Friday, June 30, 2017

Botterill Contines to Bolster Buffalo's Defense with Scandella Add

In a trade that looks like a win for both teams, the Buffalo Sabres added defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Jason Pominville while sending Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild clear some cap space to continue pursuing other needs, while the Sabres get a rugged defenseman that has three years left at a $4 million AAV in addition to a high-scoring winger that will come at a cost. Pominville, a former Sabre, comes with a cap hit of $5.6 million for the next two seasons. That fat contract, rather than his performance, is the biggest reason that Minnesota sought to deal Pominville. The 34-year-old had 47 points in 78 games last season and has amassed 261 goals in 905 NHL games.

Pominville spent the first 12 seasons of his career with Buffalo, and was captain for a spell in 2008.

Even after the deal the Sabres still have over $19 million in cap space. The team is reportedly working on getting star center Jack Eichel locked up long term.

The Wild are stacked on defense and struck a deal with Vegas to lay off their top five defenseman in the expansion draft, likely with this deal in mind. They shed $5 million in cap space but will likely pay to add the services of Foligno, a 228-lb winger that has the type of physical presence that the Wild were missing in the post-season this year. He becomes a restricted free agent today, and was previously signed at a $2.25 million cap hit.

The Wild need cap space to sign Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter to new deals. Both hit restricted free agency today, and both will come at a pretty high price tag after successful seasons.

According to Wild beat writer Michael Russo, the club wants to land a fourth-line center and a right-shot defenseman to replace Scandella.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Is Marc Methot Worth So Little?

The Vegas Knights dealt one of the biggest prizes of last week's expansion draft today to the Dallas Stars. That's not surprising. What is surprising is how little of a return general manager George McPhee was able to bring in for Marc Methot, a veteran defenseman who was integral in the Ottawa Senators Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Final this spring.

Sure, Methot played the majority of his minutes alongside Erik Karlsson, and that's perhaps the cushiest job there is on an NHL blue line these days. But the fact that Methot was dealt for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and a goalie prospect that was drafted in the seventh round of last weekend's draft (his name is Dylan Ferguson if you really must know) must have Senators' GM Pierre Dorion steaming. Dorion reportedly worked hard to make a deal with Vegas to keep them from picking Methot before the expansion draft to no avail. Then, when the writing was on the wall, he attempted to trade Dion Phaneuf and his much-publicized no-movement clause so that he could protect Methot from being picked.

Dorion's best intentions could not help him get any of the aforementioned done, and today he had to pick up the paper and read that Methot had been dealt for peanuts.

Peanuts, incidentally, was not what McPhee was asking Dorion to pay for the privilege of having him not select Methot in the expansion draft. According to Senators beat writer Bruce Garrioch (venerable), the ask was a first-round pick.

If that's the case then the market has soured a bit for McPhee and the many defensemen he drafted with the hopes of turning them into assets in the trade market. Methot was one of the biggest fish of his expansion draft picks, so Vegas and McPhee could be in for a rude awakening in the next few weeks as they try to unload Alexei Emelin, Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner. The Golden Knights selected 13 defensemen in total at the draft, and they were under they belief that defensemen were the hottest commodoties on the trade market. It may be true in general, but to be more specific, puck-moving defenseman (and exceptional ones) are the ones driving the market. The players in McPhee's stable right now are not exactly Paul Coffey-type players.

None of this likely matters to Pierre Dorion or the Senators right now. They lost the defenseman they wanted and Ottawa's loss is Dallas' gain.

Methot, 32, and earning $4.9 million for the next two seasons, should provide some good stay-at-home defense for a Stars team that badly needs it. Dallas swooped in and scored a win in this deal. Other teams eyeing Vegas defenseman might want to pony up and do the same. It may not take a whole lot to make a deal.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ducks Ink Patrick Eaves to Three Year Deal

The Anaheim Ducks locked up Patrick Eaves for three years and $9.45 million. The deal will pay Eaves $3.3 million next season, $3.15 in 2018-19 and $3 million in 2019-20.

Eaves, who scored 11 goals in 20 regular season games for the Ducks after being acquired at the deadline, finished his campaign with a career-high 32 goals. He was a good fit with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rackell last season and figures to be a big part of the Ducks top six forward corps and power play next season.

The 33-year-old did not test the free agent market, even though he might have commanded a bigger salary coming off such a solid season.

Apparently Eaves' neighbors were thrilled about the news as well:

John Chayka Comes up Big for Reeling Coyotes

Props to John Chayka.

The 28-year-old general manager of the Arizona Coyotes dug his heels in during a very turbulent time for the franchise and led the team into the second phase of its rebuild over the weekend.

With the 2017 entry draft looming the Coyotes were dealing with the aftermath of a horrible week that saw them deal their No.1 goalie and part ways with their longtime coach and longest-tenured player and captain on less than favorable terms.

It could have marked the beginning of a gloomy summer for the franchise.

Enter 28-year-old wunderkind Chayka, who proved this weekend that he can do more than crunch analytics and tick off his elders--he wheeled and dealed and gave the Coyotes and their fans some well deserved hope.

Chayka dealt the No.7 overall pick to the Rangers along with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo for No.1 center Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta.

Then less than an hour later he acquired Niklas Hjalmarsson for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin.

In a span of 60 minutes Chayka got his team a No. 1 goalie, a No.1 center and a top-pairing defenseman that will complement Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the Coyotes blue line.

Meanwhile, word spread like wild fire--the Coyotes were winning draft weekend.

The Coyotes began with a total teardown in Chayka's first year and have assembled one of the league's most impressive prospect pools (that prospect pool grew over the weekend as twice Chayka moved down in the draft, making deals to acquire multiple picks with the Flyers and Oilers) since. Many of those tadpoles have already cut their teeth at the NHL level, but the team was badly in need of some productive veterans who could lead both on and off the ice. No offense to the recently banished Shane Doan and Mike Smith, but both were past their primes and frankly not worth the salary that they would command. In Stepan and Hjalmarsson the Coyotes have a pair of veterans with playoff experience and character--but still a lot of mileage left in their tanks.

The Rangers soured on Stepan during the playoffs this year and Chayka swooped in and scooped up a player that was being undervalued by his current team. He'll be a key leader in Arizona, and if the Coyotes continue to improve he may end up as the perfect No.2 center.

In Hjalmarsson Chayka gets a blueliner with three Stanley Cup rings. The 30-year-old Swede wasn't a part of many trade rumors but Chayka went to Stan Bowman and the cap-weary Blackhawks with the perfect offer to lure him away. That's savvy dealmaking.

Arizona may not look like a playoff team yet, and the team still will see its arena deal expire at the end of the season, but as far as the on-ice product goes, the Coyotes are a lot further along than they were two weeks ago. Chayka's dealing has given a beleaguered franchise hope--and a shot of proven talent to boot.

With a few more deals and some more seasoning, we may finally see a contender in the desert. For now, at the very least, there's hope.

What's Next for Snow and Isles?

The Islanders and GM Garth Snow are going for a fast and furious revamp of the roster ahead of the opening of the free agency window on July 1, but it's not clear if the team has done enough to achieve the endgame of signing John Tavares to a long-term deal before the clock begins ticking on the final year of his six year, $33 million contract.

Adding much maligned winger Jordan Eberle straight up for Ryan Strome on Thursday was a nice start, but most thought that Eberle wouldn't be the only big name coming to Brooklyn.

So far, he is.

In a lot of ways the perception is just as important as the reality for the Islanders in the short-term. One would think that Snow wants to get Tavares under contract before temptation gets the best of his star center, because if he goes through the summer without a deal in place his value to the club will only decrease.

If Tavares makes it all the way to next July without a contract he'll be worthless to the team--and free to sign wherever he chooses. That would be a nightmare for the Islanders, and possibly career suicide for Snow, who has been trying to make up for a horrible year that saw him overpay for Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck (in addition to botching the management of the team's goalie trio) all in the final two weeks of June. On Saturday the Isles GM finally pulled the trigger on a Travis Hamonic deal, hauling in a first and second-rouund pick in next year's draft as well as another second-round pick for either 2019 or 2020, with Hamonic and a fourth-round pick in either 2019 or 2020 going the other way.

What it means for the Islanders is that they've temporarily restocked the cupboard with some draft picks that can either be used to make another deal or be saved for the future. The Islanders currently have two first-rounders and two-second rounders in next year's draft, and Snow did not rule out using them to make another acquisition for a team that is a) trying to get better and b) trying to sign John Tavares pronto.

“This was a situation that we felt we could capitalize on bringing in some assets, whether we use those in the future in the draft or use them as a currency in a future player transaction,” Snow said on Saturday. “That’s a good luxury for our organization to have.”

Starting with the expansion draft the Islanders have been one of the most active teams in the league. They dealt their first-round pick in the draft along with a second-round pick in the 2019 draft plus defensive prospect Jake Bischoff to get Vegas to take Mikhail Grabovski's $5 million cap hit off their hands (Vegas also selected J.F. Berube instead of one of the players they valued, also a good deal).

Then they spun Strome for Eberle in a move that added $3.5 to their cumulative cap but will surely pay offensive dividends.

And finally the Hamonic deal, which freed up another $3.875 in annual cap hit, bringing the Islanders total cap space to over $9 million.

The Islanders would probably (definitely?) like to make another deal for a forward, but other than the aforementioned draft picks and some prospects that appear to be untouchable, they don't really have any players of value.

Restricted free agent Calvin de Haan will need a new contract, and hopefully, Tavares will be next in line.

The problem is that on paper the Islanders don't look a whole lot better than they were two weeks ago. Hamonic, a key component of their defense despite the fact that he had a few subpar seasons, is gone. The team lacks a true No.1 on the blue line and Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are unproven commodoties who may be in over their heads next season.

To top it off, Eberle had his worst year as a pro and Edmonton wanted him gone, particularly after a post-season that saw him go goalless. He's an intriguing talent that could blossom with Tavares--the pair had chemistry at the 2009 World Juniors for Canada--but it's certainly not a guarantee that he'll be a revelation in Brooklyn.

There's still a lot of work to be done in Brooklyn to make the Islanders a contender. As crunch time nears Garth Snow is under the gun. His next deal will be the biggest of his 11-year tenure as the Islanders' GM. If it's a good one, it could open the door to a re-up from Tavares.

And make no mistake, that's what all this last-minute cramming from Snow is all about.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Coyotes Are Now Without Coach and Captain

The Arizona Coyotes dysfunctional family got smaller by one man on Thursday evening as the club announced that head coach Dave Tippett would not be returning. Tippett's departure comes just a week after the team told their captain Shane Doan that he would not be offered a contract for the 2017-18 season.

Tippett coached the Coyotes from 2009-10 to 2016-17, and guided Arizona to its first playoff series win and its first Conference Final.

“On behalf of the entire Coyotes organization, I would like to sincerely thank Tip for all of his hard work and the many contributions he made to our organization,” said Arizona Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway in a statement. “Tip is a man of high character and we are very grateful for his leadership during his tenure as our head coach. Ultimately, we have some philosophical differences on how to build our team. Therefore, we mutually agreed that it is in everyone’s best interest to have a coaching change in order to move our franchise forward.”

In his first year with the club, Tippett led the team to a 50-25-7 record and their first playoff birth in eight seasons. Tippett won the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL that season. He later guided Arizona to the Western Conference Final in 2011-12.

Tippet was also the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Coyotes. He is being offered a structured buyout from the Coyotes.

According to Coyotes insider Craig Morgan, Tippett was not on the same page as club management about the trade that sent Mike Smith to Calgary, as well as the handling of Shane Doan's last days as a Coyote.

As it stands now, the Coyotes and 28-year-old general manager John Chayka have a lot of work to do. Team owner Andrew Barroway bought out the rest of the team's minority owners in early June and now owns the team outright. But the Coyotes problems are not just on the ice or behind the bench. The orgnanization's current lease deal in Glendale is up after next season, so there will be tense negotiations and the threat of moving the club to another part of Arizona or out of the area entirely. According to Forbes, the team loses about $8 million annually and is valued at about $240 million.

Islanders Deal Strome to Acquire Eberle

The New York Islanders have acquired winger Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Strome.

Eberle, 27, has 165 career goals in 507 NHL games. The winger is signed through 2019 at an AAV of $6 million. He was much maligned in Edmonton after putting up 20 goals and 31 assists in 2016-17 for the Oilers, and only two assists in 13 playoff games.

The same could be said for Strome, who put up 50 points in his second season, but managed just 28 and 30 points in his last two campaigns. The 23-year-old is signed through 2018 with a cap hit of $2.5 million.

Rumor has it that Islanders' GM Garth Snow is not done dealing. The team appears to be in the hunt for another top six forward, and is likely targeting Matt Duchene of Colorado or Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens.

It's all a part of the plan to show John Tavares that the team is committed to becoming a cup contender with him as the centerpiece. The all-star center will be eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1st, and if he doesn't could become a free agent next summer.