10 players who could be buyout candidates this off-season

Bryan Bickell (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.

For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.

With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more

Can Penguins close out series on the road?

Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have another chance to win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and first since 2009, when they face the San Jose Sharks on the road in Game 6.

Trying to win a championship on the road late in a series doesn’t sound like the easiest of feats, but recent history may suggest otherwise.

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Rumor Roundup: Salary cap decrease could spell trouble for Penguins, Kings, and Blackhawks

Milan Lucic. (Getty Images)

Entering the NHL off-season, it appears the league’s projected increase in the salary cap to $74 million could fall short.

Each year, the NHLPA votes on approving a five-percent escalator clause. If the players vote against it this year, the cap ceiling could drop. Last Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the cap could fall to under $70 million.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cites a source with ties to the PA claiming the cap would drop to $69.3 million if the players reject the escalator. If they approve it, the ceiling rises to $72.8 million.

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More Patrik Laine! Finland gives us what we want with World Cup roster

Patrik Laine (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

Given how important the youth have been to Finland this year, it’s probably not a shocker that the final seven roster spots for the nation’s World Cup of Hockey team skew young. But it is nice to see the kids rewarded.

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Ken Hitchcock is right – playoffs are for guys who wear big-boy pants

Vladimir Tarasenko.

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been around the game for a long time. He’s smart and experienced and there is almost nothing he hasn’t seen at the NHL level. That’s why when he spoke about the Blues’ struggles to score in the Western Conference final, it was, as usual, worth taking note.

After the Blues’ 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks that stretched their goalless streak in this series to 130 minutes and 45 seconds, Hitchcock was asked by reporters specifically about Vladimir Tarasenko, which is fair. He’s the centerpiece of the Blues offense and the player most likely to open the offensive floodgates.

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Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby are your Hart Trophy finalists

Sidney Crosby will be hoping to take home his third Hart Trophy, Patrick Kane his first (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn have a chance to double up on major trophies at the NHL Awards in June, but Sidney Crosby will be standing in the way of either becoming first-time Hart Trophy winners as the league’s most valuable player.

It was announced Saturday afternoon that Kane, Benn and Crosby have been selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as the finalists for the Hart Trophy. For both Kane and Benn, this is unfamiliar territory as neither has been named a finalist for the award before, but Crosby is a finalist for the fourth time and is looking to add a third Hart to his ever-growing trophy case.

Kane, 26, has the greatest offensive season of the three players. He led the league in scoring with 106 points, finished second in goals with 46, third in assists with 60 and led the NHL in power play points. It was the best offensive season of Kane’s career, too, surpassing his previous career-high of 88 points. His fantastic scoring season was bolstered by a 26-game point streak that began on Oct. 17 and continued through until Dec. 16 when Kane and the Blackhawks were shutout by the Colorado Avalanche. Read more

NHLPA selects Kane, Benn and Holtby as finalists for Ted Lindsay Award

Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby have been selected by their peers as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, which recognizes the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA, the players.

The three finalists make it a certainty that this season will see a first-time winner, though there’s no clearcut favorite for the award. For both Kane and Holtby, this is their first nomination for the award, while Benn receives his second nod as a finalist. Benn was a finalist in 2014-15 for leading the league in scoring, but he was one of the runners up to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

None of the finalists are necessarily surprising, but Kane’s nod as one of the top-three vote-getters was almost a given. Kane, 27, led the NHL in scoring by 17 points, finished second in goal scoring behind Alex Ovechkin with 46 markers and Kane’s 60 assists put him in third place behind Erik Karlsson and Joe Thornton. In many ways, his season was a continuation of the previous campaign, where he was at or near the top of the league’s scoring leaders before he fell injured in late February. Read more

Blackhawks’ Artem Anisimov out 6-8 weeks following wrist surgery

Jared Clinton
Artem Anisimov (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t used to early off-seasons, but it might be what’s best for center Artem Anisimov and his chance to help the club get back into Stanley Cup contention in 2016-17.

The Blackhawks announced that Anisimov, 27, has undergone surgery to repair a right wrist injury, and the Russian pivot won’t be able to return to action for at least six weeks, but could miss up to two months. The off-season will provide him the time to recover and rehab the injury, but it’s cost Anisimov his chance to suit up for Russia at the World Championship, which opens May 6. Read more