All posts by Josh Wegman

Report: Wild lock up Dumba with 5-year, $30M deal

The Minnesota Wild re-signed defenseman Matt Dumba to a five-year contract with an average annual value of $6 million, reports Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Dumba is coming off his best season in which he tallied 14 goals and 50 points while suiting up in all 82 games for the Wild. He logged a career-high 23:49 of ice time per contest while recording 136 hits and 112 blocks.

The Wild were eliminated in five games by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the playoffs, but Dumba was their best player, assuming the role of No. 1 defenseman with Ryan Suter injured.

According to Corsica's player rating system, Dumba graded as the 34th-best defenseman last season, making him an elite No. 2 rearguard, and he's still just 23 years old.

Dumba was a restricted free agent and was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on July 23. Forward Jason Zucker now remains the Wild's lone RFA.

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Canucks re-sign B.C. native Troy Stecher to 2-year contract

The Vancouver Canucks re-signed defenseman Troy Stecher to a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.325 million, the team announced on Friday.

"Troy Stecher is an important part of our team," said Canucks general manager Jim Benning. "He's a talented two-way defenseman who competes every shift. Troy has a willingness to always improve his game and is an example of a young player committed to being a professional."

The Richmond, B.C. native's point total fell from 24 as a rookie to 11 in his sophomore campaign. However, he nearly doubled his hit total with 111, and blocked 75 shots.

Stecher was originally signed as an undrafted college free agent after a stellar NCAA career, highlighted by winning a national championship with the University of North Dakota in 2015-16. He played alongside future NHLers Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula, and current Canucks teammate Brock Boeser.

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Rangers re-sign Vesey to 2-year contract

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Jimmy Vesey on a new two-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal comes with an average annual value of $2.275 million, according to the New York Post's Larry Brooks.

The 6-foot-3 winger first signed with the Rangers following his stellar NCAA career at Harvard, but his time in the NHL has been slightly underwhelming thus far. In 159 games with New York over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old amassed 33 goals and 55 points.

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Devils re-sign checking forward Coleman to 3-year, $5.4M deal

The New Jersey Devils re-signed forward Blake Coleman to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.8 million, the team announced Tuesday.

Coleman might be more known around the league for drinking pickle juice than for his hockey abilities, but he's actually one of the league's most underrated players.

In his first full NHL season last year, the 26-year-old was a valuable checking forward for the Devils. He finished 15th in the league with 68 takeaways and was the only player in the top 45 of that category with fewer than 25 giveaways (21).

Meanwhile, Coleman came very close to posting an even possession number (48.1 Corsi For percentage) despite starting nearly two-thirds (66.4 percent) of his shifts in the defensive zone. He also racked up 216 hits and 57 blocks.

He wasn't exactly a dynamo offensively, but Coleman even managed to chip in 13 goals and 25 points despite limited ice time (14:24 per game) and being used primarily in a defensive role.

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After signing Hellebuyck, can the Jets afford to keep the rest of their core?

Connor Hellebuyck's six-year, $37-million contract extension was a deal Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff had to make after the goaltender's play was a huge part of the team's success this past season.

But now, Cheveldayoff's attention turns to the next task at hand: locking up the rest of his core.

Cheveldayoff and his staff have drafted well over the last five years, which means a lot of restricted free agents will need new contracts, all within a two-year span. It's a problem every GM would love to have, but it's difficult nonetheless.

Here's a list of the Jets' current RFAs:

Player Pos. 2017-18 cap hit
Jacob Trouba D $2.81M
Adam Lowry C $1.125M
Tucker Poolman D $925K
Josh Morrissey D $863K
Marko Dano RW $850K
Brandon Tanev LW $700K

Trouba and Morrissey are obviously the biggest fish to fry.

On a long-term contract, Trouba will likely earn at least $6 million per season, while Morrissey would probably make around $5 million annually. The Jets could delay their extensions by going to arbitration or signing them to bridge deals, but that would only raise the cap hits on eventual long-term contracts.

Winnipeg still has over $20 million in cap space, so securing Trouba and Morrissey, then retaining the remaining RFAs, isn't too much of a squeeze right now.

It's next offseason when things become interesting.

Player Pos. FA type 2018-19 cap hit
Blake Wheeler RW UFA $5.6M
Tyler Myers D UFA $5.5M
Ben Chiarot D UFA $1.4M
Joe Morrow D RFA $1M
Andrew Copp C RFA $1M
Patrik Laine RW RFA $925K
Kyle Connor LW RFA $925K

Wheeler, the Jets' captain, is coming off a career-high 91-point season. Another productive year could result in a cap hit in the $8-10 million range.

Myers played all 82 games last season and was stellar while piling up 36 points. Smooth skating, right-handed shooting defenseman standing at 6-foot-8 don't grow on trees, so anything less than $6 million annually probably wouldn't be enough to keep him around.

Since Laine and Connor are RFAs, there's no rush to sign them long term. But here again, the longer the Jets wait, the higher their cap hits will become. Already a perennial Rocket Richard Trophy candidate, Laine could get close to $10 million per season, and another 30-goal year would help Connor pull in roughly $5 million per season.

Signing all six of Trouba, Morrissey, Wheeler, Myers, Laine, and Connor to long-term deals could cost the Jets around $40 million per season, which is estimating conservatively. That's a problem because, as Cap Friendly projects, they'll only have $38.2 million in cap space next year, which doesn't include any of the low-end deals to bring back the aforementioned role players.

Who's the odd man out?

One of the Jets' core players will have to go, and all signs point to Myers.

Related: Why a Gardiner-for-Myers trade would make sense for Leafs, Jets

The Jets have 2017-18 AHL defenseman of the year Sami Niku and 2016 first-rounder Logan Stanley coming through the system on the back end, so letting a blue-liner go makes the most sense. Trouba is only 24 years old, so the odd man out wouldn't be him barring completely stalled contract negotiations. And with Dustin Byfuglien in the fold for three more years, having three stud right-handed shooting defensemen is a luxury the Jets won't be able to afford.

Cheveldayoff could either trade Myers this offseason and get something in return, or keep him around for another year knowing he gives the team a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup, then let him walk for nothing. Either way, losing Myers seems inevitable if Cheveldayoff wants to keep the rest of his foundation together.

However, even without Myers, the Jets will still be right up against the cap, meaning they'll have to move one of their current contracts to accommodate Trouba, Morrissey, Wheeler, Laine, and Connor. Forward Mathieu Perreault ($4.125M through 2020-21) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov ($4.3M through 2019-20) would be most likely to go.

Perreault has been a consistent role player for the Jets, and although his secondary scoring is valuable, they could live without it. Kulikov, meanwhile, is coming off a down year, and while he could rebuild his value before the need to make a trade next offseason, it would likely be much easier to move Perreault.

Even after losing Myers, one of Perreault or Kulikov, and ponying up to pay several key players, the Jets could still boast one of the league's most talented rosters for the 2019-20 season.

Note: Cap hits in parentheses, projected cap hits are bolded.

Forwards: $48.41 million

LW C RW
Kyle Connor ($5M) Mark Scheifele ($6.125M) Blake Wheeler ($8M)
Nikolaj Ehlers ($6M) Bryan Little ($5.29M) Patrik Laine ($10M)
Nic Petan ($800K) Adam Lowry ($2M) Jack Roslovic ($894K)
Brandon Tanev ($1M) Andrew Copp ($1.5M) Marko Dano ($950K)
Brendan Lemieux ($850K)

Defense: $25.98 million

LD RD
Josh Morrissey ($5M) Jacob Trouba ($6.5M)
Dmitry Kulikov ($4.3M) Dustin Byfuglien ($7.6M)
Logan Stanley ($863K) Sami Niku ($775K)
Tucker Poolman ($950K)

Goalies: $6.96 million

G
Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16M)
Eric Comrie ($800K)

That's $81.35 million for the projected 2019-20 roster. The NHL salary cap for the 2018-19 season is $79.5 million. However, the cap hasn't risen by less than $2 million since 2009-10, so the Jets should be fine.

This projection doesn't include the pieces the Jets would receive in potential trades for Myers or Perreault, which could help the roster. The projected cap hits of some players could also drastically change depending on the 2018-19 season.

However, with a little bit of maneuvering, the Jets shouldn't have any issues keeping the bulk of their core. And thanks to their great organizational depth, they should still be able to ice a very competitive team for years to come.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Copyright © 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

After signing Hellebuyck, can the Jets afford to keep the rest of their core?

Connor Hellebuyck's six-year, $37-million contract extension was a deal Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff had to make after the goaltender's play was a huge part of the team's success this past season.

But now, Cheveldayoff's attention turns to the next task at hand: locking up the rest of his core.

Cheveldayoff and his staff have drafted well over the last five years, which means a lot of restricted free agents will need new contracts, all within a two-year span. It's a problem every GM would love to have, but it's difficult nonetheless.

Here's a list of the Jets' current RFAs:

Player Pos. 2017-18 cap hit
Jacob Trouba D $2.81M
Adam Lowry C $1.125M
Tucker Poolman D $925K
Josh Morrissey D $863K
Marko Dano RW $850K
Brandon Tanev LW $700K

Trouba and Morrissey are obviously the biggest fish to fry.

On a long-term contract, Trouba will likely earn at least $6 million per season, while Morrissey would probably make around $5 million annually. The Jets could delay their extensions by going to arbitration or signing them to bridge deals, but that would only raise the cap hits on eventual long-term contracts.

Winnipeg still has over $20 million in cap space, so securing Trouba and Morrissey, then retaining the remaining RFAs, isn't too much of a squeeze right now.

It's next offseason when things become interesting.

Player Pos. FA type 2018-19 cap hit
Blake Wheeler RW UFA $5.6M
Tyler Myers D UFA $5.5M
Ben Chiarot D UFA $1.4M
Joe Morrow D RFA $1M
Andrew Copp C RFA $1M
Patrik Laine RW RFA $925K
Kyle Connor LW RFA $925K

Wheeler, the Jets' captain, is coming off a career-high 91-point season. Another productive year could result in a cap hit in the $8-10 million range.

Myers played all 82 games last season and was stellar while piling up 36 points. Smooth skating, right-handed shooting defenseman standing at 6-foot-8 don't grow on trees, so anything less than $6 million annually probably wouldn't be enough to keep him around.

Since Laine and Connor are RFAs, there's no rush to sign them long term. But here again, the longer the Jets wait, the higher their cap hits will become. Already a perennial Rocket Richard Trophy candidate, Laine could get close to $10 million per season, and another 30-goal year would help Connor pull in roughly $5 million per season.

Signing all six of Trouba, Morrissey, Wheeler, Myers, Laine, and Connor to long-term deals could cost the Jets around $40 million per season, which is estimating conservatively. That's a problem because, as Cap Friendly projects, they'll only have $38.2 million in cap space next year, which doesn't include any of the low-end deals to bring back the aforementioned role players.

Who's the odd man out?

One of the Jets' core players will have to go, and all signs point to Myers.

Related: Why a Gardiner-for-Myers trade would make sense for Leafs, Jets

The Jets have 2017-18 AHL defenseman of the year Sami Niku and 2016 first-rounder Logan Stanley coming through the system on the back end, so letting a blue-liner go makes the most sense. Trouba is only 24 years old, so the odd man out wouldn't be him barring completely stalled contract negotiations. And with Dustin Byfuglien in the fold for three more years, having three stud right-handed shooting defensemen is a luxury the Jets won't be able to afford.

Cheveldayoff could either trade Myers this offseason and get something in return, or keep him around for another year knowing he gives the team a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup, then let him walk for nothing. Either way, losing Myers seems inevitable if Cheveldayoff wants to keep the rest of his foundation together.

However, even without Myers, the Jets will still be right up against the cap, meaning they'll have to move one of their current contracts to accommodate Trouba, Morrissey, Wheeler, Laine, and Connor. Forward Mathieu Perreault ($4.125M through 2020-21) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov ($4.3M through 2019-20) would be most likely to go.

Perreault has been a consistent role player for the Jets, and although his secondary scoring is valuable, they could live without it. Kulikov, meanwhile, is coming off a down year, and while he could rebuild his value before the need to make a trade next offseason, it would likely be much easier to move Perreault.

Even after losing Myers, one of Perreault or Kulikov, and ponying up to pay several key players, the Jets could still boast one of the league's most talented rosters for the 2019-20 season.

Note: Cap hits in parentheses, projected cap hits are bolded.

Forwards: $48.41 million

LW C RW
Kyle Connor ($5M) Mark Scheifele ($6.125M) Blake Wheeler ($8M)
Nikolaj Ehlers ($6M) Bryan Little ($5.29M) Patrik Laine ($10M)
Nic Petan ($800K) Adam Lowry ($2M) Jack Roslovic ($894K)
Brandon Tanev ($1M) Andrew Copp ($1.5M) Marko Dano ($950K)
Brendan Lemieux ($850K)

Defense: $25.98 million

LD RD
Josh Morrissey ($5M) Jacob Trouba ($6.5M)
Dmitry Kulikov ($4.3M) Dustin Byfuglien ($7.6M)
Logan Stanley ($863K) Sami Niku ($775K)
Tucker Poolman ($950K)

Goalies: $6.96 million

G
Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16M)
Eric Comrie ($800K)

That's $81.35 million for the projected 2019-20 roster. The NHL salary cap for the 2018-19 season is $79.5 million. However, the cap hasn't risen by less than $2 million since 2009-10, so the Jets should be fine.

This projection doesn't include the pieces the Jets would receive in potential trades for Myers or Perreault, which could help the roster. The projected cap hits of some players could also drastically change depending on the 2018-19 season.

However, with a little bit of maneuvering, the Jets shouldn't have any issues keeping the bulk of their core. And thanks to their great organizational depth, they should still be able to ice a very competitive team for years to come.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Copyright © 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Flames lock up Lindholm with 6-year, $29.1M contract

The Calgary Flames re-signed forward Elias Lindholm to a six-year contract worth $4.85 million annually, the team announced Monday.

Lindholm and Noah Hanifin were acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes following last month's NHL draft in a blockbuster trade that sent Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and Adam Fox the other way.

The 23-year-old Lindholm was chosen fifth overall by the Hurricanes in 2013, but his development has taken slightly longer than expected. He's played in five NHL seasons, and compiled 16 goals and 44 points during 2017-18, both one shy of his career highs.

The Swede is capable of playing both center and on the wing, so head coach Bill Peters (who coached Lindholm in Carolina) can use him in a variety of ways. However, a spot alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau on Calgary's top line could be the quickest formula for Lindholm to find his untapped potential.

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Blue Jackets’ Murray accepts 1-year qualifying offer

Columbus Blue Jackets restricted free-agent defenseman Ryan Murray accepted his one-year qualifying offer and will be paid $2.825 million for the 2018-19 season, the team announced Saturday.

Murray, the club's second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, has failed to live up to the hype of being such a high selection, but will get a chance to prove himself on a one-year deal. He'll be an RFA once again next summer, but will have arbitration rights.

Injuries are the main reason Murray has been labeled as a draft bust. Over the last two seasons, he's missed 64 games. In 2014-15, he only made 12 appearances in the Blue Jackets' lineup.

However, it wouldn't be surprising if Murray, who will be 25, excels next season if he can have an injury-free year. After all, defensemen tend to take longer to develop compared to forwards, and his growth has presumably been hindered by all the time he's missed.

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Kings re-sign blue-liner LaDue to 2-year pact

The Los Angeles Kings re-signed defenseman Paul LaDue to a new two-year contract that will carry an annual cap hit of $825,000, the team announced Friday.

LaDue, 25, suited up for 12 regular-season games with the Kings last year, scoring three goals and adding one assist. He compiled 18 points in 38 AHL contests with the Ontario Reign.

Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Dion Phaneuf make up L.A.'s top four defensemen, but as a right-handed shot, LaDue will likely contend for a spot on the Kings' third defensive pairing alongside Derek Forbort this coming season.

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5 fantasy hockey sleepers you should target in the later rounds

These five players won't be on many radars come draft day, but fantasy owners could strike gold by plucking at least one of them in the later rounds.

LW/RW Ondrej Kase, Ducks

Kase was very productive for the Anaheim Ducks this past season despite his limited role and missing 16 games, finishing in a tie for second on the team with 20 goals. Here's how he stacked up against the team's fellow top-nine right-wingers:

Player GP G A P ATOI
Corey Perry 71 17 32 49 17:47
Jakob Silfverberg 77 17 23 40 17:58
Ondrej Kase 66 20 18 38 13:55

While Silfverberg's ice time is more reflective of his defensive abilities, Perry is on a dramatic decline. Considering Kase is one of their best offensive players, the goal-hungry Ducks could look to give him an expanded role this coming season, eating into Perry and Silfverberg's minutes.

If Kase remains healthy, sees more ice time, and maybe even gets an audition alongside Ryan Getzlaf on the first line, he has the skill for a 30-goal season.

RW Ty Rattie, Oilers

Rattie should be classified as an extremely deep sleeper. Barring some sort of ridiculous performance in preseason, he probably won't even get drafted in your league, so he can be used with a final-round pick.

The 25-year-old has largely underwhelmed thus far, considering he was chosen 32nd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. He's spent most of his career in the AHL, where he has produced admirably. In brief NHL stints, he failed to make an impact; that was, however, until he was placed on Connor McDavid's line.

In the final 12 games of the 2017-18 season, Rattie scored five goals and added four assists while primarily flanking McDavid and opposite Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the Oilers' top line. While there's certainly no guarantee he takes the spot again, Edmonton hasn't added any wingers worthy of competing for that role.

Monitor his usage in training camp and preseason, and if he's still with McDavid, scoop him up as a final-round flier. A 25-goal season is possible.

C/RW Nick Bjugstad, Panthers

Bjugstad is far down the list of the Florida Panthers' fantasy-relevant players, but he could be in for a monster season, which is fitting because, at 6-foot-6 and 218 pounds, he's a monster himself.

Like many of the Panthers, Bjugstad had an excellent second half, tallying 10 goals and 27 points in his final 34 games. That second-half surge started right around the time he joined forces on a line with superstar center Aleksander Barkov.

Given how much firepower the Panthers have, a full year alongside Barkov could result in a 60-point season for Bjugstad.

LW/RW Valentin Zykov, Hurricanes

Zykov is the rookie nobody will be talking about.

A second-round pick in 2013, Zykov, now 23, is older than most rookies who will be making headlines, but he's a darkhorse Calder Trophy candidate. He led the AHL with 33 goals last year despite only suiting up in 63 games. In his 10-game audition with the Carolina Hurricanes last year, he tallied seven points while averaging less than 14 minutes of ice time.

The Hurricanes have a lot of young talent up front, but with Jeff Skinner likely on his way out, there could be a spot for Zykov in the top-six. With his upside, he's more than worthy of taking a flier on in the final round.

D Ryan Pulock, Islanders

Pulock's biggest weapon is his shot. He has an absolute bomb from the point, and he isn't afraid to use it. He scored 10 goals on 184 shots last year and both of those numbers could rise drastically this season.

Among defenseman who played at least 500 minutes at even strength last year, Pulock ranked third in shots per 60 minutes, trailing only Brent Burns and Dougie Hamilton, according to Natural Stat Trick.

With Calvin de Haan departing in free agency and Johnny Boychuk getting on in age, Pulock could see much more ice time in his second full season, and it could result in a 15-goal, 45-point campaign.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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