Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Chris Pronger deal another example of NHL salary cap follies

Ken Campbell
Chris Pronger (Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE – All right, let’s see if we have this straight. If the Arizona Coyotes can somehow keep their disputed lease in effect, the good people of Glendale will be giving money to a team that is paying a guy $575,000 to not play for them and another guy making $3 million who will actually play for them. That will cost them $3.6 million total, a little more than the $3.2 million they were paying to the guy they traded away, who will likely get paid by his new team to not play for it. The guy making $575,000, by the way, will likely be elected into the Hall of Fame in a couple of days and he now works for the league, while still being paid by the teams who are paying him to not play for them.

Only in the NHL. Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes consummated a convoluted trade that saw defenseman Nicklas Grossmann head to the desert in exchange for Sam Gagner and the rights to Chris Pronger. The reason for the deal? The Coyotes will gain $1.5 million to help them get up to the salary floor, since Pronger’s deal is for $575,000 each of the next two seasons in real money and $4.94 million against the cap, and the Flyers will get some relief at the upper level. Pronger will also become the first player in history to be taken off the league’s long-term injury list without actually being activated.

Carry on, then.

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Despite thin free agent class, we’re in for a hectic summer

Ken Campbell
Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was asked whether he’d ever expected to come out of this draft having selected only four players and not having made a single trade. Rutherford is big on the making deals, as you know. But he rubbed his chin, thought for a second and said, “Yeah, actually I thought that’s what we were doing.”

Don’t let the flurry of deals at the draft fool you. With four days to go before July 1, GMs are keeping their powder dry and being patient. They’ve realized that with so many teams up against the salary cap, the more patience they display, the better chance they have of getting a player at a reasonable price.

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Moving day for goalies, big day for Rangers on Day 2

Carl Hagelin (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – So much for a quiet Day 2 of the NHL draft. Before the second round was completed, five significant trades were completed, four of them involving goaltenders.

And perhaps the most shocking aspect of all of it was two moves by the New York Rangers to trade established players in return for prospects and draft picks. Much of that was necessitated by salary cap concerns, but it does represent something of a reversal for them.

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Day 1 a great one for Buffalo, miserable one for Bruins

Ken Campbell
Dylan Strome, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Friday night will go down in history as the night Connor McDavid officially became a card-carrying member of the NHL fraternity and embarked on his career as the savior of the Edmonton Oilers. But that’s not all we’ll remember about the first night of the draft in 2015.

We may all look back at this night 10 years from now and identify it as the precise moment in time when two seismic events occurred. The first one is the ascension of the Buffalo Sabres into respectability. And the second is we may very well point to June 26, 2015 as the day the Boston Bruins began their downward spiral into mediocrity. Or worse.

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Eichel, O’Reilly and Legwand greasing skids for Hodgson buyout in Buffalo?

Ken Campbell
Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – There probably hasn’t been an NHL player involved in more trade rumors than Ryan O’Reilly has been for the past couple of years. So the fact that it finally happened on draft day shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

O’Reilly is a guy the Colorado Avalanche loved. On the ice. When it came to crossing swords with him over a contract, that’s an entirely different story. And like the Boston Bruins did with Dougie Hamilton, the Avalanche did not relish the idea of going through a difficult negotiation that might go sideways, so they dealt him.

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Hamilton trade a cautionary tale in bad salary cap management

Ken Campbell
Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Well here we are still hours before the NHL draft and already THN senior editor Brian Costello has already won Twitter today. After the Calgary Flames-Boston Bruins blockbuster, Costello took to social media to point out that according to our Draft Preview, the Bruins had traded Dougie Hamilton in exchange for Nick Merkley, Dennis Yan and Graham Knott.

Those are the three players we have ranked No. 15, 54 and 53 respectively. It almost certainly won’t turn out that way, but you get the idea. Now get this idea. Over the course of 24 hours, the Bruins traded a 50-point scorer and an elite defenseman in exchange for a package that could amount to nothing.

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2015 Draft Preview – It’s blue sky for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Ken Campbell
William Nylander (Getty Images)

It was a great indictment of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ drafting and developing when Brendan Shanahan fired the man who ran the hockey department, GM Dave Nonis, plus several key scouts two months before a pivotal draft. The scouting dismissals were on the advice of director of player personnel Mark Hunter, who has essentially been given the keys to the kingdom when it comes to picking and cultivating prospects. Hunter comes with an excellent track record of talent identification from his days with the London Knights, and the Leafs hired him to help find NHL-caliber players.

PICKS:
Round 1, picks 4, 24
Round 3, pick 65
Round 4, picks 95, 107
Round 5, pick 125
Round 6, pick 155
Round 7, pick 185

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The Leafs have lacked a true No. 1 center since Mats Sundin. Tyler Bozak has good chemistry with Phil Kessel, but their defensive acumen is so lacking that Toronto’s top line, which also included James van Riemsdyk, made up three of the NHL’s bottom five in plus-minus. Read more

2015 Draft Preview – Tampa Bay Lightning apprentice is now the master

Ken Campbell
Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, the NHL’s reigning GM of the year, was weaned by the Detroit Red Wings as a player and an executive, so it’s no surprise he puts such a strong emphasis on drafting and developing players. And it should come as no surprise he and the Lightning have had such positive results. Yzerman and his hockey department have restocked the Bolts’ system with a bountiful crop of young players. In the 2011 draft alone, the Lightning picked six players, and four of them – Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Nesterov and Ondrej Palat – have turned out to be bona fide NHL players.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 28
Round 2, pick 44
Round 3, pick 64
Round 4, picks 118, 120
Round 5, pick 150
Round 6, picks 153, 180
Round 7, pick 208

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
Injuries tested Tampa’s depth on defense and, after trading Radko Gudas, the Lightning lack a physical and punishing force on the back end.

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