The NHL is expected to announce its decision on a possible expansion to Las Vegas by June 22. More details recently emerged regarding the guidelines for an expansion draft that could affect this summer's trade market .
It was originally believed players with no-movement clause carrying partial no-trade clauses (such as Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury) wouldn't be protected from the draft. However, that only applies to players whose contracts expire at the end of 2016-17. That also includes those with full no-movement clauses. Those with contracts that run through 2017-18 must be protected.
Some general managers could face tough roster choices. As only one goaltender can be protected, several notable netminders could be shopped this summer. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch lists Fleury, Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks as possible trade candidates.
With the Penguins pressed for salary-cap space in 2016-17 and rookie Matt Murray taking over the starting goalie job, talk was already afoot suggesting the 32-year-old Fleury could be dealt in the coming weeks.
Bishop, 29, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. With Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn to re-sign this summer and Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin in need of new contracts next summer, the Lightning probably can't afford to re-sign him. Youngster Andrei Vasilevskiy's solid performance filling in for Bishop during the Eastern Conference final could also grease the skids for the veteran's departure.
Andersen, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He's due a significant raise over the $1.15 million he made this season. The Ducks, however, are a budget team. They must also re-sign restricted free agents blueliners Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. With John Gibson primed as their starter, Andersen could be on the move soon.
PANTHERS, DEVILS SWAP SAVARD CONTRACT
Center Marc Savard, who is virtually retired due to concussion problems, was on the move last week. Or rather, his contract was. Nearly a year after the Florida Panthers acquired the remaining two years of Savards annual $4.021 million cap hit from the Boston Bruins, they shipped it (plus a second-round pick in 2018) to the New Jersey Devils for two minor leaguers.
Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel reports the trade frees up valuable salary cap space to put toward other signings.
The Panthers are expected to ink RFA center Vincent Trocheck to a new deal. Fialkov also claims they could use the funds to re-sign Reilly Smith to an extension and retain pending UFA blueliner Brian Campbell. He also suggests they could have sufficient room to pursue a defenseman such as Dallas' Jason Demers, Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba or St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun claims there's speculation the Panthers could be shopping Dmitry Kulikov. The 25-year-old rearguard is entering the final season of his contract at a cap hit of $4.33 million and lacks a no-trade clause. He's eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.
The Panthers, however, dealt away defenseman Erik Gudbranson last month to Vancouver and they could lose Campbell to free agency. Trading Kulikov would leave their defense lacking experienced skill.
As for the Devils, they're only paying Savard $575K in actual salary for 2016-17, after which his contract expires. If necessary, the Devils can place him on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season to free up cap room. They can also do the same with Ryane Clowe (concussion) and his $4.875- million cap hit.
Currently carrying $25 million in cap space, the Devils have the room to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Kyle Palmieri and Devante Smith-Pelly to affordable extensions. They can also pursue additional scoring punch via trades or free agency and perhaps re-sign long-time Devils star and pending UFA Patrik Elias for a last hurrah.