After what felt like the longest second round in the history of professional sports drafting, the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is now in the books. For only the second time in the last six years, the Colorado Avalanche were didn’t have a pick in the top-10. Despite that, Joe Sakic and his front office were able to add two very high-end prospects to the organization in Justin Barron and Jean-Luc Foudy. All in all, the Avs have added five new faces to their prospect pool.
Check out our review of each pick here:
The biggest surprises during the draft, though - outside of the exorbitant lengths of time that each GM used to make their selections - were the number of non-qualified players who will be hitting the open market on Friday.
The biggest one is almost certainly Anthony Duclair, who was non-tendered by the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday and will hit free agency for the first time in his career later this week.
According to team media, the Senators offered Duclair a “substantial raise” - and made it clear that Duclair has opted to represent himself. He reportedly couldn’t come to terms with the team on the number they were offering him, so instead of heading to potential arbitration the team opted to let him go entirely.
On one hand, Duclair has bounced around quite a bit in his career; he’s played for the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Ottawa Senators already since hitting the NHL in the 2014-15 season. On the other hand, he scored 23 goals for Ottawa last year, and he’s only 25. A rebuilding team should be begging him to stay; for some reason, the Senators just didn’t.
Speaking of the Senators: the team opted to bring in another RFA on Wednesday, although this one has been qualified already. Goaltender Matt Murray was moved from Pittsburgh, looking to get a fresh start in the Atlantic Division after struggling numbers-wise in the 2019-20 NHL season.
As for Avalanche RFAs, the organization tendered qualifying offers to Andre Burakovsky, Ryan Graves, Tyson Jost, Valeri Nichushkin and Nikita Zadorov. That means that for now, the organization is cutting ties with A.J. Greer and Sheldon Dries.
In other non-qualified player news:
The Vancouver Canucks have let a potentially valuable depth defender hit the market with the decision to let Troy Stetcher hit free agency. Although he would have been a good piece to keep in their lineup, the massive contracts that Vancouver has handed out in years past finally came back to haunt them — and while they’ll still have Tyler Myers inked long-term, they’ll have to let the younger Stetcher go.
The Arizona Coyotes look to be potentially trying to find some loopholes with salary in their own right, as they failed to qualify forward Vinnie Hinostroza.
The team has been actively engaging with Hinostroza over the last few weeks at community events, but the former Chicago Blackhawks forward just didn’t perform at the levels he was expected to last year. So likely, they’ll try to coax him back for less than his qualifying offer.
Another player who might be enticed to return to the club that non-tendered him? Andreas Athanasiou of the Edmonton Oilers. The team paid a fairly handsome price for Athanasiou just this past February, but they’ll be looking to cut costs too — and the 26-year-old former Red Wing, who posted two points in nine regular season games after Edmonton acquired him, will hopefully be willing to return to them for less than it would have taken to retain his rights.
A team that might not be looking to bring a player back, though, is the Chicago Blackhawks. Goaltender Malcolm Subban, who arrived in Chicago as a part of the deal that sent Robin Lehner to the Las Vegas Golden Knights this spring, will become a free agent on Friday as well. He hasn’t quite put it all together at the NHL level on a consistent basis, but teams will likely need goaltending depth this winter — so he could try to find a home elsewhere as a backup or number three.
Failing to extend qualifying offers, of course, isn’t the only way to try to cut costs for teams. Yet another club opted to trigger buy-outs on Wednesday, when the Nashville Predators bought out forward Kyle Turris and defender Steven Santini.
They certainly weren’t the first players to hit the buyout list. Henrik Lundqvist is leaving New York following his own buyout, while names like Jack Johnson, Michael Grabner, and Bobby Ryan found themselves on the outs as well. But for Turris, it’s a bit of a letdown after he was brought to Nashville in an attempt to help shore up the team down the middle.