If Pavel Datsyuk were to go back home to play in the KHL next season and turn his back on the last year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings, it would leave an enormous leadership and talent void on the roster. But it might not be the end of the world for them.
In fact, if things work out they way they potentially could, it could be a boon for the Red Wings. If Datsyuk were to let the Red Wings know of his intentions early enough, it would open up some valuable cap space and allow them to go after the biggest free agent in the pool, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announced Saturday that Stamkos has a blood clot and faces a recovery period of one-to-three months, meaning there is a chance the pending unrestricted free agent has played his last game for the Lightning. It is expected, however, that Stamkos will make a full recovery.
It’s not a fun day in Nashville and the Preds’ loss to Colorado is actually of secondary importance. Last night, GM David Poile revealed that highly-touted prospect Jimmy Vesey would not be signing with the franchise and would instead pursue free agency.
Poile was livid.
This week’s NHL GM meetings yielded chatter on everything from blueline cameras to goalie equipment, but the sexiest news nugget had to be the NHL revealing an outline for an expansion draft format.
While nothing is set in stone until the NHL Players’ Association agrees on the details, we have a rough idea of how the process would work. As reported by TSN’s Frank Seravalli, each of the existing NHL teams would stand to lose one player if the league expands by one team and two if the league expands to include Las Vegas and Quebec City. Teams can protect (a) seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or (b) eight skaters at any position and one goaltender.
First-and second-year players on entry-level contracts would be exempt from the expansion draft. It remains to be seen if no-movement clauses would give veterans automatic amnesty. Every team would have to expose at least 25 percent of its salary cap, while the expansion squad(s) would have to reach a salary floor. Hello, high-profile money dumps. That situation would grant existing NHL teams the equivalent of compliance buyouts – especially if no-movement clauses are nullified.
Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated at his All-Star Game press conference the earliest we could see an expansion team is the 2017-18 season. So if we assume the league announces one team by then, what players might we see changing addresses at a 2017 expansion draft, which would likely be held after the Stanley Cup final and before the entry draft?
Time to examine potential targets. I won’t include any players who will be unrestricted free agents in summer 2016 or summer 2017. I’ll list more than 23 names, just to deeper explore candidates to get claimed. It’s difficult to imagine players with no-movement clauses will be ruled exempt, because, if they didn’t have to count toward a team’s protected list, too few quality players would be available to the expansion squad. A team loaded with clauses, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, would have most of its roster exempt and still have room to protect most of its other players. Also, as my colleague Ian Denomme pointed out, players with NTCs and NMCs tend to be expensive, so exempting them would make it harder for teams to clear 25 percent of their salary. So, for the sake of argument, let’s look at two groups: the players with clauses and the players without. Cap hits for 2017-18 are included for each name, courtesy of capfriendly.com.
By Dan Marrazza
When we last saw Kevin Westgarth in the NHL, he was playing out the string of the 2013-14 season with the Calgary Flames, about to become just another enforcer fazed out of the game.
It didn’t garner any fanfare or attention, and occurred with not a question about concussions, headshots or the role of fighting in today’s game, but Westgarth has quietly slipped back into the NHL. He returned to the league in early February, when he was hired by the NHL league office in the role of Vice President Business Development and International Affairs, reporting to deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Westgarth, a well-read Princeton graduate who built his relationship with his current boss on the other side of the table during lockout negotiations, will work with many of the NHL’s charitable and humanitarian initiatives, while leading campaigns to expand the sport overseas.
There was a time when, if you made $1 million in a season as a hockey player, you were living on Easy Street.
It was almost like winning a lottery.
That is not the case these days.
Earning $1 million a season is still big bucks and affords an athlete a comfortable lifestyle others can only dream of. However, if you aren’t careful with your pennies, the dollars definitely don’t take care of themselves. And it is definitely not a lottery win.
“If you win a lottery in Canada, it is tax free so it is a true $1 million dollars,” said Rand Simon, a Toronto-based player agent with Newport Sports Management Inc. “Depending on your age and where you live it could set you up for quite a while. A million dollars in Toronto is very different from a million dollars in North Bay or somewhere in rural Saskatchewan. It all depends on context. It is the same thing with hockey players; a million dollars in one place is not the same as a million dollars somewhere else because of taxes and the cost of living.”
In his ruling upholding Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension for physical abuse of an official, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did not mince words. Not one little bit. Not only did he not accept the NHL Players’ Association’s notion that Wideman’s actions were the result of the effects of a concussion, but he crushed it, cast it aside and argued it basically had no shred of validity.
In a 22-page explanation of his ruling that made for compelling reading, Bettman made it clear that he agreed with the suspension that was brought down by senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell. In fact, he made it clear that rescinding or reducing the suspension was not even considered. In fact, Bettman said he believed Wideman acted out of character – but was not impaired – and that was the main factor that deterred him from imposing a suspension that was even longer.
Gary Bettman’s reign as NHL commissioner appears as though it will continue on into the next decade.
According to a report from Hall of Fame scribe Michael Farber, Bettman has signed a contract extension that will keep him in his current post through 2022.
Bettman has been commissioner of the NHL since Feb. 1, 1993 when he was hired from the National Basketball Association. Bettman was the NBA’s senior vice-president and general counsel before moving over to the NHL. He became the league’s first commissioner after replacing Gil Stein, who was its last president.
Should Bettman fulfill the terms of his extension, he would rank as one of the longest-serving first-in-commands in professional sports history.
His new deal takes him months shy of his 30th anniversary as commissioner. Sportsnet’s John Shannon notes that NHL president Clarence Campbell worked one year longer. Bettman’s former NBA boss David Stern was commissioner for exactly 30 years when he stepped down in February 2014.
Under Bettman’s watch, the NHL has expanded to 30 teams from 24 and more could be on the way. The league is reviewing applications for new franchises in Las Vegas and Quebec City, although he noted repeatedly Saturday there is no timeline on a decision. NHL players have also participated in the Olympics since 1998 and outdoor games went from a trial event to becoming commonplace.
However, he has governed during three lockouts, including the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. The NHL and NHLPA both have the option of opting out of the current collective bargaining agreement before the start of the 2019-20 season.
NHLers spend most of their youth climbing the ranks, making sacrifices and pushing themselves to the limit just for a shot at the big time. When they finally get there, the reward is the opportunity to play in the best league on the planet – and to get paid handsomely for it. But holding onto that money isn’t always easy, which is where professionals such as Roman Fradkin come in.
A wealth advisor with RBC Dominion Securities in Winnipeg, Fradkin works with around 20 NHLers, including Jonathan Bernier, Dale Weise and Alexander Burmistrov. His mission is to make players see the light when it comes to saving and investing the right way, because a pro athletes’ earning window may be lucrative, but it’s also small. “You’ve got six or seven years to make 50 years worth of money,” Fradkin said.