Bruins beat Flyers in second round – does EA stand for ‘Errors Abound’?

(Image courtesy EA Sports.)

No need to play the 2014-15 season, National Hockey League. Yes, that may cut into the $4 billion in revenues you’re expected to generate, but think of the cost savings for teams that lose money.

Really, why actually play a season when a simulated NHL season has already been played, the Stanley Cup has been awarded and all the awards winners have already been determined? That’s what EA Sports, creators of the NHL 15 video game, have done. And they’ve determined that the Los Angeles Kings will become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. Read more

Ryan Johansen vs. Torey Krug – a study in contract leverage

Ken Campbell
Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The next time you’re inclined to think about NHL players as pampered and overpaid millionaires with no sense of gratitude, shift your thoughts to Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. The only box he checks off in that description is millionaire.

Krug led all rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points last season. No first-year player, forward or defenseman, had more points on the power play than Krug’s 19. He was named to the NHL’s all-rookie team and became just the fifth defenseman in Bruins history to record double digits in goals in his first NHL season. His 14 goals were one more than Bobby Orr had in his rookie season.

For all that, Krug was rewarded with an almost $400,000 pay cut. And in doing so, he provided a fascinating study of leverage when it comes to negotiating contracts. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Steven Stamkos stay put in Tampa Bay?

Steven Stamkos

NBA superstar LeBron James returning home to Cleveland sparked speculation this summer in the Toronto media suggesting Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos could do the same and sign with the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2016.

The Leafs lack a homegrown star, and Stamkos would be a natural fit. Responding to questions about the possibility, the 24-year-old sniper inadvertently added fuel to the fire by replying, “We’ll see what happens.” However, Stamkos recently clarified his comments, saying he definitely wants to win with the Lightning. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Should the Islanders trade for Johnny Boychuk?

Johnny Boychuk (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

With the start of the upcoming NHL season less than two weeks away, interest is growing over the potential moves by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to free up cap space. It’s been speculated for weeks Chiarelli could move one of his nine NHL-ready defensemen, creating additional room to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

Trading Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million cap hit), who’s an unrestricted free agent in July, would easily remedy the situation, but Chiarelli seems reluctant to move him. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports of speculation the Bruins could re-sign Boychuk, but an extension hasn’t been discussed.

During a recent live chat, ESPN’s Katie Strang stated her belief the New York Islanders could be a logical trade partner for the Bruins, claiming the Isles would like to upgrade their defense via trade. Her colleague Craig Custance, however, suggests it might make more sense for the Isles to evaluate their young blueline core and compliment it closer to the trade deadline with an experienced defenseman.

Sports Illustrated Allan Muir feels Adam McQuaid could be a trade option. Muir suggests a swap with the Detroit Red Wings, who need a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. He also believes McQuaid’s reasonable cap hit ($1.57 million), size (6-foot-5, 209 pounds) and physical presence would be attractive to the Wings. While Chiarelli might prefer shipping McQuaid to a different division, the Wings could tempt him with their prospect depth.

McQuaid could also be of interest to the Islanders, but the Bruins aren’t the only team that could move a defenseman for cap reasons. The Chicago Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant. Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) and Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) are often mentioned as trade candidates. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

The Hockey News
Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jamie Sabau/National Hockey League)

2013-14 record: 43-32-7

Acquisitions: Brian Gibbons, Jarry D’Amigo, Scott Hartnell

Departures: Nick Schultz, Jack Skille, Blake Comeau, Matt Frattin, Derek MacKenzie, Nikita Nikitin, R.J. Umberger

Top five fantasy players: Ryan Johansen, Scott Hartnell, James Wisniewski, Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: The Blue Jackets come into the season riding high after getting the franchise’s first playoff wins. Sure, they eventually fell to the Penguins in their first-round clash, but there was a real sense the series could have gone either way. That’s a confidence booster. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kane, Byfuglien trade speculation will heat up if Jets start slowly

evander kane

The Winnipeg Jets enter their most critical season since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Counting their final seasons as the Thrashers, the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The honeymoon period is over in Winnipeg, as fans and media grow impatient waiting for the Jets to become contenders.

Apart from a coaching change midway through last season and signing third-line center Mathieu Perreault, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff responded to off-season calls for change by standing pat and preaching patience.

Left winger Evander Kane and defenseman/winger Dustin Byfuglien were frequently subject to trade speculation this summer. THN.com’s Rory Boylen recently listed Kane among his top 10 trade candidates for the upcoming season, while Byfuglien made SI.com’s Allan Muir’s list.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Ryan Johansen to KHL & other RFA buzz

Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While Ryan Johansen’s contentious contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets dominate NHL headlines, several other notable young players around the league also remain unsigned.

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and right winger Reilly Smith still await new deals. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reports it’s believed Krug and the Bruins have agreed to a one-year bridge term for this season but remain around $750,000 apart. Haggerty speculates Smith also received a one-year offer.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli undoubtedly would’ve preferred re-signing the duo before training camp opened last week, but, as has been well documented, the Bruins lack sufficient cap space to comfortably re-sign the duo.

It’s anticipated Chiarelli will make a trade before the start of the season to free up the necessary space. Until then, Krug and Smith remain in contractual limbo, unable to participate in training camp. Read more

Agents scratching their heads over Ryan Johansen’s contract demands

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operation, John Davidson, sounded off last week over the Ryan Johansen imbroglio, he backed up his stance by saying, “There are agents that can’t understand it.”

We at thn.com thought we would put that theory to the test. And if our sampling of conversations with 10 prominent agents is any indication, unfortunately for Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt, Davidson is right. There are a good number of player agents out there who can’t understand the stance Johansen and Overhardt have taken. (Last week, we spoke to 10 GMs for their views on the stance the Blue Jackets have taken.) Read more