St. Louis Blues fan Libby Lu captured the nation's attention after having an epic meltdown over T.J. Oshie being traded to Washington. We felt her pain.

(Admit it, you've been there. I melted down as a 16-year-old when Teemu Selanne was traded from Anaheim to San Jose.)

The five-year-old, clad in a St. Louis Blues jersey (and ironically, a red, white, and blue bow), could not be more adorable as she and her dad took to Sportscenter for an interview Sunday morning. When asked if she could pose one question for T.J. Oshie, what would she ask, she responded coyly:

"Does he have a swimming pool?"

Commence heart melting as the anchor brings in Oshie on the phone and the intense swimming pool discussion begins.

If that doesn't give you the warm fuzzies, then your heart is two-sizes too small, Mr. Grinch.

Got to love the attention span of a five-year-old. By the end of the interview, she was elsewhere, even as Oshie promised her free swag.

Stick-tap Sean Newell

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 5, 2015, 6:37 pm
Nashville Predators' Colin Wilson, left, and Cody Franson, center, celebrate with Ryan Ellis (4) after Ellis scored a goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Cody Franson is still on the unrestricted free agent market. Yup, you read that right – a young, big, right-handed shooting offensive defenseman is still available.

Mind, blown – well not really, but Franson's availability is somewhat fascinating that he hasn't picked a team, or a team hasn't picked him, since free agency started July 1. 

At one point it appeared Franson was going to cash in mightily in this period. He’s 27 years old, 6-foot-5 and a right handed shot. But strangely, he’s still around for teams looking for blueline help.

As players got scooped up at a medium speed Wednesday, Franson bid his time.

Why has it taken this long? Generally blueliners of Franson’s 6-foot-5 size and offensive ability – he had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto last year – go in UFA pretty quickly.

Why the trepidation for the man who has signed three-straight one-year contracts just to get to this point – to choose a longer term deal?

According to Pro Hockey Talk, Franson’s agent Gerry Johannson is looking for ‘Jeff Petry money’ for the defenseman who made $3.3 million last year.

Johannson believes Jeff Petry’s new six-year, $33 million extension is the right “ballpark” for his client as he heads into the open market. Petry’s deal includes a full no-movement clause in the first three years of the deal and a 15-team no-trade clause for the final three years.

The way Franson didn’t mesh with the skating-oriented Nashville Predators probably didn’t help after mid-February trade. Especially the way the NHL is turning into a more speed-oriented league again.

But he was actually better than the classic eyeball test. He scored just one goal and had three assists while playing 15:25 per-game for Nashville. That was down from 21:23 he played with the Maple Leafs.

Via On the Forecheck.

Franson was a victim of being a good defenseman in the wrong situation. All of his underlying numbers were phenomenal: When adjusting for score, he saw 56% of all total shot attempts go towards the opposing goaltender, more than any other Preds defenseman. He also was only on the ice for 23.85 shots per 60 minutes, the fewest of any blue liner since joining the team.

Remember all those times he made a mistake to cost the team a goal? Well, you probably remember way more of them than there actually are. He was only out for nine 5v5 goals against, also the fewest of any regular blue liner.

Where does Franson now fit? The Vancouver Canucks says The Hockey Writers, as a potential Kevin Bieksa replacement. Also this would bring the Sicamous, B.C. native back to his home area. 

Causeway Crowd says the Bruins could be a good fit for Franson as a second pairing defenseman.

But a lot of this depends on what Franson wants. He’s been waiting on one-year contracts via tough negotiations just to get to this moment where he can finally have some level of security.

He has played in the Toronto fishbowl the last few years, and hasn’t won much. Is he fine with continuing to go short-term for a per-year raise (unlikely but possible) in hopes that the big deal is still right around the corner? Does he want to go to a contender for less money? Guess is he probably wants the years on a deal that he's never had in his career, but who knows. 

There’s a lot of questions about a guy who at one point many thought was the top unrestricted free agent defenseman on the market.  

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 5, 2015, 5:58 pm
Rich Clune calls out Twitter chirper... literally

Rich Clune’s story is also one of addiction and mental health awareness. The unrestricted forward has been sober for five years now and wears it like a badge of honor. And he’s gone to great lengths to keep it that way.

In the 2012-13 season with Nashville he got elbowed in the face and hurt his jaw. Instead of taking painkillers he took ibuprofen because was important for him to not trigger any addictive thoughts in his head.

“I had this nasty cut that wouldn’t heal and essentially my skin was just like pulling away from my jawbone,” he said.

Clune believes that life is about decisions. You either decide to make your existence better, or you don’t.

“Everyone has their own cross to bear and I think it’s OK to ask for help but ultimately you’re in charge of your own reality,” he said.

Clune has a lot of thoughts and many interests. He’s a hockey fighter along the lines of the current-day skilled enforcer. But he’s a deep thinker.

Ask about hockey culture and he brings up sociology studies.

Clune is currently living in Los Angeles. He’s working out, reading, writing and taking acting classes. He’s also trying to find that next contract. In spite of his role as a fighter, he can play.

As he likes to point out – he was once an NHL third-round draft pick. 

We talked with Clune about his life in hockey and what he thinks about hockey, sobriety and how the two can be difficult to intertwine.

Q: You recently wrote a piece about your battles with addiction. Why? What’s your message to players who want to get sober? 

Clune: I wanted it to be that … the biggest message was that I wasn’t passing blame on … I just think that people need to be responsible for their actions, whether they’re … I think the biggest takeaway is that people need to make the choice to change their life. They can’t sit around and blame their job or anything other than the fact they make decisions and they have to live with them, whether it’s they’re an alcoholic or anything. Everyone has their own cross to bear and I think it’s OK to ask for help, but ultimately you’re in charge of your own reality and I just didn’t want people to think that I’m blaming hockey for any of my (freaking) challenges. I could have done anything. Whether I would have … people would ask, ‘Well because you’re a hockey player you moved away from home and this is why you suffered from all this (crap)?’ I’m like, ‘No, it would have happened anywhere I went.’

My mind would have justified anything. If I went to a school to be a dentist, a lawyer or a doctor … it probably would have happened either way. I would have cracked under the pressure and self-medicated and all the reasons I did what I did would have come out anyway. It would have had nothing to do with ‘I’m a hockey player and I moved away from home and I started fighting when I turned pro.’ That stuff is all irrelevant. In my situation that would have probably been no different.

Anything I would have chose to do, the whole point of it is that I had to get out of my own way and that’s the biggest message of that story is that if you have challenges, you’re in your own way. You have to get out of your own way. It’s OK to ask for help, but it’s not OK to sit around and feel sorry for yourself and just living your disease and your addiction and make excuses and blame other people and that’s what my message is to people for the most part.

You mentioned the difficult nature of the Canadian Major Junior. What’s wrong with it? Do there need to be changes?

Well, I mean there are players that do go to these teams that don’t drink.

I’ve played with a lot of guys who stayed on the straight and narrow …

I think it’s just the nature of the way it’s set up. You move away from home at a tender age for the most part. You’re 15, 16, 17 and then you’re famous in the town you play in and it’s just … you play with guys who are 18,19, 20 – they can legally drink in Canada.

But at the same time too, it’s just ... it’s just a (freaking) … it’s tough to adapt at that age. But some people, there’s a few guys every year on teams that just seem like they don’t deal with it well and I was one of them. But like, I say this to people all the time, as a society, every group of people has these issues. You can just, it’s just the way the world is. You get a bunch of men who are a different breed and it’s just … I don’t need to point that out. It’s sociology, it’s the study of sociology. There’s a lot of factors that go into it. I’m not an expert on it. I can’t tell you, I just think that kids are really young and it’s just … that’s just tough to adapt at a young age.

You’re in acting classes and involved in other outside interests. Is the NHL or hockey an open place for players with desires outside of sports? Or does that get shunned?

It’s very hard to be good at something if you don’t put the hours in and not only the physical hours but the visualization and just constantly…

It’s hard enough to become a professional in one area of your life. There are a few guys that never (freaking) work out and they don’t have to train at it and they’re NHL players because they have that ‘god given’ talent. But for the most part people don’t get to become a professional at something for no reason.

I have interests outside of hockey that a lot of hockey players find kind of obscure and it’s maybe not common, but at the same time too, the only person that I would ever have to blame for not cultivating my interests for a little bit is myself because I could have done a lot of those things.

It was a full-time (freaking) job for me to be a (freaking) alcoholic and drug addict. It took up all my goddam time. People used to say, ‘Hey your partying and your drinking is getting in the way of hockey.’ And me being a smartass would say, ‘No it’s not, my hockey is getting in the way of my (freaking) partying.’ I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Yeah, the guys are going to make fun of an individual for wanting to explore other interests.’ But at the same time too, it’s very hard to become a very highly successful professional in anything if you don’t put the hours into it.

If you don’t take your work home with you, you have to. It has to become your life. Hockey became my life at a young age and I don’t feel bad about that, but at the same time, whatever, the guys all want to be on the same page so some guys might think that because a guy had an acting class on a Tuesday night he’s not thinking about the big game on Wednesday.

Whereas, I just think that’s dumb but it’s just … it’s competitive. Guys want to win and they want to make sure their teammates are bought in and I get that. And I have that too. I have that mentality too, I want my teammates focused and thinking about the task at hand, but at the same time I think it’s healthy to have other interests outside of the game. It’s definitely healthy and guys, the thing is most guys like to play golf and fish and do things like that… 

Athletic, ‘guy’ type things?

Yeah, guys are athletic, they always like to be around sports, it’s just when you meet a guy and, ‘Hey, maybe his interests don’t really match up with the norm.’ I just think that, at the same time too I have to be … when you really look into it, when you really get into it guys will always say, ‘I’ve been interested in that too, I just never had the confidence to try it. People always call me to do things during the week. I do my training in the morning for a few hours and I’ll relax in the afternoon whether I’ll nap or relax and then for the most part at night I’ll do other things, I’ll go to acting class I sit down and I write with my brothers, I read – I read scripts. I’m in scene study classes, involved in shooting a short film at the moment. I just never had time to pursue all this because once hockey was done I was so engulfed in my addiction. When I kicked everything, I was in recovery so much. I was going to meetings every night.

I went through a whole summer of treatment and it just took me a while to wrap my head around that. And now five years later I have a good grasp on what I need to do to remain healthy and sober and I also now have a lot more energy and my mind is clear and I now have a lot more time. I don’t waste time, that’s one thing if you ever hang around me, I do not waste a minute. And for me if I do give myself that 45 minutes to an hour to relax in the afternoon, that’s for a reason because once that 45 minutes to an hour is up now I’m back to doing whatever I’m doing.

That’s my one pet peeve is, I want people to live their own lives, but I’m a big believer in not wasting time and you can get a lot done in a day if you really want to.

Colorado Avalanche center Brad Malone (42) fights with Nashville Predators left wing Rich Clune (16) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

None of your teammates ever gave you a problem for being sober?

That’s the honest truth. I’m not covering for anybody. I think the reason is because people I saw I was taking it serious, because there was a time in my life where I made promises to guys and I made promises to teammates and I told everybody, ‘I’m going to change’ and ‘I’m going to get sober’ and ‘You’ll see’ and there were so many times it was like the boy who cried wolf. Guys were like, ‘All right, I’ve heard you say this a million times. You’re a joke.’ And they had no choice but to not take me seriously because I didn’t take myself serious.’ 

The eyes don’t lie on a human. People could see in my eyes I wanted to make a change. I was doing the work. People had no choice but to respect it. I’ve had the odd guy who didn’t know … they couldn’t figure it out and were like, ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’ that could happen but did anyone ever say, ‘You’re a loser?’ It was like people were ‘OK, good for you. ‘ Mike Fisher was like a huge role model to me. Playing with him in Nashville was great.

He’s a very devout Christian and he lives his life the way he wants to live it. He was … some people may question the way he lived his life and the way he made decisions but he walks the walk and he doesn’t apologize for it. And I respect him so much and he was very accepting of me when I came in and I live my life the way I want to live it and I’m not going to apologize. I just respect people who stand for something.

I like people who, it doesn’t matter what a person does. In any walk of life in any type of profession, man, woman, whatever it doesn’t matter I gravitate people who stand for something and not march to the beat of their own drum, but sincere people who are the same person all the time. And there’s a lot of hockey players like that and I’ve met a lot of good guys I’ve looked up to over the years. 

How difficult is it to have an open relationship with a coach to let them know what’s going on in your head? You opened up about this in regards to your time with Barry Trotz in Nashville.

It was no secret when Nashville claimed me on waivers from LA (in 2013). (Former Kings assistant GM) Ron Hextall had kind of given David Poile my background and vouched for me and basically said, ‘This kid has his life in order, you don’t have to worry about that.’ So (former Nashville coach Barry Trotz) kind of had the heads up when I joined the team and Trotzy and I met before I started playing and he asked me a little bit about myself. He told me a little bit about himself and just kind of laid everything on the table. He said, ‘I coached Jordin Tootoo for a bit and I saw what he went through and I was really proud of him when he got sober and I was a very big supporter in that.’ So Trotzy sort of knew the deal. I didn’t have a shattered jaw. I had a bit of a fracture in a bone in my mouth.

I had this nasty cut that wouldn’t heal and essentially my skin was just like pulling away from my jawbone. They had to keep it protected with the visor and it just hurt man. It just hurt constantly for over a month. I took ibuprofen and that would not do much actually. The biggest thing was in my sleep I would wake up and it (freaking) hurt, or I would go to eat and there’d be food caught in there. A bunch of it got infected at one point and it was just nasty.

I wasn’t really into painkillers in my addiction. I dabbled in it, but immediately, this sort of part of my brain that probably has that trait associated with it. It was like, ‘Yeah, why don’t you just get zonked out on painkillers constantly to numb the pain, that would probably help.’ And it probably would have but I just knew I had come so far and I knew that if I put a substance like that in my body constantly, I don’t know what that would do. How will I react when the cut heals and the pain is done? Am I going to continue to take them? It could have led me back into drinking or doing other drugs and I just had come so far and learned a lot about myself. I knew that the pain wasn’t to the point where I wasn’t going to live.

It wasn’t going to kill me. So I had to figure a way of how to tough it out and the whole thing with the jaw visor. I was like, ‘Yeah I can’t fight’ and I was really stressed. I had only been on the team 3-4 weeks. And I was just playing everything out in my head. I was like, ‘(ugh), these guys are probably going to send me back down to the minors just because I had that kind of reputation coming in that I was brought in to provide energy and toughness. I know I can play without fighting. It’s just a matter of fact the team recognizing that. Trotzy saw that in me. I kept begging the trainers to take the visor off.

I was freaking out and telling them, ‘They’re going to send me down.’ Trotzy didn’t baby me, he just said man-to-man ‘I like the way you skate, use your speed get in on the forecheck. Play hockey. Play hockey … don’t you want to just play hockey?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, obviously.’ I mean I love getting into fights when it happens organically and like, something where there’s emotions involved. I’ve never been a fan of just going out there and teeing off at the other team’s fighter.

That’s good if it happens organically but just to go out and do it and then you go back to the bench and sit there for the rest of the game? No I mean, I’ve never liked that. It sucks, it’s stupid. Trotzy was cool about it. He was like ‘I’m going to give you a chance to play’ and that’s when I started to put a few points on the board. My minutes started to go up and it was really good for me. It was good for me to see and regain that confidence in myself.

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 25: Rich Clune #16 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Dallas Stars at the Bridgestone Arena on February 25, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Is it easy or hard to confide in a coach?

Yeah, at the same time too, Trotzy could have just healthy scratched me until I got healthy. If he didn’t think I wasn’t capable of it, he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t a charity case. I think if I couldn’t keep up and I was literally only there to fight I wouldn’t have played. I think the whole point was he noticed I was good enough and all I needed was that little boost of confidence to spur me on my way. I have trust issues with a lot of people, man, I have major trust issues. And when he kind of did that, it allowed me to trust him. It allowed me to play. I have a lot of trust issues inside of hockey and outside of hockey. Not every coach is going to be like that and I’ve had coaches that aren’t like that. But at the end of the day, does that make them a bad guy? Not necessarily. Everyone has their own style. It is what it is.

Seems like at the age of 27 you’ve got the hockey culture figured out? But it took a while.

It’s like anything in life. The more time you’re around it the more you learn and when you’re young you think you know everything and as you get older you realize you don’t know that much, so um, yeah I’ve enjoyed my hockey career. I train hard and I want to keep playing and I love to play. I love the sport of hockey. It’s been my life up until now and I don’t apologize for that. I don’t apologize when people say, ‘What do you do?’ and I say, ‘I’m a hockey player’ but at the same time too I’m a lot of other things, and I take pride in that as well.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 4, 2015, 3:40 pm

Joel Ward and his glorious behind are going to the San Jose Sharks. 

The 34-year-old Ward signed a three-year $9.825 million for an annual salary cap hit of $3.275 million. 

This is a per-year raise from Ward’s prior deal, a four-year contract signed with Washington that paid him $12 million overall. Ward was one of the clutch glue type players on the free agent market, along with new Caps forward Justin Williams. The latter actually saw his salary drop to $3.25 million over two years as an essential replacement for Ward.

How does Ward fit with the Sharks? He’s a big, powerful forward with a strong cycle game. These attributes would fit nicely on Joe Thornton’s wing. But they have yet another 30 something under contract into the second half of that decade for a lot of money. However, he should fit nicely in the puck possession system favored by new coach Peter DeBoer.

"Joel is a quality veteran player who can score but also plays an extremely hard-nosed brand of hockey," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "He meshes well with our core group of forwards and has a strong track record of playing his best hockey at crucial times of the season."

Said DeBoer in a statement:

"Joel is an identity player in that he plays exactly the way I want our team to play. He's big, strong, fast and hard to play against.  That's exactly what we are looking for." 

Ha, ‘identity player’ nice. I don’t know what that means, but each coach has his own lingo.

Ward had 19 goals and 15 assists last season in 82 games and nine points in 14 playoff games. He had 13 points in 12 playoff games in 2010-11 for the Nashville Predators. And his nickname is the ‘Big Cheese’ for reasons we don’t fully understand.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 3, 2015, 10:03 pm

Ryan O’Reilly and the Buffalo Sabres have agreed to a seven-year, $52.5 million extension for the 24-year old forward. 

The cap hit comes in at $7.5 million per year.

O’Reilly, who spent the first six seasons of his NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, is another young piece acquired by Sabres GM Tim Murray. He’ll join 23-year old Evander Kane, who they traded for in February, 18-year old No. 2 overall pick Jack Eichel and 25-year old Tyler Ennis, who was extended last summer. 

The makeup of the extension is interesting. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, all seven years come with a $1 million salary and the rest coming via signing bonuses. So O’Reilly protects himself from escrow and with all the bonus money, a buyout, sort of like what we saw with David Clarkson’s deal with the Maple Leafs.

The Avalanche were never going to be able to meet O’Reilly’s contract demands, so they found him a nice landing spot with the Sabres during Draft weekend.  And if you want to blame anyone for O’Reilly’s $7.5 million cap hit, blame the Calgary Flames, who signed him to that giant offer-sheet in 2013, which was the beginning of the end for his time with Colorado. 

That sound you just heard was Steven Stamkos laughing as he envisions the giant pile of money he’ll receive once he signs his extension.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 3, 2015, 7:21 pm

Brandon Saad has been signed to a six-year contract worth a reported $6 million per-year by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Saad, who was an integral part of Chicago’s last two Stanley Cups and was acquired by Columbus the day before his restricted free agency was set to begin. So the questioning starts – if you’re the Blackhawks, who at one point intimated they would go to the mat to re-sign Saad, would you have spent that type of money and term on a 22-year-old forward who has never scored 30 goals and hit a career-high of 52 points last season?

There was always the question of whether Saad was prone to an offer sheet with the salary cap strapped Blackhawks, and Chicago at least got NHL-ready players in Mako Dano and Artem Anisimov in the package for Saad.

Chicago is actually currently over the $71.4 million salary cap per General Fanager by about $418,000. This is without restricted free agent Marcus Kruger signed. Forwards Bryan Bickell ($4 million cap hit) and Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million cap hit) have been involved in trade rumors at some point.

As for the Blue Jackets … hey they have Brandon Saad for the next six years! And he will likely play alongside center Ryan Johansen to form an excellent 1-2 first-line combo.

The team seemed to give him a less-used nickname instead of the ‘Kneel Before Saad’ line we all used when he was with the Blackhawks.

It is time. #Saadfather pic.twitter.com/iXU8RXjcKH

— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 3, 2015

Hey, at least it’s from another classic movie.

Said Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen in a team statement:

“Adding a player of Brandon's caliber is exciting for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization and our fans and we are extremely pleased to have reached this long-term commitment that assures he will be an important part of our team for years to come." 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 3, 2015, 7:15 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.

The thighs are great but this is still the best photo of Martin St. Louis and my life goal. pic.twitter.com/tKL16cy9j2

— Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo) July 2, 2015

• For your Hall of Fame consideration: Martin St. Louis laying on a gurney while having beer fed to him as he appears to be getting stitches. Like a boss. [@DaveLozo]

• Anaheim welcomes back another former member of management, and a former Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Dave Nonis, as assistant to the regional manager "Special Assignment Scout and Consultant to Bob Murray." [Ducks]

• Great first person read from Harley Haggarty on the life of a junior league enforcer. [Players Tribune]

• An offer sheet is seldom used anymore; however, the threat of an offer sheet tends to push teams into signing contracts, or making moves, quickly with those who are targeted. [AZ Central]

• "NHL Free Agency light on drama, heavy on absurdity." [Vice Sports]

• Down Goes Brown attempts to make sense of the Phil Kessel trade. [Grantland]

• No surprise: Kessel is excited to play on the wing of Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin. [Trib Live]

• The Canadiens have a group of core players, but GM Mark Bergevin has yet to put his full faith into them. [EOTP]

• Oilers GM Pete Chiarelli made moves to bolster the Edmonton's defense. With the pieces they have in place and with the addition of Andrej Sekere, are they better or worse? [Oilers Nation]

• The Dallas Stars went all in (money wise) on goaltending with Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. Is giving a ton of money to goalies worth it? [In Goal Mag]

• "Jim Benning and the Canucks do have a plan: Steve Stamkos." Stevie Y might have something to say about that. [Armchair Bluejay]

• Additions of Barrett Jackman and Cody Hodgson to Predators lineup prove David Poile is tinkering in the right ways. (Mike Ribero on the other hand...) [On The Forecheck]

• How will Brandon Saad impact the group in Columbus on and off the ice? [Along The Boards]

• In non-Jack Eichel news: Silver medalist and Team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin signed to play for the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL. [What's Going On In Buffalo]

• Informative read on Mike Richards, the drug Oxycontin, and the termination of his contract. There's a brief look at the NHL's drug policy, as well. [Forbes]

• Current free agent, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, sits down for a Q&A. The 38-year-old doesn't think his hockey career is over just yet. [IIHF]

• Bob Boughner was added to Pete DeBoer's coaching staff in San Jose. He will remain the majority owner of the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL while working in the NHL. [Buzzing the Net]

• Mark Savard's contract may be in Florida, but the Bruins still consider him a 'foundational player.' [Bruins Daily]

• ATTENTION HOCKEY GAMERS: an in depth look changes, problems, and possible solutions for NHL16. [Operation Sports]

• Fantasy hockey look at the winners and losers of free agency from a salary cap prospective. [Dobber Hockey]

• A farewell montage to now-former Washington Capital, Troy Brouwer, and his Brouwer Rangers. [RMNB]

• Thoughts on Martin St. Louis's retirement from the fanbase that knew him best, the Lightning. [Raw Charge]

• The Canadians have their World Cup of Hockey management team in place. The Americans will announce theirs on August 6th. AMERICA! F-YEAH! [USA Hockey]

• Finally, Keith Olbermann destroys Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons for his parting shots on Phil Kessel, and really, all his shots at Phil over the years. (Scrub to 2:19 for the good stuff.) [PPP]

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 3, 2015, 6:47 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a (gettin' down on Fridays) edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 

• NHL Free Agency! 

• Hockey News and Views

Question of the Day: Who impressed you the most in the free agent frenzy!? Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarekClick here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast viaiTunes or Feedburner.

***

BUY THE MvsW T-SHIRTS! SUPPORT HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER!

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 3, 2015, 6:00 pm

The St. Louis Blues have solidfied their net for next season, inking goaltender Jake Allen to a two-year, $4.7 million extension on Friday, according to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch.

The 24-year old Allen, a two-time NHL All-Rookie Team netminder, was a restricted free agent as of Wednesday and sees a nice raise from the $850,000 he made in 2014-15.

This now means that both Allen and 1B goaltender Brian Elliott are on two-year deals. 

Allen played well down the stretch for the Blues, allowing two goals or less in 12 of the final 13 regular season games, but couldn’t help lead them past the Minnesota Wild in the first round. GM Doug Armstrong obviously feels confident in the 1A/1B setup, hoping both can continue pushing one another and find success. But the two-year term also allows some flexibility if the plan falls apart.

Armstrong said entering free agency that he would take care of the team’s RFAs before dipping his toes into the open market. Jori Lehtera and Robert Bortuzzo have been signed. T.J. Oshie was dealt. And now Allen is locked up. Next on his to-do list? The big-money deal for Vladimir Tarasenko, the last one on the list.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

 

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 3, 2015, 5:09 pm
Photo via https://athletics.blog.gustavus.edu/files/2012/03/IMG_0373-750x487.jpg

The Vancouver Canucks have a big name on their development camp roster.

It’s John McLean – who is of no relation to the former Devils coach/player because his name is spelled differently. He’s a 6-foot-9 goaltender – which is freaking huge!.

Game changer? Project? Maybe a publicity stunt? 

The 25-year-old McLean spent four years at Gustavus Adolphus College, a Division-III school in Minnesota. In 2013-14 he had a 1.96 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 26 games.

Look at how low he gets in his goaltender’s position ... such a low crouch:

Photo via https://athletics.blog.gustavus.edu/files/2012/03/McLean-96.jpg

It used to be teams would put the ‘fat kid’ in goal. Now they’re just putting super tall guys in net. The man is a freaking giant. (Humming ‘In the valley of the Jolly Green Giant …’).

Please give us a caption for the below photo? He's like a goaltending Gandalf to Frodo and Samwise -- since we're on a Hobbit theme today

Photo via Carroll Goalie School

Last season in three games with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Eagan, Minnesota native had a 3.54 goals against average and .895 save percentage. The NHL’s tallest goaltender is Ben Bishop at 6-foot-7. So McLean would be like the Zdeno Chara of netminders perhaps? Not really, just because Chara was actually a project turned elite prospect turned likely Hall of Fame defenseman.  

Maybe the Canucks think they can mold him?

At very least they can't stretch him any more ... zing!

(S/t BarDown)

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 3, 2015, 4:59 pm

The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to an entry level deal with Canadian wunderkind Connor McDavid.

Alas, for those of us wishing both he and Jack Eichel (picked No. 2 in the 2015 Draft by the Sabres) would pull a Lindros and hold out to go somewhere else – this is not the case. Eichel signed his contract Wednesday. 

Above is the photo of McDavid (the No. 1 pick in last weekend's draft) and Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli – shaking on The Chosen One’s first contract. All these photos are pretty awkward for most prospects, but Chiarelli is way more photogenic than Sabres mad scientist/GM Tim Murray. Also, they’re not as bad as high schoolers putting on college team hats on National Signing Day. 

McDavid is currently at Oilers development camp. And he’s drawing quite a crowd, via Rob Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun.

Thousands on hand at Rexall to watch skating drills. It's an Edmonton thing. pic.twitter.com/yoix0tndrj

— Rob Tychkowski (@Sun_Tychkowski) July 3, 2015

What better way to spend a Friday in Edmonton than watching a bunch of kids in their late teens and early 20s do edge work?

Now all those questions McDavid, who had 120 points in 47 games with the Erie Otters of the OHL last season, has been asked – who he wants to play with, his thoughts on Taylor Hall – can finally officially merit a true answer. McDavid has played coy until all the ink was dry, and we presume it is, provided that's a good quality pen. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 3, 2015, 4:22 pm

He has three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, one Conn Smythe Trophy, a lake named after him and, of course, one Mark Messier Leadership Award. But one achievement Jonathan Toews had yet to earn? Having a beer named after him.

Enter Tinley Park, Il.-based Hailstorm Brewing Company who earlier this week introduced a brew in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks captain. 

Welcome, Captain Serious #19 Pale Ale:

Hailstorm Brewing Co.

According to I Heart Beer, the brew is “a dry, hoppy, west coast style pale ale brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Galaxy hops. It’s 45 IBU and 5.6% ABV.”

That all sounds pretty great for the captain, who enjoyed himself a beer or a few during the Blackhawks’ previous two Cups of this era.

From an ESPN.com article with Patrick Kane last season

Toews: Who drank more beer or champagne out of the Cup in 2010 and 2013 combined -- me or you?
Kane: Are you trying to make me look worse or better here?
Toews: You can say me.
Kane: Well, as the captain, you had two days with the Cup.
Toews: Yeah, I logged a few more hours with it -- and I took advantage of it.

Hailstorm is hoping that this will help lure Toews to the brewery with a special guest, the Stanley Cup, tagging along.

Stick-tap Eye on Hockey

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 3, 2015, 4:00 pm

According to Igor Eronko of Sports-Express, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will begin his jail sentence on Monday, July 6.

Voynov pled no-contest on Thursday to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse, and his jail time will be up to 90 days along with 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and eight hours of community service (that better damn well be at a women’s shelter). 

Voynov’s NHL agent, Rolland Hedges, said in statement: “Mr. Voynov accepts responsibility for his actions the night of the incident and will complete his sentence as required by the court. Mr. Voynov and his wife believe that ending domestic violence both inside and outside of professional sports must be a high priority.”

Another priority, according to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times?

Ending Slava Voynov’s time with the Kings.

Elliott wrote a scorcher of a column on Thursday that called for the Kings to cancel Voynov’s contract in the same manner they’ve cancelled that of forward Mike Richards, who was allegedly detained at the Canadian border for attempting to transport oxycodone.

From Elliott:

Does Voynov deserve a second chance? This might have been that second chance. According to court documents, Varlamova told a nurse who treated her that night at Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance that Voynov had previously assaulted her. Does that not count in evaluating his ability to learn from his past mistakes?

Those who say it's punishment enough that Voynov was suspended most of last season and must serve jail time and probation, perform community service and go through a domestic violence prevention program should focus on the nature of the incident. If the Kings give him another chance, they would be making it a "gimme" and diminish its magnitude.

Varlamova told Redondo Beach police Voynov punched her in the jaw, choked her three times, pushed her to the ground, kicked her and shoved her into the corner of a flat-screen TV, resulting in a 1.2-inch gash above her left eye. He accepted responsibility for his actions, remember? That should not be forgotten.

The Kings can terminate his contract, trade him, or keep him with the team. Here's a vote for one of the first two options.

Elliott is one of the most respected reporters in hockey and arguably its more venerable female voice. This column has resonated because of that prestige, but also because she’s speaking for the masses: Voynov should have played his last game for the Kings, after his suspensions from the NHL and his team are lifted.

But this is the Kings we’re talking about, and until proven otherwise, they’re the team that had his man practicing with them while suspended and facing domestic violence charges.

And this is the NHL we’re talking about, and Elliott’s no dummy: She knows that if and when the Kings are through with Voynov, someone out there will add him to their top four, their team management spouting off the kind of “reformed mistake-making good husband” pap that David Poile has perfected in defending Mike Ribeiro.

If he can play again, of course. As Elliott writes:

That might become a moot point depending on the results of the NHL's investigation and if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials decide Voynov's actions warrant deportation. But the Kings can and should get out in front of the issue by saying they don't want him to represent a team whose players' off-ice actions have fallen short of the team's high on-ice standards the last few seasons.

Guess we’ll see how serious Dean Lombardi is when it comes to the character in his locker room, or whether it only gets serious when there’s a contract he’s trying to make disappear without a buyout. 

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 3, 2015, 3:45 pm

The Phil Kessel trade was, in many ways, an eventuality. The Maple Leafs only had to find a team with the cap space — or in this case, cap space facilitated through salary retention — and will to take on a guy who had come to be perceived as a “problem” in Toronto. 

Of course, Kessel wasn't actually a problem, because he was in fact one of the few bright spots for what was a miserable team for his entire run in Toronto. No one wants to paint it that way because he was in some ways discourteous to the local media (i.e. he didn't put up with their BS), and he was a highly paid, high-skill player on a team that was mired in garbage water before he got there and will continue to be for at least a few more years.

Those who want to run down Kessel will point to the losing, which is more or less beyond his control, because they cannot in any way denigrate the numbers or the durability. From 2009-present, he has missed exactly 12 games, and none since 2010-11 began. The 181 goals he scored in 446 games for the Leafs is fifth in the league over those six seasons. The 213 assists is eighth.

He is, in fact, one of just 10 players league-wide to clear 150 goals and 200 assists in the last six seasons, and the other nine are guys everyone in the Toronto media would have run over a family member to see the Leafs acquire: Martin St. Louis, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn and Corey Perry.

And while the Toronto media is obviously loath to get into the “fancy” stats (or as they are known, counting numbers with some division mixed in), over that time Kessel is also tied for fifth in terms of goals per 60 minutes, tied for 16th in assists per 60, and tied for eighth in points per 60. You really can't ask for more than that from a player. The company is more than elite. We're talking about basically a top-10 forward by just about any measure.

This is and always was an elite forward we're talking about here, and Toronto has traded him for peanuts. Well, they traded him for the purpose of not paying Phil Kessel more than 15 percent of his salary for the next several years, because the team is rebuilding and they could get pieces for him. This is probably not the case with Dion Phaneuf, who seems more untradeable than Kessel was ever going to be. Kessel is at least an elite talent. Phaneuf is a borderline No. 1/2 defenseman, not that there's anything wrong with that.

And, as long as we're being honest about Kessel's time in Toronto, let's also include the fact that he — in part because of his own preferences — had to lug a heavy weight up and down the ice almost every shift in the form of his best friend in the whole wide world. Tyler Bozak is not a No. 1 center in the NHL. He's not as bad as everyone makes him out to be (and he's certainly overpaid), but he's also not the kind of guy that should be feeding pucks to high-quality wingers like Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. Now, again, this is Kessel's best friend and Kessel felt comfortable with him on the ice, so who was Randy Carlyle or any other coach to break them up as long as Kessel kept filling the net with goals (which, you'll remember from above, he certainly did).

But how much of a hindrance was Bozak? A pretty big one, as it turns out.

While it doesn't seem like this should be the case, Kessel has played less than 400 minutes fewer without Bozak than with, so the more than 4,000 total in each category gives us a pretty good basis for comparison. As you might imagine, playing with Bozak drags down Kessel's goalscoring rates, increases his goals-allowing rates, and does the same for shot attempt numbers. None of this is going to come as a surprise, of course, but here we are. Interestingly, Bozak also drags down Kessel's on-ice shooting percentage.

And you say, “Okay, sure, but we know Bozak's a bad No. 1 center, so anyone you replace him with is going to help Kessel's numbers.” That's true. The only other centers with whom Kessel has played at least 500 minutes are Marc Savard and Nazem Kadri, and while a Kessel/Savard grouping predictably dominated opponents (53.7 CF%, 63.7 GF%), Kessel/Kadri outperformed the goalscoring (50 percent) but not the possession (46.6 percent). So we're not exactly dealing with a murderer's row of supporting characters here. It's two guys, one of whom was flat-out great before the whole Matt Cooke thing, and one of whom hasn't been but is also 24 years old.

All of which brings us to the trade to Pittsburgh, where Kessel will be paired with an elite center for the first time since the Boston trade. While it's unclear whether he's going to get time with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, one can reasonably assume that it doesn't really matter; the difference between Bozak and either one on their worst days is going to be massive.

The question, though, is how massive? Because even with Toronto eating 15 percent of Kessel's salary, that's still another big freight to carry on a team that has a lot of big freights to begin with.

Certainly, Kessel represents an upgrade over the Chris Kunitzes and Pascal Dupuiseses of the world, but the question of “how much of an upgrade makes the trade worth it” certainly comes into play. Here again, though, we can assume that it is massive.

As with Kessel, we have thousands of minutes worth of data about what Crosby and Malkin do on the ice, and we take it as a given that they're going to be dominant. We take this as a given despite the fact that we can also acknowledge they're basically never given really good weapons to use alongside them. This is a fault of Ray Shero's, to no small extent, and Rutherford clearly hopes is fixing that with the Kessel trade, at least in the short term.

So we take what we know about Malkin and Crosby, and compare that with what they all did, collectively, over the course of their entire careers outside of playing with two of the best centers of the last two decades. The results are not pretty.

NHL

 

Basically what that says is that Penguins forwards will generally get huge improvements in their possession numbers and goalscoring rates with both Crosby and Malkin (but obviously Crosby more so because Crosby is the best player alive).

You'll note, by the way, that logically the numbers “without” Crosby and Malkin also include Malkin and Crosby, respectively, playing apart. These two players have played together for a substantial amount of time in their careers  —almost 1,300 minutes a 5-on-5, during which they leveled the competition to the tune of 55.5 percent possession and 62 percent of the goalscoring — but the majority of their time is spent on two separate lines. So the fact is that, if you consider we're counting thousands of minutes each of Crosby and Malkin separate from each other in the “without” categories, the quality of player with whom Malkin and Crosby are generally burdened is actually even lower than these numbers suggest.

So great is their influence on the lesser players around them, in fact, they basically make anyone look like an All-Star (see above) no matter how bad they are. For instance, Crosby increases his linemates' career goals-for per 60 by more than 68 percent. Malkin does so by nearly 47 percent. They also suffer smaller increases to goals-against numbers, but that, I think, can often be chalked up to the fact that they're playing a level of competition to which they are usually unaccustomed. The influence Malkin and Crosby have on possession is smaller, but similar.

Which brings us back to Kessel, who again, pays a penalty for his loyalty to Bozak. Goals-for goes down, goals-against up considerably. And, here too, there are similar but muted swings in shot attempt numbers.

NHL


Now, all of this is to say that the improvements Kessel sees with either Crosby or Malkin are likely to be a little smaller than the average. These numbers include many downright awful players that got the chance to play with some of the game's greats for a handful of shifts (or fewer) before returning to the mines and hacking away a few hundred more minutes before they were shuffled out of the league forever.

It seems reasonable to expect a significant increase in Kessel's production playing alongside either Crosby or Malkin (I don't see how you don't get him the most minutes possible, though), and we can at least guess at what those rates would look like using the above data. Here we'll use the conservative data and encompass all of what Kessel has done in his career, regardless of centers, to see what Kessel might look like getting the Crosby/Malkin Bump rather than paying the Bozak Tax.

(This is, obviously, assuming he sticks to similar jumps experienced by all other players, on average.) 

NHL

These numbers might seem high (because, well, they are very, very high). “No one scores 4.65 goals per 60,” and so on. That's true. Mostly. But those numbers compare pretty closely with the numbers when two of the best centers in the world are playing with other elite players, like Kris Letang, Malkin or Crosby. Hell, Crosby breaks 4 goals-for per 60 minutes — an extremely high number — when Paul Martin or Matt Niskanen is on the ice with him, so these numbers are within reach.

And let's remind again: Kessel is just the sort of elite talent that neither Crosby nor Malkin have ever had long-term.

If Crosby can drag Chris Kunitz onto the Canadian Olympic team, he might just win Kessel a Rocket Richard, and he might do it walking away.

Because if those Crosby numbers hold up over the course of an entire year, based on Kessel's average ice time per 82-game season (about 1236.5 minutes at 5-on-5), he's going to be on the ice for 95 goals-for at evens alone. The most 5v5 goals-for for which anyone since 2007 has been on ice is Henrik Sedin's 90 in 2009-10. Only two other guys even break 80. With Malkin, Kessel would tie for second at 83, with Nicklas Backstrom (also in 2009-10).

Those are some lofty expectations, but we've probably also never seen this blend of playmaking capabilities and elite finish on one line before. The Penguins basically can't lose here, so if you're going to mortgage the future for a years-long rental, they're at least making this one count.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: July 3, 2015, 2:56 pm

It’s something that brings us great sadness when we think about: a diminutive New York Ranger, deciding to walk away from something we all celebrate. 

No, not Martin St. Louis retiring; Mats Zuccarello refusing to embrace his legacy of being the Norwegian Hobbit Wizard, which was his Elijah Wood-inspired nickname when he entered the NHL.

Well, nothing speaks to the magnitude of St. Louis’ retirement on Thursday after 16 season than the fact that Zuccarello gave him an Instagram send-off using the very meme he’s attempted to avoid for years.

Check out the Tolkien-esque celebration of Mats and Marty, a.k.a. Frodo and Samwise:

What, no Henrik Lundqvist as Aragorn and John Tortorella as Gollum?

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 3, 2015, 2:01 pm

T.J. Oshie was traded by the St. Louis Blues on Thursday to the Washington Capitals.

Whenever a fan favorite is sent packed, emotions will run high, and Oshie was certainly a favorite of Blues fans. Especially young ones, because he had really big eyes like an Anime character.

Like, for example, this five-year-old girl, who hid in a closet weeping upon finding out that “T.J. OSHIE LEFT THE TEEEEEEEEAM!!!!!”

Kelly Manno found her, and conducted this brief experiment in burgeoning fandom, as Manno discovered our young Oshie fan can’t accept the idea of rooting for him when the Capitals play the Blues … which is a level of dedication we’d expect from, say, a six year old.

This entire sub-genre of “Adult Sports Fans Filming Children Who Don’t Yet Have The Emotional Capacity To Deal With Loss” exists somewhere in between exploitation and guilty pleasure entertainment. We’ll just go ahead and assume this moppet is being filmed so her family can have a good-hearted chuckle when Troy Brouwer skates the Cup next June.*

Ah, kids. So fragile. The NHL Free Agent Frenzy needs to come with a parental guidance warning.

* Provided he’s traded to the Blackhawks, of course.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 3, 2015, 1:21 am

"If you would have asked me last summer [about being with St. Louis], I would have said that I was going to retire as a Blue," said T.J. Oshie, the newest member of the Washington Capitals, "but [the trade] is the business side of things. Things change and I’m excited for my new start."

To say the move from St. Louis to D.C. caught Oshie completely off guard wouldn't be entirely correct. He had a feeling changes were coming after the Blues first round playoff exit. St. Louis made it clear the change wouldn't be coming in terms of management or the head coach as both Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock were retained, despite calls for the latter's exit.

The change had to come from the core group of players, and Oshie knew it, "... after I found out that [Hitchcock] was coming back, I figured there would be at least one or two moves that [Armstrong] would want to make."

So why was he the sacrificial lamb?

A good guess would be his performance in the playoffs over his career. He's a spectacular regular season player, but in 30 career playoff games over five years, he has 9 points total. Take this past season as an example. In the regular season, he had 19 goals and 36 assists. Yet, in the six games against Minnesota, he had 2 points.

(Yes, the Blues lack of post-season success isn't all his fault. There are plenty of reasons, but he's one of the faces of the team. He's bound to take more of the blame; it's just the way sports work.)

The forward was quick to put to bed the rumor of a rift in his relationship with Hitchcock. "I expected to big things out of myself. I think the fans did as well. There was a lot of disappointment after the way we lost out," said Oshie, "I feel the media blew out of proportion the thing that I said about being refreshed after I missed because of the flu. So I think fans thought me and Hitch had a bad relationship or something like that, but you know, changes had to be made."

Washington and true playoff success(es) have not been synonymous in the Alex Ovechkin era. The addition of Justin Williams helps the team in that area, and will lighten the some of the expectations of Oshie. (But not those of Ovechkin. He's on his own.)

In the mean time, the new Cap looks forward to donning the red, white, and blue, again, and getting on the ice with some new linemates.

"I’ve always played with very good players; players that have played in the Olympics, but never players that have put up numbers like [Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom] have," said Oshie. "To get out there with them would be amazing ... I feel kind of like a kid in the candy store ... playing with that caliber of player ... I’m willing to come in and earn all the ice time I can get."

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

 

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 3, 2015, 1:04 am
Los Angeles Kings' Slava Voynov appears in Superior Court, Thursday July 2, 2015 in Torrance, Calif. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor Thursday in a domestic violence incident with his wife that escalated after a Halloween party last year.(Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT

The LA Kings said the organization believes the Slava Voynov situation has been essentially solved by Voynov’s pleading ‘no contest’ to misdemeanor corporal injury to a spouse. 

Said the Kings in a statement:

 “We believe the legal system has effectively resolved this matter and the punishment is fair and just. Any act of domestic violence is unacceptable. As an organization, the prevention of domestic violence and the education of our players and employees is of paramount importance. We will continue to actively develop and implement a strategy to deliver this message. We remain steadfast in our support of the National Hockey League as they now begin their own investigative process. Until that is complete we will withhold further comment.”

Said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly:

"We are aware of the latest developments in court today related to the Slava Voynov matter.  His immediate status vis-a-vis the NHL remains unchanged. At an appropriate time, I am sure we will be in touch with Mr. Voynov and the NHLPA with respect to next steps regarding the League's review and further handling of the events at issue."

Voynov will get 90 days in jail and three years probation. He will also have 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and eight hours of community service. 

Per earlier testimony in the trial, authorities said Voynov’s wife had facial lacerations and was pushed to the ground repeatedly and kicked multiple times.

The NHL suspended the 25-year-old defenseman indefinitely in late October after he was arrested under suspicion of abusing his wife. Voynov was charged with a felony before the plea deal reduced the charge.

The Kings have always maintained they agreed with the NHL’s decision to suspend Voynov, though questioned the league’s initial ruling to let Voynov’s $4.167 million salary cap hit stand.

The NHL eventually gave the Kings salary cap relief. Voynov is under contract through the 2018-19 season. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 10:04 pm

T.J. Oshie, American hero, is headed to Washington, D.C. 

The St. Louis Blues traded the winger to the Washington Capitals on Thursday in exchange for right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. From the Caps:

“T.J. is an outstanding skater with a tremendous skill set,” said MacLellan. “He is a powerful player and has consistent track record of production throughout his career in the NHL. We feel that he complements our core group nicely and can help us get to the next level in achieving our ultimate goal. We also want to thank Troy for his contributions to our organization on and off the ice and wish him well in St. Louis.”

Oshie, 28, had 19 goals and 36 assists for the Blues last season in 72 games. He’s of course most famous for scoring in four of six shootout attempts in Team USA’s preliminary round win over Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which turned him into an overnight household name and remains the only thing worth a damn that Olympic team accomplished before sulking out of Russian sans medals.

(The Capitals, for what it’s worth, were 5-4 in the shootout last season.)

Oshie has two years left at $4.175 million on what was a five-year deal. Brouwer, who moves back to the Western Conference after five years with the Capitals, is unrestricted after this season and carries a $3.667 million cap hit.

Oshie can run hot and cold, and basically disappears in the postseason. Luckily, the Capitals also just signed Justin Williams, one of the best playoff performers in the league, so maybe this balances out.

Nice work from GM Brian MacLellan in the last 48 hours. No disrespect to Brouwer and Joel Ward … OK, well, I guess this is disrespect, because Williams and Oshie are a very significant upgrade on the right side.

As for the Blues, GM Doug Armstrong threatened he was going to shake up the core, and he has. Oshie was always going to be the guy most likely to move. He has a skills set that should result in more than 21 goals, which remains his career high. Perhaps a change in scenery would help; then again, so would some time skating with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

What does Brouwer give the Blues? A net-front presence, for one. A vocal leader and a big body they can throw at the sizable forwards in the West. He scored 21 goals last season for the Capitals and had 25 goals the year before – 20 of them came on the power play, where St. Louis was already at a 22.3 percent clip last season, fourth in the NHL. He’s also a bit better on the penalty kill than Oshie.

But for St. Louis, this is as much about a shock to the system than it is an addition to the roster.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 9:17 pm

The NHL and the KHL did not come to an agreement to try to create some sort of transfer deal between the two leagues.

This comes from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet who indicates players that want to move between leagues more freely will have to wait another year.

The leagues recently held discussions about expanding their transfer agreement to look more like those the NHL has with other European federations, but couldn’t reach a new deal. Instead, they’ve extended their pre-existing memorandum of understanding through June 2016. 

What this means, per Johnston, is that the NHL and the KHL will still respect one another’s contracts. If they had come to a deal, players could have left the KHL for the NHL for some sort of fee, like in Sweden and Finland.

In early June, both sides were apparently closing in on a deal. But unlike the negotiations in the Cuban Missile Cris … ok, that analogy was going to be way too far-fetched and confusing for non-history buffs.  

Again from the story:

"Over the last few years a number of issues have arisen concerning relations between the KHL and NHL, and we have yet to find a compromise which is fully satisfactory for our league," KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko said in a statement. "We will continue to work toward this goal and strive to reach a far better level of co-operation with our friends across the Atlantic." 

The KHL may or may not be in some sort of financial duress. Three KHL players were scooped up in Day 1 of unrestricted free agency, which may have signaled a move back to North America from Russia’s talent – which had gone the other way of late.

Also, 17 Russian born players were picked in the 2015 entry draft, the most since the Alex Ovechkin/Evgeni Malkin 2004 draft.

This is good and bad. It’s good in that we can continue to make Ilya Kovalchuk jokes. It’s also good that Alexander Radulov will continue to do really stupid stuff in a league that lets him run wild. This gives an extra layer of security if either ever wanted to return to the NHL.

It stinks for players under contract who want to leave the KHL for North America.

But it could lead to more sabre rattling and legal wrangling between both leagues, which always leads to wonderful off-ice entertainment.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 9:04 pm

A judge has accepted a plea deal for Kings defenseman Slava Voynov in his domestic violence case. 

According to Larry Altman of the Daily Breeze, Thursday, Voynov entered a plea of “no contest” to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse.

Initially, Voynov was charged with felony “corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury” for his part in a late October altercation with his wife.

According to Altman on Twitter, Voynov will get three years probation and 90 days in jail. If Voynov violates probation, the DA reportedly said the 90 days in jail could turn into 364. He will also have 52 weeks of domestic violence conseling and eight hours of community service 

There were some questions about the deal meriting deportation for the Russian-born Voynov but according to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register, the judge presiding over the case said that is for immigration court to decide. 

Voynov’s trial was set to start on July 6.

According to earlier testimony in the trial, authorities said Voynov’s wife had a laceration over her left eye, blood streaming and red marks on her neck. They also said Voynov pushed her to the ground multiple times, kicked her repeatedly and choked her three times.

Below is a statement by Voynov’s wife, Marta Varlamova from shortly after the initial felony charge:

Marta was stunned by the news today and she is devastated. She did not believe, and does not believe, that her husband intended to injure her and she believes that he is not guilty of any crime. She is worried about her family's privacy and concerned that she and her family are going to be subjected to ridicule, embarrassment and hatred because of this decision. In fact, she has already seen that beginning to happen. It is unfortunate that no one seemed to care what she wants, and that the authorities gave little or no weight to her view of the facts of the case. Despite this unwelcome news, she still expects her husband to be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

Los Angeles recently terminated the contract of forward Mike Richards alleging a material breach. Following the termination, there were reports Richards had a border crossing situation involving the prescription pain killer oxycodone, though TMZ said Richards had not been charged with a crime. The NHL Players’ Association has yet to say how it will respond to the termination.

The felony cocaine possession charge of former forward Jarret Stoll was recently reduced to misdemeanors. 

Voynov was suspended with pay by the NHL after his initial arrest, which led to the eventual felony charge. The Kings were on the hook for Voynov’s $4.167 million salary cap hit at the time.

The NHL then said the Kings were not responsible for the cap hit and eventually gave LA salary cap relief for Voynov. There is still no official word on how the Kings may proceed with Voynov's contract, or whether his suspension has been lifted by the NHL. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 7:38 pm

After the Arizona Coyotes’ 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins back on Feb. 28, Antoine Vermette held an emotional post-game scrum. The NHL trade deadline was less than 48 hours away and the pending unrestricted free agent knew he would be traded. 

Not long before the Coyotes boarded the team plane that night, Vermette was on his way to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a first-round pick and prospect Klas Dahlback. A little over two months later, he was a Stanley Cup champion. 

But the fit in Arizona was too good to say goodbye to forever, and on the opening day of free agency, Vermette inked a two-year, $7.5 million deal to return to the Coyotes. 

“I was leaving without any expectations. All along through that process, right to the end, I didn’t want to put any kind of pressure on that side,” Vermette said about the March trade. “Right away I didn’t know [whether he'd return]. I knew I was leaving. I knew I could potentially not come back. I wasn’t really thinking about it.”

The transition back to Arizona will be an easy one for Vermette and his family. He still has his house there, so unpacking will be a bit easier and things will be less hectic, especially with daughter Emilia, who was born a few days after the Blackhawks’ Cup victory. “It’s just an easy adjustment. That was very important for us,” he said.

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney talked about the importance of building a roster from down the middle. That was the reason why he selected Dylan Strome at No. 3 in the Draft rather than deal the pick.  

There were other options out there at center, but teams interested in making a trade wanted prized assets that Maloney wasn’t willing to give up. He’s now set down the middle with Vermette, Martin Hanzal, Brad Richardson and Boyd Gordon.

Vermette, who spent parts of four seasons in Arizona before the trade to Chicago, returns a champion, a big attribute Maloney is excited about.

“It’s never a bad thing to add Stanley Cup winners into your locker room, especially with some of the young players we’re going to have around, so this is really a great way to end the day,” he said.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

 

 

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 2, 2015, 7:33 pm

Justin Williams has more wins in Game 7s in his NHL career than the Washington Capitals do as an organization since 2008.

Williams is 7-0 since his rookie year in 2000-01 in Philadelphia. The Caps are 3-6 since 2008.

The narrative is totally perfect for Williams and Washington, who signed Mr. Game 7 to a two-year $6.5 million contract late Wednesday night. Williams had played with the LA Kings since the 2008-09 season. Washington blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers this past postseason and lost … wait for it … in Game 7.

“Well, yeah I do unfairly get asked that question quite a bit. My Game 7 record is a product of the team I played on, I’ve played on some great teams,” he said. “Guys have been able to get that little goal or get that little goal or get that little extra it takes in a Game 7 because everyone knows how important every single play is. That’s basically just a product of the great teams I’ve played on.”

Capitals general manager Brian McLellan, believed in this to some degree.

“I mean, the story line is up obviously, but he just brings the things we need that we don’t have,” he said. 

Williams painted a super cute picture of why he fit with the Caps, mentioning his 6-year-old son wanted him to go to Washington. This brought back memories of Jordyn Leopold writing a note to Minnesota asking the Wild to trade for her dad Jordan – which they did.

“He even said a month ago, ‘dad, if you don’t move back to LA, I think you should go to play with Ovechkin,’” Williams said. 

Added Williams that when he told his son he chose Washington, “he was all smiles. That passed the test, I’m happy about that.”

Williams said the Kings couldn't quite get a deal done with him thanks to the salary cap, though he did talk a little with them. 

Look, one guy isn’t going to get Washington past the second round of the playoffs. They haven’t done so in the Alex Ovechkin era, and Ovi’s going to hit the age of 30 next year. 

The signing of Williams likely means the end of the Joel Ward era in Washington. The rugged power winger also had a ‘clutch’ resume and was unsigned by the Caps as of Thursday morning. Williams is more of a speed player. Ward isn’t quite as quick, but he’s stronger on the wall.

“We’ve been in communication with his representation pretty much throughout the last few days and before that,” McLellan said. “Things can happen trade-wise or guys move out. I would say it’s unlikely now, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out.”

So in essence the Caps got rid of one guy known for a high level of playoff success and got a guy with more playoff success. And it didn’t hurt that the dude’s son wanted him to play in Washington. Free frosties for everyone!

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 6:27 pm

The market was going to dictate Martin St. Louis’s future in the National Hockey League as a 40-year-old forward. 

The market spoke, St. Louis heard it and decided that 16 seasons was long enough to call it a career, officially retiring from the NHL on Thursday.

“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” he said, through the New York Rangers, his final NHL team.

The winger split from the Rangers after the season, the team having acquired St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014 in a blockbuster deal. He struggled offensively last season, with 21 goals and 31 assists in 74 games, the lowest offensive numbers he posted in nine years.

According to the New York Post, the Rangers didn’t have a desire to bring him back for his expected cap hit for 2015-16 – St. Louis had just finished a 4-year deal with an average hit of $5.625 million – and St. Louis was unhappy with the way he was used in the postseason, where he scored one goal and six assists in 19 games in 16:30 of average ice time.

With his family in Connecticut – they were a reason St. Louis requested and received a trade from Tampa Bay to New York, along with lingering bitterness from a Canadian Olympic team snub – he wanted to sign on with a team that was geographically close to home. But despite sniffs from the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, St. Louis opted to retire instead rather than presumably sign for significantly less than his salary last year.

He retires after having been one of the most explosive point-producers on the wing in recent NHL history, despite being one of its most diminutive stars, at a listed height of 5-foot-8.

He was a human pinball during his 13 years with the Lightning, bounding around the offensive zone off bigger bodies, finding his space an burying a lethal one-timer for 365 goals in 972 games. On top of that, he was instant offense for his linemates, with 588 assists during that stretch with Tampa. Overall, he had 1,033 points in 1,134 games, winning the Art Ross as the League’s top scorer in 2004 and 2013, and the both the Hart Trophy and Pearson Trophy (now the Ted Lindsay) for NHL MVP and NHLPA player of the year, respectively. He also collected the Lady Byng Trophy three times (2010, 2011, 2013) for his gentlemanly play, and won Olympic godl in Sochi.

Is he a Hall of Famer? Statistically, St. Louis didn’t hit 1,100 points or 400 goals, which are commonplace benchmarks. He finished with 391 goals. 

But it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t meet part of the standards, as a Stanley Cup champion in 2004 with the Lightning, as an inspiring player given his vertical challenges and as a dedicated professional (outside of his falling out with the Lightning).

Fare thee well, Marty St. Louis. We’ll always remember your thighs.

Via Deadspin

Because we can’t un-see them.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 6:00 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.  

Two of the newest jerseys in the @NHL Store here in NYC. @BlueJacketsNHL @LAKings #Saad #Lucic. pic.twitter.com/vSe2H6Nu4M

— Steve Mears (@MearsyNHL) July 1, 2015

• That’s a nice shiny, brand new Brandon Saad Blue Jackets jersey. Better act now before the unsigned restricted free agent gets offer-sheeted by another NHL team. [@MearsyNHL]

• “I don’t want to say Saad got bad advice, because he’s going to get at least a 500% raise and make more money than we’ll ever dream of to play hockey. But I guess you can say that if Saad genuinely wanted to stay and would have taken less money to do it and his agent got him punted to Ohio.” [The Committed Indian]

• The opening of free agency saw a lot of sensible deals. What gives? Are GMs getting smarter? [Sporting News]

• “Kessel cared, but he cared in his own weird Kessel way. He wanted to win, but he wasn’t the kind of player who could bleed on the ice in an obvious lost cause – like the end of last season – night after night.” [Globe and Mail

• The Islanders were pretty quiet on Day 1 of free agency. Do they have some trades brewing? [Isles Beat]

• What’s the fantasy spin of Matt Beleskey landing in Boston? [Dobber Hockey]

• Is Beleskey worth it for the Bruins? [Today’s Slap Shot]

• There are plenty of questions about the Vancouver Canucks’ moves so far, but GM Jim Benning deserves patience. [Province]

• Really great first-person read about Rich Clune and his battle with sobriety. [The Players’ Tribune]

• Good read on painkillers and culture in the NHL. [Pension Plan Puppets]

• “NBCSN pulled in just 252,000 viewers for the first day of the draft Friday night, the smallest audience since 2012’s 207,000 and a 25 per cent drop from last year’s 337,000.” [Awful Announcing]

• Examing the numbers of new Washington Capital Justin Williams. [Japers’ Rink]

• Remembering the good times that Williams helped deliver in Los Angeles. [Jewels From the Crown]

• The Dallas Stars made changes up front and in goal. So what’s up with the defense? [Dallas Morning News]

• Bob Boughner joins the San Jose Sharks as assistant coach, while Johan Hedberg is the team’s new goaltending coach. [Sharks]

• Scott Clemmensen has called it quits and is joining the New Jersey Devils as their goalie development coach. [NJ.com]

• Interesting in-depth look at the LA Kings and their draft process. [Mayor’s Manor]

• Breaking down the Zack Kassian addition for the Montreal Canadiens. [Rabid Habs]

• The Detroit Red Wings made some good signings on Wednesday that should help keep their playoff streak alive. [Bleacher Report

• But more moves are needed, says Ken Holland. [Winging It In Motown

• This is not a good look for a national hockey columnist. [Litter Box Cats]

• There were a number of gamble picks during the CHL Import Draft, and there are a number of general managers hoping they pay off. [Buzzing the Net

• Finally, here's Connor McDavid talking after taking the ice for the first time with the Edmonton Oilers:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 2, 2015, 5:51 pm

Jack Eichel officially signed with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, and has been hitting the town with the team to celebrate the arrival of their hockey savior.

That included a stop in Larkin Square, where Eichel exhibited a skill that may not have come to light at the NHL Combine: a joyous mastery of the hula hoop.

Seriously, look at this kid.

Shakira hips that simply do not lie, his arms flailing like he’s riding a wave, a look of gleeful satisfaction one normally associates with a well-told dirty limerick. Jack Eichel hula-hooping might be our new spirit animal. 

This Vine alone proves that the Buffalo Sabres may have gotten the best player in the 2015 NHL Draft. Unless, of course, Connor McDavid is an absolutely wizard on the Pogo-Ball. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 5:26 pm

In deciding what went wrong in a given team’s season, one assigns some players as being part of the problem and others as part of the solution. 

A lot went wrong with the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. The idea that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, with his eight goals and 44 points in 56 games, was part of the problem and not the solution is hard to comprehend.

And yet his name bounced around the rumor mill at the NHL Draft, with the Edmonton Oilers the most prominently mentioned courter of the 26-year-old defenseman.

His agent denied that Shattenkirk was being shopped, but it got us thinking: Why would the Blues ever consider dropping Shatts?

From Jeremy Rutherford of STLToday.com:

It could be because the club has defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked up in long-term contracts. Pietrangelo is signed through 2019-20 with a salary cap hit of $6.5 million, while Bouwmeester is inked through ’18-19 at $5.4 million.

Shattenkirk has two more seasons remaining on a four-year, $17 million contract. At 28 and an unrestricted free agent when that deal expires, Shattenkirk’s salary is expected to see a significant hike, likely exceeding Pietrangelo’s current contract. At the very least, the Blues would have three defensemen with cap hits of $5.4 million or more.

There’s also the fact that Shattenkirk can’t prevent a trade without a no-trade clause in his current deal.

The Blues have allegedly told Shattenkirk that he’s safe for now.

But if there was an important piece they could acquire, and the price was Shattenkirk, it makes some financial sense to explore it.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 4:54 pm

Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr., sat before the assembled media in Raleigh on Wednesday and was asked if he takes responsibility for the buyout of Alex Semin, whose bloated and ill-conceived deal was ended this week. 

“Ultimately, you have to take responsibility for everything, alright?” he said.

“I do not have to take responsibility for Pittsburgh signing Kessel, however.”

Oh, OK … wait, what the hell just happened?

First, Kessel was a trade acquisition for the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a move that was universally approved, especially because the Leafs retained salary. Second, it was GM Jim Rutherford, who served the Hurricanes for decades and helped Karmanos move the Whalers from Hartford to North Carolina, that made the Kessel trade.

Later in his press conference, Karmanos ended an answer about making hockey affordable for American players with an abrupt, inexplicable left turn to another criticism of the Penguins and Rutherford:

“Alright, now, Pittsburgh has no first-round picks anymore. They traded their first-round pick from the year before. They traded their first-round pick for this year, and now they’ve traded their first-round pick for next year. But they have Kessel, who may score as many goals as, uh, Alex Semin did,” he said, as Semin scored six goals. “And I don’t have to take credit for that.”

And then he went back to talking about the affordability of youth hockey.

Later, he was asked the difference between GM Ron Francis and Rutherford.

“Ron is far more inclusive, so he’s asking a lot of questions and I give him my opinion. I’m not going to second-guess him. He’s far more astute on the financial end of the game. Jim liked to talk about the fact that we’re a ‘budget team.’ I’m not sure what that ever meant. Every team has a budget. That means we had a budget until Jim needed a player, then I’d say, ‘OK,’ and we had a different budget,” he said.

“Ronnie is a no-nonsense guy when it comes to those kinds of contracts. And he’s not worried that he might get criticized if his team doesn’t do as well as people think it should. So he doesn’t panic when it comes to signing players or worrying about that kind of thing. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t make good signings, because he does. We have an outstanding working relationship.”

He also said the owners trying to sell the Penguins will “sell that team for between $700 and $800 million in Pittsburgh, and the cupboard will be pretty bare by that time.”

Here's the full press conference: 

Peter Karmanos, Jr., made the Hockey Hall of Fame last week as a “builder” and we can see why: In just 18 minutes, he built a rivalry with Phil Kessel and the Penguins for next season. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 2:47 pm
Via Freep

So will Brad Richards wear No. 91 with his new team, the Detroit Red Wings?

We only ask because, technically, it’s available. Sergei Fedorov, the only player to have worn it, doesn’t have it retired despite 908 games and 954 points and three Stanley Cups with Detroit.

Why? Well, there was that holdout in 1997-98 that resulted in his signing an offer sheet with owner Mike Ilitch’s mortal enemy Peter Karmanos, Jr. and the Carolina Hurricanes. And there was that bitter split in 2003, when Fedorov signed a 5-year, $40-million deal with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, spurning an offer from Detroit over one year difference in the contracts.

He retired from hockey in 2012, and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

Should the Red Wings hold off on giving Brad Richards No. 91 and put it in the rafters instead?

GM Ken Holland, who watched Fedorov leave for Anaheim 12 years ago, says they’ll talk about it.

“[Red Wings VP] Jimmy Devellano, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, at the appropriate time I’ll weigh in … we’ll talk about whether or not his number should be retired. Certainly, with him going into the Hall of Fame, it’s a great accomplishment. Worth serious consideration,” said Holland on Thursday.

Holland said that the Red Wings have made some fairly easy calls on number retirements in the last few years, with Steve Yzerman (2007) and Nicklas Lidstrom (2014) joining the likes of Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk, Alex Delvecchio and Sid Abel.

“It’s a little easier to make a decision when a player plays 20 years for you, and he retires and it’s Steve Yzerman or it’s Nick Lidstrom. Those are decisions made pretty quickly,” he said. “At the end of [Fedorov’s] career, we tried to re-sign him and he ended up leaving. Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom here, who finished their incredible careers here, the following year we put their jerseys into the rafters. Sergei will take a little bit of time to discuss.”

Holland noted that the only criteria for number retirement is what that player did for the Red Wings, not in the totality of his career. Were it the latter criteria instead, the Red Wings might have about 10 guys from the 2002 team retired, for example.

“It’s what they accomplish with the Detroit Red Wings vs. what they accomplished in their careers. You take a little bit of time to make sure that the jerseys that go in the rafters are very special,” he said. “Sergei will certainly be discussed.”

Number retirement is a very local, very specific debate that frankly the national media has no sway or say in. That established: Sergei Fedorov was third only to Yzerman and Lidstrom during the Wings’ decade of domination, and he’s currently fifth in franchise scoring while with the Wings (with Datsyuk gaining at 869 points).

No. 91 should hang from the rafters. And sorry Brad Richards, but No. 19 is taken too. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 2:22 pm

It's the 2015 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Chatterbox, Day 2!

The Chatterbox offers breaking news and insider insight in one place; to have, at the end of the day, a chronological review of the NHL Free Agent Frenzy's rumors and trades; and as a place for your friends at Puck Daddy to pop in and out during the day for quick chats.

For NHL Free Agent Frenzy Day 2, we've compiled Twitter feeds from some of the best hockey journalists, news-breakers and entertaining analysts for your viewing enjoyment.

Check out the UFA Tracker here.

Your experts:

Kevin Allen of USA Today; Pierre LeBrun of ESPN; Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet; Michael Russo of the Star Tribune; Bob McKenzie of TSN; Darren Dreger of TSN; Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet; John Shannon of Sportsnet; Craig Custance of ESPN; Andy Strickland of KRTS; Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period; Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun; Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record; Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch; Chris Johnston of Sportsnet; your Puck Daddy buddies Wyshynski, Leahy, Cooper, Lambert and many more!

We'll drop in periodically to talk about free agency; check out our Twitter feeds for alerts on when the chats are happening!

Live Blog Puck Daddy 2015 Free Agent Frenzy Chatterbox, Day 2

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 2, 2015, 1:23 pm

So the Washington Capitals have been pretty bad in Game 7s since 2008. They need someone with experience, someone who can finally take them further than they’ve gone in Game 7s past. Enter Justin Williams – Mr. Game 7 himself!

Washington signed Williams to a two-year $6.5 million contract. The Caps had gone 3-6 in their Game 7s since 2008. If Washington goes far the playoffs next season, it’ll totally be because of Williams. Not really, but his experience certainly helps. 

This monetary value is actually a drop from Williams’ previous contract – a four-year $14.6 million deal that just ended.

"Justin is a proven winner and we feel he will be a great addition to our club," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "We felt it was important for our team to add someone of his caliber, as a hockey player and as a veteran leader."

And so the Kings lose a vital piece of their championship puzzle, albeit an aging one, at age 33. Last season he had 41 points in 81 games.

The Capitals get some guy who simply ‘knows how to win’ as shown with his ability to be awesome in big games – like when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Kings in 2014.

This probably means the end of the Joel Ward era in Washington -- since both guys are pretty similar in age and their clutch-ness in the playoffs.  

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 3:15 am

Day 1 of NHL free agency is in the books. Yay! And much happened. Players were signed. Long-time general managers stepped down. There was even a major trade of an NHL superstar. 

We took a look at the day that was and who/what won and who/what didn’t quite come out victorious.

WINNERS

1. Phil Kessel

He gets to leave the Toronto market. Huzzah! Granted, it seems Kessel is better suited for a non-traditional spot with limited media coverage than Pittsburgh. But He doesn’t have to be ‘the’ guy with the Penguins. Plus, potentially playing on Evgeni Malkin’s wing should probably make Kessel a happy man. Losing James Neal last offseason probably stung Malkin a bit. Offensive players like to play with offensive players, and Kessel is as dynamic as they come, even if he is a little doughy.

 2. Jeff Gorton

The guy who really was behind the Rangers’ recent run of success can finally be the face and the name of New York management. Glen Sather is one of the last of a dying breed of a super old boys network in the NHL and Rangers fans probably feel some sense of freedom without him officially or unofficially running the show anymore. Now if only New York’s owner could also retire.

 3. The Arizona Coyotes/Antoine Vermette

Everyone always jokes about a team trading a pending UFA bringing him back when it can re-sign him in the offseason. Arizona did this with Antoine Vermette. The Coyotes dealt away the forward around the trade deadline. He won his Stanley Cup with Chicago and then returned home for two years at $3.75 million per. It was a win for the Coyotes who got a first-round pick from Chicago along with Klas Dahlbeck in the initial deal for Vermette. If Vermette likes playing in Arizona it’s a good move for him and his family. You can also sort of add Zbynek Michalek to this list. He also came back to Arizona after a trade sent him to St. Louis last season, though without a Cup ring.  

4. Trading contracts of injured non-retired players

Boston’s Don Sweeney and Philadelphia’s Ron Hextall found brilliant ways to unload the contracts of Marc Savard and Chris Pronger – deal them to teams trying to make it to the salary cap floor, or stay above the salary cap floor or looking to take on less salary. The Pronger deal to Arizona happened on draft day, Savard’s trade gave us something to snark on at the end of Day 1 of unrestricted free agency.

 5. KHL players wanting to play in North America

Viktor Tikhonov (signed with Chicago), Sergei Plotnikov (Pittsburgh) and Alexander Burmistrov (Winnipeg) all wanted to leave the KHL to play in the NHL. Tikhonov and Burmistrov were both highly touted NHL prospects at one point. Tikhonov was an Arizona Coyotes draft pick and Burmistrov bolted the Jets in 2012. Normally you see players going the other way. With the salary cap going down and the KHL reportedly in some financial trouble, this could be a way for cap strapped teams to add players cheaply.

LOSERS

1. Matt Beleskey’s worth

Matt Beleskey is not worth a five-year contract. But at $19 million total – $3.8 million salary cap hit per-year – over five years, that’s not a bad value for the 20-goal scorer. The thought was Beleskey would want somewhere in the ballpark of between $4 million and $5 million per-year. He was pretty much the consensus top unrestricted free agent forward going into this offseason, and normally those get paid a lot more than $3.8 million per-year.

2. Matt Beleskey’s Stanley Cup future

Maybe Sweeney’s offer was the best Beleskey received. But if you’re Beleskey, do you really have faith the Bruins general manager is handling his team’s salary cap crunched rebuild the right way? At least the Blackhawks are getting NHL-ready assets to replace a lot of their players they need to let go. Sweeney seems to keep whiffing all over the place. Beleskey was a win away from a Cup Final with the Ducks last year. He’ll be lucky to get anywhere close to that with the Bruins next season.

 3. Nobody in the Phil Kessel deal

This strangely was a win/win for everyone. Kessel got to leave Toronto and go to a team where he doesn’t have to be a leader. The Maple Leafs finally unloaded an expensive player who had worn out his welcome.

 4. Clutch hockey players

Outside of Vermette, two guys known for playoff success didn’t land big Day 1 contracts as of filing. Washington’s Joel Ward and Los Angeles’ Justin Williams remain available for any team that wants them. Ward’s 34, but he had 19 goals last season and notched nine points in Washington’s 14-game postseason run. Williams, 33, is known as Mr. Game 7. Both aren’t young, but the fact that 35-year-old Mike Ribeiro is signed and those two aren’t is mind blowing.

Update: Williams signed with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday evening for two years at $6.5 million. 

 5. The offer sheet

There was no discussion of an offer sheet situation Wednesday, at all. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko didn’t get hit with one. Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said his team would match any offer sheet for newly acquired forward Brandon Saad. So I guess all that threatening talk was for nothing.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 12:55 am

Perhaps the most surprising part of Matt Beleskey's free agent saga isn't that he signed with the Boston Bruins, but that the contract was for a reasonable amount of money.

Darren Dreger of TSN broke the details of the deal:

5 yrs, $19 mil total for Beleskey in Boston. Aav of $3.8 mil. No move clause in first two years.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2015

(As the message came across social media, you could hear the clanking of pitchforks hitting the ground in Boston. Can you blame them? It's been a tough week.)

Whatever Bruins GM Don Sweeney is doing in Boston appears to be in a strange quasi-rebuild due to the salary cap. Does the moves they've made in the past week make them closer to winning? Probably not. So why would Beleskey leave a Ducks team that is a heck of a lot closer to success than the Bruins are at this point?

The answer clearly wasn't wads of money. The Ducks offered Beleskey a $16-million contract for four years; annual value of $4-million. With the Bruins, he gets the extra year and a little less annually. We all know in today's NHL there are GMs willing to throw wads of cash at the best available free agent. It makes you wonder what the six to eight other suitors were offering that Beleskey didn't like.

Eric Stephens of the OC Register tweeted the big sticking point from the beginning between Anaheim and Beleskey was the no movement clause. The Ducks weren't willing to add that in and the Bruins did, for the first two years. Pure speculation here, but it's likely they were holding back in order to protect themselves from carrying a big contract for a player that had one outstanding season after many mediocre ones.

One has to wonder if Beleskey was already at peace with leaving the Ducks. He had a fantastic season, no doubt, but it wasn't easy.

Ducks GM Bob Murray almost dealt Beleskey at the deadline. He had a strong feeling they wouldn't be able to re-sign him in the off-season, but decided not to pull the trigger.

Midway through January, while he was leading the team in goals, Beleskey went through a rough two game set that saw him demoted to the fourth line and eventually healthy scratched for a game. In the playoff series against Chicago, Beleskey was bounced around from line to line. He would attribute the former it to the coach's feeling of how he was playing. With Bruce Boudreau coming back, it would be up to Beleskey as to if he wanted to endure that for (at least) the next year.

All in all, Bruins fans should be happy with this deal. They're getting a relatively young guy at 27-years-old who can score, hit, and fight. He's like Milan Lucic minus the size and death threats. If this past season was just an anomaly, Boston has to sit on the reasonable contract for only two seasons before he can be moved.

Beleskey fits in with the rough and tumble identity of Bruins teams of the past. Who knows kind of identity Sweeney is going for now. He's made some big moves to change it up and relieve salary cap pressure; however, he's only got $8.91-million in space (according to General Fanager) to work with. It might be another season or two before the Bruins figure out who they are again.

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 2, 2015, 12:18 am
Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette (80) battles for the puck with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr (62) in the third period game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Antoine Vermette got his Stanley Cup, and now he’s going home … to Arizona on a two-year $7.5 million contract.

Vermette scored three game winning playoff goals with the Blackhawks on their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup and won 58.9 percent of his face-offs. He was considered one of the top unrestricted free agent center targets and hoped to cash in on his playoff success, and he sort of did, getting the same type of contract monetarily as he had in his prior five-year $18.75 million contract.

Per Elliotte Friedman, Vermette has a no movement clause in his contract, which is so funny since it was a trade to Chicago that enabled Vermette to become a postseason hero. Two of his game winners came in the Stanley Cup Final.  

This is phenomenal – simply because it hardly happens, when a team trades a pending UFA player, that guy wins a Cup and the player goes back to the team that traded him in the offseason.

If Vermette has a home in Arizona, and the money made sense, then why not?

For a 32-year-old two-way center, that’s a solid deal. But I’m just imagining Vermette rocking his Cup bling in front of his Coyotes teammates next season. Shane Doan may rip his head off.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 2, 2015, 12:18 am

The Chicago Blackhawks have needed to think differently about the free agency period than most teams. See the trade of Brandon Saad to Columbus as a prime example.  

Tasked with keeping a highly-priced championship-level core together, the salary cap strapped Hawks went to Russia to sign 2008 Phoenix Coyotes first-round draft pick Viktor Tikhonov, who has been in the Kontinental Hockey League since 2011-12. Last season he had 24 points in 49 games for SKA St. Petersburg.

The contract is for one year at $1.04 million

And if the name sounds familiar, it should – because he is the grandson of legendary USSR hockey coach Viktor Tikhonov.

In the NHL, he had 16 points in 61 games in 2008-09 with the Coyotes. His last North American season with the San Antonio Rampage he had 33 points in 60 games.

The Blackhawks have to spend their money wisely this summer. At one year and $1.04 million that’s a decent deal for a 27-year-old who has played pro hockey before.

What’s his overall potential in the NHL?

Per Today’s Slapshot

What has to be considered, of course, is that Tikhonov is likely a role player at the NHL level.

Eh, when you have Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews, what more do you really need?

According to Slava Malamud, Tikhonov was making $3.3 million in the Kontinental Hockey League, so he left some money on the table to come back to the NHL.

Tikhonov wasn’t the only KHL player to sign an NHL deal. Pittsburgh signed forward Sergei Plotnikov to an entry-level contract. Also, Winnipeg brought back Alexander Burmistrov.

Nashville signed KHL scoring wizard Steve Moses in April.

Especially with the salary cap going up just a smidge to $71.4 million, if you can get one of these guys into the lineup cheaply, why not do so?

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 11:39 pm

The 2015 NHL Free Agent Frenzy lived up to its name, although it wasn't a signing but a trade that stole the show.

Here are Greg Wyshynski and Sean Leahy of Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy blog, revealing their favorite moves, their least favorite moves and a breakdown of the trade that saw Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel go to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a blockbuster deal. 

Check out Puck Daddy for complete coverage of Day 1 of the Frenzy. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 11:34 pm
TORONTO, ON- APRIL 13 - Phil Kessel arrives as the Toronto Maple Leafs hold their post season media availability and team President Brendan Shanahan holds a press conference to answer questions at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. April 13, 2015. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Toronto won’t have Phil Kessel to kick around anymore, which means we might have to pitch in and get Dave Feschuk a ball or a can or Dion Phaneuf or something, since the annual target of his indignation is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

How to describe Feschuk’s coverage … well, it was as if all the criticism of Kessel became sentient, took on human form and acquired a byline in the Toronto Star. There was the TRADE KESSEL column of June 2013. There was the time he used an assistant coach’s comments at an offseason clinic to crucify Kessel as un-coachable. He confronted Kessel with that theory when Randy Caryle was fired; Kessel called him an idiot and stormed out of the dressing room.

Then, after Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said after the season that the Maple Leafs can’t have people “who go out and give half-efforts” on the roster, Feschuk landed this body blow:

Only one player’s image came popping to mind for most Leaf loyalists: That’d be No. 81, His Royal Highness of the Half Efforts, Baron of Bad Body Language, Sultan of Diddly Squat. If you watched Kessel huffing and puffing on the bench between shifts for most of this season, you could almost see the thought bubble forming above his head: “I’d rather be deep-sea fishing.”

How could Shanahan not want to eradicate Kessel’s joyless, uncommitted presence from Leafland, and pronto? Surely it’s a fait accompli.

But then, in the same column, his comments took a turn.

Phil Kessel’s professional critic didn’t want to see him shipped out of Toronto this summer. He recognized the elite talent. He recognized the rarity of having that talent on an NHL roster. He recognized how a motivated Kessel could be part of the Maple Leafs’ solution rather than systemic of their problems.

“There are optimists around the team who believe Kessel may have been shaken enough by the misery of this season to look in the mirror and make a change,” he wrote.

Instead, Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock looked at Kessel and they decided to make a change. And when next he looks in the mirror, Phil Kessel will see himself wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey.

If Kessel was lacking for motivation playing for an inept, rudderless franchise, and having everything from his competence to his fitness questioned on a daily basis over the sound of the Toronto media’s sharpening knives, he sure as hell has motivation now, preparing to play on the wing of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin for the next seven years.

How's this for motivation: Toronto’s pariah has a chance to become Pittsburgh’s Messiah.

***

Feschuk wasn’t Kessel’s only critic in the media, not by a longshot. Nor was criticism of Kessel exclusive to those covering the Leafs, as many Toronto fans were also critical of his effort.

But in the eyes of most Toronto Maple Leafs fans, Kessel doesn’t need an image rehabilitation. They saw the media as unduly cruel and unfair to a winger whose goal-scoring was second only to Alex Ovechkin during his time in Toronto. They see a star that posted incredible numbers playing alongside Tyler Bozak, the Meg White to Kessel’s Jack. They view his trade to the Penguins as emancipation from his constant scapegoating for the Leafs' misfortunes.

Meanwhile, in the eyes of Pittsburgh Penguins fans, the general manager who pulled the trigger on the Kessel trade … well, he needed some image rehab. Badly.

Jim Rutherford oversaw a Penguins team that nearly missed the playoffs last season (although it had some devastating injuries along the way). After taking the helm from Ray Shero, the moves he made to correct some of their lineup problems didn’t pan out.

He even apologized for one trade, the much-lamented Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy swap with Anaheim, saying he “wouldn’t make the trade” if given the chance to do it over again. Which is really something you never want to hear a general manager say, especially within weeks of the trade’s completion.

The Penguins were in disarray, and confidence in Rutherford to dramatically improve the club for next season was low. Chatter about breaking up the core, rather than enhancing it, was commonplace.

And then, on Wednesday, he made the Phil Kessel trade.

He had targeted Kessel as much as a month ago, speaking with the Leafs over that time. Talks heated up at the NHL Draft, and there was a report that the Penguins offered prized defensive prospect Derek Pouliot, high-salaried veterans Chris Kunitz and Rob Scuderi, and a first-round pick for Kessel.

According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Leafs turned down the salary dump, even with it spiced up with Pouliot.

Rutherford and the Penguins turned their attention to Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks, attempting to trade for the 22-year-old RFA forward whom the Blackhawks weren’t going to pay over $6 million for six seasons.

The Blackhawks opted to trade Saad, a Pittsburgh native, to the Columbus Blue Jackets instead.

So it was back to Kessel, and trying to make a deal work with the Leafs.

Without the veteran salaries changing hands, the starting point was no longer Pouliot; it was Kasperi Kapanen, the Penguins’ first-round pick from last season, No. 22 overall. “If Kapanen wasn't in the deal we probably wouldn't be standing here,” said Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas on Wednesday.

So then the personnel took shape. Kapanen, defenseman Scott Harrington of the AHL, Nick Spaling, a fourth-liner for the Penguins, plus a third-round draft pick as well as a complicated scenario in which other picks will change hands. The Leafs would send spare parts Tyler Biggs and Tim Erixon to make the contracts work.

The next key: How much salary the Leafs would pick up annually from Kessel’s $8 million cap hit, through 2022.

“We made the decision that we had to do that. Would you like to not retain any? Of course. Some of the other people we were talking to wanted us to retain more. We made the best move we could make,” said Shanahan.

“It’s tougher in his day and age. Trade partners are at different positions in their own development. We were looking at the future, and Pittsburgh was looking at their needs for the present.”

Present tense: Jim Rutherford rocks it with this trade.

Kessel is precisely the winger the Penguins needed: Not one that relies on Crosby and Malkin to put up good numbers, but whose already dominant game is elevated by them.

He scores at even strength – 29 of them in 2013-14 – for a team that struggled to do so last season, as Pittsburgh was 19th in the NHL. He’s a sniper on a team that was scratching and clawing for offensive solutions in the playoffs for the last two seasons: 2.69 goals per game two years ago, down to 1.60 this season in a five-game loss to the New York Rangers.

There are other problems on this roster for Pittsburgh – the blue line needs another impact player, and the bottom six must be readdressed – but adding an elite sniper was essential. The loss of James Neal exposed that need. Kessel more than fills it.

Which center does he play with next season? Rutherford said all he cares about is that he plays with either Crosby or Malkin consistently. No more of the “Crosby and Malkin on the same line fixes everything!” gimmickry that should have ended when Dan Bylsma’s tenure did.

“That’s going to be up to Mike [Johnston], and how that all fits in camp. We have Kessel and [Patric] Hornqvist. The coach can figure out who goes with who and keep them there on a regular basis instead of moving them around,” he said.

So Rutherford acquires this elite talent without giving up Pouliot, without giving up Olli Maata and with Toronto shouldering $1.2 million of his salary each season.

There weren’t many Penguins fans talking about the folly of Ben Lovejoy on July 1.

***

This is a new day for Kessel and Rutherford, but the work has just begun.

The general manager has a top-heavy team and just $6.3 million to work with in adding at least six more players. (The Penguins finally signed KHL player Sergei Plotnikov, and Rutherford theorized he could be in the top six.) This team has $38 million committed to five players: Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. That’s less than $10 million away from what the Arizona Coyotes have committed for 17 players.

The elite sniper … well, his critics say he’s a bit top heavy too, and Rutherford acknowledged it. In fact, Kessel will work with Gary Roberts, trainer to the NHL stars, to achieve new levels of fitness this summer.

Although Rutherford cheekily said that Kessel’s fitness isn’t the problem some believe it is, considering he rarely missed a game to injury in Toronto.

“He’s a pretty damn good player. If he needs to get himself in even better shape, he’ll be an even better player. I do think guys that are in too good of shape are vulnerable to get injured, and this guy plays every game,” said Rutherford.

“Maybe we’re onto something. We’ll just have to see.”

Yes, we’ll see. About Kessel. About Rutherford. About whether this is the move that elevates the Penguins back into Stanley Cup contention. About whether this is the move that the Maple Leafs end up regretting, either due to Kessel’s output (finally) skating with a star center or their own return on the deal. Or, failing that, about whether Kessel is what his critics have said he is, which is an elite talent whose work ethic prevents him from achieving more than he has, and his Toronto media friends would have a hearty last laugh over their departed punching bag. 

We’ll just have to see.

“We wanted more skill, more speed. And we got that in Phil Kessel,” said Rutherford.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 11:23 pm

Chris Pronger isn’t the only inactive NHL player to be switching teams this summer. Marc Savard, or more accurately, Marc Savard’s contract has been dealt to the Florida Panthers along with Reilly Smith from the Boston Bruins in exchange for current restricted free agent Jimmy Hayes.

Florida had been in on the discussion for Pronger’s $4,941,429 cap hit during the NHL Draft, but instead they’ll add Savard’s $4,027,143 number to help keep them well beyond the salary cap floor. The key for the Panthers is that Savard is only owed $575,000 in salary in each of the next two seasons. 

Savard suffered two concussions nine months apart and has not played in the NHL since February of 2011.

"We have a lot of cap space. It made sense,” said Panthers GM Dale Tallon. “They probably wouldn't have done the deal otherwise."

The move was a precursor to the Bruins signing forward Matt Beleskey to a reasonable five-year, $19 million deal. 

Smith was dealt to the Bruins two summers ago as part of the Tyler Seguin trade. In two seasons in Boston he scored 33 goals and posted 91 points. He has two years left on an extension he signed this past March. 

The acquisition of the 6-foot-6 Hayes and signing of Beleskey puts the Bruins out of any contention to be a landing spot for Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell, which had been rumored heading into Wednesday.

Between all these moves, Bruins GM Don Sweeney now has just under $10 million in salary cap space, according to General Fanager, to sign RFAs Smith, Brett Connolly and Ryan Spooner and a backup goalie if the plan is to allow Malcolm Subban and Zane MacIntyre time to develop in the AHL.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 1, 2015, 10:43 pm

Former New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather will always been intrinsically linked to Edmonton. Even if he’s spent his last 14 seasons in Gotham.

And he referenced the current Oilers situation on why he decided to officially hand over the Rangers’ general manager spot to long-time assistant GM Jeff Gorton rather than stepping down and watch the Rangers hire someone outside. Sather will retain his title as president – but it sounds like more of a ceremonial spot.

“A lot of times just like you saw in Edmonton when somebody goes into a place they change the personnel and I didn’t really want to see that happen here,” he said.

A shot at Peter Chiarelli for his (understandable) slash and burn tactics of the old boys network who ran Edmonton into the ground? The guys Sather brought to the Oilers as players? Sure. But when you’re one of the oldest of the old boys on the way out, you’re allowed to speak your mind.

“I’ve pretty well spent my life doing this, playing, coaching and managing,” Slats said. "The clock moves for everyone.” 

And over those years, Sather has been seen as many different types of managers. There was the genius who built the Oilers dynasty in the 1980s. There was the guy who had to trade those parts for nothing tangible in return and then had to run the team on a shoestring budget.

There was the early Rangers era where he made mega trades (Eric Lindros) and mega signings (Bobby Holik) that never produced the playoffs. He hired Bryan Trottier as the team’s head coach – an experiment that didn’t even last an entire season.

Then there was the salary cap era that forced Sather to change his tactics. He had to build a team rather than buy one. How much credit he deserves in the Rangers post 2005 lockout is questionable.

Former assistant general manager Don Maloney was the public voice of the idea of surrounding superstar Jaromir Jagr with some of his Czech friends. Jagr had an MVP worthy campaign in 2005-06 and helped New York make the playoffs for the first time since Mark Messier’s first era with the team. Sather was also involved in this idea. 

Franchise netminder Henrik Lundqvist was picked in the 2000 draft by the Rangers just a few weeks after Sather took the GM role. 

Gorton was named the team’s assistant general manager after Maloney’s departure and has been credited with a lot of New York’s recent success – two Conference Final appearances and a Stanley Cup Final – since the 2010-11 season. Sather was seen mostly as a figurehead.  

The move has been rumored for a while. Sather is 71 and noted that general managers of his era are going away. A younger breed with different types of relationships is coming through the ranks.

“I would say there’s not a lot changing other than I’ll have the final decision on players,” Gorton said.

There was a question on whether Sather would stay in New York or move on with his life. Someone asked him about California.

“You’re going to be stuck with me, I’m going to be right here,” he said. “I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Though ‘Fire Gorton’ chants at Madison Square Garden will sound way less cool.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 10:25 pm

Brad Richards got a raise but is he going to a contender? 

The former Chicago Blackhawks center signed a one-year $3 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the deal could be worth up to $4 million with playoff bonuses.

Richards spurned higher offers last summer to sign a one-year $2 million contract with the Blackhawks. He did this because he believed the Hawks gave him the best shot at a Stanley Cup. Richards was bought out by the Rangers earlier in that offseason from his nine year $60 million contract.

With the Red Wings he joins an aging, but effective, core that includes Pavel Datsyuk (36 years old), and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall (both 34). Detroit also lost coach Mike Babcock to Toronto earlier in the off-season, though the team did sign high-end UFA defenseman Mike Green.  

Said Winging it Motown:

It's a strange move. You could say that the Red Wings are gearing up for Pavel Datsyuk to be out longer than expected, which is scary. The issue is that there might need to be a trade happening to make sense of all this. With the announced AAV of $3 million and $1 million worth of playoff bonuses, someone is likely on the move

Datsyuk had ankle surgery in late June and could miss the start of the regular season.

Detroit also bought out center Stephen Weiss on Tuesday.

Coming back to Chicago seemed to not be an option for Richards, especially with the Blackhawks trading for center Artem Anisimov as part of the Brandon Saad package.

Chicago then re-signed Anisimov on Wednesday which all but officially signaled the end of the Richards era.

In this day and age, is the 35-year-old Richards worth that type of money? He notched 37 points last season while mostly centering Patrick Kane. And he’s seemed to age in dog years since he went to the Rangers in 2011-12 for his massive contract. 

The answer is probably no, but Red Wings GM Ken Holland may have a few more ideas in his head before the free agency period comes to an end. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 10:00 pm

When Mike Babcock was announced as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was a foregone conclusion that Phil Kessel would have to change his off-season workout habits. And by change, I mean, actually work out more than a couple times (in between poker hands, natch).

Kessel is often ribbed for his less than athletic physique; yet, he doesn't change anything from year to year. Perhaps scoring 25-plus goals over a majority of his career allows him to be more complacent, and take an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' attitude.

Babcock is not the same lame duck(s) Kessel had been coached by before. He expects nothing but complete buy-in from his players, so it wasn't surprising when the Gary Roberts (off-season trainer to the stars) rumors resurfaced a few days ago:

Whispers of Phil Kessel returning to Toronto in July, perhaps, to work with Gary Roberts. Sounds like a good plan.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 29, 2015

Now Phil has been traded to Pittsburgh.

So, with Phil and uber-serious Sidney Crosby as teammates, does that increase the likelihood of Kessel ascribing to the idea to becoming a better version of himself?

Anyone who thinks that Phil has escaped the microscope of media analysis by getting out of Toronto is wrong. Pittsburgh's media contingent, God bless 'em, are similarly as hyper-focused as Toronto; there's just a lot less of them.

Phil is more or less used to that media circus by now, though. (Doesn't mean it won't still bother him, but he gets it.) What's going to be new for Phil is the accountability he's going to be held to by teammates. There as rumors of scuffles and tiffs in Toronto, but he's not 'THE guy' now who calls the shots.

Simply said: Sid won't take any of Kessel's BS. No more shifts off. No more days where he's just not feeling it. No more lumpy, grumpy Phil.

And it's going to start this summer with Gary Roberts.

Gary Roberts tells me he'll be working with Kessel starting this month. I'm thinking that's a pretty good guy to work out with.

— Joe Starkey (@JoeStarkey1) July 1, 2015

(It wouldn't be completely surprising to see Penguins PR cheering on Phil while he works out wearing Pittsburgh gear in the off-season.)

Unfortunately for Phil, one thing that's not on the Gary Roberts' nutrition plan: Primanti Brothers sandwiches. The legendary eatery was kind enough to extend an invitation to the newest Penguin. He might want to take them up on the offer before he starts the Phil Kessel 2.0 makeover:

Welcome to Pittsburgh @PKessel81. Stop on 'dahn to the Strip and give a hello to Toni. Sammich is on us.

— Primanti Bros (@primantibros) July 1, 2015

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 1, 2015, 8:40 pm

And the top offensive defenseman of unrestricted free agency is off the market. 

The Detroit Red Wings have signed former Caps blueliner Mike Green for three years at $6 million per-season. That’s slightly less than his prior contract, which was for three years at $6.083 million per-year.

That’s an interesting deal for the 29-year-old Green – a power play specialist who averaged 19:06 of ice-time per-game last season – his lowest  total since the 2006-07 season. But as Japers' Rink notes, Green wasn’t forced to try to play more defensively like prior coaches.

New bench boss Barry Trotz tried to accentuate Green’s offensive skills.

The result? His most productive offensive season since 2009-10, with 45 points on the year... a far cry from his career high of 76, of course, but his best mark since and the second-most among Caps' blueliners. That total also put him into the top-20 among NHL defensemen, tied with Duncan Keith and Shea Weber (each of whom played more games over the course of the season)

Is Green the offensive monster who had 76 points in 75 games with Washington in 2009-10? Not anymore. But he’s still effective. And $6 million for a player in 2015 isn’t quite the same mega deal as it was a few years ago.

The Caps had the NHL’s top power play last year at 25.3 percent. Detroit was No. 2 at 23.8 percent. Last season Green’s SAT differential was at plus-89, per the NHL’s enhanced stats site. His STA Rel % at 1.6. The previous year his SAT Rel % was at plus-4.6 

“We want to thank Mike for 10 great seasons with the Washington Capitals. Mike was an ultimate professional in his long tenure with our organization and had a huge impact on our community. We wish Mike all the best with the Detroit Red Wings organization,” the Caps said in a statement. 

This helps sets the market for Cody Franson – another unrestricted free agent offensive defenseman. Then again if history is a guide, we may wait a while for Franson to sign. Andrej Sekera signed earlier with Edmonton at six years for $5.5 million per-year, which is another guide for Franson. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 8:20 pm

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington and a 2016 third-round draft pick previously acquired from New Jersey, as well as a complicated scenario in which other picks will change hands. 

Who won the trade? Who lost the trade? Here’s our take:

WINNER: Phil Kessel

Since he arrived in Toronto, only four players have more goals that Kessel’s 156 in 446 games. The idea that his setup man will now be either Sidney Crosby (most likely) or Evgeni Malkin is indeed a scary thought. Granted, we still have to see how his style – he and Crosby both like the puck – meshes with his new teammates, but 40 goals is the floor for what to expect from Kessel. 

LOSER: Phil Kessel

The Maple Leafs were a bad, bad situation and Kessel’s attitude was certainly commiserate with it. His minus-34 disaster of a season could be chalked up to that of a tire fire, but now he’s gone from outhouse to penthouse. No excuses left, and Crosby’s not going to stand for a lack of consistent effort. Oh, and anyone who thinks he's now third-fiddle and out of the spotlight doesn't understand how the Pittsburgh media works. 

WINNER: Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin

They wanted more elite offensive talent on this roster, and they got arguably the second-best scoring winger in the game behind Alex Ovechkin. The Penguins were 19th in 5-on-5 scoring last season; part of that was their system under Mike Johnston, but Kessel was second in the NHL in even-strength goals in 2013-4 with 29 – behind only Ovechkin. This move helps their offense is a huge way. 

LOSER: Tyler Bozak

Bozak was nearly a 50-point center three times with his best bud on his wing with the Buds. One assumes he’ll revert to being The Other Guy in Wham! now that Kessel’s gone. (And one assumes Bozak will be as well.)

WINNER: Jim Rutherford

The embattled general manager targeted Kessel, presented one of the only logical landing spots for Kessel, managed to get him without giving up prized defensive prospect Derek Pouliot and had the Leafs pick up some salary. Not a bad day, especially in making his stars happy.

LOSER: Pittsburgh’s Depth

That said, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the blue line and in the bottom six for the Penguins before they can truly contend with the NHL’s best. But Kessel addresses a huge need.

WINNER: Leafs Salary Cap

The Leafs retained salary, $1.2 million against the cap through 2022, but they also open up $6.8 million and subtract a player that clearly was at the end of his journey in Toronto. New coach, new regime, fresh start and more cap space.

LOSER: Chris Kunitz

At some point, someone is going to have to be sacrificed in the name of cap room for the Penguins, who only have eight forwards signed, need another defenseman and have just $6.4 million open.

WINNER: Gary Roberts

The NHL fitness guru, credited with turning players like Steven Stamkos into specimens, will tackle perhaps his greatest challenge: Working with Kessel and changing his diet.

LOSERS: Toronto Mitten-stringers

The Toronto media loses their favorite target of derision. No word if there will be a special section in tomorrow’s Toronto Star dedicated to the memory of Phil Kessel’s Attitude Problem.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 7:52 pm

Another piece of Tim Murray’s plan is falling into place for the Buffalo Sabres.

As Scott McLoughlin of WEEI and Shawn Stepner of Buffalo’s WKBW reported Wednesday morning, Jack Eichel has left Boston University following his freshman year and has signed with the Sabres. 

Eichel was the nation’s leading scorer with 71 points, guiding the Terriers to the NCAA title game and taking home the 2015 Hobey Baker Award. The 6-foot-2 forward was the first freshman to win the award since Paul Kariya in 1993.

“Even though I hadn’t been selected until today, it seems like I’ve been a part of the Buffalo Sabres for a while now,” Eichel said during Draft weekend.

The No. 2 overall pick in last weekend’s NHL Draft wouldn’t say at the time whether he’d be leaving BU, but all signs indicated he would be with the Sabres for the 2015-16 season. 

“As a city and the Sabres as a team, it’s heading in the right direction,” said Eichel. “When you look at some of the moves that they’ve made, the guys they’ve acquired, some of the guys on the team, there are a lot of positives. 

“I just want to be a piece of the puzzle, because Buffalo wants success and wants success soon.”

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 1, 2015, 7:19 pm

We’re keeping track of the big unrestricted free agent names here at Puck Daddy. But how are some of the smaller signings working out?

Sometimes it's the little pieces that can help your team fill in the puzzle and push it to the Stanley Cup. Not everyone today is named Cody Franson or Matt Beleskey. Could one of these guys play a big role this season? Take a look at the players and their new (or same) teams. 

John Moore, D, New Jersey Devils: Three years, $5M

P.A. Parenteau, F, Toronto Maple Leafs: One year, $1.5M

Barret Jackman, D, Nashville Predators: Two years, $4M

Victor Stalberg, F, New York Rangers: One year, $1.1M

Raphael Diaz, D, New York Rangers: One year, $700,000

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 7:14 pm

There’s probably a good reason why the Winnipeg Jets let Michael Frolik walk in unrestricted free agency. It’s because they likely knew wayward forward Alexander Burmistrov would return from AK Bars Kazan in the KHL on a two-year deal worth $3.1 million.

The 23-year-old Russian bolted the Jets in 2012 for the KHL. But according to the Winnipeg Sun, things changed with Burmistrov. He didn't mesh well with former coach Claude Noel. Now Paul Maurice is in charge of Winnipeg's bench. 

Burmistrov was the No. 8 overall pick of the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers in 2010.

Burmistrov, who has 23 goals and 58 points in 194 NHL games, figures to be in the mix to compete for a spot on the third or fourth line, depending on how things sort out in free agency.

But his ability to play both centre and wing makes him an intriguing option.

Said Arctic Ice Hockey:

Burmistrov should be able to fill in the defensive role of Frolik, but he has less of an offensive right now. Burmistrov could end up scoring more at the NHL level, which would be really good news for the Jets.

That’s the point of free agency if you lose a guy – replace him with someone else. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:57 pm

The Pittsburgh Penguins made their trade of Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel official on Wednesday: Kessel, forward Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington and a 2016 third-round draft pick previously acquired from New Jersey for their signing of coach John Hynes. 

The deal also involves two conditional picks. And that’s where it gets a little complicated:

*If Pittsburgh qualifies for the 2016 postseason, Toronto will receive the Penguins’ 2016 first-round draft pick; and the Penguins will receive Toronto’s 2016 second-round selection. The second-round pick would be the one Toronto originally acquired from Pittsburgh for Daniel Winnik earlier this year.

*Should Pittsburgh miss the 2016 playoffs, Toronto will INSTEAD receive the Penguins’ 2017 first-round pick; with Pittsburgh getting Toronto’s 2017 second-round selection in return.

*If the Penguins were to miss the postseason the next two years, Toronto would receive Pittsburgh’s 2017 second-round draft pick and Pittsburgh would not receive a draft pick.

Everybody got that?

The last option is a fun one: If in fact this trade turns out to be a massive bust, and the Penguins completely implode and miss the playoffs for the next two seasons, the return actually gets worse for the Maple Leafs.

Sorry, Leafs fan, but you won’t have the Penguins’ lottery pick this year to go along with your own in the Auston Matthews derby. 

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:52 pm

The Nashville Predators signed former St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman on Wednesday to a two-year deal with $2 million annually. 

Jackman had narrowed his choices down to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville, but opted for the Preds. He was coming off a three-year, $9.5 million contract with the Blues, who opted not to bring him back. He had been the longest-tenured athlete in St. Louis at the time.

It’s not a bad signing or landing spot for Jackman. He’s going to be a second or third pairing guy, and could be a defensive foundation for a player like Seth Jones to get his offense on. He was a strong possession player for the Blues, with a plus-1.2-percent Fenwick-Relative to his teammates last season. And he'll still drop the gloves, with five fights last season. 

For what it’s worth, Jackman felt he had plenty left. As he told STLToday.com:

“I have lots left in me,” he said in April. “I don’t know, four or five years. I take care of myself away from the rink. The body’s the best it’s felt in years. This is actually the best I’ve felt in years health-wise. I don’t see myself as a 40-year-old playing the game, but I’m still only 34 and feel like I’ve got lots left. I’ll continue playing.”

As Dan Buffa of St. Louis Sports Minute wrote: “While he wasn’t the greatest defenseman to ever don skates, he was a durable strong and fearless leader for this team during his years in blue.”

On The Forecheck is down with this:

This is a good signing. The Predators needed a strong, steady blue liner to play on the lower end of the roster, as well as be a reliable presence for Seth Jones. Jackman provides exactly that.

In a limited role, this should be OK. Wonder why the Blackhawks couldn’t secure him?

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:36 pm

There was once a magical time when forward Zack Kassian was sort of mentioned as the next Milan Lucic.

That period is over, and Kassian, 24, is on his way to Montreal for 31-year-old Brandon Prust and a fifth-round draft pick, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

"It was actually my dad's favorite team. It's an emotional day for me and my family. I'm at a loss for words right now," Kassian said on TSN’s broadcast.

Why did it not work out for Kassian in Vancouver? His best season came in 2013-14 with 29 points in 73 games. He was the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft of Buffalo and was part of a 2012 trade for Cody Hodgson. Clearly the deal did not work out for both sides. Hodgson was waived by Buffalo and signed by Nashville on Wednesday. 

“I need to find consistency, and honestly, after spending four years in the league I know what I need to do to be the player I need to be," he added, "I can't pinpoint one reason. Deep down, I could have gave more. And they knew that."

It gives Montreal a big body of unfulfilled potential at $1.75 million next year. And in Prust the Canucks get someone who is somewhat less productive – 18 points last season – at a $2.5 million cap hit for one more season. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:32 pm

We’re keeping track of the big unrestricted free agent names here at Puck Daddy. But how are some of the smaller signings working out?

Sometimes it's the little pieces that can help your team fill in the puzzle and push it to the Stanley Cup. Not everyone today is named Cody Franson or Matt Beleskey. Could one of these guys play a big role this season? Take a look at the players and their new (or same) teams. 

Matt Bartkowski, D Vancouver Canucks: One year, $1.75M

Brad Richardson, C, Arizona Coyotes: Three years, $6.25M

Zbynek Michalek D, Arizona Coyotes: Two years, $6.4M

Anders Lindback, G, Arizona Coyotes: One year, $875,000 

Viktor Tikhonov, F,  Chicago Blackhawks: One year, $1.04M

Cal O’Reilly, F, Buffalo Sabres: One year, $700,000

Ryan Carter, F, Minnesota Wild: One year, $625,000

Steve Downie, F, Arizona Coyotes: One year, $1.75M

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:20 pm

Earlier in the week, the Los Angeles Kings sent backup goaltender Martin Jones to the Bruins as a part of the Milan Lucic trade. Suddenly LA found itself with an open seat near the bench and no one to hold Jonathan Quick's hat.

That problem appears to be solved as the Kings have signed Jhonas Enroth to a one-year contract worth $1.25-million.

It's a good deal for a guy who isn't going to be expected to play very much. Last season, Quick played in 72 of 82 games. It's highly doubtful Darryl Sutter is going to change his game plan and lift the workload on his star netminder.

The Kings are within sneezing distance of the salary cap. Currently Mike Richards and Slava Voynov's contracts do not count against the cap; however, as LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen puts it, they're being cautious:

"... even though Slava Voynov’s and Mike Richards’ contracts aren’t currently counting against the Kings’ salary cap, it’s still expected that the team will be operating with restraint in regards to bringing significant contracts aboard."

Enroth, and his former teammate Michal Neuvirth (who signed a backup deal in Philadelphia today), were at the losing end of the Sabres goal of, well, losing, before being mercifully traded in February. In Buffalo, Enroth was 13-21-2 with .903 save percentage and 3.27 goals against. He was sent to Dallas to act as a No. 2 behind Kari Lehtonen. Enroth went 9-5-5 with .906 SV% and 2.38 GAA.

In those rare occasions where he will take the ice, Enroth will have a much better defense in front of him. That will be helpful in shaking off any bad juju leftover from the years in the Buffalo.

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:19 pm

Cody Hodgson vowed at the end of the regular season that he would be better next season. He’ll get that chance as a member of the Nashville Predators.

The Buffalo Sabres placed the 25-year old Hodgson on waivers Monday with the intent of buying him out. He’ll be paid $791,666 over the next eight seasons from the buy out and now $1.05 million next season from the Predators.

Hodgson scored 44 goals and recorded 99 points over three-and-a-half seasons in Buffalo. This past season, he had the worst production of his NHL career putting up six goal and 13 points in 78 games while his ice time fell six minutes from the 2013-14 campaign.

The Predators took on a reclamation project last summer in Mike Ribeiro and it worked, at least on the ice. (His off-the-ice issues are a different story.) Hodgson gets the same exact deal that Ribeiro received last summer -- a "prove it" kind of contract.

It was only two seasons ago Hodgson scored 20 goals and 44 points. The talent is there. Can he turn it around in Nashville?

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:17 pm

Erik Condra was an usher at Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper’s wedding. Now, he’s going to be a member of Cooper’s NHL team for the next three seasons.

Condra left the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, and is going to cost the Tampa Bay Lightning just $1.25 million against the cap, which is outstanding.

Condra had 23 points in 68 games last season, going from a healthy scratch early in the season to being a vital part of a line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar. Condra, 28, was a 50 percent Fenwick player last season, slightly better than average on possession for the Senators.

He’s going to be used in a defensive role down the lineup for the Lightning, able to play either wing. (One assumes this is just a straight-up younger model replacement for Brenden Morrow.)

Just a smart, smart play for GM Steve Yzerman. And of course a reunion with Cooper and Condra, whom he coached as a 17-year old with the Texarkana Bandits of the NAHL.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:08 pm

Bye, bye, Ray Emery. Hello, Michal Neuvirth!

The Philadelphia Flyers have themselves a new backup goaltender in the 27-year-old Neuvirth. As reported first by Pierre LeBrun of ESPN:

Flyers have signed goalie Michal Neuvirth to two-year deal, $1.5 M in Year 1 and $1.75 million in Year 2

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2015

In Philadelphia, Neuvirth is in a purely backup role and the new contract reflects just that. Steve Mason is the team's No. 1 netminder. Last season, Ray Emery and Mason shared roles as the team dealt with injuries and inconsistency from the start. The signing of Neuvirth allows Emery to walk into the sunset of unrestricted free agency.

Last season was not an easy one for Neuvirth.

He started the year as a part of the tanking abyss in Buffalo where he amassed a 6-17-3 record in 27 games played. Thankfully he was given some relief at the deadline in a trade to the Islanders. Yet in 5 games, he was 1-3-1. (Have to wonder if the situation in Buffalo played into his psyche.) He missed a total of 18 games with a mix of back and knee injuries.

Perhaps his most memorable moment from last season was the $2,000 fine he received from the NHL for diving/embellishment. He was warned by Hockey Ops after a game against Toronto, and was subsequently fined after playing Nashville for his acting.

Prior to the stints with the Islanders and Sabres, Neuvirth spent the better part of six seasons with the Washington Capitals, the team that drafted him, before being dealt to Buffalo. In his NHL career, he's 66-63-17 in 168 games played with a .912 save-percentage and 2.73 goals against.

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 1, 2015, 5:40 pm

Michael Frolik has been signed by the Flames as Calgary continues to muscle up for the pending Battle of Alberta with the refreshed Edmonton Oilers.

Frolik was one of the better free agents on the markets, a two-time 20 goal scorer who had 42 points and 19 goals a year ago with the Winnipeg Jets. The contract is for five years at $4.3 million per-season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Amazing to think that a year ago, we thought the Flames would be in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, and now they’re beefing up to try to beat the Oilers, who landed the Canadian wunderkind with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft.

Is that a lot of years for Frolik? Yes, and there’s always a worry about a guy coasting on a long-term contract. But he’s one of those 27-year old UFA guys who often cash in on their age and perceived potential. So good for him, and good for the Flames who are markedly improved with Frolik and Dougie Hamilton. The team didn't have to give up a player off its roster to get either. 

Frolik was also on the Chicago Blackhawks when that team won the Stanley Cup in 2013.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 5:34 pm

We’re keeping track of the big unrestricted free agent names here at Puck Daddy. But how are some of the smaller signings working out?

Sometimes it's the little pieces that can help your team fill in the puzzle and push it to the Stanley Cup. Not everyone today is named Cody Franson or Matt Beleskey. Could one of these guys play a big role this season? Take a look at the players and their new (or same) teams. 

Mark Letestu, C, Edmonton Oilers: Three years, $5.4M

Nate Prosser, D, Minnesota Wild: Two years, $1.25M

Blake Comeau, LW, Colorado Avalanche: Three years, $7.2M

Matt Halischuk, RW, Winnipeg Jets: One year, $750,000

Thomas Greiss, G, New York Islanders: Two years, $3M

Adam Pardy, D, Winnipg Jets: One year, $1M

Patrick Eaves, RW, Dallas Stars: One year, $1.15M

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 1, 2015, 5:18 pm

The Edmonton Oilers started their shopping early by nabbing center Mark Letestu and defenseman Andrej Sekera 30 minutes into the opening of the free agent period.

Connor McDavid is now an Oiler. Peter Chiarelli is now running the show as general manager. Todd McLellan is behind the bench. There will be plenty more change coming in Edmonton, and with the amount of young talent already on the roster, this is a big summer for the franchise to finally turn things around.

Sekera’s deal is six years and worth $33 million. It also includes a no-movement clause.

The pickup of Sekera is big for the Edmonton defense, an area that needed upgrading. The 29-year old blueliner was dealt in February from Carolina to LA for a conditional first-rounder and prospect Roland McKeown. The Kings only got 16 games out of him since they missed the playoffs, which also meant the pick would be a 2016 one and not one in last weekend’s NHL Draft.

"I thought about that,” Sekera told TSN of playing on the same team as McDavid. “He's going to be a really good player." 

Sekera can put up points from the back and also play a solid possession game at even strength (54-percent score-adjusted Corsi last season, per War on Ice).

An overpayment? Maybe. But it’s Edmonton and that’s the market value for defenseman of that calibre. That’s what they’re going to need to do for now until they can begin attracting free agents by winning. 

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

 

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 1, 2015, 5:15 pm

The Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to add top-end offense talent to their roster. GM Jim Rutherford added one of the best pure goal-scorers in the NHL, if also one of the most maligned. 

Phil Kessel is a Penguin.

The Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally came to terms on a deal that sent Kessel to Pittsburgh for forward Kasperi Kapanen, defensive prospect Scott Harrington, depth forward Nick Spaling, a 2016 first-round pick and a third-rounder. Along with Kessel, defenseman Tim Erixon, forward Tyler Biggs and a second-round pick were sent to Pittsburgh so the roster numbers worked. 

Kapanen was a first-round pick for the Penguins last season.

The Leafs will eat $1.2 million of Kessel's $8 million cap hit through the contract. Phil Kessel for $6.8 million is a lot easier to stomach than $8 million. 

This is a much different deal that what was rumored to be rejected by the Leafs at the draft, via Rob Rossi: 2016 1st round pick, Derrick Pouliot, Rob Scuderi and Chris Kunitz for Phil Kessel.

Kessel makes $8 million against the cap through 2022. From 2010-2014, only Steven Stamkos (159), Alex Ovechkin (153) and Corey Perry (145) scored more goals than Kessel’s 126. He has 247 goals and 273 assists in his career. To say either Sidney Crosby or Phil Kessel have their triggerman would be an understatement. 

What a chance for Kessel to prove that the problem was Toronto and not Phil Kessel. 

Much more to come. Buckle up. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 5:12 pm

The San Jose Sharks finally landed their veteran defenseman on Wednesday, and it’s someone with whom Larry Robinson is familiar. 

Robinson, still a member of the Sharks’ braintrust, worked with Paul Martin when he was a young defenseman in the New Jersey Devils organization. Martin signed a four-year deal with the Sharks on Wednesday with a $4.85 million annual cap hit, giving them a 34-year-old lefty with a lot of experience in the regular season and playoffs.

Martin was given some grief as a member of the Penguins, but he was never going to be worth the $5.5 million over five years the Pittsburgh Penguins handed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2010.

He’s a player that’s good for around 25 points. He handled the puck very well, can get you upwards of 24 minutes a night and is smart in his own zone. Best of all: He can be the defensive rock in a paring, as he was with the Penguins playing with Kris Letang last season.

Can we expect Martin to serve the same type of role with Brent Burns next season?

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 1, 2015, 4:57 pm

Brandon Saad said he was shocked, but understood it’s a business. 

Saad knew the Chicago Blackhawks would see changes to their roster after a third Stanley Cup in six seasons. He knew the team’s cap issues would force trades. He understood players don’t play with one team their entire careers anymore. Still, it’s was first time being traded. Just two weeks ago he was celebrating another championship. Now he’s a Columbus Blue Jacket.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” Saad said Wednesday morning. “At the same time, I’ve watched Columbus in the past and they’ve had some tight playoff series where they’ve played really well."

The threat of an offer sheet coupled with Chicago’s cap issues forced Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to make the move. The Blue Jackets are in the midst of working out a contract for Saad, but at the moment, he’s still a restricted free agent and subject to an offer sheet should a team approach his camp with a tempting offer. 

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said on a Tuesday conference call that the team will match any offer sheet.

“My agent is taking care of that side of the business and I’m waiting to hear from him," Saad said.

In three full seasons in Chicago, Saad scored 52 goals, recorded 126 points and won a pair of Cups. He became an integral part of the team and produced come playoff tie, chipping in 16 points last postseason and 11 this past spring. Since Tuesday’s deal, he said he heard from a number of now-former teammates.

"They were pretty much just wishing me the best of luck," Saad said. "You develop relationships but at the same time I’m excited about Columbus and the relationships I’ll make there."

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

 

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 1, 2015, 4:46 pm

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


7 × eight =

Looking for older news? Search in the archive