Rumor Roundup: All quiet on the Rangers trade, and signings front

Chris Kreider (Getty Images)

Heading into mid-July, the New York Rangers have yet to make a significant move to shed cap space or shake up their roster. Signing veteran left winger Michael Grabner to a two-year deal ($1.65 million annually) and acquiring defenseman Nick Holden from the Colorado Avalanche were their biggest deals thus far.

The Rangers carry $12.4 million in salary-cap room. With restricted free agents Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath to re-sign, there’s not enough space to retain those players and bolster the lineup via trades or free agency.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports Blueshirts GM Jeff Gorton hasn’t been idle in the trade market, but he’s been unable to find suitable deals. Brooks claims Gorton is reluctant to move center Derek Stepan, won’t trade defenseman Ryan McDonagh, can’t find equal value for left winger Rick Nash and isn’t shopping Kreider.

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Rapid Fire: with Blue Jackets left winger Nick Foligno

Nick Foligno and Sergei Bobrovsky. (Getty Images)

With Matt Larkin

Why do you wear No. 71?

It was given to me when I first got to camp in Ottawa (as a Senator). The trainers thought it would be funny, because that’s what number my dad (Mike Foligno) wore. I don’t think they realized I was just was just happy to be there, so I didn’t care what number I was going to wear (laughs).

Whom do you model your game after?

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to model my game after him, but Peter Forsberg, besides my dad, was my idol growing up. He was a guy I was lucky enough to get to know a little bit when my dad was coaching in Colorado, too. He was an outstanding player in terms of how physically he played the game and how good he was, too. He was someone I looked up to big-time.

What was your favorite team growing up?

Usually it was whatever team my dad was playing for or coaching, and it was always the Avalanche after that, because of Peter Forsberg.

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Buyout roundup: Lightning’s Carle, Bruins’ Seidenberg and more

Matt Carle  (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 24 hours before the free agency period begins, several NHL teams got to work on some housekeeping Thursday. Six teams placed players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. The NHL’s buyout window closes at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

There had already been some notable buyouts, including the Canucks’ Chris Higgins, the Wild’s Thomas Vanek, and the Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.

The Blue Jackets got back to work on Thursday, buying out the final year of right winger Jared Boll’s contract. Boll, 30, scored one goal in 30 games in 2015-16.

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Seth Jones’ six-year, $32.4-million deal creates pickle for Blue Jackets – and Jets

Matt Larkin
Seth Jones. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

A clear sign we’re scaling the peak of NHL off-season activity? A star player signs a contract, and all we want to talk about is the context, the ripple effect, how it plays into other transactions.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Wednesday they’d locked up their franchise defenseman, Seth Jones, on a six-year, $32.4-million contract. It carries a $5.4-million cap hit. Jones was a restricted free agent and hasn’t yet maxed out the mammoth upside that made the Nashville Predators choose him fourth overall in 2013, but it was no surprise to see him bypass a short-term bridge contract. Columbus dealt its top-line center, Ryan Johansen, for Jones in January. Jones is clearly part of the Jackets’ long-term plans. He has tremendous size at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds. He’s a graceful skater and puck mover. He uses his big reach impeccably on defense, and he can wire a mean slapshot, too. There’s an excellent chance his $5.4-million cap hit looks like a bargain within a season or two. He and Zach Werenski forge a formidable blueline tandem to build around for years to come.

“He’s a guy who’s come in and solidified what our team is going to be about going forward,” said Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno Friday on a phone call with THN. “He’s a great skater, he moves the puck extremely well, and that’s what we want to see out of our back end.

“For how young he is, it’s pretty incredible the way he can command on the ice. That’s the first thing I noticed, his demeanor. His presence on the ice when he’s playing his game is felt. When he brings it, we’re a way better team. It’s exciting to know he’s going to be here for a while, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do now as he grows and becomes more mature and takes on bigger responsibilities. It’s been nothing but plusses having Seth on our team.”

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Three storylines left unresolved after Night 1 of the 2016 draft

Ben Bishop (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

BUFFALO – Night 1 of the 2016 NHL draft gave us a bit of everything, a blend of expectant nods and wide-eyed gasps.

We saw the predictable occur. Auston Matthews went first overall, Patrik Laine second. The Calgary Flames acquired a goaltender in Brian Elliott. The Chicago Blackhawks squeezed another forward out because of their salary-cap crunch in Andrew Shaw, dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings shipped Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit to the one team we knew would take it: the Arizona Coyotes, striving for the salary floor.

We saw plenty of shocking moments, too. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the draft’s swing pick, usurped Jesse Puljujarvi, seemingly the consensus No. 3 overall selection. The Wings went off the board on Dennis Cholowski at No. 20 overall. We had him 37th in our 2016 Draft Preview, for what it’s worth.

But plenty of hyped storylines remain unresolved entering Day 2 of the draft. Let’s review a few.

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Blue Jackets lock up center Karlsson to two-year, $2 million deal

Jared Clinton
William Karlsson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have much cap space, but that won’t matter if they lock up their restricted free agents to sweetheart deals like the one William Karlsson has inked with the club.

It was announced Thursday evening that Karlsson, 23, has signed a two-year contract to remain with the Blue Jackets, and that’s a great contract for Columbus. CapFriendly reported the contract is worth $1 million annually.

Though Karlsson didn’t exactly have the type of season that would lead any to believe he’s an offensive dynamo, he excelled as a depth center. In his first full campaign, he knocked home nine goals, tied for 15th in rookie goal scoring, and 20 points, which tied him for 20th in points for rookies.

“William Karlsson made great strides in his first NHL season and we believe that he is just beginning to come into his own as a player,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. “He is an important part of our young, core group of players and we are pleased that he will continue to grow, develop and contribute to our team as we move forward.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blue Jackets’ Foligno could be dealt to open cap space in Columbus

Nick Foligno (via Columbus Blue Jackets/YouTube)

The Chicago Blackhawks wasted little time shedding salary following the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last Thursday, they shipped forwards Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes for two draft picks.

They won’t be the only cap-strapped team trying to free up salary-cap space over the next couple of weeks. With over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2016-17, the Columbus Blue Jackets must create room to re-sign restricted free agents Seth Jones and William Karlsson.

The Jackets attempted to trade left wing Scott Hartnell and defenseman Fedor Tyutin before this season’s trade deadline. It’s expected they’ll peddle both players again.

Hartnell has reportedly agreed to waive his no-movement clause and provided the Jackets with a list of several preferred destinations. If the Jackets fail to find any takers for Tyutin, he could be bought out by month’s end. Read more

European teams form alliance to get a seat at the table with the big boys

Sebastian Aho (left), Jesse Puljujariv (middle) and Patrik Laine (MARKKU ULANDER/AFP/Getty Images)

When Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi are drafted into the NHL a week from now, their teams in the Finnish Elite League will receive a one-time payment of about $240,000. Assuming each player earns $50 million over the course of his NHL career – which is probably being conservative – the amount their teams receive represents about one-half of one percent of their career earnings.

The teams that choose Laine and Puljujarvi – almost certainly the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets – stand to make millions in merchandising and ticket sales, particularly if each of them is a central figure in some long playoff runs. Meanwhile, the organizations that have basically developed these players from the time they were children, Tappara and Karpat, are receiving a pittance. That $240,000 is what Karpat will receive for losing Laine’s and Puljujarvi’s World Junior linemate Sebastian Aho to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week.

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