Ramblings: Free Agent Frenzy Day 1, Murray/Khudobin/Kubalik Sign, Johnson on Waivers (Oct 10)

Ian Gooding

2020-10-10

The first day of Free Agent Frenzy Day didn't disappoint, if you enjoy the volume of signings that happen all at once. You'll see the breakdowns of all the major signings (and a few of the minor ones) in our Fantasy Take articles, so I won't rehash them all here. Instead, I'll use the Ramblings to discuss other player news of the day, including some lesser free agent signings, the players signing with their current teams, and other notable happenings.

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The day kicked off with the news that the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning placed Tyler Johnson on waivers. The Lightning were rumored to be trying to move Johnson for much-needed cap space, but placing him on waivers was a real shocker. The undrafted Johnson looked like a breakout star in 2014-15 with nearly a point per game (72 points in 77 games), but he has failed to match that production since then. In fact, he was on pace for less than 40 points this season. As much as GMs are reluctant to use offer sheets, RFAs Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak are all vulnerable to one at the moment.

There are a number of possible outcomes to this. Simply put, this could either allow the Lightning to move Johnson and his contract (4 more years, $5 million AAV) to another team, or allow them to bury him in the minors (just over $1 million in cap relief). A sweetener will very likely be involved if Johnson moves to another team, so this is a situation to watch.

In spite of their cap issues, the Lightning were still able to re-sign both Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn, both to a cap hit of under $1 million apiece.

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At about the same time as the Johnson news, Oliver Ekman-Larsson's agent informed teams that "time's up" for a trade and that he would remain in Arizona for the coming season. This deadline appeared to be targeted simply at the Canucks, who needed to move on to pursue other players. The Canucks reportedly made one final offer just before the 9 a.m. PT deadline, but it is believed the Coyotes wanted a better prospect in the package than the Canucks were willing to part with.

I would never say never on the door being closed on a trade this offseason, as the financially-challenged Coyotes appear desperate to unload salary and rebuild. OEL may figure out another potential destination, or maybe there's another potential deal with the Canucks or the Bruins (especially now that