Vegas expects quiet opening to free agency
The Vegas Golden Knights are happy enough with what they accomplished during 2017 NHL Expansion Draft that general manager George McPhee doesn’t expect to be active when free agency starts at noon ET on July 1.
“It’s probably going to be quiet for us,” McPhee said Friday after Vegas’ development camp scrimmage at Las Vegas Ice Center. “We did much better with the expansion thing than we anticipated. We’re pretty happy with our team.”
One issue the Golden Knights have is a glut of defensemen on the roster. McPhee said he expects to make more trades but won’t force the issue.
“The ideal would be in the next few days,” he said. “But we’ll wait as long as necessary.”
The Golden Knights have 44 players participating in a development camp, among them their three first-round picks, center Cody Glass (No. 6), center Nick Suzuki (No. 13) and defenseman Erik Brannstrom (No. 15).
“There is some evaluation in this camp,” McPhee said. “There are some players you watch and you say, ‘Geez, he’s a little better than we thought.’ Or there are some players that aren’t quite there yet. I’ve been in camps where they look outstanding, but then when you get in the real camp and the real games they aren’t quite as good.
“You have to be careful with how you evaluate. But we’re delighted with how the camp has gone so far.”
Flames could make more moves July 1
The Calgary Flames have been busy over the past two weeks. They traded for goaltender Mike Smith and defenseman Travis Hamonic and re-signed forward Kris Versteeg, among other moves.
But that doesn’t mean general manager Brad Treliving will be idle when free agency opens at noon ET on July 1.
“We’re looking to get better,” Treliving said Friday. “I wouldn’t necessarily equate it to this position or that position. If we can find a way to make ourselves better we’re going to do it. We’ll see what the next little bit brings from free agency.”
The Flames acquired Smith from the Arizona Coyotes for goaltender Chad Johnson, defenseman Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round pick in a trade June 17. They landed Hamonic and a fourth-round pick in the 2019 or 2020 NHL Draft from the New York Islanders for a first-round pick in the 2018 draft and two second-round picks.
Forwards Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland and Curtis Lazar were given qualifying offers Monday, and the Flames got a commitment from free-agent right wing Spencer Foo of Union College on Tuesday.
Versteeg, who could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1, signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract Thursday. The Flames also acquired goaltender Eddie Lack, defenseman Ryan Murphy and a 2019 seventh-round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman prospect Keegan Kanzig and a 2019 sixth-round pick. The Flames created roster flexibility Friday when they waived Murphy and forward Lance Bouma for the purpose of buying out their contracts.
“It’s not necessarily a precursor to something for sure happening, but ultimately we felt that that room, we’ve still got a couple players to sign internally, we still would like to see if there are ways to make ourselves better,” Treliving said. “When you factor in those things, we felt the need for flexibility was real important.”
Defenseman Michael Stone has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with an average annual value of $3.5 million to remain with the Flames, TSN reported Friday. Stone could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Patrick Marleau has two-year offer from Sharks: report
Forward Patrick Marleau has received a two-year offer to stay with the San Jose Sharks, TSN reported Friday.
Marleau, 37, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He had 46 points (27 goals, 19 assists) and 16 power-play points (seven goals, nine assists) in 82 games for the Sharks this season.
The left wing’s future with the Sharks could be tied to center Joe Thornton , who can also become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Marleau is the Sharks’ all-time leader in goals (508), points (1,082) and games played (1,493). He was selected by San Jose with the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft and has spent his entire NHL career with the Sharks.
Bruins to take quiet approach to free agency
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he doesn’t anticipate being as aggressive when free agency begins July 1 as he was during his first two seasons as GM.
“Probably in a more patient mode right about now,” Sweeney said. “I’ve certainly explored some of these similar situations but not anxious or overly anxious to jump the gun.”
On the first day of free agency last year the Bruins signed forward David Backes to a five-year contract with an average annual value of $6 million. On the first day in 2015, Matt Beleskey was signed to a five-year contract with an average annual value of $3.8 million.
Sweeney is trying to strike a balance, making sure the Bruins are deep enough to compete while providing opportunity for prospects, including defenseman Charlie McAvoy and forward Anders Bjork, to battle for NHL jobs at training camp. Sweeney said he thinks there are more forward prospects close to being NHL ready than defensemen, so defense will be a focus of his free agent shopping.
The Bruins have approximately $14.4 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, but they have to re-sign restricted free agent forwards David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller. Pastrnak was second on the Bruins with 70 points (34 goals, 36 assists) last season.
“I don’t comment on where things are at other than we’re committed to the player and we’d like to find a long-term deal,” Sweeney said.
Radim Vrbata could remain with Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes are considering re-signing right wing Radim Vrbata, according to general manager John Chayka.
Vrbata, 36, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He led the Coyotes in goals (20), assists (35), points (55) and shots on goal (233) this season.
“We have some interest,” Chayka told the Coyotes website. “He had a great year, but we’re in the business of paying for future performance and not past performance. He is certainly a guy that we have interest in, but he would not be the only alternative.”
Teams placing players on waivers before start of free agency
With the start of free agency set for July 1 at noon ET, multiple NHL teams are waiving players for the purposes of contract buyouts Friday.
The Boston Bruins placed forward Jimmy Hayes on waivers for the purpose of a buyout. Hayes’ contract will count for $566,667 against the salary cap next season and $866,667 in 2018-19.
The New Jersey Devils placed forwards Michael Cammalleri and Devante Smith-Pelly on unconditional waivers for purposes of buyouts, and the Calgary Flames placed forward Lance Bouma and defenseman Ryan Murphy on unconditional waivers for purposes of buyouts.
Also placed on waivers for the purposes of their contracts being bought out were Jussi Jokinen of the Florida Panthers and Brad Stuart of the Winnipeg Jets, according to Sportsnet.
Sabres, Wild trade in the works: report
The Minnesota Wild will trade defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Jason Pominville to the Buffalo Sabres for forwards Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, according to TSN.
The trade as rumored would provide significant salary-cap relief for the Wild; Scandella has a $4.0 million salary cap charge for three more seasons, and Pominville has a $5.6 million charge for two seasons, according to CapFriendly.com. The Wild still has to sign restricted free agent forwards Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund.
Scandella, 27, had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 71 games this season, his seventh in the NHL, all with the Wild.
Pominville, 34, had 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 78 games. He was drafted by the Sabres in the second round (No. 55) and played his first nine NHL seasons with them.
Ennis, 27, had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 51 games. He has two seasons remaining on a contract that has an average annual value of $4.6 million.
Foligno, 25, scored a personal NHL best 13 goals in 80 games. He can become a restricted free agent July 1. He had a $2.25 million salary cap charge this season.
Flyers keep forward Jordan Weal with two-year contract
Forward Jordan Weal signed a two-year contract Thursday to remain with the Philadelphia Flyers. Financial terms were not released but the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the total value to be $3.5 million, for an average annual value of $1.75 million
Weal, 25, could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He had 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 23 games after being recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Feb. 10.
“The Flyers gave me a great chance last year to play with some great players,” Weal told the Flyers website. “I think the group is headed in the right direction, and there’s a lot of talent and skill especially with some of the additions they’ve made. I’m excited to get back and to keep getting better as a group.”
The North Vancouver native met with the Vancouver Canucks before deciding to re-sign with the Flyers.
Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (No. 70) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Weal was traded to the Flyers by the Kings on Jan. 6, 2016. He did not have a point in his first 18 NHL games (10 with Los Angeles, eight with Philadelphia) before scoring against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 28; his six goals in March led NHL rookies.