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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Penguins trade possibilities; Marner's next Maple Leafs contract

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the May 1 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Will there be big names moved in the offseason as a result of early playoff exits? -- @MrBen551

The team to look at is Pittsburgh Penguins. They were swept by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round and never really had the chemistry and consistency they were hoping for all season. Center Sidney Crosby isn't going anywhere and I highly doubt the Penguins will trade center Evgeni Malkin because the return won't match what he can do for the Penguins. However, I wouldn't rule out either forward Phil Kessel or defenseman Kris Letang being traded. Kessel, who is 31 and has three years remaining on his contract, has 174 points (61 goals, 113 assists) in 164 games the past two seasons. Production is not the issue. Getting younger and faster on the wing is, especially with Malkin turning 33 and Crosby 32 this offseason. Letang turned 32 on April 24 and missed 17 games this season because of injury. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have a shakeup, but that has less to do with being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets and more to do with their salary cap situation. None of their most notable players -- centers Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, forward Nikita Kucherov, defensemen Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy -- will be on the move. I expect them to get Point signed before he can potentially entertain offer sheets from other teams, but his contract, which should be north of $8 million per season at least, will likely force Tampa Bay to make a change or two up front with the potential of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat or J.T. Miller being traded. The Lightning also have four defensemen who can become unrestricted free agents on July 1 in Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn and Jan Rutta. Maybe one of them will be back. 

 

What happens if Mitchell Marner outprices himself from what the Toronto Maple Leafs can afford to spend against the salary cap in upcoming contract negotiations? Is it possible he doesn't return? -- @k_corpstein

I don't think Marner is going to price himself out of Toronto's salary cap structure because the market seems set for him when you look at other scoring forwards who have signed recent contracts. Kucherov and Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone each start on eight-year contract extensions that carry $9.5 million cap charges next season. Marner should be in that ballpark, maybe with a $500,000 bump to get him up to $10 million per season, and that doesn't price him out from the Maple Leafs structure. 

The better question is how long will it take for Toronto and Marner to settle on a new contract, because the last thing the Maple Leafs want to do is go deep into the offseason with it unresolved. They went down that road with forward William Nylander this season and he didn't sign a six-year contract until Dec. 1. Toronto wants to have Marner's situation resolved by the 2019 NHL Draft (June 21-22) or by June 30 at the latest. I don't think the Maple Leafs will be scared off by offer sheets, but if they don't have him signed before July 1, they could look to trade him. 

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm1: Marner scores after hitting both posts

 

With rumors swirling around P.K. Subban, do you think a team like the New Jersey Devils would be a good fit? They are in need of a No. 1 defenseman and his contract would end in time for the Devils to give Jack Hughes, if selected, big money if needed once his entry-level contract ends. -- @Rob_Oswald

It's a no-brainer for the Devils to try to acquire Subban if they can make a trade work with the Nashville Predators. The reasons you laid out are strong, especially with Subban having three years remaining on an eight-year, $72 million contract he signed with the Montreal Canadiens on Aug. 3, 2014. The Devils would be getting what likely would be Subban's last three prime years; he turns 30 on May 13. They'd still have the flexibility to sign forward Taylor Hall to a contract extension and center Nico Hischier to a new contract after his entry-level contract expires following next season. 

The question is what will it cost to get Subban, who I think will be on the trading block because of the Predators' salary cap situation, especially on defense. Ryan Ellis' cap charge goes up to $6.25 million next season from $2.5 million this season. Roman Josi has one year remaining at $4 million and likely will get an extension that pays him at least double that annually. Something has to give. 

Devils defenseman Ty Smith, the No. 17 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, could entice Nashville. If the Predators want a proven defenseman instead, the Devils could offer Will Butcher or Damon Severson plus a draft pick or two. Butcher is a pending restricted free agent and Severson is signed for four more seasons with a cap charge of $4.167 million. Butcher's next contract could carry a similar cap charge. 

Either way, getting Butcher or Severson means the Predators would be getting a fourth defenseman behind Josi, Ellis and Mattias Ekholm for about half the price they're paying Subban. That's the cap savings they need. Getting Smith means they're getting a top prospect, which is great for their future.

 

Where do the Los Angeles Kings go from here? -- @Jaykegil

It starts with new coach Todd McLellan helping the veteran core players rediscover their games, which were clearly lost this season. From centers Anze Kopitar (60 points; 22 goals, 38 assists in 81 games) and Jeff Carter (33 points; 13 goals, 20 assists in 76 games) to forwards Ilya Kovalchuk (34 points; 16 goals, 18 assists in 64 games) and Tyler Toffoli (34 points; 13 goals, 21 assists in 82 games) and defenseman Drew Doughty (minus-34 in 82 games), the Kings had their worst season in more than a decade. There's a lot of talent there McLellan has to re-ignite. Goalie Jonathan Quick also has to find his game after posting a 3.38 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in 46 games.

If McLellan starts with the stars and gets results, the rest has a chance to fall into place. That includes incorporating some of the Kings mix of young forwards to turn them into a faster and more modernized team. Austin Wagner, Carl Grundstrom, Matt Luff, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and, if he's healthy, Gabriel Vilardi could be leaned on. I expect general manager Rob Blake to try to make some more roster changes in the offseason with the focus on getting younger and faster, because the Kings are one of the oldest and slowest teams in the NHL. 

Video: VGK@LAK: Kovalchuk hits the empty net to seal the win

 

Do you see the New York Rangers trying to move up in the 2019 NHL Draft. Obviously not by trading the No. 2 pick, but rather trading the Winnipeg Jets pick, possible Dallas Stars first-round pick and/or someone like Chris Kreider? -- @itzkowitz_david

Everything after the No. 2 pick is on the table for the Rangers. Some of it probably depends on where the pick from the Stars falls. New York owns Dallas' second-round pick from the trade for forward Mats Zuccarello on Feb. 23, but if the Stars reach the Western Conference Final that will turn into Dallas' first-round pick based on the conditions of the trade. Another condition was Zuccarello had to play in at least 50 percent of the Stars' playoff games in the first two rounds, which he has already done. 

New York traded its own second-round pick this year plus a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Adam Fox on Tuesday. Acquiring Fox theoretically gives the Rangers even more flexibility to trade other assets for immediate help or a higher first-round pick.

If the Rangers end up with three first-round picks, it could make it easier for them to trade one of them plus additional assets to try to move up in the draft. If the pick doesn't change into a first-round selection, New York may not want to trade out of the second round completely and could just stay where it is. Then again, getting the No. 2 pick could also make it easier for them to trade the Jets' first-round pick, which they received in the trade for center Kevin Hayes. They should get a player that will be on the roster right away with the No. 2 pick. 

Trading Kreider is an option because the forward has one year remaining on his contract and I don't think the Rangers want to get into the position next season where they again have to trade a pending UFA. I'd keep Kreider and re-sign him. I think the Rangers will ultimately do that.

 

Getting way ahead here, but how much of a surprise/upset would it be if the Carolina Hurricanes actually won the Stanley Cup? -- @coachowen15

Nobody I know has picked the Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup at any point this season. So, yeah, it would be a big surprise. To analyze it deeper, though, Carolina's success shouldn't be all that shocking. 

The Hurricanes have been among the League's best at suppressing shot attempts, scoring chances and at keeping the puck for several seasons. They have the second-best shot-attempts percentage in the League in the past three seasons (53.56), including a 54.81 SAT this season, which was second behind the San Jose Sharks (54.87). They've carried that into the playoffs, where they are first in the League at 57.73. This season, their goaltending has held up better than in previous seasons and they've been better at protecting leads to win more one-goal games. That's why they are where they are now. The Hurricanes were 15-6-7 in one-goal games and 25-1-3 when leading after the first period in the regular season after going 14-13-11 in one-goal games and 16-4-4 when leading after the first last season. They're 4-1 in one-goal games and 2-0 when leading after the first in the playoffs, which means they're 3-3 when trailing after the first. 

The Hurricanes are content playing and winning low-scoring, tight games. They don't always trail by deep margins, so they feel they can come back in games too. When that continues into the playoffs, success usually follows. 

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm2: Niederreiter breaks tie with deflection

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