• Decision Day looms for Kyle Okposo, now the most sought after free agent of 2016

    Ken Campbell
    Kyle Okposo. (Graig Abel/NHLI  via Getty Images)

    Practice has been over for a half an hour, and the dressing room is largely empty. Most of the New York Islanders have already showered and changed into their civvies, strictly adhering to the NHL off-day dress code of sweat pants and backward ball caps. Some are already on their way out of the rink. A lot of them take the Long Island Rail Road home from the team’s practice facility in Syosset, N.Y., and it’s on a schedule. Welcome to the real world, fellas.

    As the dressing room empties, Kyle Okposo remains slumped in his stall, still in full equipment, save for the Islanders cap replacing his helmet. His legs are splayed, his fingers intertwined as they rest on his chest. He’s in no rush to move along. In fact, he looks as though he’s getting ready to go out and take another twirl. Perhaps it’s because he has a two-year-old and a newborn at home and realizes the chaos that awaits him. Or it could be that this is where he feels most comfortable. He speaks easily and relaxed, not the least bit ill at ease or scripted. Finally, a member of the training staff stands in front of him with the bin full of practice sweaters, hoping he’ll take the hint. “Oh, sorry,” Okposo says, peeling off his sweater. “I’m kind of in La-La Land here.”

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  • Buyout roundup: Lightning’s Carle, Bruins’ Seidenberg and more

    Matt Carle  (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Less than 24 hours before the free agency period begins, several NHL teams got to work on some housekeeping Thursday. Six teams placed players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. The NHL’s buyout window closes at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

    There had already been some notable buyouts, including the Canucks’ Chris Higgins, the Wild’s Thomas Vanek, and the Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.

    The Blue Jackets got back to work on Thursday, buying out the final year of right winger Jared Boll’s contract. Boll, 30, scored one goal in 30 games in 2015-16.

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  • The 10 biggest 1-for-1 trades of the salary cap era

    Matt Larkin
    Shea Weber and P.K. Subban. (Getty Images)

    Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. Oh, baby. What a trade. Even if most of us agree the Nashville Predators won the deal by acquiring the younger, currently better Subban, this was a legit hockey trade. Weber still finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting this past season. We witnessed a swap of two players still close to the top of their class at their position.

    Was Weber for Subban the most significant 1-for-1 trade in NHL history? We can make that case given both players are in their primes. The Hartford Whalers dealt Chris Pronger to the St. Louis Blues for Brendan Shanahan in 1995. That was a helluva straight-up deal, involving two future Hall of Famers (and player safety execs), but Pronger was a kid at the time. He hadn’t yet blossomed into his Hart Trophy form. It may seem bigger than Weber for Subban in hindsight but, if we factor in each player’s status when the trade happened…Weber for Subban wins.

    We’ve probably seen bigger blockbusters than Weber for Subban, but it’s awfully tough to find those in which a single player went for a single player. Pierre Turgeon for Pat LaFontaine? That deal involved six players and a pick. Eric Lindros for Peter Forsberg? The Nordiques got half a team in that trade along with Foppa. Luc Robitaille to the Penguins for Rick Tocchet? A Second-rounder went to L.A. along with Tocchet. Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa? Nope, the Atlanta Thrashers got Greg de Vries, too. Even Martin St-Louis for Ryan Callahan included the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring draft picks.

    It’s extremely rare to find a pure 1-for-1 matching the magnitude of Weber for Subban or, heck, Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, which happened in the same friggin’ hour. Scott Stevens went to the New Jersey Devils in 1990 for Shanahan, but that wasn’t a trade. Stevens was awarded as compensation for the Blues inking Shanahan.

    So Weber for Subban thus may have the title belt. We could keep going and dig through every trade in NHL history, but there are only so many hours in the day – which happens to be the eve of July 1, free agency day. So I’ll let you toss out more candidates in the comment section. And I’ll present the 10 biggest 1-for-1s of the salary cap era, factoring in players’ status at the time of the deal. Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson may sound like a major move today, but it wasn’t when it happened in 2011. This list factors in which 1-for-1s blew us away in the moment.

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  • The numbers behind the names: A closer look at which free agents will be worth big money, and which to avoid

    Dominik Luszczyszyn
    David Backes (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

    We’re about 24 hours away from July 1st and the Free Agent Frenzy is about to begin. Unlike last year’s extremely weak class, this year has some huge names attached to it which could mean the deals might get really crazy this time around.

    Writer-Editor Matt Larkin took you through the top 30 available players, and now we’re going to dive a bit deeper into the numbers behind some of those names. We’ll look at some key stats from the past three seasons, strengths and weaknesses and a projected cap hit using work done by Hockey Graphs analyst Matt Cane.

    The strengths and weaknesses are based on a player’s percentile rank over the last three seasons in various stats. It’s basically a way to show what percentage of the league a player is better than at that particular skill based on the best stat associated with it. Keep in mind that not all skills are equally important.

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  • Bettman awfully selective about his ‘facts’ when it comes to fighting in NHL

    Ken Campbell
    Tom Wilson (left) and Kyle Clifford  (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

    As long as the NHL faces a concussion lawsuit from former players, you can expect NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to get his back up about the issue of fighting. And if that means he has to go to the same age-old clichés about its place in the game and provide nebulous information, so be it.

    That was the case when Bettman was asked about it in an interview with an online broadcast of Sports Illustrated Now. Bettman was responding to questions about a letter he received from Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who accused the league of appearing, “dismissive about the link between head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the game of hockey.” Blumenthal, who is a member of a Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, posed nine questions to Bettman about how the league handles concussions and whether he believes there is a link between CTE and hockey. Blumenthal asked for a response by July 23 and Bettman complied.

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  • Everything is happening: Recapping the craziest 53 minutes the NHL has seen in years

    Shea Weber and P.K. Subban. (Getty Images)

    During a 2011 NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, iconic ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ play-by-play man Bob Cole exclaimed ‘Everything is happening!” during a frantic series of play.

    It has become a go-to saying for hockey fans, especially on Twitter, during periods of excitement or big news. It can definitely be applied to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.

    While many fans, pundits, and media sat and waited for big news to start happening on Friday during the official start of free agency, several teams swooped in and made a series of blockbuster moves. Each move on its own could have carried a news cycle for a day, but three came in such rapid succession that it nearly “broke the internet”, as they say.

    Here’s a timeline of what went down on Wednesday:

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  • Will Canadiens rue the day they traded P.K. Subban?

    Ken Campbell
    P.K. Subban  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    The record will show that P.K. Subban was officially traded by the Montreal Canadiens on June 29, 2016. But in reality, the seeds of it were sown on Feb. 1, 2013 when a GM who used to be a fringe player and a stubborn coach tried to beat the individualism out of their best skater. That’s the day that GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien killed the ‘Low 5’ celebration that Subban used to do with goalie Carey Price.

    They got past that, but like the couple that we all knew would divorce one day, the split became inevitable. And the Canadiens can spin this any way they’d like, but their decision to move Subban for Shea Weber has the potential for being an absolutely terrible hockey trade, one that could set the franchise back enormously. And it was done because one player brought too much attention to himself and some of the people around him couldn’t stand that.

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