Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

VGK Trade Ryan Reaves To The NYR

(7/30/2021)

I go out for the first night in six months to ave a burger and a few pops.  Of course a trade is made. NEW YORK, July 29, 2021 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that the team has acquired forward Ryan Reaves from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Reaves, 34, skated in 37 games with Vegas this past season, registering one goal and four assists for five points, along with 27 penalty minutes. He led the NHL (min. 20 games played) in hits per 60 minutes of ice time in 2020-21 (23.02), and he also led the Golden Knights in hits (141) this past season. Reaves skated in 12 games during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs while helping the Golden Knights advance to the Semifinals. The 6-2, 225-pounder has skated in 686 career NHL games over parts of 11 seasons (2010-11 – 2020-21) with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Vegas, registering 49 goals and 52 assists for 101 points, along with 937 penalty minutes. Since the start of his first NHL season in 2010-11, Reaves ranks third in the NHL in hits (2,322), ranks seventh in the NHL in major penalties (75), and ranks eighth in the league in penalty minutes. He has averaged at least 20 hits per 60 minutes of ice time in each of his 11 NHL seasons, and he led the NHL in hits in back-to-back seasons in 2018-19 (305) and 2019-20 (316). Reaves has helped his team advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last 10 seasons, and he has skated in 84 postseason games in his NHL career. He helped Vegas advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18, and he also helped the Golden Knights advance to at least the third round of the playoffs in three of his four seasons with the team. Reaves was coached by current Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant for parts of three seasons with Vegas (2017-18 – 2019-20). The Winnipeg, Manitoba native was originally selected by St. Louis in the fifth round, 156th overall, of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

A Small Blurb On The UFA Signings

(7/29/2021)

from Justin Bourne of Sportsnet, When I agreed to write two sentences on every signing from UFA day in the NHL – something I’ve done numerous times in the past – I hadn’t banked on there being 63,000 signings. We got our work cut out for us here folks, so let’s dive in. We’ll start with the first registered deal, and work our way up to most recent. Brandon Montour, D, Florida Contract: Three years, $3.5 million AAV Florida made a similar bet to the one they made with Sam Bennett here. That’s that the player who excelled for them over a small post-deadline sample is indeed that player, and not the guy he had more commonly been in the years prior. Blake Coleman, RW, Calgary Contract: Six years, $4.9 million AAV When you hire Darryl Sutter to coach your team, you’re not putting him in a position to succeed if you don’t get him some players who play the brand of hockey he wants to play. This is too much money, but Coleman’s exactly what they’re looking for, so in a way it’s like smart clothes shopping – you’re better off spending more for something you’ll actually use than less for something you won’t wanna put out there. Frederik Andersen, G, Carolina Contract: Two years, $4.5 million AAV Andersen became polarizing to Leafs fans, but I’ve long been Team Freddy. He’s a big, solid, quiet, bonafide NHL starter, and while there are real signs of decline there, he’s as good a bet as any UFA goalie out there to have a good season in 2021-22. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Is The Goaltending In Toronto Good Enough To Win The Cup?

(7/29/2021)

from Michael Traikos of the National Post, While the Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back championships with four-time Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy as their unquestioned starter, the line between elite No. 1 goalie and flavour-of-the-month has never been so blurred — or so confusing. Maybe that is why so many teams are now treating the position as though it is the NHL’s version of a bullpen. It’s all about quantity — not quality — these days, with teams preferring tandems and riding the hot hand for all it’s worth, before discarding it once it goes cold. And so, Mrazek replaces Frederik Andersen as the Leafs’ 1B on a three-year deal where he and Campbell will presumably share the net. In a division that includes Vasilevskiy, Montreal’s Carey Price and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky, you’d be hard-pressed to say that the Leafs have improved their chances of getting out of the first round. “It never felt for us like we had a tandem,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said of Campbell and Andersen, who evenly split the net last season. “It was just whoever was healthy was playing. Mrazek has done (a tandem) in Carolina, but also carried the ball as a starter. We think they will push each other.” At the same time, Dubas admitted that it’s not like the Leafs had the cap space to go “big-game hunting” for a big-name goalie. Even they did, why would they waste the money on a position where you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Pieces Are Falling Into Place For The Wings

(7/29/2021)

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit Red Wings added a trusted veteran and a promising late bloomer to their lineup on the opening day of free agency. Forward Sam Gagner’s one-year extension clocked in before the NHL's so-called "silly season" began, continuing a relationship that began at the 2019-20 trade deadline. After his acquisition from Edmonton, he became a leader in the locker room and a calming, versatile presence on the ice. Later, in the afternoon, forward Pius Suter was signed for two years and a total of $6.5 million. A former juniors teammate of Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, Suter didn’t reach the NHL full-time until he was 24, posting 27 points in 55 games last season. The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t tend the 5-feet-11, 176-pound Swiss native a qualifying offer, but there was a fit for him with the Wings, who are desperate to improve their offense. Suter, a former Swiss League MVP who turned 25 in May, is expected to battle for a spot in the Wings' top six. Suter scored 14 goals last season, with five coming against the Wings. His first three of the season one game, Jan. 24 in a 6-2 Blackhawks win over the Wings in Chicago. After scoring 11 goals in Chicago's first 35 games, he only had three in their final 21. Suter wasn’t immediately available to media Wednesday. Gagner, who turns 32 in August, has shown how he can impact a rebuilding team. “I think when you’re going through something like that as an organization, you need veteran players that can help lead the way, but you need to be able to play,” Gagner said. “I think I still have a lot of game left. I kind of found myself in a new role last year that I really enjoyed — being able to play on the penalty kill and the power play, kind of anywhere in the lineup, in different positions, is something that I would consider an asset. “I’m looking forward to getting back there and helping the team grow in any way I can. We have a really good group, a great group of guys. I think we’re closer than people would expect. We’re a better team than people would expect.” continued ($$$)

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

A Two-Year Deal In Carolina For Antti Raanta

(7/28/2021)

RALEIGH, N.C. – Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Antti Raanta on a two-year contract. The deal will pay Raanta an average-annual value (AAV) of $2 million per season through 2022-23. “Antti is an established goaltender who has put up strong numbers in his career,” said Waddell. “We’re excited to add a veteran presence to our group.” Raanta, 32, earned a 5-5-2 record, 3.36 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 12 appearances for the Arizona Coyotes last season. In four seasons with Arizona from 2017-21, he posted a 46-42-11 record, 2.57 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts. Raanta owns a career record of 93-65-20 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and 13 shutouts in 198 career NHL games with the Coyotes, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. The 6’0”, 198-pound netminder ranks sixth in save percentage and ninth in goals-against average among active NHL goalies with at least 150 career starts. Raanta is a former teammate of Teuvo Teravainen (Chicago, 2013-15), Jesper Fast and Brady Skjei (New York, 2015-17) and Jordan Martinook (Arizona, 2017-18). The Rauma, Finland, native represented his home country at the 2013 IIHF World Championship, registering a 4-3-0 record, 2.09 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in seven games at the tournament.

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Questions Of The Day

(7/27/2021)

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Are the Buffalo Sabres going to trade Jack Eichel? All indications are that the Sabres will trade their captain. General manager Kevyn Adams said Saturday that he wouldn't have a problem if Eichel stayed in Buffalo, but the center's agents, Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, told Sportsnet in a dual statement all discussions they've had with the Sabres revolve around a trade and that is their expectation.... Will the Vegas Golden Knights trade a goalie? It's possible the Golden Knights could move either Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner to free the cap space needed to fill other needs, including a No. 1 center. Fleury, who won the Vezina Trophy voted as the best goalie in the NHL this season, has one season remaining on a three-year, $21 million contract ($7 million average annual value) he signed with Vegas on July 13, 2018. Lehner has four years remaining on a five-year, $25 million contract ($5 million AAV) he signed Oct. 3, 2020.... What happens with Gabriel Landeskog and Philipp Grubauer? Landeskog, Colorado's forward and longtime captain, and Grubauer, who finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting this season, can become unrestricted free agents Wednesday. Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said he is hopeful of re-signing both players and that it was important for the Avalanche to re-sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year, $54 million contract ($9 million AAV) on Saturday because it gave them some cap clarity while working on deals for Landeskog and Grubauer.... more on each of th above plus more player questions...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Plan For A Busy Week

(7/26/2021)

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun, Teams are already trying to determine the course of action with their own pending UFAs so they can either sign them or move on to be better prepared for Wednesday. More than a few GMs went into serious deal mode as of Saturday night once their last draft picks were made and everyone had a better picture of what the expansion Seattle Kraken roster looked like. By Monday night, all restricted free agents knew if they were getting qualifying offers or not, setting a few up to join the UFA bonanza. Jack Eichel’s agents have let it be known he’s skating again, some added enticement for clubs concerned about his medical condition. In addition to his frustration with the ongoing cycle of losing in Buffalo, there is disagreement with the Sabres about treating the herniated disc in his neck. Eichel is said to want a disc replacement, an uncommon operation for an NHLer that the Sabres’ medical staff deems too risky. It’s a stance Eichel’s reps say underline their belief it’s best he move on. But five years with a $10-million US cap hit is a lot for any new team to take on, never mind the health issue and putting a trade package together. At 100% Eichel, on the other hand, is a game-changer for any club. In Denver, GM Joe Sakic is trying to calm fears that he’ll lose both captain Gabriel Landeskog and No. 1 goalie Philipp Grubauer, telling reporters that Wednesday does not equate to doomsday on their careers in Colorado. But Landeskog’s stated disappointment at the pace of talks has understandably made fans antsy. In Carolina, the Hurricanes are trying to keep second-team all-star defenceman Dougie Hamilton from walking. “We’re running across some deadlines here (and) deadlines are when things usually happen,” GM Don Waddell said post-draft. “I know Dougie’s very familiar with where we are. We still know what his thoughts are, and it’s up to his agent, (J.P. Barry) and I to figure it out, It’s got to fit for him and for us. But I feel pretty good that we’ll be able to get this done.” read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Focusing On Signings, Trades And UFAs

(7/25/2021)

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said after the first round of the draft Friday that he is fielding calls on Eichel. He said he spoke to Eichel's agent, Peter Fish, twice Saturday, and has not ruled out keeping him the Buffalo captain. "I would have no problem at all if Jack Eichel is on our team when we start training camp," Adams said. "I have said this before and I'll say it again: If we are in a position that we believe will help our franchise not just short term but for the long term in building this out, building around a core and a foundation of critical assets, then we'd be open to look at that. If we didn't have that on the table or don't think that makes sense, then we don't do something. But, yeah, I have no problem with Jack being here." The expansion Seattle Kraken plan to be active entering the free agent market for the first time. "Certainly we think there are some players in free agency that we'd like to have a discussion with, and hopefully we're able to convince them to come and join our organization," Kraken general manager Ron Francis said. Several teams have already addressed needs through trades or signing their own would-be free agents. The Colorado Avalanche got defenseman Cale Makar, a pending restricted free agent, under contract for six years and $54 million ($9 million average annual value). They'd like to re-sign forward Gabriel Landeskog and goalie Philipp Grubauer; each can become an unrestricted free agent. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Selling New Jersey

(7/25/2021)

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, ...as this year’s free-agent market is set to open on Wednesday, the Devils have found a different way. Slap Shots has learned that the team has sent an email to agents extolling the virtues of playing for the organization and in New Jersey. Who needs breakfast at Tiffany’s? “Jersey is an incredible place to play and live. Players who come here quickly realize all that the state has to offer,” general manager Tom Fitzgerald writes. “We are close to major cities, beautiful beaches, fine dining and a myriad of entertainment options. We are also home to many welcoming communities. In fact, many Devils’ families were built and grown right here in the Garden State. “I have a distinct vision of the culture we are building here and what we look for in players. I expect them to be committed to who we are and what we are, to compete day-in and day-out, regardless of skill level, and to be accountable to teammates, coaches, and most importantly, themselves. We will challenge our team to strive for excellence because I know we are on our way there.” The email includes a link to a dedicated site meant to be shared with prospective free agents that features ownership, the organization (“FIRST CLASS ORGANIZATION”), the staff, the fans and the community. more plus other notes like this... Gerry Johansson, the agent for Luke Prokop, was driving along the other night when he received a call from someone outside of the hockey world asking for the cell number of the 19-year-old Predators prospect who on Monday became the first active player under an NHL contract to publicly come out as gay. The agent gave the caller the young man’s digits. And when Prokop next heard the ring, the man on the other end of the line was Elton John.

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

A Good Or Bad Weekend

(7/25/2021)

from Rory Boylen of Sportsnet, The NHL Draft started with a flurry of trade action, some surprising picks, and a long second day that wasn't quite as busy on the player movement front. Friday and Saturday set the stage for what should be a busy week ahead, especially with so many rumoured deals still hanging -- including the biggest in Jack Eichel -- and free agency looming on Wednesday. Here are some of our winners and losers from a wild draft weekend. WINNERS Columbus Blue Jackets Knowing they had to trade another star -- this time Seth Jones, one year from free agency -- the the Columbus Blue Jackets were in a tough situation with a potentially gloomy outcome. A rebuild, retool, whatever you want to call it, was incoming, but how to start off on the right foot? Columbus ended up trading Jones to Chicago for puck-moving 20-year-old blueliner Adam Boqvist, a 2021 second-rounder and a 2022 first-rounder. The two teams also swapped 2021 first-rounders, so the Blue Jackets moved up 20 slots to 12th overall. They took Cole Sillinger with the selection, a hard-nosed centre with goal scoring upside and NHL bloodlines. From Columbus' perspective, it's a huge win for the rebuild. Boqvist has two NHL seasons under his belt and a lot of promise -- and how good will the Hawks be next season? The 2022 pick Chicago gave up is top-three protected, but Columbus could end up with another mid-round selection there potentially. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Goaltending Situation In Carolina

(7/25/2021)

from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer, Waddell and the Canes traded goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Again, it was a money thing. Nedeljkovic was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and seemed more than willing to go to arbitration and let a mediator determine his salary. Instead, Nedeljkovic was traded for the rights to Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier and a 2021 third-round pick. Just like that, a goalie who was a 2021 Calder Trophy finalist and a fan favorite was dealt away, leaving a number of Canes fans confused and irked that the guy known as “Ned” was leaving. “The Ned thing is tough,” Waddell said. “Ned played good here. We got in a situation, he’s been in the organization for five years, we’ve watched him for five years. He played good here, he had 20-something good hockey games. We just felt that with the situation that we were in, he had [arbitration] rights, we couldn’t work out a deal and maybe we need more experienced goalies in here. “We made a decision as an organization. Everybody was involved — goalie coaches, coaches, ownership, everybody. We didn’t sit down on an island and make this call. You watch a player and you find out what he’s all about. He got on an unbelievable hot streak this year. We can’t deny that. He’s such a great kid and you’re happy for him and wish him nothing but success. But we also thought that going forward maybe we wanted to go with a more veteran-looking goaltending duo.”... Will a Mrazek-Bernier tandem eventually be the “veteran-looking” duo Waddell mentioned? Maybe. “We’re wide open,” Waddell said. “We’re approaching it that we think it’s an opportunity for all these guys because we don’t have a starting goalie. We’re approaching this open-minded.” more plus the Canes trying to sign Dougie Hamilton before UFA day on July 28th...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Leafs Won’t Do A Sign And Trade With Zach Hymen

(7/25/2021)

from Kristen Shilton of TSN, According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, Hyman is set to sign a long-term deal with the Edmonton Oilers when free agency officially begins next week. Dubas had subsequently been engaged with Oilers’ GM Ken Holland on a sign-and-trade that would have allowed Hyman to ink a max-term eight-year deal with Edmonton. But Dreger reported on Saturday those talks proved fruitless. Dubas and the Leafs placed a high value on the cap savings that eighth year would bring Edmonton, and the Oilers weren’t willing to meet their expectations. “We know what the value is of the eighth year with the cap savings and so if there's a fair deal to be made to do that, we'll do that,” Dubas told reporters on a Zoom call Saturday, following the conclusion of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. “But we've been in that situation before [too], and the other GMs aren't helping you out there; they’re pulling the pin from the grenade and they're throwing it to you. I know there's a narrative that we should just get something but you're saving a team significant dollars on the salary cap and that comes with the cost, and we're not going to bend on [what we think is fair].” Hyman, 29, has played the entirety of his career to date in Toronto, amassing 85 goals and 185 points in 345 career games. Dreger reiterated on Saturday that the deal in place for Hyman now with Edmonton will be for seven years and is likely to carry an average annual value of $5.5 million. read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

30 Trade Targets

(7/23/2021)

from Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff, Happy NHL Draft Day 2021. There’s plenty on the move, so hurry up and dive in to read about the 30 Trade Targets in play before everything changes. 1. Jack Eichel Center, Buffalo Sabres Age: 24 Contract: 5 years remaining at $10 million AAV Scoop: The asking price for Eichel seems to be “fantastical” by all accounts. Teams are on high alert in the hours leading up to the first round of the NHL Draft. The Rangers, for one, were calling around to teams inquiring about a pick inside the Top 10 – believed to be part of the ask from Buffalo to get into the Eichel ballpark. Buffalo wants a futures-type transaction with multiple picks and prospects. It’s still difficult to imagine a scenario in which Eichel returns to the Sabres next season, but this weekend should be a strong indicator of the odds on that. 2. Seth Jones Right Defense, Columbus Blue Jackets Age: 26 Contract: 1 year remaining at $5.4 million AAV Scoop: There is no doubt the Chicago Blackhawks are working hard to pry Jones loose from Columbus. The belief is Chicago is not willing to part with either Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in a deal. The leverage Chicago has is there are few markets where Jones is willing to sign long-term – and that have the ability or interest in trading for him. Chicago is one of them. The difficulty for Columbus is teams do not want to pay twice, both the acquisition cost to get him, then the cost to sign him. continued