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
Scott Hartnell has spent the past two seasons as a Columbus Blue Jacket, but there appears to be a chance he enters the 2016-17 campaign pulling on another team’s jersey.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Hartnell, 34, has agreed to waive his no-move clause for several teams. Friedman added that while Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Hartnell’s agent Matt Oates refused comment on whether Hartnell has waived the clause, it’s believed that Hartnell hasn’t limited the list and Friedman called it a ‘decent-sized list’ of potential trade destinations.
Hartnell moving on could have been foreseen given the rumblings about his availability during the past campaign, but his lack of ice time and reduced role made it abundantly clear that if the veteran winger wanted to remain a top-six player, he’d have to find a spot outside of Columbus. Hartnell averaged 15:35 of ice time this past season. That’s the lowest average ice time since his third NHL campaign. But he still produced in limited minutes, and that could make him an intriguing trade option. Read more
Cleveland, at last, can lay claim to a professional sports championship. And, no, it’s not the NBA’s Cavaliers – at least, not yet.
The Lake Erie Monsters won the AHL’s Calder Cup on Saturday night as they swept aside the Hershey Bears thanks to a 1-0 overtime victory. Right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand jammed a loose puck past Bears goaltender Justin Peters with 1.9 seconds left in the first extra period to secure the historic win.
Bjorkstrand’s championship-winning goal was scored in front of 19,665 fans at Quicken Loans Arena – home of the Cavaliers, who trail the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the NBA Finals. According to the AHL, it was the largest crowd to see a pro hockey game in Ohio and the second-largest post-season attendance total in AHL history.
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.
Here’s a name some will remember and one that some, namely Blue Jackets fans, will have tried to forget: Nikita Filatov.
Filatov, 26, last played in the NHL during the 2011-12 season as a member of the Ottawa Senators when he was a 21-year-old, but his time with the Senators, who acquired him for a third-round pick, was incredibly unsuccessful and largely forgettable.
Early in Filatov’s tenure with the Senators he was demoted to the AHL and spent the next two months of the campaign bouncing between the AHL and NHL before being granted a loan to the KHL’s CSKA Moscow by early December. After only nine games and less than half a season, the once highly touted prospect flamed out of Ottawa quickly.
Filatov hasn’t been back in the NHL or AHL since his time with the Senators, and in an interview with Sport-Express.ru’s Alexei Shevchenko, the former NHLer talked about his disappointing time in the NHL and said financial troubles played a part in him leaving North America. Though Filatov didn’t offer up numbers, he said he couldn’t repay his debts by playing in the AHL. Read more
BUFFALO – The main attraction at today’s draft combine access was top-rated Auston Matthews, as it probably should be. But for the few reporters who went to Jesse Puljujarvi first, a new personality could be seen. Puljujarvi, it seems, won’t be taking a back seat to anyone for much longer.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome last suited up on Jan. 3, 2015, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Little did he know it would be the last time ever that he would do so.
Following that contest, a 5-1 Jets victory in which Clitsome would skate 20-plus minutes, he would be forced to go under the knife for back surgery. He missed the final 43 regular season contests, all four playoff games and then was placed on the injured reserve before the 2015-16 season began. Clitsome didn’t play a single game this past season, and Tuesday, the 31-year-old rearguard officially announced his retirement.
“It is with great regret, that today I announce my retirement from hockey due to a back injury,” said Clitsome in a release. “It’s tough when something unexpected, and out of your control, suddenly ends your career. Despite the circumstances, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream and play in the NHL. I am also very grateful for all the great people that I have met, and all the friendships that I have made playing hockey.” Read more
The first time AHL teams from Cleveland and Hershey played in a Calder Cup final was 75 years ago, when the Barons beat the Bears in five games. Now, during the league’s 80th anniversary celebrations, the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters will try to take the glory over Hershey again – but it won’t be easy.