Kucherov’s Contract Negotiations Intensifying, Jets Place Pavelec on Waivers & More News

Kucherov and Lightning Nearing Contract Extension

Contract negotiations between the Tampa Bay Lightning and restricted free agent forward Nikita Kucherov are intensifying, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Monday.

Kucherov has averaged nearly 30 goals per season in the past two campaigns with the Lightning. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Kucherov has averaged nearly 30 goals per season in the past two campaigns with the Lightning. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

While McKenzie stopped short of calling it a done deal, he said it is likely Kucherov will be in the Lightning’s starting lineup when the team opens the season against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. With approximately $5.5 million in remaining cap space to re-sign Kucherov, McKenzie expects the contract to be a bridge deal between two and three years. Given the current market for players like Kucherov, a deal of at least six years and more than $6 million per year is a reasonable request, but the Lightning’s cap crunch does not allow for it without a trade.

If Yzerman can re-sign Kucherov, the Lightning will have inked each of the team’s most meaningful restricted free agents to contracts this offseason, including Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn. Stamkos’ cap-friendly eight-year, $68 million extension in late June helped the Lightning remain hopeful of keeping the core of the team intact despite numerous free agents coming due for contract extensions this summer.

Stamkos and Kucherov are the Lightning's biggest goal-scoring threats. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Stamkos and Kucherov are the Lightning’s biggest goal-scoring threats. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kucherov, 23, finished second in goals (30) and led the team in scoring with 66 points in 77 games in 2015-16. In the postseason, he led the team with 11 goals and 19 points in 17 games. In just three seasons with the Lightning, the Russian forward has become an increasingly more important piece of the team’s offense and has been a key contributor in deep playoff runs the past two years. During the team’s run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, Kucherov registered 10 goals and 12 assists in 26 games.

After Stamkos went down with a blood clot injury just before the start of the 2016 playoffs, Kucherov became the team’s most relied upon scoring threat and helped the team to the 2016 Eastern Conference Final.

Kucherov was originally drafted by the Lightning 58th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — part of a class that included current Lightning forwards Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat and defenseman Nikita Nesterov.

Jets Place Pavelec on Waivers

The Winnipeg Jets have placed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on waivers, the team announced on Monday.

Ondrej Pavelec Jets
Monday’s announcement raises questions about Pavelec’s future with the Jets. (Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)

Pavelec was part of eight players assigned to the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose, but must clear waivers in order to get there. With the roster cuts, the Jets have trimmed the team’s training camp roster to 15 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.

The move raises a question about the immediate future for the Czech-born netminder with the Jets.

Pavelec split goaltending duties with Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck in 2015-16, and finished the season 13-13-4 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage in 33 games of action. Despite seeing nearly equal playing time as Hutchinson and Hellebuyck last season, Monday’s decision shows that team wants to start 2016-17 with two younger goaltenders. Pavelec is 29-years-old, while Hutchin is 26 and Hellebuyck is 23.

Pavelec was originally drafted by the Jets (then known as the Altanta Thrashers) 41st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. After adjusting to the pro game in the AHL from 2007 to 2009, Pavelec began playing regularly in the NHL during the 2009-10 season before taking a more reduced role with the club this past season.

In 371 NHL regular season NHL games, Pavelec has posted a 148-154-47 record with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

While news of Pavelec being placed on waivers caused some to question whether or not he would report to the Moose if he clears, McKenzie believes Pavelec would play with the the team.

Odds and Ends

— The New York Islanders placed forward P.A. Parenteau on waivers on Monday. It’s a surprsing move after Parenteau signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the team in July.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Cory Perry showed the sort of patience and hands that make him one of the NHL’s most skilled snipers when he scored a game-winning goal in overtime during a game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

— The NHL is considering an outdoor game at West Point, the United States Military Academy located in West Point, New York, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

— The Lightning placed Cory Conacher, Erik Condra and Joel Vermin on waivers on Monday.

— The Chicago Blackhawks assigned prospect Alexandre Fortin to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) on Monday. The 19-year-old forward had an impressive training camp and was receiving a serious look at the Blackhawks’ roster to start the season. Given his age, Fortin is not eligible to be sent to the American Hockey League yet.