The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin did a Twitter Q&A on Thursday to answer your free agency questions. Here’s what he had to say:
@LLevesque604 asked: Out of all RFA to be this season, if you’re GM Jim Benning, who do you offer sheet? McAvoy? Werenski? Rantanen. From a Canuck fan praying we don’t sign Myers!
ML: I still truly don’t expect we see a single offer sheet, but if I’m playing along, I think Patrik Laine is the most vulnerable big name. Jets have RFAs Connor and Pionk to figure out plus Morrissey extension, and Laine might be the RFA most tempted by a change of scenery/coaching.
@NewWaveOil asked: Hi Matt, what do you see the Oilers being able to get done?
ML: I don’t see the Oilers signing an A-lister, but they’re likely to pursue a goalie, already linked to Mike Smith and Petr Mrazek, and a second-tier winger such as Brett Connolly or Gustav Nyquist. Jason Zucker would be an exciting trade target.
@zach_ahiers21 asked: With the Avs having so much cap space what moves do you think they make?
ML: I’m excited for the Avs. They really have a chance to get aggressive. To me, Joe Pavelski is the perfect target as they need secondary scoring and veteran leadership.
@VictoryHockeyL1 asked: How big of an effect will the Luongo cap retention effect the Canuck’s free agency?
ML: I’m with the folks who feel it could actually help, as it might prevent the Canucks from spending too big too soon. They’re still rebuilding, so this summer isn’t the window in which they HAVE to spend big. Pettersson still two years left of his entry-level cap hit.
@scottyy_1991 asked: Do you think Tyler Myers would be a good signing?
ML: It’s all relative. He still has mobility and a huge wingspan at a premium position of RHD, but the problem is there will be so many suitors that his price could get driven up to a level he can’t play well enough to justify.
@homeiceadvtge asked: Any clues on who the Canes might bring in net next year?
ML: It sounds like Mrazek won’t be back, and that the Canes might consider finding a starter from within (Nedeljkovic?), but I think Semyon Varlamov would be a good short term fit, assuming Bobrovsky is already Florida-bound.
@justinxmtl asked: Where do you think Duchene is going to end up signing?
ML: Boring answer, but Nashville is the clear favorite and I do think he ends up there. Montreal seems to intrigue him, and the Sabres are a good hockey fit, but Nashville checks every box.
@dan_tin asked: Are the Rangers waiting to see what happens with Panarin before locking up Trouba? Haven’t heard too much regarding where those two camps are on an extension.
ML: I don’t think Trouba affects Panarin. The Rangers included a first-round pick to get Trouba, so they want him to be a major long-term part of their plans, I expect he signs a max-term deal.
@mmongioi asked: It’s pretty clear shero wants to make moves for the devils. If they add another top LHD and a top 6 winger, who do you think would fit them best?
ML: I’m not as convinced as some that Shero will be aggressive. He’s more of a trade guy than a UFA guy. He told me last year he doesn’t believe big-ticket UFAs are the path to a Cup. I think it’s more likely they use cap space to steal a player from a cap-crunched team (TB? VGK?)
@PatrickWelch10 asked: Do you see the Sabres doing anything?
ML: I hope so. Even after re-signing Jeff Skinner, they have the cap space to sign another big-name forward. I would go all-in chasing Matt Duchene if I were them. They need to get Jack Eichel into the playoffs.
@LukeLukens asked: Perfect fit for Wayne Simmonds?
ML: I’ve been saying for a year: Calgary. Flames in a win-now window and the trait they missed most in playoffs was physicality. Simmonds may not be a 30-goal guy anymore, but he can have a good “second career” as a checking forward with upside.
@Listateofmind asked: Where do you see Panarin landing?
ML: It sure sounds like the Isles are emerging as a contender, but I still think the Panthers scenario plays out. It’s not just the Bobrovsky and agent connection — it’s Quenneville, Panarin’s old coach. That’s another selling point.
@JohnBarchard asked: Why are the Flyers?
ML: Deep question. I would say “The Flyers want to contend before Giroux and Voracek exit their prime years,’ which is why they have been aggressive this off-season so far.
@TeemuViikeri asked: If both Pavelski and Nyquist find themselves a new team to sign with, who should be next in line for Sharks to sign?
ML: Thing is, there might not be a “next in line,” as the Sharks need to use their cap space on RFAs Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, and possibly UFA Joe Thornton. Sharks fans are better off thinking of Erik Karlsson as their “big signing” of the summer.
@SuperStar9114 asked: What moves do you see the Stars making this offseason?
ML: Stars need forward depth badly and are in a win-now window given Benn and Bishop’s age. So if they don’t bring back Zuccarello, I see them as one of the best fits for Joe Pavelski. Many of the mid-range UFA forwards would be good fits there, too. Like Nyquist for example.
@Nadeau101 asked: Obviously, Ottawa isn’t in any big-ticket free agents, but what sort of free agents do you think they’re looking at?
ML: Ottawa is a good candidate to sign a veteran to a one-year “prove it” deal so he can up his value and also help the Sens by being trade-deadline bait to land picks. My colleague Ken Campbell suggested Corey Perry. I like it. Or maybe Jason Spezza?
@PalmeriTrees asked: Where do you think Anders Lee ends up? Do you see a fit w/ NJD??
ML: I think the Isles end up re-signing him in the end. He’s their captain and it would be a PR black eye for the franchise to lose two captains in two years. A sleeper to get him if not the Isles: how about his hometown team, Minnesota?
@harryc1211 asked: Odds that islanders end up losing lee without getting a big name free agent?
ML: I would say zero, in that, if the Isles lose Lee, it will be BECAUSE they have a big-name free agent in mind instead.
@WashedUpTendy asked: Jordan Binnington’s contract…term and dollars?
ML: I would look at the Matt Murray three-year bridge with the $3.75-million AAV, which he signed after his first Cup win as a rookie. Cut, paste, replace ‘Murray’ with ‘Binnington,’ done deal.
@iggyfan12 asked: What do you think Matthew Tkachuk’s contract will look like? Will he get max term?
ML: He certainly deserves max term, but I do wonder if the five-year deal Auston Matthews signed starts to become en vogue. I could see Tkachuk landing in the $8-million range or up.
@JHunt1980 asked: Is Sparks the back up for the Leafs next year or do they sign someone else?
ML: It’s already been reported recently that the Leafs were shopping him, so I think the Leafs go in another direction with their backup. I could see them bringing back Curtis McElhinney, actually, though maybe he’s upped his value too much.
@Pjsticha asked: Do the Penguins actually move a big name player, or have cooler heads prevailed?
ML: I sure does feel like the buzz has died down. But Jim Rutherford always has something up his sleeve. I think Malkin is safe at this point, but I still believe Letang and Kessel can be had if the offer is right.
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