request had been made and that he has been speaking with other teams. He also acknowledged that both sides are at fault for the lack of Honka’s development at the NHL level.

“Did we handle him right at times? Yes or no, we don’t know. And it’s on the player, too,” Nill said. “You get an opportunity, you’ve got to grab it. Sometimes, things don’t work out. There’s different personalities, but that’s sports and that’s life. Some people fit in, some people don’t, and away we go.”

The return Nill is seeking, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, is a second or third-round pick or a young player.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jets lock up Kyle Connor with seven-year extension

Within the span of two days the Winnipeg Jets resolved their restricted free agent issues and will enter the 2019-20 NHL season with a complete roster.

Kyle Connor agreed to a seven-year, $50 million contract on Saturday evening, only a few hours after Mikko Rantanen and the Colorado Avalanche ended their standoff. The deal, which carries a $7.14 million and change AAV, features a 10-team no-trade clause in the final two years of Connor’s deal, per Craig Custance.

Connor, 22, was never going to take a bridge deal like Patrik Laine agreed to on Friday as a long-term deal was always his aim. Following a pair of 30-plus goal seasons he cashes in with a contract that will take him to age 29.

Suddenly, what was looking like a potentially dreary beginning for the season for the Jets has brightened a little bit. There’s still plenty to improve upon from last season for Paul Maurice’s charges, but having two of their better offensive weapons under contract and in the lineup when they kick things off Thursday night in New York City against the Rangers is a good way to start.

Per Cap Friendly, the Jets now have $7.7 million of cap space following the Connor and Laine deals. There’s still the unresolved future of Dustin Byfuglien, who carries a $7.6 million cap hit. That would make things very interesting for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff should Big Buff decide to play.

Who would have guessed with all the big name RFAs this summer that Jesse Puljujarvi, who’s likely to spend the season in Finland, and Julius Honka would be the last notable ones standing? The Dallas Stars defensemen is awaiting a trade out of town after the player and then team same to the conclusion it would be the best for both sides. That was two weeks ago and there’s still no resolution in sight with the season days away.

MORE RFA COVERAGE:
Avs avoid breaking the bank with Rantanen’s six-year deal
Examining Avs’ salary cap, Stanley cup window after signing Rantanen
Jets come to short agreement with Patrik Laine
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jets come to short agreement with Patrik Laine

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Apparently Mark Letestu eating mustard on the bench isn’t the biggest Winnipeg Jets-related news of the week. The team came to terms on a deal with star winger Patrik Laine on Friday, signing him to a two-year deal that carries a $6.75 million AAV.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that the two sides had been batting around different two-year arrangements for at least one week.

A two-year deal with Laine is interesting because he’ll remain an RFA once this is up after 2020-21. The Jets aren’t out of the woods when it comes to RFAs just yet, as Kyle Connor remains a prominent one, but this is a pretty nice break for Winnipeg in the short term. Laine gets to prove himself, but a $6.75M cap hit is team-friendly … for now.

(For what it’s worth, the price tag is high by some estimations.)

The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports the structure as such:

Young players often get an unfair reputation for being all-offense, no-defense, yet that label might be somewhat fair for Laine. The 21-year-old scored 30 goals and 50 points last season, and had 44 goals and 70 points in 2017-18, yet some of his work is offset by all-around struggles. Evolving Hockey’s multiple-season RAPM chart captures a winger who sometimes gives off an “all-or-nothing” feel:

 

Still, goals are valuable, and Laine could easily be worth more than $6.75M per year if he rounds out his game. That also would make his next contract a potential bombshell.

Connor isn’t the only noteworthy RFA who still needs a new contract. Mikko Rantanen could end up with a whopper of a deal with the Colorado Avalanche, while Julius Honka has a very different, interesting situation trying to solidify his career with (or without) the Dallas Stars.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Flyers re-sign Travis Konecny to 6-year, $33 million deal

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Another domino in the NHL’s restricted free agency saga has fallen.

The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Monday that they have re-signed forward Travis Konecny to a six-year contract that will pay him $5.5 million per year through the end of the 2023-24 season. Konecny was the last of the Flyers’ unsigned RFA’s, and his new deal means that general manager Chuck Fletcher’s offseason checklist is now complete.

“We are happy to have Travis under contract for the next six seasons,” said Fletcher in a statement released by the team. “Travis has shown progression in each of his three seasons and is an integral part of our group of young forwards. His speed, skill and tenacity sets him apart in today’s NHL.”

The 22-year-old Konecny is coming off a 24-goal, 49-point performance for the Flyers a year ago, a stat line that was almost identical to what he did the year before. He figures to be a significant part of the Flyers’ core in the coming seasons and is one of eight players the team has signed through at least 2022, joining Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, Ivan Provorov, and Shayne Gostisbehere.

Even if he never becomes anything more than a 25-goal, 50-point player that is still a pretty strong contract for the Flyers, and there is still a chance he is capable of more.

With Konecny now signed the list of remaining unsigned RFA’s throughout the league is down to Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Mathew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, Brandon Carlo, Julius Honka, Anthony DeAngelo, and Saku Maenalanen.

MORE:
Provorov signs 6-year, $40.5 million deal with Flyers
• 
ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Gloria’ cease-and-desist; Tallon on the hot seat

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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.

• The Philly bar where ‘Play Gloria’ began has sent cease-and-desist letters to St. Louis retailers selling merch. (KMOV4)

• Herb Carnegie could have been first black NHL player, according to a letter from the 1940s. (NHL.com)

• Golden Knights offseason will be a failure if they don’t sign Nikita Gusev. (Knights on Ice)

• There’s one thing missing from the Carolina Hurricanes’ otherwise successful summer. (News & Observer)

• If the Panthers don’t get results, it could be Dale Tallon who’s out the door. (The Rat Trick)

• What’s happening in Los Angeles? (Jewels from the Crown)

• What is it going to take to get a deal done with Brock Boeser? (The Hockey News)

• An update on the contract negotiating statuses of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• The Golden Knights wanted Micheal Ferland. (Sin.Bin Vegas)

Phillip Danault rose to the occasion last season. (Eyes on the Prize)

• Raleigh is ready for outdoor hockey. (Cardiac Cane)

• A look at the comparables for Sam Bennett‘s next contract. (Flames Nation)

• What is wrong with NHL hockey. (Blue Line Station)

Julius Honka could be a worthwhile trade option for Toronto. (Tip of the Tower)

• How close did the Columbus Blue Jackets come to offer sheeting Mitch Marner? (Sportsnet)

Anthony Beauvillier and agent talk contract. (Eyes on Isles)

• His last name includes ‘Stud’ and Jack Studnicka the next great hope for the Bruins at center. (NBC Sports Boston)

• How short-handed icing could lead to more goal scoring. (On the Forecheck)

• A look at the center market still left in free agency. (Two in the Box)

• Kevin Dineen named coach of the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. (Anaheim Ducks)


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