There are some interesting hockey news floating around today that I wanted to share with you. The first one revolves around Erik Karlsson. Does he only want to sign an extension with an American team? Well according to Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest, he does.
How true is this? I do not know. I can understand if Karlsson wants the memory of him to be painted as having played for only one Canadian team. Another thought is maybe he doesn’t want the Canadian media attention. Or perhaps he just doesn’t want to be ridiculed of choosing another Canadian team, but it would be very hard to turn down some of the teams in Canada.
While it’s a very understandable to pass on Toronto and Montreal, Ottawa’s divisional rivals, it’s hard to say no to Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a young and very talented group. Yes, they probably don’t have the cap space and will have to maneuver to make it work, but they have Stanley Cup aspirations and will be contenders for many years. So what about the rest of the Canadian teams?
Edmonton has the best player in the world, Connor McJesus, and that alone starts to make you dream about sending McDavid on tons and tons of breakaways. Calgary looks like they improved with the additions of James Neal, Elias Lindholm, and Noah Hanifin. Vancouver is going to take a while till they are fighting for a playoff spot, but it’s where a lot of his fellow countrymen have played.
If this report is true, then it’s within his own right to not want to play for another Canadian team. Whoever acquires Erik Karlsson will only trade for him if they know he will sign an extension with them, if not, the package will be of lesser value. He’s elite and one of the most gifted offensive players in the league, it will be interesting for sure.
The last story also deals with a player who may not return to his current team. Nikita Kucherov tweeted out a picture with him and Andrei Vasilevskiy showing Artemi Panarin what’s he’s missing out on in Tampa Bay.
Now, it would be very naive to think that none of the players talk amongst themselves, the problem is the evidence and it’s causing people to freak out. Artemi Panarin has declined to sign a long-term deal as of right now because he’s not sure if Columbus is the place he wants to spend the rest of his career with. Let’s have some fun and assume he doesn’t want to go back to Columbus, how can Tampa Bay possibly afford him?
According to Capfriendly, Tampa Bay only has $2,646,220 of cap space right now. The top forwards they need to re-sign after this season are Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point. Both are coming off amazing seasons and, individually, will command more than the team’s current cap space. On defence, Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn, and Dan Girardi also need to be re-signed. Are they going to take a pay cut? After this upcoming season they need to re-sign defenceman, Mikhail Sergachev, and one of the best goaltenders in the league, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
General Manager, Steve Yzerman, has his work cut out for him if he wants to acquire either Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson. Trading Ryan Callahan is the most obvious choice with his $5.8 million cap hit. The next question is whether you want to keep some of the veteran players like Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn over your young and upcoming studs like Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point. Gourde is 26-years-old, two years younger than the veterans, is he better than either of them? Or was last season just a really great year? Point is a guy I would target because he’s 22 years of age and could get even better in a more prominent role. Yzerman will be thinking about this cap situation a lot, but what about Panarin’s other countrymen?
If you think Artemi Panarin is just talking to these two, that’s crazy talk. He must have had conversations with Stanley Cup winners Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, right? What about Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh? They failed to accomplish a three-peat. A THREE-PEAT! Those are some great teams. Could he potentially go back to Chicago? I bet General Manager, Stan Bowman, is wishing he could have him back. The possibilities can go on for a long time, but all we can do is wait and countdown till next month when training camp opens. Hopefully by then more news on these players will emerge and people can freak out again.