Radulov Heading Home… Trade Brewing?

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July first is a marked date in the NHL, where the frenzy is at its peak for the first time since the spring trade deadline. Sports radio and television stations have hours long specials, battling for scoops in hope to be the first one to break a signing or a trade. And since the arrival of the salary cap, combined with the loser point keeping the standings tight, trades are few and far between in the league and teams have very little chance to improve their situation so days like today are great for fans and media to see teams address the needs for the upcoming season.

This year was no different and two of the tops available free agents were Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov, both of whom played a key role in the Habs’ success this past season. It’s been a long saga for both pending UFA’s marked by the fact that there was an expansion draft and the Canadiens could only protect so many players, and they couldn’t agree to a contract prior to the deadline arriving. In both cases, the sticking issue doesn’t appear to be the dollar figure as much as the length of the contract. Markov wants two years, the Habs want one year. Radulov is rumoured to want 6-7 years, the Habs want a much shorter term.

Radulov going home

Some very interesting information came out all day long about the negotiation between the Canadiens and the 30 year-old right winger and fans were taken though a roller coaster of emotions following insiders (real and fake), waiting desperately for the news they’ve all been waiting for. So allow me to give you a recap of the day’s events, and some things that fans might have missed in one language or another.

  • Radio commentator Martin McGuire is not one to invent things like others in the business. He said in the afternoon that Radulov and the Canadiens had reached a deal on a four year contract.
  • A few reporters in Quebec, including François Gagnon, said earlier that the Habs had made a final offer to Radulov, a take it or leave it type of offer. They also mentioned four years.
  • Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud), a russian journalist covering the KHL, tweeted that the contract signed by Radulov was a deal for the Habs as he was offered much more money and term in the KHL. He erases his tweet soon after but one of my followers, @AlexNyko, will be able to attest as he re-tweeted the post.
  • Then Radulov posted a video on his Instagram account, where he is sitting on a plane, telling people that he is going home. Did he mean Russia? Montreal?
  • We know that Radulov was vacationing in Italy and I don’t know if players still need to physically sign their contracts or if they can do it electronically like you do in the real estate business.Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 5.31.48 AM

Like when trying to solve a crime, this is all circumstantial evidence until the team or one of the reputable insiders comes out with the DNA. Until then, it’s all speculation.

Markov in limbo

Insisting on a two year deal could spell the end of the longest serving Canadiens on the team. I don’t know why the 39 year-old Markov can’t do what Nicklas Lidstrom, Rob Blake, Joe Sakic and many other star players have done before him and go year to year. Is he really better than those Hall of Famers? But the Habs have loaded on defensemen today when acquiring Karl Alzner and Joe Morrow, and they had already acquired David Schlemko not long ago.

Trade brewing?

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Could Duchene finally be traded?

No matter what happens with Radulov and Markov, Marc Bergevin has yet to get his hands on a top-six centre, a big need on his team. While UFAs like Joe Thornton (SJS), Nick Bonino (NAS) and Martin Hanzal (DAL) have all signed new deals, Joe Sakic has yet to find a taker for Matt Duchene and if he wants him traded, time is the essence. Sakic has not done anything substantial to improve his team today, a team that finished in the basement of the NHL, and that can’t sit well in Colorado.

I have a theory (not a scoop), which I shared on Twitter: if Radulov signs an extension, Alex Galchenyuk very well could be sacrificed in a trade for a top-six centre. Will it be Duchene from Colorado? Maybe but the Avs are wanting a top end defenseman in return, something the Canadiens don’t really have. But Galchenyuk is a nice piece for them, one that the Habs might be dangling in front of them.

Then there’s the Edmonton Oilers who are trying to sign both Connor McDavid ($13 million?) and Leon Draisaitl ($9 million?) and this could force Peter Chiarelli to find a taker for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Could a trade involving Brendan Gallagher and some added incentive be enough to get the young centre? “The Nuge” is making $6 million per season while Gallagher’s cap hit is $3.75 million. Both contracts go until the end of the 2020-21 season. This would save the Oilers some cap space.

Expect the unexpected“, said Marc Bergevin in a couple of occasions in the last week or so. But what are we expecting exactly?

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Habs’ Expansion Protection List 2017

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The 2016-2017 regular season is over for the Montreal Canadiens, who have won the Atlantic Division title with a total of 103 points. While they are awaiting the start of their first round series against the New York Rangers, let’s have a look at the next hot topic in the NHL beyond the playoffs: the expansion draft. 

Here is a new, up to date players’ list for the Montreal Canadiens, in anticipation of the 2017 expansion draft for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. While there are a couple of different lists going around, it is not certain that they are accurate, based on the rules set by the NHL, which are:

The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft: 

Protected Lists
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft: 

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise
* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).

* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.

* The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

The 30 NHL Clubs must submit their Protection List by 5:00 P.M. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas team must submit their Expansion Draft Selections by 5:00 P.M. ET on June 20 and the announcement of their selections will be released on made on June 21. 

2017 NHL Draft Lottery

The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.

The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.

The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).

Source: NHL.com

According to the rules mentioned above, set by the National Hockey League, here is a list of the players whose rights belong to the Montreal Canadiens as of today. It is important to note that while I have listed the pending Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) to the players needing protection, only those who are signed to an extension prior to the expansion draft would need to be protected.

HabsExpansion2017

So the Habs will likely choose to protect one goalie, three defensemen and seven forwards. Here are the decisions that management will be faced with after the playoffs are over…

GOALTENDERS: Carey Price will be protected, Al Montoya left exposed.

DEFENSEMEN: Jeff Petry must be protected due to his NMC. In all likelihood, Shea Weber will also be protected which means that the team will only be able to protect one of the following players: Nathan Beaulieu, Jordie Benn or Alexei Emelin. It is pretty fair to assume that Emelin will be left without protection, which will leave an interesting decision between Benn and Beaulieu.

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Photo: Getty Images

FORWARDS: Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Andrew Shaw and Alex Galchenyuk will all be protected, for a total of six players. They can still protect one more. They will then have to decide between Tomas Plekanec ($6 million cap hit for one more season), Charles Hudon, Daniel Carr or Jacob De la Rose.

As for pending UFA’s, while the league probably prevents teams to do so, it would be hard to keep them (and to prove) from having verbal agreements with players that they will be signed after the expansion draft. For example, Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov could have deals in place with the team, but they would only be signed once the expansion draft is over.

It is also important to note that teams cannot lose more than one player to expansion, which is really not that big of a deal. In my opinion, the biggest decision that Marc Bergevin and his team will have to make will be on defense. But before we spend too much time thinking about this, let’s enjoy what, hopefully, will be a long playoffs’ run by “Nos Canadiens”. Go Habs Go!

Because I had linked the players to their existing contract status on CapFriendly.com and on HabsProspects.com, I am posting the original table so you can click on the player’s name to see their status for yourself. I preferred the picture for display, as I just couldn’t adjust the format on WordPress, likely due to my limited knowledge.

Montreal Canadiens protection list – Expansion draft 2017
STATUS →

EXEMPT

NEED PROTECTION

2017-18 CONTRACT →

Unsigned

RFA

Signed

UFA

RFA

Signed

NMC

               
GOALTENDERS Hawkey, Hayden Lindgren, Charlie Fucale, Zachary Montoya, Al
  McNiven, Michael Price, Carey
 
 
DEFENSEMEN Henrikson, Arvid Hanley, Joel Bourque, Simon Markov, Andrei Beaulieu, Nathan Benn, Jordie Petry, Jeff
  Koberstein, Nikolas Johnston, Ryan Juulsen, Noah Lowe, Keegan Davidson, Brandon
  Mete, Victor Lernout, Brett Nesterov, Nikita Emelin, Alexei
  Nygren, Magnus Parisi, Tom Thrower, Dalton Redmond, Zach
  Staum, Casey Sergachev, Mikhail Weber, Shea
  Sullivan, Colin
 
 
FORWARDS Bitten, Will MacMillan, Mark Addison, Jeremiah Farnham, Bobby Carr, Daniel Byron, Paul
  Bradley, Matt Audette, Daniel Flynn, Brian Crisp, Connor Danault, Phillip
  Evans, Jake Eisenschmid, Markus King, Dwight De La Rose, Jacob Gallagher, Brendan
  Nättinen, Joonas Grégoire, Jeremy Martinsen, Andreas Friberg, Max Mitchell, Torrey
  Pezzetta, Michael Lehkonen, Artturi Ott, Steve Galchenyuk, Alex Pacioretty, Max
  Vejdemo, Lukas McCarron, Michael Radulov, Alexander Hudon, Charles Plekanec, Tomas
  Reway, Martin Matteau, Stefan Shaw, Andrew
  Scherbak, Nikita Terry, Chris