PHT Morning Skate: Penguins quest for top-six forward continues into UFA fenzy

10 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

With the free agent period about to begin, what players are the Pittsburgh Penguins likely to target to bolster their top two lines? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Philadelphia Flyers will hold Kimmo Timonen’s retirement ceremony on Oct. 14 when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. (Flyers.nhl.com)

Here’s a thorough look at the situation in Buffalo after GM Tim Murray’s flurry of moves. (Puck Daddy)

Expectations are high for Avalanche GM Joe Sakic going into the free agent frenzy. (Denver Post)

Calgary has Dougie Hamilton locked up, so now the focus will shift back to re-signing Mark Giordano. (Calgary Sun)

Could Matt Beleskey end up with Toronto? (Toronto Sun)

Trade: Bieksa headed to California — but it’s Anaheim, not San Jose

26 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks have finally moved veteran d-man Kevin Bieksa — but not to the team many expected.

On Tuesday, Bieksa was sent to Anaheim in exchange for a second-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The deal comes just days after a widely-circulated report claimed the 34-year-old rearguard was on his way to San Jose, only for the deal to be scuttled during the draft weekend in Florida.

In Bieksa, the Ducks get an experienced rearguard is heading into the last of a five-year, $23 million deal with a $4.6M annual cap hit. In his prime, Bieksa was a key piece of Vancouver defense, cracking the 40-point plateau three times while developing a reputation as someone that played with an edge. He’s also known for his leadership qualities, having served as an alternate in Vancouver, and as a Canada’s captain at the 2015 Worlds.

That said, Bieksa has seen better days.

Last season was a struggle; a broken hand limited him to just 14 points in 60 games and his lack of foot speed and mobility were exposed in Vancouver’s opening-round playoff loss to Calgary.

In Anaheim, Bieksa will be reunited with former Vancouver teammate Ryan Kesler and will step onto a blueline that has some uncertainty; Ducks GM Bob Murray flipped little-used James Wisniewski to Carolina at the draft, and has yet to decide if he’ll return veteran Francois Beauchemin (this deal suggests Beauchemin is done in Orange County.)

The club also recently bought out Mark Fistric.

Notes…

— The pick heading to Vancouver is interesting. It’s believed the Canucks thought they were getting a ’15 second-rounder from the Sharks, only to learn a ’16 second-rounder was on the table… the same pick Anaheim gave.

Per TSN, it sounds like Bieksa’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is working on an extension with the Ducks.

— This is the second significant deal Canucks GM Jim Benning has done with Murray in as many years, having sent Kesler to Anaheim last summer.

UFA of the Day: Mike Green

6 Comments

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

Mike Green

Leaving Washington isn’t what he wants to do; however, it was reported last week that that’s what he’ll probably do.

Green is coming off a productive season with the Caps, one in which the 29-year-old defenseman finished with 10 goals and 35 assists. Also notable was his ice time. He averaged just 19:06, considerably less than the 22:44 he logged in 2013-14, before Washington signed Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.

There’s reason to believe his first choice will be a team with a reasonable shot at winning a championship, something he failed to do in seven postseason appearances with the Caps.

“I want to win the Cup,” he said in May. “It’s not about money.”

The challenge he’ll face is finding a contender with both the need and the cap space.

“I think players of Mike’s ability, age, productivity, right shot, all of the positive things that Mike does on the ice is very rare when they get to unrestricted free agency,” his agent, Craig Oster, told the Washington Post.

Detroit has long been rumored as a potential landing spot. However, it’s worth noting that, in February, Red Wings GM Ken Holland said that adding a right-shot d-man for the power play no longer seemed necessary, given his team was doing just fine with the man advantage. Also, it was Mike Babcock who pushed Holland the hardest for more right-shot defensemen, and you may have heard he’s not there anymore.

If not Detroit, who might take a run at Green?

One team that may make sense is Anaheim. The Ducks are coached by Bruce Boudreau, who knows Green well from their time together in Washington. The Ducks also struggled on the power play last season, finishing 28th in the league. Plus, they cleared some cap space by trading James Wisniewski.

Click here for more UFAs.

Buyouts loom as Richards, Parenteau and Fistric clear unconditional waivers

4 Comments

Significant buyouts appear to be mere formalities after Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings), P.A. Parenteau (Montreal Canadiens) and Mark Fistric (Anaheim Ducks) cleared unconditional waivers on Monday. That word comes from a variety of sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Using CapFriendly’s buyout calculator, here’s how each buyout is expected to impact their respective teams:

Richards for the Kings: $1.22 million cap hit for each season through 2024-25; his two-thirds buyout will total $14.667 million.

Parenteau for the Canadiens: The total buyout cost is $2.667 million, with a cap hit of $1.33 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The Canadiens already made the Parenteau buyout official. Here is GM Marc Bergevin’s statement:

“I would like to thank Pierre-Alexandre for his time as a Montreal Canadien and wish him the best with his career,” Bergevin said. “It was a difficult decision to make, but we feel it gives us more flexibility as we continue to improve our club and provide our young prospects with an opportunity to earn a spot on our roster.”

Here is Parenteau’s statement:

Fistric for the Ducks: Total buyout cost: $1.8 million; cap hit of $516K for 2015-16, $217K for 2016-17, 450K for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Note: cap hits are rounded up when appropriate.

***

Once we digest what this means for the three teams, the obvious follow-up question is quite enticing: what kind of interest will Richards, Parenteau and Fistric drum up on the free agent market?

Even after flurry of trades, goalie market is far from settled

7 Comments

There were seven different trades over the course of Friday and Saturday that involved a goaltender, but even after that there are teams that still need to address their situation between the pipes. With the free agent period just around the corner and the trade market now in full swing, the pieces are likely to continue to fall into place rapidly. While we have a breather though, let’s take a look at where we stand.

Has Dallas addressed its goaltending needs?

Kari Lehtonen failed to live up to expectations last season so the Dallas Stars would naturally like to hedge their bets going forward. They’ve already taken a step towards that end by acquiring the rights to Antti Niemi from San Jose, but it remains to be seen if they can sign the netminder before he become an unrestricted free agent.

If they do sign Niemi, that might not settle their goaltending situation. He has spent the better part of his career serving as a starter and while his last two seasons haven’t been amazing, it’s likely that he’ll expect a significantly bigger salary than your typical backup. Which isn’t an issue by itself, but Dallas is still tied to Lehtonen for another three seasons at $5.9 million in cap space annually. That means Dallas will be dedicating a lot of its cap to goaltending and that’s something that may complicate matters for the squad unless it’s addressed.

What’s next for San Jose?

Meanwhile, San Jose still needs someone to work with Alex Stalock. The 27-year-old netminder had a 2.62 GAA and .902 save percentage in 22 games last season, so ideally the Sharks will want someone that can at least seriously challenge him for the starting job.

There are some noteworthy pending UFAs out there including Viktor Fasth, Karri Ramo, and Michal Neuvirth, but it’s also possible San Jose will make another trade.

“We’ve been exploring things for quite awhile, a lot of it in the trade market obviously,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson told CSN Bay Area. “As we’ve looked at it, we think there’s probably more goalies than there are teams. There’s more people that are available or could be available in discussions than you guys probably hear about.”

Who will be Steve Mason’s backup in Philadelphia?

With Ray Emery’s contract set to expire, the Flyers are in the market for a backup goaltender. They didn’t want to take part in the flurry of goaltending trades though.

“I didn’t want to give up an asset for a backup, quite honestly,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall told CSN Philly. “Did I talk to anybody? People called and I found out the prices.”

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Philadelphia find its number two netminder on the free agent market.

Anaheim has created something of a logjam

When the Anaheim Ducks acquired Anton Khudobin from Carolina, it led some to naturally wonder if 21-year-old goaltender John Gibson was on the block. Ducks GM Bob Murray’s response was not family friendly, but the short version of his answer is: No.

So we can only assume that this issue won’t be addressed this summer, which makes it unique among the goaltending situations discussed here. Even still, it is awkward as this likely means that Gibson will be expected to spend the 2015-16 campaign in the minors after posting a decent 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage in 23 games with Anaheim last season. This might just be a short-term setback for him though as Khudobin only has a year left on his contract before he can test the unrestricted free agent market.