See Christian Ehrhoff’s gruesome photo of sliced right ear

Rory Boylen
Christian Ehrhoff

OK so this may not be the way you wanted to start your Monday morning, so we’ll give you ample room to take a satisfying sip of coffee, put down your mug and contemplate whether or not you’re prepared to witness the grossness that is Christian Ehrhoff’s ear after taking a puck to the side of the head in Buffalo’s 5-2 loss to Philadelphia Sunday night.

There’s a gash.

There’s a little blood.

There are about 40 stitches.

OK, you’ve been warned.

Have you put your coffee down yet? Cue the spit take. Read more

Top five compliance buyout candidates for 2014

Leino

It’s that time of year when fans prepare for playoff pushes and other fans go full Joffrey and demand heads on stakes.

By heads on stakes, I mean buyouts in this case. For any suffering supporter who can’t stand to look at an expensive star player’s face another second, there’s hope. Remember the compliance buyouts from last summer? They’re BACK, albeit not in Pog form.

The rules, per NHL.com:

Under the collective bargaining agreement signed last season, teams are allowed two compliance buyouts within designated time periods last summer and this summer. That’s two buyouts total, not two per summer, and the buyouts can be used at a team’s discretion. That means some teams can (and did) use both last summer, some used one and some saved both for this summer.

When using a compliance buyout, a team “must pay two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal. The bought-out players become free agents July 5 (2013, and July 1, 2014) and can sign with any team, other than the one that bought out the player.”

A refresher of last year’s compliance buyouts can be found here. But here’s a short list of who does and does not have flexibility.

TWO BUYOUTS LEFT: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Winnipeg

ONE BUYOUT LEFT: Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington

NO BUYOUTS LEFT: Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia, Toronto

Factoring that list in, I’ve ranked my top five compliance buyout candidates below. My key criteria: (a) No one would want any part of this player’s contract in a trade; (b) this player wasn’t signed last summer, as sheer pride would likely stop most GMs from admitting their mistakes after just one year; (c) this player is not suffering from a long-term injury.

1. Ville Leino, LW, Buffalo Sabres
(Three years left, $4.5-million cap hit)

He scored in his first game as a Sabre Oct. 7, 2011 and it was all downhill from there. In the 132 contests since, Leino has nine goals. He has zero in 54 games this season. Calling him a buyout candidate is a gross understatement.

Read more

Golden boy Nicholson has NHL in his future

Nicholson

There will be no need for Hockey Canada to give Bob Nicholson a golden handshake or a gold watch when he officially announces his departure on Friday. Nicholson already has approximately as much gold as Fort Knox.

Under his watch as president and CEO of Hockey Canada, his country has won seven Olympic gold medals (three men, four women), five World championship golds, 12 World Junior golds and 10 World Women’s gold medals. And speaking of gold, he has presided over Hockey Canada becoming a money-making monolith, both in terms of attracting sponsorship money and generating revenues from events. For example, the WJC in Montreal and Toronto could make a profit of up to $30 million, 50 percent of which goes to Hockey Canada. Read more

Buffalo Sabres locked in for 30th, but not first pick in draft

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Rounds 2-7

Just because the Buffalo Sabres are virtually assured of finishing last overall doesn’t mean they are heavy favorites to win the draft lottery and select first overall in June.

The Sabres have just a 25 percent chance of winning the draft lottery and getting first pick. Their most likely outcome for Buffalo is to select second overall. That would happen if any of the other 13 non-playoff teams won the draft lottery and moved up to first pick.

The NHL altered the draft lottery odds last year allowing all 14 teams a chance at winning first pick. In previous seasons, only five teams had a chance at first pick, meaning the team finishing 30th had a 48.2 percent chance of gaining first pick, either by winning the lottery or having teams sixth worst to 14th worst win the lottery.

Buffalo’s magic number to finish 30th is two. Any combination of two Buffalo losses or Edmonton wins in the remaining eight games secures last overall for the Sabres.

The lottery will take place in the first couple of days after the regular season ends April 13. The 2014 draft is June 27-28 in Philadelphia. There’s a group of four prospects at the head of the class this year. They are Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay center Sam Reinhart, Kingston left winger Sam Bennett and Prince Albert center Leon Draisaitl.

Regardless of where New Jersey finishes, its first round pick will slip to the 30th spot as part of the penalty for the team trying to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract that circumvented the salary cap. The Ottawa pick belongs to Anaheim as part of the Bobby Ryan trade last year.

The following chart lists each team’s chances for winning first pick and most likely outcome in the lottery, as of today’s standings. We’ll update this again as the season comes to an end.

lottery odds

 

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blogFor more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazineFollow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN

Rumor Roundup: Will the Maple Leafs buy out David Clarkson?

clarkson-181601737

Less than a year after the Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75-million contract, there’s speculation they could buy him out.

Sportsnet’s Greg Brady recently reported via Twitter that colleague Doug MacLean said there will be “serious discussions” by Leafs management to consider buying out the remainder of Clarkson’s contract this summer to free up cap space.

At the time of the signing, some in the Toronto media compared Clarkson to his idol, former Leafs captain Wendel Clark. Others, however, were critical of the Leafs paying so much to a player who only exceeded the 20-goal mark once in his NHL career.

To call Clarkson’s first season with the Leafs disappointing is an understatement. It began with a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during a pre-season game to join an on-ice altercation. Clarkson also received a two-game suspension in December for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka. Foot, elbow and leg injuries sidelined the Leafs’ forward an additional 10 games. He’s now on pace for a career-worst 11-point season. Read more

Sabres on right track by keeping Ted Nolan

Ryan Kennedy
Ted-Nolan-BUF

The Buffalo Sabres announced that the franchise had removed the “interim” label from coach Ted Nolan this morning and signed the bench boss to a reported three-year contract extension. In doing so, the Sabres have shown confidence in a man who once won the Jack Adams Award with the franchise and has brought back at least a modicum of confidence to a team currently in the very depths of a rebuild.

Nolan, who originally coached the Sabres from 1995-97 and took the team from worst to first in their division, came in for a second stint after 20 games this season once it became clear that coach Ron Rolston was way over his head at the NHL level. In terms of results, Nolan’s points percentage so far is .370, thanks to a record of 16-30-8. As poor as that sounds, Rolston had the Sabres at 4-15-1 for a points percentage of .225.

Is it realistic to expect Nolan to turn this team around again in one season? No. He lost his franchise goalie and a great leader when the team sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis at the trade deadline and those players don’t just pop up out of nowhere. But if Nolan proved anything as coach of the Latvian Olympic team in February, it’s that he can get the most out of a roster.

Read more

Decorated Hasek could/should have been the best goalie ever

Brian Costello
Atlanta Thrashers v Buffalo Sabres

Dominik Hasek is moving up to the penthouse where he’ll hang out with a half dozen hockey greats.

The Buffalo Sabres announced today they’ll be retiring Hasek’s No. 39 Sabres jersey in a ceremony next season. He is being inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame Saturday.

Hasek, 49, is one of the most decorated goalies in NHL history and is the only stopper to win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in back-to-back seasons (1997 and 1998).

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Ryan Miller stay in St. Louis or is he destined for Anaheim?

Ryan Miller

The St. Louis Blues are very pleased with the performance of goaltender Ryan Miller, who was acquired from Buffalo days before the trade deadline. Miller is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer and Blues management hope to open contract talks at season’s end.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the 33-year-old goalie could wait for free agency to see if the Anaheim Ducks are still interested in his services. McKenzie claims there was early-season speculation the Ducks unsuccessfully attempted to acquire Miller from the Sabres. Anaheim could be a good fit for Miller as his wife is a Hollywood actress. Read more