The Coyotes are up against the cap, but creative use of their spending has them with the option to continue to improve their club. Meanwhile, the Lightning could forego a return for Ben Bishop in order to chase a Cup.
This summer was a busy one for John Chayka, the new general manager of the Arizona Coyotes. Chayka made two notable additions via unrestricted free agency, signing defenseman Alex Goligoski and winger Jamie McGinn.
The Coyotes GM also used his salary-cap space to his advantage. At the 2016 NHL Draft, he shipped injured center Joe Vitale and two draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings to acquire the final season of retired center Pavel Datsyuk’s contract and the 16th overall pick, which he used to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Last month, Chayka dealt two conditional picks to the Florida Panthers for injured center David Bolland ($5.5-million annual average salary) and promising forward Lawson Crouse.
The moves pushed the Coyotes’ cap payroll to within $2.3 million of the league’s $73-million cap ceiling. However, Chayka might not be done dealing.
While the Coyotes payroll sits around $70.7 million, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic points out their actual salary spending is lower than that. For example, they’ve taken on Datsyuk’s cap hit but aren’t actually paying his salary because he’s playing in Russia.
That could leave Chayka some cap flexibility for other moves. “If something comes up and improves our group, then we have the ability to execute on that,” he told McLellan.
One option could be inviting an unrestricted free agent to training camp on a professional tryout offer. Prior to Kris Versteeg accepting a professional tryout offer last week with the Edmonton Oilers, Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports reported the Coyotes were among several teams interested in the veteran winger on a tryout basis.
LIGHTNING COULD RISK BISHOP RETURN FOR CUP RUN
Earlier this month, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop created a stir by saying he believed he would be traded in June to the Calgary Flames. Bishop told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times his camp was in the process of working out a new contract with the Flames. Instead, the Flames opted instead to acquire Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues.
Bishop, 29, is in the final season of his contract and eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. With promising backup Andrei Vasilevskiy inking a three-year contract extension and an expansion draft looming next June, Bishop’s become the subject of frequent trade speculation this summer.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman acknowledged facing a potentially difficult choice regarding his goaltenders. But according to Smith, Yzermam could opt to retain Bishop and Vasilevskiy for the entire 2016-17 campaign.
If Bishop isn’t traded this season, the Lightning risk losing him for nothing via free agency. The veteran netminder holds a partial no-movement clause, which could complicate efforts to protect Vasilevskiy in the expansion draft.
However, Smith suggests the Lightning stand a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup this season by keeping their goalie tandem intact. That could be worth risking his departure via free agency or the expansion draft.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.