Skip to main content


Off-Season Watch: 'Nobody is going to trade for that contract'


While the Stanley Cup Final continues, the NHL's off-season is rapidly approaching with the NHL Draft starting on June 28 and Free Agent Frenzy on July 1. keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Elvis Not Leaving the Building

The Columbus Blue Jackets explored trade options for Elvis Merzlikins earlier this year, but it appears clear the goaltender will be staying put for now.

New Blue Jackets president and general manager Don Waddell gave a resounding answer when asked Thursday about Merzlikins, who remains signed through the 2026-27 season at a $5.4 million cap hit. 

“Let’s be honest, nobody is going to trade for that contract. Nobody,” Waddell told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “People say, ‘Well, why don’t you buy out the contract?’ It’s a six-year buyout, and there are years three, four, five and six when you might need that cap space. So you’ve eliminated those two options.”

Waddell, who joined the Blue Jackets from the Carolina Hurricanes in last May, said he's hoping a fresh front office can help repair the relationship with Merzlikins and allow him to bounce back after two tough seasons. 

“Let’s put all the resources we can toward it,” Waddell said. “I don’t want to come across as criticizing anything that’s happened here before, because I don’t know what’s happened here before. But we all mesh differently.

“My approach is, ‘Let’s put all our time and effort into this.’ At the end of the day, we can say we did everything possible to put this in the right position. Two outcomes are possible: we succeed or we fail. If we succeed, we keep moving forward. If we fail, well, now we have to figure things out.

“It’s easier to say, ‘Just do this or that (trade or buyout).’ But those aren’t options.”

Merzlikins said in January he had requested a trade after slipping to third on the depth chart behind Spencer Martin and Daniil Tarasov. He finished the year appearing in a team-high 41 games, going 13-17-8 with a .897 save percentage and a 3.45 goals-against average. He went 7-18-2 in 2022-23 with a .876 save percentage and a 4.23 GAA.

Buying out the goaltender would free $4.25 million in cap space for the Blue Jackets this season, $3.75 million in 2025-26  and $2.475 million in 2026-27. The team, however, would be left with a cap charge of $1.75 million in each of the next three years.

Selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, Merzlikins has spent his entire NHL career in Columbus. Over five seasons, he has recorded a 68-79-30 record with a 3.20 GAA and .904 save percentage.


Offer Sheet Possible?

Rumours continue to swirl around Carolina Hurricanes pending restricted free agent Martin Necas as he reportedly seeks a new home.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports that the Hurricanes' asking price is currently high enough that a few teams are wondering if an offer sheet could prove to be a plausible avenue if that price doesn't come down. He notes an offer sheet probably remains a long shot, but is not off the table.

Offer sheets have become rare in the NHL, though both of the last two have involved the Hurricanes. The Montreal Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet in 2019 which the Hurricanes matched and Carolina targeted Montreal two years later, signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet that the Canadiens elected not to match.

The value of Necas' new contract would determine the return on an offer sheet for the Hurricanes. According to CapFriendly, a deal with a cap hit of $2.29 million to $4.58 million would could cost the acquiring team a second round pick. If the cap hit is in the range of $4.58 million to $6.87 million, it would cost a first- and a third-round pick. A salary from $6.87 million up to $9.16 million would cost a first-, second, and third-round selection. 

Necas posted 24 goals and 53 points in 77 games this season and is believed to be seeking a significant raise from his current $3 million cap hit. Selected 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, he has topped the 20-goal mark in each of the past two seasons and recorded a career-high 71 points in 82 games last season.

LeBrun reported last week that the 25-year-old was drawing interest from many clubs, with the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens among those to check in.

"Well, they’ve heard from basically every team in the league, and what they’ve tried to do is narrow down the realistic possibilities for a potential trade," LeBrun explained on Insider Trading. "I’m told five to seven teams invite intriguing possibilities for the Hurricanes, but no one’s gone up to the price that they’d like to see. Winnipeg, you mentioned, Chicago, Boston, and Montreal among the teams that have inquired."

Sabres Weighing Options

Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams was asked Thursday during a media availability about whether a buyout is on the table for veteran winger Jeff Skinner.

Rumours have surrounded the possibility with the 32-year-old signed through the 2026-27 season at a cap hit of $9 million. While Adams did not shut down the idea, he remained very vague on the potential moves ahead for the franchise.

“There are rumblings on different scenarios,” Adams told reporters. “What I can tell you is from the day our season ended, after my conversations with Terry (Pegula) and kind of where we go from here, every single thing that we’re doing this offseason we ask the question, ‘Does this help our team get better? Does this put us in a position to improve?’

“And we’ve made a lot of decisions up to this point of where we sit today with that in mind and we’re gonna continue. So nothing’s off the table. We’re going to talk about everything. We’re gonna look at every scenario. But that’s probably as far as I’d go on specifics right now.”

Skinner had 24 goals and 46 points in 74 games this season after topping the 30-goal mark in each of the previous two campaigns. He crossed the 1,000 NHL game mark this season (now at 1,006) but has never appeared in a playoff game.

Buying out Skinner would free up $7.56 million in cap space for the Sabres this summer and save $4.56 million in 2025-26 and $2.56 million in 2026-27, compared to his $9 million currently on the books. It would, however, also leave the Sabres with a cap charge of $2.44 million in the three seasons from 2027-2030.

Selected seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2010 draft, Skinner has 357 goals and 670 points over his career with the Hurricanes and Sabres.