Shayne Gostisbehere leads all rookie defensemen in goals, but there may not be room for him on the roster when Mark Streit and his $5.25-million cap hit return from injury.
Philadelphia Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is making the most of his call-up to the big club. Since joining the Flyers in mid-November, the 22-year-old has 11 points in 15 games. He’s among the league’s rookie leaders in game-winning goals (three) and leads all freshman blueliners in goals.
In about two weeks, however, veteran blueliner Mark Streit and his $5.25-million cap hit comes off long-term injured reserve. Unless GM Ron Hextall can find a way to free up some cap space, he’ll have to return Gostisbehere to the minors.
Courier-Post Online’s Dave Isaac suggests two possible solutions. One is trading Streit, the other demoting forward Scott Laughton. Of the two, the latter seems the more likely.
Streit’s puck-moving ability and experience could attract some interest round the league. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson recently suggested he’d make a good fit with the Dallas Stars, who apparently want to add a top-four defenseman this season.
Unfortunately, Streit is also 38, carries a partial no-trade clause and has one year remaining on his contract. Given the current stagnation of the trade market, Hextall might not find many suitors for Streit’s contract unless he picks up part of the blueliner’s cap hit.
Like Gostisbehere, Laughton doesn’t have to pass through waivers this season to be demoted. Sending him down is a more realistic option right now than finding a suitable trade partner for Streit.
TRIO OF JETS FREE AGENTS WANT BIG MONEY
Re-signing unrestricted free agents Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien and restricted free agent Jacob Trouba was expected to be expensive for the Winnipeg Jets. On Tuesday, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press revealed it could be a staggering combined total of $152 million.
Citing league and player sources, Campbell claims Ladd seeks a six-year, $41-million contract ($6.8-million annual average salary), Byfuglien $55 million over eight years ($6.875-million annually) and Trouba $56 million over eight years ($7-million annually). With over $43 million invested in 16 players for 2016-17, the trio’s combined $20-million cap hit would push the Jets’ cap payroll to over $63 million.
Assuming the cap rises to the league’s recent projection of $74 million, that’ll leave roughly $11 million for the Jets to re-sign RFAs Mark Scheifele, Adam Pardy and Michael Hutchinson. Add in the fact the Jets traditionally keeps its payroll well below the league’s cap ceiling, and it’s unlikely Ladd, Byfuglien and Trouba will all be re-signed.
Of the trio, the one with the least leverage is Trouba, who’s coming off an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. After showing considerable promise in his first two seasons, the 21-year-old’s play has declined a bit this season.
Should management play hardball, Trouba could receive a two- or three-year deal worth around $4 million annually. However, the possibility of an offer sheet from a rival club makes that scenario unlikely. Instead, the Jets could offer the young blueliner between $5-$6 million annually on a long-term deal.
Ladd and Byfuglien, however, face more uncertain futures in Winnipeg. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports there’s talk the Jets and Ladd have agreed on a term of six years, but they’re believed between $500K to $1 million apart in salary.
As for Byfuglien, there’s reportedly little progress in his negotiations. That’s one reason the 30-year-old rearguard continues to figure prominently in trade speculation.
Ladd, who turned 30 on Dec. 12, provides leadership, playoff experience and invaluable depth at left wing. Losing their captain to free agency could be a serious blow. Byfuglien is also a vital core player, but the Jets have the blueline depth to eventually offset his absence.
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.).
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