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It’s the day before the big day, with NHL free agency set to commence at noon Eastern on Sunday, July 1. We here at Pittsburgh Hockey Now aim to keep you up to date on what’s going on around the league, not just the Penguins.
Keep checking in with us throughout the weekend for the latest updates from our sources and other reputable outlets. Matt Gajtka, Dan Kingerski and Shelly Anderson will all be contributing here.
In case you missed it, Dan took a closer look at some of the less-glamorous free-agent options for the Penguins, should they want to bolster forward depth.
9:00 p.m.: Take this for what it’s worth–Mike says he doesn’t have source and isn’t a reporter but, as I’ve been reminded on Twitter, he’s been right before:
Hearing Erik Karlsson will be a member of the Golden Knights by tomorrow morning. But what do i know…
— Mike Grinnell (@MikeGrinnell_) June 30, 2018
8 p.m.: Gajtka is hearing that the Blackhawks are in on Ian Cole. Makes a lot of sense considering Chicago is woefully thin on defense and they have $9 million in cap space with which to work.
7:08 p.m.: The Golden Misfits in Las Vegas will be keeping their muscle. Ryan Reaves, after chatting with several teams, has agreed to a two-year contract, per Darren Dreger.
6:14 p.m.: According to George Richards of the Columbus Dispatch reports the Blue Jackets have a genuine interest in bringing back Ian Cole but Cole may want to go elsewhere. Cole is one of the top free agent defensemen and rated 16th overall by TSN.
Kingerski: A player I think has great potential, still, is Austin Czarnik coming out of the Bruins system. He was logjammed in Boston, but on the market has received interest from 24 teams.
Tons of interest in Michigan native Austin Czarnik. 24 teams called. Sounds like he’s got it pretty narrowed down. Expect a 2-year deal with a team in the West.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 30, 2018
3 p.m.: Not that a Ryan Reaves reunion was ever in the cards here, but there were some suitors for his services, including the Rangers. Elliotte Friedman reported Friday that it looks like Reaves will return to Vegas, though.
2:45 p.m.: The initial report was that Tavares would contact the Islanders on Saturday morning, but Sportsnet’s John Shannon says nothing has gotten out yet.
As of 2:45 ET….None of the 6 teams vying for John Tavares have been told they are out of the bidding.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 30, 2018
2:30 p.m: As initially reported by the Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday, Logan Couture is expected to finalize a contract extension with the Sharks this weekend. Multiple reports have the new deal coming in at eight years and $8 million apiece. Enticement for Tavares to head to San Jose? Even after the extension, GM Doug Wilson will still have about $15 million in cap space for 2018-19.
2:10 p.m.: The Coyotes have extended defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for two years and $10 million, per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. In lesser news, the Devils have brought back goalie Eddie Läck for one year at $650,000.
1:45 p.m.: Don’t forget about trades! The Jets have dealt goalie Steve Mason and forward Joel Armia, along with two late-round draft picks, to the Canadiens for AHL defenseman Simon Bourque. Clearly a move to open up some cap space in Winnipeg, who reportedly want to bring back Paul Stastny following a successful late-season run with the former Blue in tow.
The Habs almost immediately waived Mason for purposes of buying out his contract.
1:15 p.m.: Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press reports the Red Wings will retain defenseman Mike Green on a two-year contract worth $10.75 million in total. That leaves the Islanders’ Calvin de Haan even more on an island (get it?) as the top blue liner expected to be available on the market.
12:30 p.m.: As for the Penguins, there isn’t much on the radar screen regarding their own free agents. Bryan Rust and Riley Sheahan have been re-signed. Jamie Oleksiak has been tendered a qualifying offer and will likely return. Tom Kühnhackl looks like he’s gone.
There’s also been no report of the informal Jack Johnson agreement falling apart. Kingerski was able to independently verify the reports we heard elsewhere on Wednesday, so expect Johnson to be carrying around a $3 million cap hit for the next five seasons.
12 p.m.: First thing’s first: Where in the world is John Tavares going to end up? If he stays with the Islanders, he has until the end of the day to take advantage of the CBA provision that allows a team to re-sign its own free agent for eight years. Outside teams can go just seven years, maximum.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston described the situation in Tavares’ camp as a “cone of silence,” with all teams that made presentations to the Islanders star still in play to secure his talents. In case you missed it, the Sharks, Maple Leafs, Stars, Lightning and Bruins all talked with Tavares in Los Angeles, in addition to the under-new-management Isles.
The inner circle navigating #TavaresWatch has gone into a cone of silence. All six teams are said to still be in the mix, but big decisions loom tomorrow.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 30, 2018
Ironically, Tavares staying with New York might not be the worst thing for the Penguins continuing Cup quest, since the Isles don’t currently appear to be contenders to the NHL throne.
Also, from last night, Drew Doughty will sign a max-length contract extension with the Kings. At age 28, Doughty will make $11 for the next eight years, per Sportsnet’s John Shannon.