Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Brandon Sutter Signs Extension with Vancouver

Brandon Sutter, recently traded to the Vancouver Canucks, has signed an extension with his new team, as reported by NHL.com. The contract will reportedly carry an annual average value of $4.375 million through 2020-21. Sutter now becomes the Canuck under contract for the longest future term. Vancouver's General Manager, Jim Benning, has termed Sutter a "playoff player" indicating that he is at his best when the games mean something as quoted at Metro Vancouver.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Voracek Contract Extension with Philadelphia

As reported at philly.com, Jakub Voracek agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $66 millon with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.  The contract carries a cap hit of $8.25 million annually and runs through the 2023-24 NHL season.  The Flyers are right up against the cap now, with under $1 million of space according to spotrac.com.  Voracek and Claude Giroux lead all Flyers in salary for the coming season, both at over $8 million.

Reaction to Voracek's Contract Extension with the Philadelphia Flyers:

Pete Jensen noted via Twitter that Voracek was one of five NHL players with 40+ even-strength points and 30+ power play points last season.

It was noted at Broad Street Hockey, that top-tier wingers don't often hit the open market as unrestricted free agents, so finding a replacement for Voracek, if they did not re-sign him, would have been very difficult.

In a detailed recap of the Voracek extension at csnphilly.com, it was noted that:
 "His 122 assists since the start of the 2012-13 season are the most among NHL wingers."  
If you look at that statistic, and note that Voracek's new contract puts him tied for the tenth highest cap hit in the NHL, it puts things into a bit of perspective.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brandon Sutter Traded to Vancouver Canucks

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Brandon Sutter to the Vancouver Canucks, along with a 2016 third-round draft pick in return for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second-round draft pick in 2016, as reported by Katie Strang at ESPN.com.

Sutter is under contract through 2015-16, at an annual cap hit of $3.3 million.  The pivot, and former number 11 overall draft pick back in 2007, has 185 points in 495 regular season NHL games.  He scored a strong 21 goals in 80 games last season for the Penguins, to go along with a goal and an assist in five of Pittsburgh's playoff games.

Bonino is known primarily for his time with the Anaheim Ducks, where in 2013-14, he notched a very healthy 49 points in 77 regular season games.  He is under contract through 2016-17, at an annual cap hit of $1.9 million.

Clendening, a second round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, and 22 year-old defenseman, has four points in 21 NHL games, spent mostly with Vancouver.  

Top 2015 NHL UFA Forwards Still Available

Although a large amount of unrestricted free agents (UFAs) have already been signed to NHL contracts, there are a host of players who do remain unsigned as UFAs.  Let's take a look at the cream of the crop of those remaining to be signed at the forward position.

Lee Stempniak - The 32 year-old winger has suited up for several different NHL teams since being selected in the fifth round of the NHL draft in 2003.  He was traded in March of 2015 by the New York Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets where he finished up a one-year contract paying him $900K with a much lower cap-hit.  Stempniak can still put the puck in the net and would be a valuable addition on offense for several teams in need of scoring.  If the price is right, look for teams such as the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres to show interest as the start of the 2015 season approaches.

Jiri Tlusty - The 27 year-old forward and former first round draft pick played for both the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets in 2015.  His offensive number show that he had more success while with the Hurricanes, notching 23 points in 52 regular season games.  With a salary and cap-hit of just above $700K for 2014-15, if he's looking for a comparable number, he could wind up as an addition for a team in need of offensive depth without much cap room.

Martin Erat - The 33 year-old left shooting winger was drafted all the way back in 1999 if you can believe it.  An NHL mainstay since 2003, he's bounced around the league a bit, but continues to show a propensity for the net.  With 545 points in 881 regular season NHL games, his production is nothing to sneeze out.  Most recently, with the Arizona Coyotes, Erat had 32 points (9 goals) in 79 regular season games.  The issue here becomes price.  Coming off a contract that generally carried a $4.5 million annual cap hit (barring one season), Erat's contract can be expected to come in at a significantly lower number for interested teams in 2015-16, taking into account age an overall production.

Curtis Glencross - The left-shooting veteran winger finished last season with the Washington Capitals after a trade from Calgary Flames, where he spent seven seasons.  He had seven points in the 18 games with Washington, which is just under his more than half-a-point per game average over his lengthy NHL career.  His cap hit while with the Flames was $2.55 million, and there are several teams who could afford, and need, a veteran producer like Glencross with a relatively affordable contract (if it carries a cap hit near $2 million).

Daniel Briere - The 37 year-old Briere has suited up for several NHL teams since breaking into the league with the Phoenix Coyotes during the 1997-98 season, after being selected in the first round of the 1996 NHL draft.  He signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens beginning in 2013-14, which carried a cap cost of $4 million.  A trade in the summer of 2014 sent Briere to the Avalanche where he notched 12 points in 57 regular season games last season.  Briere's talents could certainly be used by NHL teams looking for a veteran presence with a scoring touch, however, it would need to come at a considerable discount to his previous contract.

Erik Cole - Cole, when healthy, may be the top offensive player on this list.  His career stats show that he has notched 532 points in 892 games.  Most recently, after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in March of 2015, for their push to the playoffs, Cole had put up six points in 11 games, before suffering a spinal contusion which put him out for the remainder of the 2014-15 season, beginning in early April.  He was finishing a contract that carried a $4.5 million per year cap hit.  At 36 years of age, Cole can still produce at a high level when healthy.  

Scottie Upshall - The 31 year-old winger, and former number six overall draft pick, spent the past four seasons with the Florida Panthers, finishing up a $14 million contract.  Upshall can still produce, although he has not average a half-point per game since the 2009-10 season while with the Phoenix Coyotes.  A team with cap room looking for a depth forward will likely give Upshall a shot, but at a steep discount to the $3.5 million cap number his contract carried previously.

Sean Bergenheim - The Finnish winger taken in the first round of the 2002 NHL entry draft will be an offensive asset to a team in need of a goal-scorer this season.  It's somewhat surprising that he has not yet been signed to a contract.  Unless he is looking for a big raise on his salary from his most recently expired contract, he would be coming at a relative bargain benchmarked against the current offensive market.

Mike Santorelli - An under-30 pivot who can score won't sit on the sidelines through the start of the NHL season.  Although his scoring dropped a bit after joining the Nashville Predators in a trade last season, he showed that he can score while with the Toronto Maple Leafs previously, notching 11 goals and 29 points in 57 games.  If he's looking for a contract similar to the one-year deal at $1.5 million he had last season, he'll likely be suiting up with an NHL team before October.

Scott Gomez - "Gomer" is getting older, but at 35 years of age he can still play this game at the highest level.  He returned to his roots last season, joining the team that drafted him in the first round back in 1998, when he won the Calder Trophy as a member of the New Jersey Devils.  With a $550K salary on a one-year deal, suffice it to say that Gomez was a bargain last season.  For a team sorely in need of offensive assistance, he garnered 34 points in 58 games. The guy can play, and just wants to play.  He will.

Who is missing from this list?  Let us know with a comment!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NHL Snap Shots: Byron, Stepan

As reported in the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Flames have signed forward Paul Byron to a one year contract worth a reported $900,000. Byron was having an excellent season offensively with Calgary in 2014-15 before injuries interfered. He will be one of among 18 forwards competing for 14 spots on the Flames. As Wes Gilbertson notes in the article, "With Byron signed Sunday, wrecking-ball winger Micheal Ferland is the Flames' only restricted free agent still in need of a new contract."

With the New York Rangers and Derek Stepan avoiding arbitration and agreeing on a 6-year, $39 million deal, the core of the team that nearly reached the Stanley Cup this past season is largely intact as reported in the New York Post.  The 25 year-old, who is fourth in team seniority as reported by Larry Brooks, has played in five nearly-full seasons since leaving the University of Wisconsin after the 2009-10 season.  Stepan's contract now sits third on the team list of annual cap hits, behind Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trade Recap: 2015 NHL Draft, Who Went Where

The trades came, as expected, around the start of the 2015 NHL entry draft.  The Boston Bruins took the lead making three significant trades to stock up on draft picks.

Boston General Manager Don Sweeney got things started the day before the draft began by trading the negotiating rights to forward Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.  Soderberg was coming off a three-year deal with the Bruins, paying him $1 million in his final season, and was set to become a free agent on July 1.  Soderberg subsequently signed a five-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche at an average annual value of $4.75 million.  His deal with Colorado includes a full no-trade clause for the first two seasons, and a limited no-trade clause for the final three seasons.

Two more trades were made quickly by the Bruins and Sweeney.  First, they traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the number 15, 45 and 52 overall picks in the 2015 NHL draft.  Although Hamilton (who was the number nine overall draft pick in 2011) can become a free agent on July 1, Flames' GM Brad Treliving is confident that they will work out a contract with Hamilton.  With the 15th overall draft pick they received the Flames, the Bruins wound up selecting forward Zachary Senyshyn.

The Bruins then continued to make a splash in the 2015 NHL draft pool by trading scoring forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the number 13 overall draft pick in 2015, goaltender Martin Jones and defenseman Colin Miller.  The Bruins re-loaded on defense with the 13th pick by selecting blueliner Jakub Zboril.

The Buffalo Sabres made waves of their own in the trade market by picking up goaltender Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 21st overall draft pick in 2015.  It was almost inevitable that the Senators would trade a goaltender, and Legwand was necessary to sweeten the pot and pry the first round draft pick from Buffalo.  With that 21st overall draft pick, Ottawa wound up selecting forward Colin White.

If that trade didn't make big enough headlines for the Sabres, their next deal certainly did.  Buffalo traded for forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche by sending forwards J.T. Compher, Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Nikita Zadorov as well as the 31st overall draft pick in 2015 west.  Joe Sakic didn't seem to think that the Avalanche would be able to get to where the numbers were for O'Reilly when he becomes a free agent in 2016.  The Sabres, who are in re-building mode, get a player in O'Reilly who other NHLers admire, and who can help lead their young core and in particular, number two overall draft pick Jack Eichel.

The New York Islanders, who had a dearth of draft picks in 2015, decided to gain some picks by trading defenseman Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 16th and 33rd overall draft picks in 2015.  Reinhart played mostly in the AHL this past season, but proved he can set his teammates up by notching 15 assists in 59 games, to go with 7 goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  So the Oilers shored up the defensive corps for the future, and the Islanders were able to select some young prospects.  With the 16th pick, the Islanders selected centerman Mathew Barzal , who notched 57 points in 44 games for Seattle of the WHL last season.  After adding a playmaker, the Islanders once again moved up on the draft board by flipping the 33rd overall pick as well as their 72nd overall pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 28th overall selection spot.  The Isles used that 28th pick to take forward Anthony Beauvillier who most recently played with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.  The left-shooting winger scored a whopping 42 goals in 67 games last season, which gives the New York Islanders further offensive hope.  Tampa Bay used the 33rd pick they received from New York to take centerman Mitchell Stephens from the OHL.

The New Jersey Devils certainly need to strengthen their offense and many think they did just that by trading for Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 41st overall pick in 2015 and a third-round pick in 2016.  The former 26th overall selection in 2009, Palmieri played in 57 games for Anaheim last season, picking up 29 points, 14 of which were goals.  That goals-scored total would have been good enough for 4th on the Devils last season.

The Ducks would wind up flipping the 41st overall pick they received from the Devils to the New York Rangers along with left-winger Emerson Etem in a trade for left-winger Carl Hagelin, the 59th and 179th overall draft picks.  That 41st pick, which at one point belonged to New Jersey, was used by New York to select forward Ryan Gropp, who was a teammate of Mathew Barzal (the Islanders' selection at 16th overall) Newith Seattle in the WHL.  Gropp is a big player who scored 30 goals in 67 games for Seattle last season.  Hagelin had 35 points in a full sked of 82 games for the Rangers last season, at 26 years-old, and is coming off a two-year deal with a $2.25 million cap cost and is slated to become an RFA on July 1.  The 23 year-old Etem, a native of California, had 10 points in 45 games for Anaheim last season, while also playing in 22 contests for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and notching 21 points.  Etem's cap hit was well under $1 million last season, and he is also slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1 of this year.  With pick number 59, Anaheim selected forward Julius Nattinen from Finland who was a member of his nation's U-18 World Championship squad which won the silver medal.   At pick number 179, Anaheim took goaltender Garrett Metcalf, who most recently played in the USHL.

The Vancouver Canucks, with Ryan Miller as their number one netminder, traded Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for the 66th overall pick in 2015 and a seventh-round pick in 2016.  The 27 year-old lack did play in 41 games for Vancouver last season, with a .921 save percentage and 2.45 GAA.  The net is Miller's now in Vancouver and they obviously wanted to free up some salary space while gaining prospects.  Lack is under contract through 2015-16 at $1.3 million and a $1.15 million cap hit.  The Hurricanes net will now consist of Lack sharing time with starter Cam Ward who is under contract through 2015-16 as well, at a salary of $6.8 million and a cap hit of $6.3 million.  Ward played in a hefty 51 games for Carolina last season, notching a 2.40 GAA and .910 save percentage.  With the 66th selection in the 2015 draft, the Canucks took defenseman Guillaume Briseois who had 24 assists in 68 games for Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL last season.

In a somewhat minor trade, the Dallas Stars sent a seventh-round pick in 2015 to the San Jose Sharks for the negotiating rights to former Stanley Cup winning netminder Antti Niemi.  The Stars have Kari Lehtonen in goal and under contract through 2017-18 at a $5.9 million cap cost.  Lehtonen played in 65 regular-season games each of the past two seasons for Dallas, so maybe Niemi will give him some relief and add to his future durability.  Niemi, who made $4 million last season with a $3.8 million cap hit is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  That seventh-round pick, the 193rd overall was used by the Sharks to select tall goaltender John Kupsky.

A draft day largely filled with goaltender trades continued as the New York Rangers traded their stellar back-up Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers along with a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for draft picks 57, 79 and 184.  The Rangers knew that Talbot's services would be in demand and with all-world netminder Henrik "The King" Lundqvist on their squad, they could afford to part with Talbot for draft picks.  Talbot, who is set to earn $1.45 million in 2015-16, is slated to compete with Ben Scrivens in net for the Oilers this season.  The Rangers, who some thought mortgaged their future by trading away so many draft picks in their recent push to the Cup, have quickly started to re-tool by acquiring draft picks.  New York turned draft pick number 57 into two picks by trading that selection to the Washington Capitals in return for picks 62 and 113.  While the Caps used number 57 to select physical blueliner Jonas Siegenthaler, the Rangers used the first pick in the third round (number 62) to select forward Robin Kovacs out of Sweden.  Kovacs had 17 goals in 52 games in the Sweden-2 league this past season.   With pick 113, the Rangers selected forward Brad Morrison who hails from a family of NHL athletes.  Going back to the second draft pick they received from the Oilers for Talbot, pick number 79 overall, the Rangers took hulking defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy from Russia, who most recently played with Regina in the WHL.  New York would use pick 184 to try and re-load at their backup goaltender position, at least for now, by selecting Adam Huska who most recently tended net for Green Bay of the USHL.

The goalie trades weren't quite done yet.  The Carolina Hurricanes, who you'll recall acquired Eddie Lack earlier, traded Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski.  Khudobin who is under contract through 2015-16 is slated to be counted at $2.25 million against the salary cap for next season.  He played in 34 games for the Hurricanes this past season, spelling Cam Ward.  While that role will now be filled by Eddie Lack, the Hurricanes bolster their blueline with Wisniewski who had eight goals and 26 assists with time spent on both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks last season.

The Edmonton Oilers, who selected phenom Conor McDavid with the number one overall draft pick, continued to remain active in the trade market throughout the draft.  The Oilers sent defenseman Martin Marincin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Brad Ross and the 107th overall draft pick. The Oilers then took that draft pick and along with prospect Travis Ewanyk and traded both to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Eric Gryba. Gryba, who had 12 points in 75 games for Ottawa last season, is set to earn $1.3 million this coming season with a $1.25 million cap hit, after which he will become a free agent. And with pick number 107, Ottawa selected defenseman Christian Wolanin from the USHL.

Although it seemed like the goaltender trades wouldn't stop during the draft, the last goaltender to be traded was Antti Raanta who was sent to the New York Rangers, presumably to fill the void left by trading Cam Talbot, by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Ryan Haggerty.  One of the Finnish crop of quality netminders, Raanta is set to earn $800,000 with a $750,000 cap hit for this coming season, after which he will become a free agent.  Raanta got into 14 regular season games for Chicago this past season, logging 792 minutes and putting up a 1.89 GAA and .936 save percentage.  Haggerty, a native of Connecticut, played in 76 AHL regular season games for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, notching 33 points.  Haggerty is under contract through next season at a cap hit of $925,000 after which he will become a free agent.

With the final official trade of the draft weekend, the Phoenix Coyotes traded center Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in either 2016 or 2017 to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, and if you believe it, the contract of defenseman Chris Pronger.  Gagner, the former number six overall draft pick in 2007, garnered 41 points in 81 regular season games for the Coyotes last season.  The 24 year-old pivot will earn $3.4 million next season with a $3.2 million cap charge, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.  The 30 year-old Grossmann had 14 points in 68 games for the Flyers most recently, and will carry a $3 million cap hit for 2015-16 after which he becomes a UFA.  Chris Pronger's contract carries a ~ $4.9 million cap hit through 2016-17, of which only $525,000 is salary for the next two seasons.  Since the Coyotes were struggling to get to the cap floor, this trade is a win-win for both teams.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ottawa Senators Trade of Lehner: Analysis

The Ottawa Senators have traded forward David Legwand and goaltender Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres in return for the 21st draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, as reported by TSN.  With the Senators having three viable starting goaltenders, a trade of one was almost an inevitability.

Here's how the contracts of the three netminders the Senators had lined up:

  • Robin Lehner - Signed to a three-year contract in 2014, expiring in 2017.  Average annual value of $2.225 million; $1.5 million in 2014-15, $2.025 million for 2015-16 and $3.15 million in 2016-17
  • Craig Anderson -  Signed to a three-year extension in 2014, worth $12.6 million.  He was still under contract for one more year through 2014-15, with the extension kicking in for 2015-16 and going through 2017-18.  He will make $4.75 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17  and then $3.1 million in 2017-18.  
  • Andrew Hammond - Signed to a three-year extension in 2015, worth $4.05 million.  Hammond will be paid $1.35 million per season through 2017-18.  
With three goalies under contract at more than $1 million per season through at least 2016-17, there was very little doubt that one of them would be traded.  General Manager Bryan Murray didn't have much choice with the glut of talent in net, he knew a trade was imminent.  And he also knew he wouldn't be satisifed with what he got in return for one of his netminders.  

In the end, he had to give up not only a netminder, but also a durable forward who put up 27 points last season.  Now, what Murray got in return is nothing to sneeze at.  A first round draft pick in the NHL entry draft is a very valuable commodity. And again, Murray and the Sens did have a glut of goaltending.  

Whether Ottawa management knew that Andrew Hammond would turn into such a formidable goalie can be debated.  The statistics that Hammond put up for the Senators towards the end of the 2014-15 NHL season however, cannot be debated.  The 27 year-old put up a stellar 1.79 goals-against-average to go with a formidable .941 save percentage.  With that performance, and at the comparative salary rate he was going to get, how could Murray not ink him to an extension?

Now what the Senators do with the draft pick they received from Buffalo, the 21st overall selection, will go a long way in determining how good of a trade this turns out to be.  Recall two seasons ago that the New Jersey Devils traded their ninth overall draft pick in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.  While the Devils have not been able to produce on offense as they would like to, Schneider's performance has continued to be strong since the trade.  And Vancouver, while settling a goaltender "controversy" with the trade, also gained a strong prospect in Bo Horvat (25 points in 68 NHL games with Vancouver).  

How this trade is viewed will ultimately be determined by the performance of the player Vancouver selects at number 21 overall, as happens with all player for draft pick trades.  One thing is in very little doubt however:  Murray had to make a goaltender trade.  

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