Among this year’s deep pool of potential unrestricted free agents, Los Angeles Kings left winger Milan Lucic is one of the standouts. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound power forward is enjoying a bounce-back season, on pace for 20 goals and 50 points. Lucic, who turns 28 in June, won’t lack for suitors if he tests the free-agent market.
The Kings hope that doesn’t happen. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides are in the early stages of negotiations, having made their initial contract proposals. He claims there’s mutual willingness to get a deal done, but it could take time.
Salary-cap space will be an issue. The Kings currently have over $64 million invested in their roster for 2016-17. While the league projected a $3-million increase next season over the current $71.4-million cap ceiling, the struggling Canadian dollar could adversely affect that optimistic prediction.
Sabres winger Evander Kane will not face any charges and has been cleared of “any wrongdoing” following an investigation in Buffalo into an incident that occurred in December, according to The Buffalo News.
No charges had ever been filed against Kane, 24, in relation to an investigation into a “sexual encounter” he had with a woman in Buffalo in late December, but The Buffalo News’ Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel reported the investigation began when the woman went to local hospital and “said she could not remember what happened.”
“There was never a criminal complaint filed,” acting district attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr., said in a statement via The Buffalo News. “After a careful and diligent examination of all the known facts, including the results of forensic and toxicological testing, neither the provable facts nor the applicable law support the filing of any criminal charges or a prosecution in this matter.” Read more
Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart are the future up front in Buffalo. They’re a big part of the present, as well, actually – but they are rookies in the best league in the world. With all the hype that comes along with the high picks (they were each taken second overall; Eichel last year and Reinhart the year before), it is important to remember an NHL career is a process – one that is filled with ups and downs.
Fighting has been on the decline in the NHL recently, much to the delight of many of my peers in the media. But take a look at some of the action from last night and you’ll see why the players almost universally have a different opinion.
In their 67th game last season, the Buffalo Sabres came into Toronto and blew a third-period lead before losing 4-3 in a shootout. Walking out of the Air Canada Centre that night, the Sabres were a miserable outfit well on its way to becoming the worst team in the NHL, one that gave up goals by the bushel and couldn’t win on the road.
It’s a stretch to say the Sabres turned the tables on Monday night, but they did manage to erase a third-period deficit and win a shootout by the same 4-3 score against the same team in the same building. Is that progress? Well, if you look at the standings, the Sabres walked out of the Air Canada Centre in 23rd place in the league instead of 30th. Instead of having a goal differential of minus-99, they’re at a far more respectable minus-21. Instead of having just seven wins in 34 road games, they have more than double that with 15 in 33.
Jack Eichel sounds like the happiest kid in the NHL right now.
He was one of the top rookie scorers at the midway point and had clearly found his feet in Buffalo, with particular success on a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart.
But it’s not just on-ice chemistry. The Massachusetts native is finding Buffalo to be a second home pretty quickly. He’s living with the family of Sabres veteran Matt Moulson and, after a year in Boston U. dorms on his own, Eichel is loving the family atmosphere.
“They do so much for me, I could never repay them,” Eichel said. “Having a stable home environment, not worrying about cooking meals or doing laundry…it made the adjustment so much easier.”
If you’ve seen Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner play lately, something about his new look probably stands out.
For the past three games, Lehner has been wearing a brand new mask. And while some goaltenders have their helmets stick out from the crowd with bright, eye-popping colors, wild designs or matte finishes, Lehner’s mask is catching eyes because it looks like he brought it into game action before it was even finished.
The mask, which was designed by David Gunnarsson of DaveArt, is a tribute to his Lehner’s favorite band, In Flames, and stands out because it’s devoid of any color and drawn entirely with a sketch pen. Take a look: Read more
Lest anyone think that Team North America will enter the World Cup of Hockey as a cute and cuddly little novelty, Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman have news for you. They are going into this event with the sole goal of winning it and their first 16 selections made that statement in dark black and indelible ink.
Had they wanted the 23-and-under team to live up to its novelty status, it would have loaded it with top-heavy offensive talent that would have been content to get into track meets with its opponents and try to win – but probably lose – every game by scores of 7-6. Instead, they made a bold statement, building a team with a distinct sense of purpose and balancing talent with experience and an ability to play defense. They’ll be able to skate. They’ll be able to score. What they need is a team concept.