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.
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.