Anticipation seems to be building for the announcement of Daniel and Henrik Sedin's official return to the Vancouver Canucks organization.
On Tuesday, Rick Dhaliwal
reported that an announcement could be coming on Wednesday.
I'm very interested to hear how the twins' position will be framed and what their duties will entail. As I've said before, I believe they're the kind of people who will want to put in the work and have an opportunity to make a real impact. These could be very important hires for the organization.
I'll also share a couple of tidbits that I stumbled across on Monday, when Vancouver-based goalie guru Kevin Woodley guested on the DFO Rundown podcast
with Jason Gregor and Frank Seravalli.
Woodley made two very interesting Canucks-related points:
• When asked, in the rapid-fire segment, which NHL goalie he would choose to give him the chance of winning just one game, he went with Andrei Vasilevskiy. Which is quite fair. But he also said the first person who popped into his mind was Thatcher Demko, calling him a "special" player.
Demko's about 18 months younger than Vasilevskiy — drafted two years later, and has been brought along much more slowly. On top of his notorious playoff performance in last year's bubble, he also had moments last season where he was the best player in the league. I wonder if he'll get a few Vezina votes in this year's balloting.
• Talking about Columbus' goalie situation, Woodley reminded us that it was Ian Clark who built the pipeline that the Blue Jackets are benefitting from now. In his time in Columbus between 2011 and 2019, Clark didn't just help Sergei Bobrovsky win two Vezinas. He also oversaw the drafting of Joonas Korpisalo (2012), Elvis Merzlikins (2014) and Daniil Tarasov (2017).
The rise of Korpisalo and Merzlikins allowed the Blue Jackets to avoid a big salary commitment to Bobrovsky two years ago. Now, with the promising Tarasov on the horizon, they have the opportunity to move on from one of Korpisalo or Merzlikins if they choose this summer — whether that's through the expansion draft or via trade.
• In addition to praising Demko, Woodley also emphasized that Mikey DiPietro is on track for an NHL career — even though he's considered undersized by current standards, at just 6'0". With goalies like Juuse Saros (5'11") and Alex Nedeljkovic (6'0") having success in the NHL this year, Woodley says the pendulum is swinging back a bit from height being such an important asset for goalies.
• Barring injury, DiPietro might have to wait one more season before he gets a chance to be a full-time NHL player. Although he sees Braden Holtby as the perfect west-coast guy, Woodley doesn't expect him to be selected by Seattle in the expansion draft.
Meanwhile, in a normal year, this would be draft week.
Perhaps that's the reason why CapFriendly
has now moved teams' 2021-22 data onto its homepage.
Even at just a glance, it's pretty interesting. The Tampa Bay Lightning are still taking care of their 2020-21 business — which they did in fine style with their 8-0 home win over the New York Islanders on Monday night. But CapFriendly is showing that they're already $5 million over next year's salary cap before their offseason even begins — and with only 19 players signed.
They're a club that should get some cap relief from the Seattle expansion draft. CapFriendly
has a great tool for that as well, which easily identifies which players are eligible for selection and who needs to be automatically protected due to their no-movement clauses.
In the case of the Lightning, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos have NMCs. So that leaves the team with five more protection slots for forwards. With eight forwards who are eligible for selection, three players from this list will be exposed: Point, Palat, Gourde, Cirelli, Killorn, Maroon, Joseph.
There will be options on the blue line as well. Victor Hedman has an NMC, so there are only two more slots available, with four defensemen eligible for selection: McDonagh, Sergachev, Cernak and Rutta.
If the Lightning do advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they could be playing hockey for up to three more weeks. That could leave GM Julien BriseBois with only a few days where he could make deals to move out some money and get assets in return for any of his potentially exposed players before the expansion draft lists need to be submitted on July 17.
Firstly — can you imagine how emotional it would be for a player to get traded within days of a Stanley Cup Final appearance — win or lose? And secondly, I wonder how much that could slow other potential player movement, with GMs tempted to wait and see what BriseBois and the Lightning might be willing to do?
One-time Canuck Luke Schenn is a pending UFA. He'll probably be happy to wait things out and return to the Lightning on another bargain deal next season, but he sure looked good on Monday. In his first appearance of the third round, Schenn scored a goal, got in a fight and logged a solid 16:27 as he stepped in to replace the injured Erik Cernak. He helped give the other Lightning defenders an easier night than usual in this very tough series. That could help them enormously when the series goes back to Long Island for Game 6.
Colorado's another interesting team. Yes, Cale Makar and Bowen Byram are exempt, but the club still has five expansion-draft eligible defensemen under contract. Erik Johnson has a NMC, so that leaves two slots remaining for Sam Girard, Devon Toews, Ryan Graves and Jacob McDonald. They're all lefties, but if the acquisition price was right, would you rather have Graves at $3.16 million next season than have Alex Edler back?
The Blues and the Bruins are two other teams who could have multiple defensemen unprotected.
If you go down the rabbit hole, let us know if you notice any other teams who could be eager to deal before Seattle swoops in.
Finally, here's one other expansion draft note: the league's list of players who are exempt due to injury includes Micheal Ferland.
In addition to Ryan Kesler, who hasn't played in more than two years due to his hip issues, two other ex-Canucks also appear on the list, and both been dealing with concussion issues. Anders Nilsson hasn't played since December of 2019, while Luca Sbisa was injured during his lone game in a Nashville uniform this past January.