Trade frenzy on day two of the NHL Draft, Sabres buyout Skinner and more: Around the League

Photo credit:© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
12 days ago
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Welcome back to Around the League — the column here at CanucksArmy where we deliver news and notes from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens!
Day Two of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft will go down as one of the most chaotic trading frenzies at the draft in recent memory: Twenty-two trades, one massive buyout, and a bunch of questions to be answered before July 1st. Let’s get into it.

Trading Frenzy

Beck Malenstyn to the Sabres
The Washington Capitals traded forward Beck Malenstyn to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick (43rd overall). The Capitals selected defenceman Cole Hutson, brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman Lane Hutson. The Sabres are re-acquiring Malenstyn, as he was originally drafted by the club in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.
Malenstyn, 26, scored six goals and 21 points in 81 games with the Capitals. The 2023-2024 season was the White Rock native’s first as a mainstay in the NHL. Malenstyn’s blazing speed, physicality, and penalty-killing prowess turned heads across the league, and the price tag was too rich for the Capitals to turn down. Malenstyn is a restricted free agent and needs a new extension for next season.
Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club
Now, to the biggest and most out-of-left-field deal of the day: The Tampa Bay Lightning sent defenceman Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club in exchange for defenceman J.J. Moser, forward prospect Conor Geekie, a 2024 seventh-round pick (199th overall) and a 2025 second-round pick. The Lightning selected Noah Steen with the 199th overall pick.
Sergachev, 26, immediately becomes the number one defenceman in Utah. The former Lightning battled through two brutal injuries this season yet still came back to play two games in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sergachev had a career year in 2022-2023, scoring 10 goals and 64 points in 79 games, and showed signs he was overtaking Victor Hedman as the number one defenceman in Tampa Bay. The Russian defenceman has seven years remaining on his current deal, paying him $8.5 million annually.
Moser, 24, is coming off a five-goal, 26-point season. The former second-round pick is a restricted free agent, coming off his entry-level contract and due for a significant raise this offseason. Geekie, 20, scored 43 goals and 93 points split between the Wenatchee Wild and the Swift Current Broncos before joining the Tuscon Roadrunners for two playoff games. Despite being held pointless in his two AHL games, the 6’4 forward projects to be a fierce competitor for a roster spot next season.
John Marino to the Utah Hockey Club
The Utah Hockey Club wasn’t finished adding to their blue line just yet. The New Jersey Devils traded defenceman John Marino and a 2024 fifth-round pick (153rd overall) to the Utah Hockey Club in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick (49th overall) and a 2025 second-round pick. Utah selected Ales Cech 153rd overall, while New Jersey drafted Mikhail Yegorov 49th overall.
Marino, 27, scored four goals and 25 points in 75 games with the Devils. The right-shot defenceman became available once it was reported that the Devils were the front-runner to land upcoming free agent Brett Pesce. With top-pairing veteran Dougie Hamilton and the 2022 second-overall pick Šimon Nemec filling two-thirds of the Devils’ right-side defence, Marino became the odd man out. Marino has three years remaining on his current deal, which pays him $4.4 million annually.
Tanner Jeannot to the Kings
In another move for the Tampa Bay Lightning to shed some cap space, The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick (118th overall) and a 2025 second-round pick. The Lightning selected Jan Golicic at 118th overall.
Jeannot, 27, struggled not only to produce but to even stay in the Lightning’s lineup this season. He scored seven goals and 14 points in 55 games, with a minus-10 rating. Jeannot is known for the edgy and physical side of his game, and he is a perfect playoff-type player. However, he was a healthy scratch for the Lightning during this postseason. The Saskatchewan native wasn’t cheap to acquire for the Lightning, costing them defenceman Cal Foote, 2025 first, 2024 second and a third, fourth and fifth-round pick in 2023. It’s safe to say that experiment didn’t work. Jeannot has one year remaining on his current contract, paying him $2.665 million annually.
Kevin Hayes to the Penguins
The St. Louis Blues traded forward Kevin Hayes and a 2025 second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the well-sought-after future considerations. This move was just a salary cap dump from the Blues angle but a low-risk, high-reward move for the Penguins, all the while acquiring a future asset in the same swift move.
Hayes, 32, is coming off the worst year of his career in his first season with the Blues, scoring 13 goals and 29 points in 79 games. But he’s just one year removed from the best year of his career, scoring 18 goals and 54 points in 81 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. Maybe playing his former team can light the fire back from under him, and he can return to his 2022-2023 form. Hayes has two years remaining on his current contract, paying him $7.14 million annually.
Logan Thompson to the Capitals
In another shocking move, but this time in front of the hometown crowd, the Vegas Golden Knights traded goaltender Logan Thompson to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2024 third-round pick (83rd overall) and a 2025 third-round pick. The Golden Knights selected Pavel Moysevich at 83rd overall.
Thompson, 27, came in clutch for this Golden Knights team this season when starting goalie Adin Hill went down with an injury. The undrafted college free agent had a 25-14-5 record, with a 2.70 goals against average (GAA) and a .908 save percentage (S%) with one shutout. Thompson has one year remaining on his current contract, paying him $776K annually.
The most awkward part about this trade was that Thompson was set to sign autographs at the Sphere during the draft. Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon shed more light on why they traded their young, promising goaltender: “Logan had reached a point in his career where he needed a change, so he had requested a trade from the organization.”
Akira Schmid and Alexander Holtz to the Golden Knights
Well, the Golden Knights needed to replace Thompson somehow, right? The New Jersey Devils traded goaltender Akira Schmid and forward Alexander Holtz to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Paul Cotter and a 2025 third-round pick.
Schmid, 24, showed signs of flashes last season when he nearly single-handedly carried the Devils past the New York Rangers in the first round of last season’s playoffs. However, this year, Schmid struggled with a 5-9-1 record, a 3.15 GAA, and a .895 S%. It was once believed he could be the future in net for the Devils. Schmid is a restricted free agent. Now, maybe he can be in the desert.
Holtz, 22, is still very much a project in need of a change of scenery. The former seventh-overall pick just hasn’t been given the opportunity to flourish as a skilled forward, as he’s normally shunned to a bottom-six role. The Swede scored 16 goals and 28 points in 82 games while only averaging 11:38 minutes of ice time per game. Holtz has one year remaining on his current contract, paying him $894K annually.
Cotter, 24, is a physical forward who scored seven years and 25 points in 76 games last season. The Michigan native showed his ability to play up and down the lineup as a producing middle-six forward. Cotter has two years remaining on his current contract, paying him $775K annually.

Sabres buy out Skinner

After weeks and weeks of speculation, Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams announced in his post-draft press conference that the club has decided to buy out long-time Sabre Jeff Skinner.
Skinner, 32, was five years through his eight-year contract, paying him $9 million annually. With three seasons remaining on his deal, let’s check out how much this buyout is going to cost the Sabres with our friends over at PuckPedia.
Ouch. In year three of the buyout, $6.44 million of dead cap stings big time. Skinner certainly wasn’t worth the $9 million per season, but his 24 goals and 46 points were good for third on the team in points/60 among active Sabres players… Sure, it’ll help you this year, but if you’re trying to compete in the coming few years, paying him $14.67 million to not play for your team over the six seasons might hurt the team more.
With Skinner being paid generously by the Sabres for the next few seasons, would he be a helpful addition for the Vancouver Canucks? He’d be relevantly cost-efficient and is one season removed from an over-point-per-game season. Wouldn’t it be nice for the Canucks to be on the other side of buyout? You know, where a player signs for cheap elsewhere because they’re getting paid by another team not to play for them? cough Oliver Ekman-Larsson cough.

How the Lightning’s trades affect Stamkos

The Lightning moved on from both Sergachev and Jeannot, clearing $11.165 million for them to spend in free agency. How are they planning on spending their newly acquired cap space?
Before the Lightning cleared all that salary, it was reported that Stamkos would test free agency. But, once the Sergachev money was made available, it was believed that was the move to make enough room for a Stamkos return. However, after the draft, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman share this interaction between Lightning GM BriseBois and Stamkos’ agent, Don Meehan:
So, as it currently sits, it looks like Stamkos will be a free agent on July 1st. Where does the long-time Lightning captain go next? Is he a fit in Vancouver? Check out what we think here. And who’s all this cap space for in Tampa Bay if Stamkos isn’t coming back? Have they pivoted their interest to Jake Guetnzel?
Hopefully, most of these questions will be answered on Monday.

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