The Chicago Blackhawks remain among this season’s Stanley Cup contenders, but they face some difficult decisions regarding their salary-cap space for 2015-16. With nearly $65 million invested in 14 players and uncertainty over the projected cap ceiling, the Blackhawks face shedding salary in order to reach the 23-man roster limit.
Defensive depth has also become an issue this season for the Blackhawks. Though they possess the league’s best penalty kill, they’re 15th in shots-against per game. Sloppy defensive play has proven costly in several games, prompting speculation the Hawks could shop for a blueliner. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens entered this week perched atop the Eastern Conference standings. Despite their success thus far, there are some areas of concern. The Habs are among this season’s lowest-scoring teams while giving up a high number of shots-against per game. That’s prompted questions about their prospects for a lengthy playoff run.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin tends to work more quietly on trades than many of his peers. He has acquired playoff rental players in the past. In 2013 he shipped Erik Cole to Dallas for Michael Ryder. He pulled off the steal of the 2014 trade deadline, shipping a prospect and a draft pick to the New York Islanders for winger Thomas Vanek.
That’s why there’s growing anticipation Bergevin could pull off a significant move or two by this season’s trade deadline. It’s rumored he’s in the market for a scoring forward and a top-four defenseman. Read more
This season the NHL has had three very different situations play out when it comes to the retirement of notable players. Each of Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Brodeur, and Evgeni Nabokov had called it quits, but each in different ways.
Alfredsson signed a one-day free agent deal with the Senators to retire in the city that he called home for so many years, while Brodeur retired a Blue after signing a deal in St. Louis as a free agent after Brian Elliott went down with an injury.
Then there’s Nabokov. The long-time San Jose Sharks goaltender was traded back to San Jose on Monday following a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a move that will allow the 39-year-old to hang them up in the place he had the best years of his career.
Many times, however, players aren’t allowed to ride off into the sunset the way that Alfredsson and Nabokov had. So, like Brodeur, these are 10 players that have retired in cities you wouldn’t expect: Read more
On Tuesday night, the New York Islanders donned the infamous “Fisherman” jerseys to honor their history and the time they’ve spent at Nassau Coliseum. In exactly a month, the Phoenix Coyotes will don the same jerseys they wore in their debut season – the kachina threads that became best known for looking like something Picasso would have designed.
But what are the jerseys we’d most like to see make a comeback? With the advent of the Winter Classic and Stadium Series games, retro jerseys have a very clear place in today’s NHL, so it opens up the door for jersey lovers to let their minds wonder. These are the top 10 extinct jerseys that we’d like to see come back to life – even if only for a night. Read more
When Brandon Prust made a play (and what a play!) to score against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night, it represented just the second time in the calendar year and the first in 12 games that a bottom-six forward for the Canadiens had found the back of the net.
Much of the hockey world is skeptical about the Canadiens this season and it has good reason to be. The Canadiens are near the top of the notoriously flawed Eastern Conference this season, but they’re also a poor possession team that often starts games badly and has an unhealthy reliance on its goaltender. Not exactly a recipe for post-season success in today’s NHL. Read more
There’s no shortage of ill-advised contracts in the NHL. Most teams have at least one player earning more money than his contributions warrant. But while it’s disappointing to watch a $4-million player toil on the fourth line or third defensive pair, that disappointment reaches new levels when the player becomes a healthy scratch – when he’s getting paid not to play.
A coach’s greatest weapon is his ability to control his players’ ice time, and sometimes, sitting an under-performing millionaire is the perfect way to get him motivated.
Other times, becoming a healthy scratch simply signals that a player is on the down side of his career.
Either way, a healthy scratch inherently sparks questions about a player’s future. Is he on the trading block? Will he walk as a free agent this summer? Is his career in jeopardy? And how is the team going to deal with his big-money contract?
Here are the most expensive players to draw a pay check from the press box this season.
The Toronto rumor mill continues to churn with speculation over possible moves by the struggling Maple Leafs leading up to the March trade deadline. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the next few weeks will determine if the Leafs become deadline buyers or sellers.
Over the weekend, the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran cited a source claiming the Leafs were quietly shopping defenseman Dion Phaneuf, winger Phil Kessel and others exclusively to Western Conference teams. McGran claimed nothing was imminent, suggesting interested clubs could wait until the deadline to pursue Phaneuf and Kessel because of their hefty contracts. Read more
If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.
But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more