Report: Leafs’ Bernier hopes to secure long-term contract


If goaltender Jonathan Bernier had his way, it sounds like he would sign a long-term deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer, per the Toronto Sun. That might not be what happens though.

Bernier is a restricted free agent and the Leafs have opted for salary arbitration, so he will almost certainly be back. The question is if Toronto can sign him to a longer deal before an arbitrator has to make the call for both parties.

Settling on what’s fair value for Bernier might be difficult as he’s coming off of a down season where he posted a 2.87 GAA and .912 save percentage in 58 games. Toronto completely imploded in 2014-15 and nearly every player was dragged down in the process, so those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It might still be enough to give the Maple Leafs pause though.

Given that Bernier’s RFA status makes his negotiations less urgent, the Maple Leafs might not address this issue until they fill their GM vacancy. That’s not expected to happen before the draft.

It’s worth noting that Bernier is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so if the Leafs do opt for a short-term deal and he bounces it, it could end up costing Toronto, especially seeing as the franchise is currently light on alternatives between the pipes.

UFA of the Day: Justin Williams


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

Justin Williams

If you look at his regular season numbers, Williams’ career has been fine, but hardly unique. But of course, Williams isn’t known for what he does in the regular season.

He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion that’s scored 30 goals and 78 points in 115 playoff games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014 and has been called Mr. Game 7 for scoring seven goals and 14 points in his seven career Game 7s, per ESPN.

That has to be balanced against the fact that he scored a comparatively lukewarm 18 goals and 41 points in 81 contests in 2014-15, but certainly any team that’s been struggling to live up to expectations in the playoffs would have to be intrigued by the possibility of signing Williams on the open market.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, are looking to bolster their supporting cast as they try to capture a second Stanley Cup championship during the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era.

That’s assuming of course that he doesn’t re-sign with the Kings first. Los Angeles doesn’t appear to have the cap space at the moment to re-sign him, although depending on what happens with Mike Richards in terms of a possible trade or buyout, that could change.

“At this point, I love L.A. If I re-sign here, great. I’ll be part of a great team moving forward,” Williams told Sportsnet.

“But if not, I’m going to try to restart my career somewhere else, turn the page and try to win as many hockey games as I can. I’m at a point in my career where it’s not all about money, it’s about winning for me.”

Click here for more UFAs.

Report: ‘No clear movement’ towards Kings trading Richards


The Los Angeles Kings have reportedly been shopping Mike Richards after his role with the team in 2014-15 declined to the point where he spent some time in the minors. The belief was that the Kings would have to include another asset to make any trade work, which isn’t surprising given that Richards has already previously cleared waivers, but either way it looks like a trade might not be in the cards.

Per LA Kings Insider:

I’m getting the strong feeling, through multiple channels, that there hasn’t been any clear movement, and no viable suitors have stepped forward at this time. Similar to the attempt to move the center near the trading deadline, there are simply no proposals that make any sense for the Kings as of this writing. Could that change? Sure, it could change. But don’t expect Richards back next year. He’s likely to be moved, either through a trade (which doesn’t appear to be materializing at this point), or via buy-out.

Even if Los Angeles were to include another asset in an effort to entice teams, Richards’ $5.75 million annual cap hit through 2019-20 would be a tough pill to swallow. Additionally, if he retires before the end of his contract, then there would be cap recapture penalties to consider.

Buying out Richards would save Los Angeles a little over $4.5 million in cap space for the 2015-16 campaign, but the Kings would be incurring a cap penalty from his buyout through 2024-25. At its height that penalty would climb to roughly $4.2 million for 2018-19 and 2019-20 before it drops to about $1.5 million annually for five seasons.


Lombardi: Mike Richards buyout ‘a possibility’

Bowman would ‘love’ to re-sign UFA Desjardins


The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to be forced into making sacrifices this summer in order to stay under the salary ceiling, but one player GM Stan Bowman doesn’t want to let walk away is Andrew Desjardins.

“We would love to bring him back,” Bowman said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “It was a nice surprise the way Desjardins played a huge role for us. I think he played a bigger role than we probably expected.”

Bowman acquired the 28-year-old forward from the San Jose Sharks on March 2 in exchange for Ben Smith and a 2017 conditional seventh round pick. He went on to record a goal and four points in 21 playoff games while logging an average of 13:55 minutes per contest. That included some ice time in power play and shorthanded situations.

Desjardins is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after completing a two-year, $1.5 million deal.

The Blackhawks also have to make a decision regarding UFAs Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards, although Chicago could be priced out of both of them as they’re likely to attract a fair amount of attention on the open market.


Bowman vows to keep Saad in Chicago ‘for years to come’

Armed with picks, Coyotes could deal at draft


While the focus surrounding the Coyotes has shifted to its battle with the City of Glendale over the arena lease deal, the team has what could prove to be a defining day for the franchise coming up. After finishing the 2014-15 campaign with just 56 points, Arizona is going into the draft with six of the first 81 picks, including the third overall.

As highly regarded as this draft is, this is an opportunity for the Coyotes to significantly bolster its prospects pool, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney might also try to use some of those picks to acquire more immediate help.

“We’ve got two firsts, two seconds, two thirds. We have two firsts next year. We have lots of good assets that we can use to better our team and we’re certainly not against using it in the right deal,” Maloney told Fox Sports.

He also expressed a willingness to trade down from the third overall pick, although it would likely be a matter of a few spots as opposed to him trading to the 10th of 13th position.

Maloney has raised the possibility of moving picks before, but he might be even more incentivized to execute trades now. The fight with Glendale has once again made the Coyotes’ future uncertain and it comes at a very bad time because Arizona needs to spend around $19 million just to reach the floor, based on a $71 million cap, per General Fanager.

So while they have to spend money, free agents might be reluctant to agree to terms with the Coyotes if that matter isn’t resolved before July 1. Arizona could still presumably lure some players over, but it might have to resort to paying over market value for players that aren’t in as high demand. With that in mind, it might make more sense to acquire the veteran talent the team needs through trades, especially seeing as there are franchises looking to shed salary.

Whatever happens, Maloney anticipates that it will take place on the draft floor.