The climactic moments of the 2018-19 NHL season are here, and the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues will settle the destination of the Stanley Cup in a matter of days.
After the celebration that will take place in the winning city, individual awards are handed out in Las Vegas on June 19, the NHL draft gets underway June 20 and the business of free agency will be at hand July 1.
Jets Make Moves to Retain Myers
The Winnipeg Jets have several players facing free-agency decisions, and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make decisions and act quickly on a number of fronts.
One of those involves defenseman Tyler Myers, who becomes a free agent July 1. The 6’8″ Myers is coming off a nine-goal, 31-point season with the Jets, and he is an intimidating presence on the blue line.
TSN insider Frank Seravalli reported that the Jets have ” re-engaged” with Myers for the purpose of keeping him off the open market. That seems unlikely because Myers can see the start of free agency, and he knows there will be plenty of interest.
Seravalli reported that the Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars would be most interested in Myers, and he also surmised that as many as half the teams in the league could come calling. Myers’ price range should be at least $6 million per year, although it could go higher if one of the teams that goes after him wants to get ahead of the competition.
Prediction: Myers signs with the Canucks, a team that could use a big defenseman with snarl.
Laine and Jets Facing Key Decision
Restricted free agents rarely move from their original team to another because of the heavy compensation involved, and that will clearly be an issue for high-scoring Jets winger Patrik Laine.
He will be a restricted free agent this summer, and negotiations could get complicated and are expected to pick up shortly.
Laine is one of the top talents in hockey, and he has registered 110 goals and 74 assists in his first three years in the NHL. Laine netted 36 and 44 goals in his first two years, respectively, but that number slipped to 30 last season. He struggled from December through the end of the season after a sharp start to the season.
The difficult end to his third campaign may be why the Jets may be hesitant about giving him an Auston Matthews-type contract (average of $11.6 million for five seasons).
If the Jets prove difficult for Laine and his representatives to deal with, there is a chance he could sign an offer sheet with another team or ask for a trade, according to The Fourth Period editor-in-chief David Pagnotta.
In addition to figuring out the Myers and Laine situations, Cheveldayoff must also contend with a possible Jacob Trouba trade while trying to sign forward Kyle Connor to an extension. As a result, the general manager has a lot to contend with, and Laine may not understand if he has to wait in line to get his deal completed.
Prediction: Laine may not be overly thrilled with the contract offer he receives after three years with the Jets, but NHL teams rarely sign restricted free agents to offer sheets. Laine signs a bridge deal for one or two years and remains in Winnipeg.
Marner Appears Ready to Explore All Options
TSN 1050 Toronto @TSN1050Radio
Dreger on Mitch Marner and the Leafs cap situation #LeafsLunch #TorontoMapleLeafs https://t.co/rtPkzhBlzP
While the Jets’ situation with Laine is not easy, the Toronto Maple Leafs may have an even more complex situation with potential RFA Mitch Marner.
The 22-year-old is coming off a 94-point season with the Leafs and finished the year as their leading scorer. He is a fast, creative skater with an excellent shot, and there is little doubt he is vital to Toronto’s future. However, after signing big-name free agent John Tavares last summer and extending Matthews earlier this year, the Leafs have cap issues.
Marner may or may not be understanding, and reporter Darren Dreger said on TSN 1050 radio that the high-scoring forward will start checking the NHL landscape by jumping on a plane June 26 (4:52 mark of interview).
The 6’0″, 176-pound Marner could be an integral player for the Leafs for years to come, but general manager Kyle Dubas must contend with the salary-cap issues that all teams have to face.
Prediction: Despite the presence of Tavares and Matthews, Marner is the most dangerous offensive player on the team. The Leafs will sign him to a big deal even though it will eat up another huge slice of the their salary cap.