A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep.
1. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ shiny new toy, Tyson Barrie, is reportedly searching for $8 million annually on his next contract.
That ask is far from outrageous when you consider the 27-year-old ranks sixth among all defencemen in scoring over the past two seasons and, generally, you should begin all negotiations by coming in high.
Colorado was never going to pay that.
Toronto might, but the Maple Leafs are expected to see how their overhauled D corps fits together. And Barrie might be eager to see how many assists he can pile up by getting the puck into a deeper arsenal of scorers. He likes the stretch pass, too.
What’s compelling here is that as much as Kyle Dubas has given his defence a makeover this summer, it could happen all over again next July.
There’s a little dash of Masai Ujiri in this move. He’s managing for the now.
Morgan Rielly is the only Maple Leaf defenceman under contract beyond this season, and he’s a steal at $5 million per.
The club has time to hope AHLers Rasmus Sandin and/or Timothy Liljegren can step in during their entry-level contracts, and learn whom of Barrie, Cody Ceci and Jake Muzzin they want to lock up.
The top-two pairings in October should be interesting and allow for flexibility, depending on the game situation.
Mike Babcock loves his righty-lefty balance, of course, and has shown a penchant for matching an offensive-minded defenceman with a safer, stay-at-home guy.
Our guess: Rielly-Ceci and Muzzin-Barrie as the default, with the option of a Rielly-Barrie look Toronto needs a goal to catch up.
2. Of the nine NHL offer sheets signed this millennium, only one (Ryan Kesler’s on Sept. 12, 2006) arrived later than July 26. Five of the nine were inked by July 9.
Not only did Carolina’s quick match of Sebastian Aho’s deal with Montreal send a message to poaching GMs that you better swing hard or not at all, it feels the deeper into the summer we get, the less likely we’re going to see one.
3. With so many cautionary tales out there — Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, David Backes — the league’s execs have gotten much stingier when it comes to handing out term on July 1.
You can count on one hand (no thumb needed!) the established players that have signed for the maximum number of years since Canada Day: Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Anders Lee, Sergei Bobrovsky, and that’s it.
At age 30, Bobrovsky is the oldest.
The most term any defenceman received was Tyler Myers’ five years in Vancouver, and at this point it’s difficult to imagine Jake Gardiner — curiously still lingering on the free market — securing more than that.
On the flip side, since free agency opened, GMs have signed off on more than 150 player contracts lasting just one or two seasons, when the NHL and the PA are hopeful the cap ceiling will spike.
This group includes a one-year, prove-you-still-got-it deal with Wayne Simmonds in New Jersey and reasonable two-year deals for wingers Ryan Dzingel (Carolina) and Marcus Johansson (Buffalo), all of whom have a chance to play a significant top-six role with their new clubs.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I believed in the team and the city,” Dzingel said on his conference call Friday morning. “Hearing that we want to score goals and be a high-tempo offence, and watching them last season, I thought it was a perfect fit for the way I play.”
Makes you wonder which interested teams he didn’t believe in.
4. The scarcity of long-term deals available leaves us curious as to how Brandon Tanev managed to secure the only six-year contract handed out.
Giving a bottom-six role player — even a solid one like Tanev — $21 million feels treacherous in a cap world.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, headed into the Hall of Fame, said he had no reservations about the acquisition.
“It’s the way things work on July 1. You either give the player close to what he wants, or you don’t get the player,” Rutherford said. “With Tanev’s age , the way he trains, I don’t have any issue with the term.”
Tanev has only once exceeded 61 games played and has yet to enjoy a 30-point season.
5. From the most player-friendly deal to the least, San Jose’s Kevin Labanc will go from taking home $742,000 in 2018-19 to $1 million in 2019-20.
After a 17-goal, 56-point season, Labanc could’ve fought for three or four times that much. Yet, while the rest of the notable RFAs are at a stalemate, Doug Wilson is the only GM who managed to get both of his (Timo Meier signed a four-year extension) back in short order.
Who among us would be shocked if Labanc re-signed for a juicy raise shortly after Jan. 1 for 2020-21 and beyond?
I mean, the guy’s Twitter handle is @St8ToTheBanc.
The Sharks will have 10 players on expiring deals, so there’ll be more leeway to properly compensate the winger next summer, plus there’s always hope the cap goes up.
Labanc did his cap-crunched team a solid.
— Kevin Labanc (@Str8ToTheBanc) July 8, 2019
6. Not one of the major impending UFAs of 2020 has re-signed with his team yet.
It’s a studded class that includes Taylor Hall, Romans Josi, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, Brayden Schenn and Barrie.
This is abnormal. In recent summers, stars such as Carey Price, Victor Hedman, Jamie Benn, Drew Doughty and Logan Couture wasted no time locking in.
Best guess: Josi signs first.
7. Enforcer-turned-storyteller John Scott sat down and broke down the infamous Phil Kessel stick-swinging incident from the 2013 pre-season.
“Phil, I’m gonna jump ya. Heads up.”
8. What are we missing with Henri Jokiharju, the high-upside, 20-year-old right-shot defence prospect traded from Chicago to Buffalo this week?
The kid only won two world-championship gold medals this year (junior and men’s).
Stan Bowman seemed to be laying the groundwork for this deal by beefing up his blue line in the Olli Maata and Calvin De Haan acquisitions.
On the flip side, Buffalo’s Jason Botterill has fast become the master of trading for young, right-shot defenders. In a span of less than five months, he’s traded for three of them (Brandon Montour and Colin Miller the others).
The Sabres now have a surplus of righties, once again raising the possibility of a Rasmus Ristolainen trade.
9. Michael Del Zotto’s pinball season landed in St. Louis. And while the 600-game NHL veteran only appeared in seven games for the Blues — the shortest stint of all the six clubs the defenceman has played for — and was healthy-scratched through the playoffs, he still got his day with the Stanley Cup Wednesday.
From 9 a.m. to midnight, the chalice was all his. He promptly filled the bowl with Golden Grahams, long his breakfast cereal of choice.
After spending the day with family and friends, he brought the thing downtown Toronto, to the Marbl patio.
It’s incredible how the energy of a room instantly jolts up about 12 notches when the Cup appears. Del Zotto was like Santa Claus: anyone who wanted a sip of victory could get one.
“Gloria” blared throughout the restobar more than twice, and we caught a cool moment as an 81-year-old lady passing by on the sidewalk requested a birthday drink:
The next morning, Del Zotto signed with the Ducks — the very team that traded him to St. Louis — for a hair over the league minimum.
10. Asked one of the Cup’s keepers which championship team of the past decade held the wildest parties.
His answer, without hesitation: “The Blackhawks.”
He went on to explain that the cellphone effect has reined in the rowdy and tamed the insanity. The keeper tales prior to the dawn of social media are more legendary.
11. After all the roster shuffling, seven teams sit without a captain. Make it eight if Justin Williams, 37, stops playing for Carolina.
12. Happy summer, everyone!