NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2014

Latest on Ryan Johansen, Jaden Schwartz and other unsigned RFAs, plus updates on the Bruins, and five potential training-camp invites.

SI.COM: Allan Muir has little sympathy for Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen, believing the young center have little leverage in contract negotiations with the club. Muir feels Johansen should end his stalemate with management and accept a short-term bridge deal.  Ditto Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper. Muir predicts the Anaheim Ducks should reach a deal with Devante Smith-Pelly prior to the start of training camp. He also cites a Western Conference executive who believes the Boston Bruins will only trade Johnny Boychuk when they’ve exhausted all other options to shed cap space.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Aaron Portzline reports the Blue Jackets aren’t considering trading Johansen.

Jaden Schwartz is among several notable unsigned RFA players.

Jaden Schwartz is among several unsigned RFA players.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Johansen camp appears to be hoping the Blue Jackets management becomes so concerned about starting the season without the young center, and the possible adverse effect it could have on the club’s performance, that they’ll blink first and agree to a two-year, $14 million deal. But as Muir points out, teams can still perform well without their best player in the lineup. It won’t do Johansen any good to stage a holdout, as it will only hurt his performance this season. Better to accept a two-year deal between $9 – $10 million, as Portzline recently suggested, and use the leverage of arbitration in his next round of contract talks to garner a better deal, provided his play hasn’t suffered in the meantime.  Kuemper has even less leverage than Johansen.  Bruins management reportedly prefers to retain Boychuk, so I expect they’ll move another player if necessary to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Speaking of the Bruins…

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy believes the Bruins are certain to make a move before the start of the season to free up cap space for Krug and Smith. Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid could be trade possibilities, though their injury histories could make them difficult to move.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Jeremy Rutherford reports a wide gap remains between the Blues and RFA forward Jaden Schwartz. Both sides have agreed to a bridge deal but money is the sticking point. The Blues only have around $2.7 million in cap space, but GM Doug Armstrong feels there’s sufficient room to re-sign Schwartz without having to make a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schwartz is in the same boat as Johansen, Kuemper, Smith-Pelly, Krug and Smith. They’re all coming off entry-level contracts with no arbitration rights and the only leverage they have is a threat of a holdout. I think we’ll see Schwartz re-signed soon, probably around $2 million per season on a two-year deal.

NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford lists Dustin Penner, Jamie McBain, Shane O’Brien, Ryan Malone and Andrei Loktionov as five potential training camp tryout candidates. O’Brien could be headed to the Florida Panthers for a tryout.


  1. Is schwartz worth an offer sheet from a team? wouldn’t an offer of 3.3 per year only cost a 2nd rounder while still making st.louis work to get under the cap

    • Boston just signed a 60 point man to a 7.25 million dollar deal. I’m think Johansen likes the looks of that and will argue he is worth similar. I still think Columbus should gamble on their best player actually being their best player and offer him 6 million for 5-8 years. I’m assuming that would be acceptable to johansen of coarse.

      • Krejci has a proven track record. 378pts in 504 games with a +97 rating, two Stanley Cup finals appearances, with one Cup win.

        Johansen had a good year last year, which could have been a fluke. He’s unproven still. There’s no way he gets Krejci’s money. I’d be shocked if he even got $10M for 2-years. He should get around $7M for 2-years in a bridge contract. Anything more is absurd.

        He’s prolly asking for something unreasonable in the hopes that Columbus trades him somewhere else. The BJs are dumb if they sign him to a for more than $5M/year.

        • Yes you are correct he shouldn’t get krejci dollars. But I see no reason why Columbus would bet against Johanssen. 6 million seems to me a bargain deal. Of coarse like you say they could pay him 4 million or less for one or two years but he will likely command a large deal after that. So I guess the decision is whether you believe in paying a player for what he has accomplished or gambling on what he could do and get the deal down now and the savings later, I think it is likely Johanssen will get better. But hey it’s not my money but if it was I would bet on him not against him.

  2. Add Nino Niederreiter to your list of quality RFA potential holdouts seeking their second contract.

  3. @Darcy I would do it in a blink but for some reason, GMs don’t want to play that game. The fear of retaliation is probably what makes them gun-shy. In the salary cap world this should be a tool average budget teams use to put pressure on the rich team who always flirt with the ceiling.

    • I agree… I would as well.

  4. With Ryan Spooner ready for full time nhl employment and Carl Soderberg emerging as a threat, Chris Kelly is expendable. Same goes for Adam McQuaid, When McQuaid got his job it was because Mark Stuart was getting injured all the time and McQuaid would come in and do the same job at a cheaper price. Well with Kevin Miller now filling that role it makes McQuaid expendable as well. More minutes need to go to Matt Bartkowski, while David Warsofsky also needs time with the big club now, both cheaper then Adam McQuaid. I think there will always be a market for a big bruising defencemen with a Stanley cup ring on his finger so trading him shouldn’t be a problem. Same goes for Chris Kelly when he is healthy which is most of the time this being his real first often injured season it shouldn’t be hard to find him a new home as well, he’s a great third line center with a cup to his credit.

    • Kelly’s injury history and the fact that he has a limited no-trade could make moving him difficult at this point.

    • Iceman pretty much right on.
      Too many d-men could move about 3-4 of them and not lose a step.
      Younger blood coming and time to let a few veterans go.
      Koko is ready also.
      Paille and Campbell could also be moved.
      Signing Krejci was a good move he would’ve made more if he hit the open market.

  5. I am hearing that Malone is going to be invited to the Penguins camp for a tryout. Could be an interesting fit in the bottom 6 if he comes cheap and ready to play.

  6. i keep hearing about Krug and Smith. but what is the status of Matt Fraser. He’s unsigned and was impressive last year in his short stint during the playoffs? i never hear anyone mention him.

  7. Not sure Ryan Johansen cares too much about Allan Muir’s lack of sympathy. Johansen disagrees with Jackets’ management, but both sides have kept the negotiations civil so far. I am certain they will work out a deal. Jaden is an interesting case – I think it is too late in the year for offer sheets.

    • I disagree. Wouldn’t later in the offseason be a better time to present an offer sheet. Gives a team a more strenuous time to free up capspace. The 10% offseason allowance would end make it more difficult to match

      • The only teams that will have the cap space to give an offer sheet this time of year will be the lower teams. Will these teams want to give up a high draft choice in the 2015 draft to compensate for an offer sheet? 2nd rounder for Schwartz would be good but you know the Blues would match and deal with moving a less desirable roster commodity to become cap compliant.

  8. if i was Johansen i would sign a 1 year deal and tell the BlueJackets managment that after i had another good year they were going to have to open the vault (with a siging bonus that would take his pay for this year to what he was asking for)or i would leave at the absolute first opportunity.