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Penguins UFA Live Blog: Intriguing Options; Nashville Steals the Show



Pittsburgh Penguins trade targets, Carolina puts Jake Guentzel on the NHL trade block

Does anyone else wonder how players seem to agree to full contracts hours before free agency starts when there shouldn’t be such tampering until the stroke of noon? Welcome to the annual PHN Pittsburgh Penguins free agency live blog.

The Penguins have clear needs to address today and in free agency. The most pressing is the need for defensemen, and at least one left-handed defenseman after showing P.O Joseph the door on Sunday.

First, it was a mistake to non-qualify Joseph. The Penguins had more than enough ammunition to keep his salary low if the case went to arbitration. The aren’t many defensemen who can skate and move the puck in the same price range.

Matt Grzelcyk, formerly of the Boston Bruins, was our top target on the list. We were told Dubas poked around about him during the season, too.

Read More: Replacing P.O Joseph; Top 3 Left Defensemen to Watch for Penguins

Joseph, who turned 25 today, was outstanding in the final two months of the season. He can skate, he’s young, hungry and getting better. All things Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas is looking for.

Director of amateur scouting Nick Pryor said on Saturday that Dubas redirected the staff to look for new attributes, namely competitiveness. I can confirm that Penguins management was incredibly happy with Joseph down the stretch. He had a couple of marvelous games, including the early April win over the Washington Capitals.

It would shock me if Joseph was asking for north of $2 million. However, I wonder if the Penguins considered his demeanor. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy who can get down on himself. His season went sideways early, and he didn’t recover until almost February. Still, the view here is that the Penguins won’t find a defenseman in the $2 million range nearly as good.

Some new options on the market for the Penguins that we should watch.

First–Sam Steel. The Dallas Stars let him loose by not qualifying him. He’s a young bottom-six center with grit, jam, and just a bit of scoring touch. He would make a couple of the Penguins veterans, such as Lars Eller or Noel Acciari, expendable while adding that vibrance of youth and physical energy.

Anaheim is letting Max Jones get to free agency. He’s a 26-year-old banger who can provide some offense from the fourth line.

Technically, the Penguins have space for one forward and should reserve it for one of the prospects, such as Vasily Ponomarev, but a fourth-line grinder who can make defensemen look over their shoulder is valuable, too.

It’s curious that Pat Verbeek, a player known as “the little ball of hate,” would, as a GM, let those types of players go.

Penguins Live Blog

**From PHN: Expect the Penguins and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to at least have a conversation. Sources confirmed it is likely. It would be a great fit for the Penguins.

UPDATE: Yep the Penguins sign Matt Grzelcyk. Here is the Penguins news story.

For the record, his name is pronounced (Grizz-lick). Then, the news started coming fast and furious.

Penguins Story #2: Ever heard of Mac Hollowell? You might this fall. Dubas reached into his past to pluck a depth defenseman with offensive skill but work to do on his game. He’s another small defenseman with talent for the Penguins blueline.

Penguins Story #3: THE TRADE! The Penguins send Reilly Smith to the New York Rangers for a couple of picks, including a future second-rounder. Here’s the Penguins trade.

Story #4: Hello again, Ryan Shea. The solid depth defenseman who finally made his NHL debut last season will get another go-round with the Penguins defense.

Story #5: He was once a promising prospect for the New York Islanders. Now he’s a well-traveled player trying to stick in the NHL. The Penguins also signed winger Anthony Beauvillier.

**PENGUINS NEWS: Chris Johnston reports the Penguins have called about the Ondrej Case. The Penguins and Edmonton are known to be interested in the player who spent last season in Czechia.

Metro News: What the?! The NHL trade rumors didn’t see this one coming. The Washington Capitals snare Jakob Chychrun from the Ottawa Senators for Nick Jensen and a third-round pick. The Capitals have been picking away this offseason, acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois, Andrew Mangiapane, and now Chychrun.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Sean Monohan to a five-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

The New Jersey Devils are doing pretty well for themselves on July 1, too. It’s a done deal—signed, sealed, and delivered. The Devils signed defenseman Brett Pesce to a six-year deal and tough defenseman Brenden Dillion to a three-year deal. Here’s the latest New Jersey Devils news.

The New Jersey defense is going to be exceptionally good next season.

Jaccob Slavin signs an eight-year, $51.69 million contract to stay with Hurricanes.

The Rest of the NHL Free Agency

Aplogies for a few hours away from the running feed. The Penguins threw everything at us at once, including a Dubas press conference.

1:03: Joel Edmundson to the LA Kings. He was on the bottom of the social media pig pile for a while but had a solid season, and now he gets a respectable four-year deal with a $3.8 million AAV.

I missed it this morning, but I think it’s somewhat relevant. He would have been a fantastic get for the Penguins, especially at this price. Matt Duchene re-signed with the Dallas Stars for one year, $3 million.

12:56: Jake Bean signs with Calgary for two years after being non-qualified by Columbus. He’ll get a pay cut to $1.75 million.  Also, Yegor Sharangovich extended 5×5.75M by Calgary.

And Danton Heinen signs a two-year deal worth $2.25 million with Vancouver.

12:47: Jonathan Drouin surveyed the market and came right back to the Colorado Avalanche. The sides have been talking, and Drouin’s agent flew into Denver a few weeks ago for in-person meetings to keep Drouin in Denver. No terms are yet available, but all are reporting it’s a one-year deal. Check out Colorado Hockey Now for the Avalanche news.

Cam Talbot signed a two-year deal worth $2.5 million to go to Detroit. And folks–THAT is what happens when you trade away or don’t have a starting goalie. Detroit has playoff aspirations, and no one is proving they can stop the pucks.

12:42 p.m.: Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin announced today that the club has agreed to terms with forward Jake DeBrusk on a seven-year contract with a $5.5M AAV. — That’s a hefty price for DeBrusk, but it’s not a shocker that former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford and Allvin pulled the trigger.

12:30: It is all official. Nashville signs Steve Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault, AND Brady Skjei. From LeBrun:

Stamkos, 4 years x $8 M AAV
Marchessault, 5 years x $5.5 M AAV ‘
Brady Skjei, 7 years x $7 M AAV

Viktor Arvidsson takes his sniping talents to Edmonton, per Friedman.

12:25: Ian Cole signs a one-year deal with the Utah Yeti. Two years at $2.5 per for goalie Anthony Stolarz and the Maple Leafs.

2 years at $2.5 per for Stolarz and Leafs. gets two years, $4 million per season with the Ottawa Senators, according to Bob McKenzie.

12:15: All hell is breaking loose now. The Capitals not only traded for Chychrun, but they’ve signed defenseman Matt Roy to a six-year contract worth $5.75 million annually. Roy is a big-minutes righty who pushes the puck forward, though he won’t generate a ton of offense. The Capitals are getting better in a hurry.

SPLASH! The Boston Bruins land the big fish they’ve wanted for some time. The Bruins sign center Elias Lindholm and angry defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Boston Hockey Now has the latest Bruins news.

Anthony Mantha signs a one-year deal with Calgary Flames worth $3.5M — Chris Johnston. Also, other signings that rolled in just past noon: Yakov Trenon 4 x $3.5M Minnesota. Anthony Mantha signed with the Calgary Flames for one year, $3.5 million. 

12:08 p.m: The Toronto Maple Leafs give Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson a four-year contract worth $3.5 million per season. That’s quite a team they’re building in Toronto. If they don’t win the Stanley Cup this year, fans might start demanding an NFL team.

11:50 a.m.: Hearing that Sam Lafferty is heading to the Sabres. –Chris Johnston.

Puckpedia reports it’s a two-year, $4 million deal.

Tyler Toffoli is signing for four years, $6 million per with the San Jose Sharks, per Kevin Weekes.

11:41 a.m.: “If the Predators can finalize things with Jonathan Marchessault, hearing his deal with Nashville will be five years and around $5.5 M AAV per season.”–LeBrun.

11:34 a.m.: LeBrun reports Stamkos will sign with Nashville. Four years, $8 million per. Give LeBrun a follow if you don’t.

OK, this is getting ridiculous. Nashville is also reportedly in on Jonathan Marchessault, Brady Skjei and Chandler Stephenson. Seriously ya UFA hogs, save some for the rest of us.

11:27: Tyler Bertuzzi will sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. A four-year deal worth $22 million. Read more at Chicago Hockey Now.

11:22: Our friends at report The Blackhawks are expected to sign Tuevo Teravainen, 29, for 3 year at $5.4 million cap hit. 

11:13 a.m.: TSN reports Brandon Montour is likely headed to Seattle for seven years and $50 million once it’s legal at noon. Party hard one day. Make $50 million the next.

Chris Johnston reports Kasperi Kapanen is headed back to the St. Louis Blues. He’s a potentially great player. Someday, he’s going to break out. Or … maybe not.

Bob McKenzie of TSN reporting widespread interest in center Sean Monohan, including the Columbus Blue Jackets.

11:10 a.m.: Nashville has emerged as a top contender for Steve Stamkos, according to Pierre LeBrun. A top contender for Jonathan Marchessault, according to Elliotte Friedman.

**There are morning reports linking the Penguins to former New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier. The first was Elliotte Friedman, who was clear that it was an educated guess, not a report.

My take: Hard pass. He played 60 games this season, almost evenly split between Chicago, Nashville, and Vancouver, scoring just five goals and 17 points. He played 82 games in the season prior, split between New York and the Vancouver Canucks, reaching 40 points. It wouldn’t appear he’s going to make the Penguins lineup better.

At 27 years old and 550 career games, he no longer has “potential.”

More Penguins Targets

**Two names hit the market in the last 24 hours that should be intriguing to the Penguins. First, former Toronto Maple Leafs prospect du jour Nick Robertson told Toronto he’s had enough and wants out. He’s an RFA who has been blocked by the stacked Toronto lineup but was absolutely electric when he burst onto the scene in the 2020 bubble training camp. He made Toronto’s bubble roster and set tongues wagging with his skill and dynamic offensive attack.

Read More: Young, Unhappy, and Unsigned. Three Penguins Targets.

He’s been relegated to the AHL or depth roles since. He’s small–just 5-foot-9, 178 pounds–but managed to put up 14 goals and 27 points in 56 games while playing just 11 minutes per game. He outscored Reilly Smith and tracks well above the Penguins’ middle-six wingers if extrapolated to more minutes per game.

As the Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Dubas had a front-row seat for Robertson’s emergence, though Dubas also caught a little shrapnel when Robertson popped off about not being given a chance.

If competitive fire is a hot-button attribute, Dubas should buddy up with Toronto GM Brad Treliving and get that one done. A young player who is hungrier than anyone the Penguins have with skill to burn.

*Erik Johnson will stay with the Philadelphia Flyers on a one-year deal.

*Rumors abound that Jonathan Marchessault is headed to the New Jersey Devils.

*Jake Guentzel signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven years and $63 million. Wow. He’s worth it, but that’s a chunk of change for a team that is getting further from it’s Stanley Cup victories.

**Get this one: The Toronto Maple Leafs sign 34-year-old Chris Tanev to a SIX-year deal with a $4.5 million AAV. With the number of miles on that body, that’s a move that will haunt Toronto … unless they actually win the Stanley Cup. Tanev will give them their best shot in 50 years this season.

Toronto also extended goalie Joseph Woll. Matt Murray will be a free agent, and it will be quite interesting to see if he signs anywhere.

**More is coming. Refresh for the latest.