Jets banking on youth to sell free agents on Winnipeg
The Winnipeg Jets were not a Stanley Cup Playoff team this season, but general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff believes he has plenty to sell when it comes to courting potential free agents.
"We do have an exciting, young group here that is poised to do some good things," Cheveldayoff said Thursday, asked what he has been pitching to potential free agents in the past week. "We had 40 wins last year and those don't go unnoticed when it comes to the youth of our team, and we're proud of the group of guys we have assembled here.
"If we can find some pieces that can accentuate it and it's a fit for both sides, we're going to."
The Jets had one of the NHL's youngest rosters in 2016-17 (average age 26.2 years at the end of the season, according to rosters on the NHL's media site) and feature No. 1 center Mark Scheifele, 24, who finished seventh in League scoring with 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 79 games; left wing Nikolaj Ehlers, 21, who had 64 points (25, goals, 39 assists) in 82 games in his second NHL season; and right wing Patrik Laine, 19, who led all rookies this season in points per game (0.88) after scoring 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games.
Cheveldayoff said he was playing things cautiously in the period leading up to the July 1 start to signing free agents.
"Until July 1 it's all talk," Cheveldayoff said. "You don't know until that point in time what's been talk and what's been real.
"We've done our due diligence. It's just what fits and it has to fit for both sides. We can have desire and they can have desire but there's money, there's term, there's opportunities that need to fit for both sides."
Magnus Paajarvi signs one-year contract with Blues
Forward Magnus Paajarvi signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
The 26-year-old could have become a restricted free agent July 1.
He had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 32 regular-season games and three points (one goal, two assists) in eight Stanley Cup Playoff games this season. He scored the series-winning goal against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round.
He was acquired by the Blues in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on July 10, 2013.
Steve Mason will leave Flyers: report
Goaltender Steve Mason will not be returning to the Philadelphia Flyers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.
Mason, 29, will become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and reportedly plans to play for another team next season.
He was 26-21-8 with a 2.66 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts in 58 games (54 starts) for the Flyers this season. He went 104-78-36 with a 2.47 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 14 shutouts in five seasons with Philadelphia.
He has 200 wins in 463 career NHL games with the Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him with the No. 69 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. He won the Calder Trophy in 2009 after having 33 wins and 10 shutouts in his rookie season for Columbus.
Lightning hope to re-sign Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson
The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to re-sign left wing Ondrej Palat and center Tyler Johnson, according to general manager Steve Yzerman. Each forward can become a restricted free agent July 1.
"We'll continue to talk, and I plan to get them signed," Yzerman said Thursday. "I can't tell you if that's [July 1] or later on."
Palat, 26, was fourth on the Lightning in scoring with 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists) in 75 games this season. Johnson, 26, ranked fifth on Tampa Bay with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 66 games.
Video: DAL@TBL: Palat cranks wrister past Lehtonen for PPG
Yzerman said he has spoken to representatives of some pending free agents, but was not specific about whom Tampa Bay might be targeting.
"We have some interest in some players that are free agents and we're hoping to address a couple needs," Yzerman said. "We'll see how it plays out over the next couple of days."
After making the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and the 2016 Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay missed the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point. Yzerman recently told the Tampa Bay Times the Lightning are "still a couple of players short."
The Lightning have been busy in recent weeks. Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, from the Montreal Canadiens for forward Jonathan Drouin on June 15.
Maple Leafs, Predators interested in Joe Thornton: report
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators each have expressed interest in signing San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, TSN reported Thursday.
Thornton, 37, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) in 79 regular-season games and two points (no goals, two assists) in four Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Sharks this season.
He played through a torn MCL and ACL in the postseason.
The Predators had their center depth stretched thin after Ryan Johansen sustained a season-ending thigh injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville won that series in six games despite losing Johansen, but went on to lose the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Thornton has played the past 12 seasons with the Sharks and is their all-time leader in assists (722). He had 82 points (19 goals, 63 assists) in 82 games two seasons ago before leading San Jose to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016. He has 1,391 career points, tied with Brett Hull for 22nd on the all-time NHL scoring list.
Another longtime Sharks forward, Patrick Marleau, also can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Scott Hartnell bought out by Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets bought out the contract of forward Scott Hartnell on Thursday.
Hartnell, 35, immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent. He had two years remaining on a six-year contract with an average annual value of $4.75 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
He had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 78 regular-season games and no points in four Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Blue Jackets this season. He played three seasons in Columbus after being acquired in a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2014.
Hartnell has 683 points (314 goals, 369 assists) in 1,187 career NHL games through 16 seasons with the Flyers, Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, who selected him with the No. 6 pick in the 2000 NHL Draft.
"On behalf of our organization, I want to thank Scott for his contributions to the Blue Jackets over the past three seasons and wish him well in the future," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "Moves like this are never easy, but with our current organizational depth at the position, it is something we believe is in the best interest of our club moving forward."
Benoit Pouliot placed on waivers by Oilers
Forward Benoit Pouliot was placed on unconditional waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. He will be bought out Friday, unless he is claimed by another team.
Pouliot, 30, had two years remaining on the five-year contract he signed with Edmonton on July 1, 2014. The contract had an average annual value of $4 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
Edmonton would carry a salary-cap charge of $1,333,333 in each of the next four seasons if they buy out Pouliot. The Oilers would likely use the savings toward new contracts for top forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid, 20, has one season remaining on his three-year, entry-level contract. The first day he is eligible to sign an extension is July 1. He could become a restricted free agent after next season. Draisaitl, 21, can become a restricted free agent July 1.
Pouliot, selected by the Minnesota Wild with the fourth pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 67 regular-season games and no points in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Oilers this season.
In 551 career NHL games with the Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Oilers, Pouliot has combined for 244 points (117 goals, 127 assists).
Dion Phaneuf likely to stay with Senators
Defenseman Dion Phaneuf is expected to remain with the Ottawa Senators, TSN reported Wednesday.
Phaneuf, 32, submitted a list of 12 teams he would accept a trade to earlier this month. He did not waive his no-movement clause for purposes of the NHL Expansion Draft, but the Senators were reportedly still exploring a potential trade leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23-24.
Because Phaneuf did not waive his no-movement clause, the Senators were forced to expose defenseman Marc Methot to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. After Vegas selected Methot, they traded him to the Dallas Stars for goalie prospect Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on Monday.
The Methot trade and Ottawa's inability to find a trading partner leading up to the NHL Draft have reportedly convinced the Senators to keep Phaneuf.
Phaneuf had 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 81 games for the Senators this season. He was selected with the ninth pick in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames and ranks seventh among active NHL defensemen with 462 career points (130 goals, 332 assists).
Brendan Smith agrees to terms with Rangers
Take defenseman Brendan Smith off the list of pending unrestricted free agents. Smith, 28, and the New York Rangers agreed to terms on a new contract Thursday.
Terms were not disclosed, but TSN reported Wednesday it was for four years and $17.4 million, with an average annual value of $4.35 million.
Smith had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 51 games this season with the Detroit Red Wings and Rangers. He had four points (one goal, three assists in 18 games with New York after it acquired him in a trade with Detroit on Feb. 28.
Canucks planning for possibility of Ryan Miller not re-signing
The Vancouver Canucks are prepared to pursue a goaltender if they are unable to re-sign Ryan Miller, president Trevor Linden told TSN 1040/1410 Vancouver on Wednesday.
"I think we're looking to add, obviously, a goaltender," Linden said.
Miller reportedly could be signing with a team in Southern California, perhaps the Anaheim Ducks, in part to be closer to his wife's acting opportunities.
"Talks [with Ryan] are ongoing. I think that there's lots of options," Linden told the radio station. "I think both sides are trying to figure out what the right fit is and obviously respect Ryan's wishes to play closer to his offseason home. ... We're just working through that with Ryan and his agent, and we'll see how that plays out over the weekend."
Linden said he has spoken to agents this week but did not name the goaltenders Vancouver may have interest in pairing with Jacob Markstrom. Among those expected to hit the market July 1 are Brian Elliott, Steve Mason and Jonathan Bernier.
"We've always said that it's a position that we want to feel real good about both guys," Linden said. "... It's the foundation of your team. So we want to make sure we're buttoned down there and have two guys that we feel really good about.
"... We have a unique opportunity where a player can come here, a goaltender can come here and feel like he has an opportunity to play some games and contribute and be a part of that. We'll continue to kind of work the phones and see what our options are."
Miller, 36, was 18-29-6 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 54 games last season. Markstrom, 27, was 10-11-3 with a 2.63 GAA and .910 save percentage in 26 games.
Linden also confirmed center Sam Gagner, an unrestricted free agent, visited the Canucks this week.