Rumor Roundup: Ryan Johansen to KHL & other RFA buzz

Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While Ryan Johansen’s contentious contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets dominate NHL headlines, several other notable young players around the league also remain unsigned.

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and right winger Reilly Smith still await new deals. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reports it’s believed Krug and the Bruins have agreed to a one-year bridge term for this season but remain around $750,000 apart. Haggerty speculates Smith also received a one-year offer.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli undoubtedly would’ve preferred re-signing the duo before training camp opened last week, but, as has been well documented, the Bruins lack sufficient cap space to comfortably re-sign the duo.

It’s anticipated Chiarelli will make a trade before the start of the season to free up the necessary space. Until then, Krug and Smith remain in contractual limbo, unable to participate in training camp. Read more

Agents scratching their heads over Ryan Johansen’s contract demands

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operation, John Davidson, sounded off last week over the Ryan Johansen imbroglio, he backed up his stance by saying, “There are agents that can’t understand it.”

We at thn.com thought we would put that theory to the test. And if our sampling of conversations with 10 prominent agents is any indication, unfortunately for Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt, Davidson is right. There are a good number of player agents out there who can’t understand the stance Johansen and Overhardt have taken. (Last week, we spoke to 10 GMs for their views on the stance the Blue Jackets have taken.) Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is this Marc-Andre Fleury’s last season in Pittsburgh?

Marc-Andre Fleury needs a stellar performance in his walk year if he wants to remain a Pittsburgh Penguin.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enters this season facing an uncertain future. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July, and new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford didn’t believe this summer was the right time to discuss a contract extension.

Fleury told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe he pondered what life would be like playing elsewhere, but that he prefers staying with the Penguins. Since signing a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Penguins in July 2008, Fleury backstopped them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009. In recent years he struggled in the playoffs, but he rebounded last season with a solid effort under goalie coach Mike Bales.

It’s apparent, however, Rutherford intends to take a wait-and-see approach with Fleury, who turns 30 in November. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM has no contract history with Fleury and seems reluctant to offer another lengthy, expensive contract to an inconsistent netminder. It’s up to Fleury to prove his worth this season as a reliable starting goaltender.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Can Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets agree on a contract this weekend?

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

After weeks of silence, the stalled contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen’s agent are expected to resume this weekend. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports agent Kurt Overhardt is expected to meet with club management for its first face-to-face discussions.

Portzline claims the two sides have agreed to a two-year bridge deal, but remain apart by about $3 million per season. The Jackets are reportedly offering $3.5 million annually, while Overhardt is seeking $6.5 million.

If a deal isn’t reached by Wednesday, Portzline notes Johansen will be asked to vacate his space in the Blue Jackets dressing room at Nationwide Arena and will be barred from the building. That appears extreme, but it’s likely for insurance purposes. Johansen cannot train with the club without a contract unless he pays his own insurance costs. Read more

Malcolm Subban’s awesome new mask features death and Bible verse

Rory Boylen
Malcolm Subban mask pictures from David Leroux's Instagram account (dielairbrush).

In 2012 Malcolm Subban was a member of the Ontario League’s Belleville Bulls and a recently drafted prospect of the Boston Bruins. He wanted to change his goalie mask and give it a meaner and morbid look and he worked with Montreal painter David Leroux to do it.

The results were pretty awesome. Subban’s mask represented the Bulls on the front and had a Bruins logo on the back plate. But that’s not all: the mask also had the Grim Reaper staring into your soul and a striking red, yellow and orange color scheme that fit nicely with the Bulls.

Also appearing on the back plate was a verse from the Bible, Psalm 23:4:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Pretty cool, right?

Well today Leroux showed off an updated design for Subban, who has since moved on from the Bulls and will likely play his second consecutive season with the American League’s Providence Bruins – and possibly with the NHL club. The mask still has the Grim Reaper and the Bible passage on it, but has been updated to fit a Boston Bruins theme.

This thing is menacing…and totally awesome. Read more

It’s time for hockey to ban the term ‘holdout’

Ryan Johansen (left).  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

With no signs of progress and the two sides still light years apart, the possibility of Ryan Johansen sitting out training camp, and possibly even part of this NHL season, is becoming more real with every passing day.

And as that day draws nearer, you can expect an avalanche of reports that will indicate Johansen is “holding out” on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Should they fail to reach contract terms with their respective teams, the same will go for Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper of the Minnesota Wild, Danny DeKeyser of the Detroit Red Wings, Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins and Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues.

But the fact is, not a single one of them is a holdout. In fact, the term “holdout” is antiquated and should be banned from the hockey lexicon altogether. Not a single player has held out since the collective bargaining agreement of 2005. Read more

Fantasy Pool Look: Bruins, Ducks & Avalanche off-season report

Corey Perry (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s the 12th annual off-season review of each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I did something different and reviewed the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m all done now. Here were the Top 3 teams in the NHL last season, let’s see if their fantasy outlooks reflect that…

BOSTON BRUINS
Gone – Chad Johnson, Shawn Thornton, Jarome Iginla, Andrej Meszaros

Incoming – Jeremy Smith

Ready for full time – Ryan Spooner is a real solid prospect who has taken to the pro game very well. In his cup of coffee with the Bruins he held his own. The team has room for him on the roster and he should win a spot out of camp. If he does, he could surprise depending on the line he plays on.

Niklas Svedberg will be the backup goalie. The former AHL goalie of the year has good upside at the NHL level and with such a strong team ahead of him will put up nice numbers. If Tuukka Rask were to get injured for any length of time, Svedberg would actually be one of the better goalies to own in all of hockey.

David Warsofsky may have his work cut out for him because he is a smaller defenseman who moves the puck well and the team already has that in Torey Krug. That being said, if Krug doesn’t sign (he is an restricted free agent) that opens the door wide for Warsofsky. But that’s a long, long, long shot. So look for Warsofsky to be used in a depth capacity if he makes the team. At least for this year. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Would any RFA not sign be season’s start?

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The start of NHL training camp, on Sept. 18, is less than two weeks away, but there’s little progress to report on contract talks involving several restricted free agents. Among the unsigned notables are Columbus’ Ryan Johansen, Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper and Nino Niederreiter, St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz, Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly and Boston’s Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun cites two sources who claim there’s been no dialogue between the Johansen camp and the Blue Jackets for some time. The two sides are reportedly $3 million apart per season on a two-year deal.

Johansen could receive an offer sheet from a rival club, but Blue Jackets management insisted earlier this summer they would match any offer. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline claims trading Johansen isn’t a consideration. Read more