Rumor Rundown: McPhee Changes Plan, and NHL RFA Numbers

There were rumors that George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights were looking to move defensemen thanks to a stocked-full cupboard of blueliners they picked up at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. It appears that plans may have changed.

The Golden Knights have 11 defensemen on their roster, but McPhee says they aren’t urgently trying a move a few of them. “We’re at a manageable number right now,” he said. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

McPhee realizes that a number of his blueliners can be moved midseason and at the trade deadline. He’s also aware that players like Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner and Brayden McNabb are all unrestricted free agents come the end of the season.

Understandably, there are still some question marks in Vegas. How will players adapt to their new home? How competitive will the new team be? Will they be an attractive place for free agents? All of the questions will be better answered as the season rolls along. That may be a better time for the team to make their moves.

RFA and Arbitration Deals Loom

There is a handful of big name RFA’s still looking to get things squared away with their current clubs. Below is a list of the most notable.

Leon Draisaitl

This Leon Draisaitl deal is a big issue in Edmonton. The debate right now is whether or not to lock him up on a long-term contract or offer him a bridge deal. Long-term now might be giving him more than he might be worth today, but gambling he’ll play his way into being a value contract. A bridge deal gives the Oilers flexibility but potentially they’ll pay through the nose in a couple years.

There is some speculation that an offer sheet may be in play here, but that’s not likely. More likely is Draisaitl could get between $5 and $5.5 on a bridge and $8 – $9 million a season range on an eight-year deal.

David Pastrnak

The question in Boston is what is taking so long to get the Pastrnak deal done? He’s not asked to leave the Bruins, the Bruins definitely want him back and figuring out his numbers shouldn’t be too difficult, yet both sides haven’t gotten a deal completed.

The Bruins may be waiting for the Ryan Spooner arbitration hearing before they hand over boat loads of cash to Pastrnak. Like Draisaitl, this could be a bridge deal versus a long-term contract debate. Could get a deal in the $6 million a season range.

Mikael Granlund

The Wild have about $15.8 million in salary cap space and needing to re-sign Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Marcus Foligno. The Wild and Granlund have an arbitration hearing date set for August 4th.

Granlund is an offensive playmaker with some two-way ability. He led the Wild with 69 points in 81 games, scoring 26 goals with 43 assists. Under Bruce Boudreau, he shined and played in all sorts of situations. He was moved to the wing and that may be where he excels.

Ryan Johansen

Johansen is undoubtedly the Predators top-line center and he’ll be paid as such. It almost as if he and the Draisaitl camp are watching each other to see who moves first. The two sides could get a deal in the $7.5 – $8.5 million a season range.

The Preds want to get Ryan Johansen done on a fair, long-term deal. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

With close to $14 million left in cap space for the Predators, it’s not a concern that they can’t make the contract fit, it’s a matter of getting a good deal done at a fair value like they did with the Viktor Arvidsson and Austin Watson contracts.

With the arguable exception of P.K. Subban, Nashville has some very team friendly contracts on the books. They’d like to add Johansen to that list.

Bo Horvat

The Canucks have about $8.8 million in salary cap space and could do a long-term deal for Horvat. The team might have to overpay for his production in the next couple years, but if a deal can be reached at around $5.5 million, it would be good value in the long run. Then again, that number could be under what he’s asking and he’s another bridge deal candidate. 

These are just a few as there is also Alexander Wennberg who could get a long-term deal in the $5.5 million a season range with the Blue Jackets, Nino Niederreiter in Minnesota, Conor Sheary in Pittsburgh, and Mika Zibanejad who would have a more significant role in New York with Derek Stepan now in Arizona.