Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s NHL Rumours series. We’d like to take this moment to wish our American readers a happy, and more importantly, healthy, Thanksgiving.
Today, we examine two potential contract extensions. They surround young players who both look to be important parts of their respective teams’ futures. However, the feasibility of these extensions remains in jeopardy. The Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning will go under the microscope as we examine some rumours.
Rumour: In an article examining the future of the Canucks’ young core, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance projects the cap hit of Thatcher Demko‘s contract at around $3.5 million.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) November 25, 2020
Analysis: There’s little doubt that the 2021 offseason will be the most transformative in Canucks history. Their best young forward (Elias Pettersson), defenceman (Quinn Hughes), and goalie (Demko) will all be restricted free agents. Adam Gaudette is also an RFA, while longtime defensive mainstay Alexander Edler will be an unrestricted free agent. Via CapFriendly, the Canucks have around $24.5 million in cap headroom to make this work.
Is it doable? Yes. Is it easy? No.
Pettersson should take up nearly half of that. If general manager Jim Benning can convince Hughes to take a bridge deal (like Demko, but a higher cap hit), things should become much clearer. Edler likely will take a pay cut if they want to retain him. It leaves Vancouver with some wiggle room to add in free agency.
If Benning plays his cards right, Vancouver next year could again set themselves up to be a playoff dark horse.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Doesn’t sound like there’s been much headway on the Anthony Cirelli RFA front.
“Nothing new to report,” says Cirelli’s agent Pat Morris of Newport Sports.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 25, 2020
Analysis: The Lightning and general manager Julien BriseBois still have a long ways to go until they’re in the clear. Sergachev’s bridge deal is spectacular – right price, right length, and they’ll need to work their magic again with Cirelli. Being 23 years old, Cirelli will likely receive a similar deal that takes him to his last year of RFA eligibility. However, keeping the price down won’t be easy, especially for a top-six centre who finished top five in Selke Trophy voting.
Cirelli finished the year with 44 points in 68 games. A long term deal would likely see him earn over $7 million, something Tampa obviously can’t afford. But right now, they can’t afford him at all. Regardless of what Cirelli signs for, they still need to make some moves. After the Sergachev signing, they’re almost $2 million over the cap with no usable LTIR relief. Considering they still have Erik Cernak to sign, and it’s still likely at this point that at least two roster players will need to be shipped out before a contract can get done. The defending Stanley Cup champions should look a bit different next year.
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