NHL rumors: Lightning, Penguins, Flames face tough decisions heading into busy offseason

Upsets dominated the opening spherical of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Among the many early departures had been the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames, making historical past as the primary prime seeds from every convention to be eradicated from the primary spherical in the identical postseason. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets had been additionally among the many opening-round casualties.

As their gamers headed into an offseason that got here a lot sooner than they anticipated, the respective basic managers of every membership put together for what might be a busy summer time.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Regardless of his membership’s early playoff exit, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois maintained his faith in head coach Jon Cooper and his core gamers. Along with his staff successful its first Presidents’ Trophy with a record-tying 62-win marketing campaign, BriseBois mentioned he would not overreact due to one dangerous sequence.

The Lightning GM acknowledged his membership’s salary-cap constraints for 2019-20 will lead to some roster modifications. With over $73 million invested in 16 players next season, BriseBois may have round $10 million to work with if the wage cap rises to $83 million as projected.

Middle Brayden Level is a restricted free agent due for an enormous elevate following a 92-point efficiency throughout the common season. Veteran defensemen Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman are slated to turn out to be unrestricted free brokers in July. BriseBois should shed a wage or two to release ample cap area for Level’s elevate and to re-sign or change these UFA blueliners.

The Athletic’s Joe Smith suggested Ryan Callahan may turn out to be a commerce or buyout candidate. The 34-year-old proper wing has a 12 months remaining on his contract with an annual common worth of $5.eight million and a modified no-trade clause. Along with his finest years behind him, Callahan might be packaged with a excessive draft decide or a prime prospect to make a deal extra palatable.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post proposed versatile ahead J.T. Miller as a extra probably commerce possibility. The 26-year-old is signed via 2022-23 with a $5.25 million annual cap hit and lacks a no-trade clause. His two-way skills may make him engaging for golf equipment searching for expert ahead depth.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Following the Penguins’ opening-round elimination, GM Jim Rutherford insisted his club’s window of opportunity to win one other Cup stays open. Nevertheless, he believed a number of gamers grew too content material after successful Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Rutherford is not about to place franchise gamers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the block however he may try and ship out a high-priced veteran or two to usher in youthful, reasonably priced skills. The Penguins have over $79.7 million tied up in 18 players.

Many observers really feel Phil Kessel may hit the commerce block. The 32-year-old proper winger is signed via 2021-22 with an eight-team commerce record and an $eight million annual salary-cap hit (with the Toronto Maple Leafs choosing up $1.2 million yearly). Nonetheless, The Athletic’s Rob Rossi reported the Penguins fielded affords final summer time for Kessel, who was apparently receptive to becoming a member of the Arizona Coyotes. Rutherford did not transfer Kessel then however might be extra keen to pay attention now.

It seems Penguins coach Mike Sullivan misplaced confidence this season in defenseman Olli Maatta, who may gain advantage from a change of surroundings. The 24-year-old carries an inexpensive $4.083 million cap hit via 2022-23 and will tempt golf equipment out there for a younger puck-moving blueliner.

Calgary Flames

Flames GM Brad Treliving faces a choice relating to his goaltending tandem. Veteran Mike Smith is an unrestricted free agent in July and was inconsistent throughout the common season. The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek speculates Treliving may deliver Smith again if the 37-year-old accepts a short-term cope with a pay lower.

Duhatschek additionally instructed purchasing James Neal and resolving the logjam on the Flames blueline. Deal with the latter might be simpler, because the 31-year-old Neal had a disastrous first season in Calgary. Although he lacks no-trade safety, he has 4 seasons left on his contract with a $5.75 million cap hit.

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With younger defensemen Rasmus Andersson and Jusso Valimaki seeing extra enjoying time subsequent season, Duhatschek instructed Treliving entertain affords for T.J. Brodie. The 28-year-old rearguard is a 12 months away from UFA standing with an reasonably priced $4.625 million cap hit and a modified no-trade clause.

Winnipeg Jets

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should resolve what to do with defenseman Jacob Trouba, who’s as soon as once more a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and a 12 months away from UFA eligibility. ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan believes a commerce appears probably given the contentious contract negotiation historical past between the 2 sides.

The Jets have over $55.6 million committed to 12 players with Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor due for hefty raises this summer time. To release ample cap room to re-sign these two and maybe add a full-time second-line heart, Cheveldayoff might be compelled to maneuver out a high-salaried participant like winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

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