With the start of NHL training camps a little more than two weeks away, the Blackhawks have yet to reach a decision on how to address their salary-cap issues. Chicago remains above the $69 million cap by more than $2.2 million and must shed salary before the season opens in October.
The situation provided fodder for the rumor mill this summer. It’s assumed GM Stan Bowman would move a defenseman, with Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) as potential trade candidates.
The Boston Bruins must also become cap compliant by the start of the season. They’re currently above the ceiling by more than $800,000. The Bruins will get cap relief by placing concussed center Marc Savard ($4.03 million) on long-term injured reserve, but it won’t leave much to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and leave room for possible moves later in the season.
It’s rumored the Bruins, like the Blackhawks, could trade a defenseman to open up more cap space. Trade options could include Johnny Boychuk ($3.3 million cap hit) or Adam McQuaid ($1.5 million).
As the beginning of NHL training camps draws closer, it’s natural for fans to debate and discuss which teams had the most productive off-season. And although the answer to that question won’t be confirmed for months, if not years, that won’t stop us from ranking the 10 best off-season unrestricted free agent signings:
10. Thomas Vanek, Wild (3 years, $19.5 million). Granted, Vanek didn’t help his contract negotiating stance with a poor playoff showing for the Canadiens, but his regular-season production has been dependably above-average – and given that Minnesota struggled to put pucks in nets last season (their 207 goals-for was third-worst in the Western Conference), he’ll help a great deal and isn’t locked up to a contract with an onerous term.
9. Ales Hemsky, Stars (3 years, $12 million). The 31-year-old Hemsky hasn’t reached the 20-goal mark since he had 23 for Edmonton in 2008-09, but he’ll play on Dallas’ second line – alongside former Senators teammate Jason Spezza, with whom he enjoyed some solid chemistry in his 20-game stint in Ottawa last year – and should perform well playing in a non-fishbowl market with increased minutes.
8. Radim Vrbata, Canucks (2 years, $10 million). Vrbata has been under most people’s radar playing in Phoenix, but the 33-year-old has proven himself to be a reliable 20-30-goal-scorer. On the rejigged Canucks, he’ll see time on the same line as the Sedin twins and will get first-unit power play minutes. The term of this deal also makes this a win for new Vancouver GM Jim Benning. Read more
Earlier this summer there was speculation the Philadelphia Flyers were shopping center Vincent Lecavalier. If Lecavalier is troubled by the trade rumors, Flyers coach Craig Berube told NJ.com’s Randy Miller the veteran center should get over it and focus on the upcoming season.
Lecavalier struggled last season, with only 37 points in 69 games. Miller notes Flyers management allowed the center’s agent to speak with other clubs hoping to drum up trade interest. Rumored deals to Nashville and Florida reportedly fell through. There was also talk Lecavalier’s no-movement clause made finding trade partners difficult.
Berube believes Lecavalier simply needs to change his game a little bit to become more effective. The coach is hoping Lecavalier becomes more defensively responsible. Berube claims the 34-year-old Lecavalier trained hard this summer and will be competitive when training camp opens in September. Read more
To say that Tyler Seguin’s first campaign in Dallas was a success would be an understatement. Despite being the centerpiece of a major trade with Boston, the young center broke the point-per-game mark for the first time in his NHL career, making magic with power forward Jamie Benn in ‘Big D.’
So a summer filled with fun would be understandable. And though Seguin was mixing business with pleasure at the annual BioSteel camp in Toronto, he has also been doing his homework again during his time off.
We’re almost at the home stretch of our NHL logo rankings and finish off this week at No. 6: The Dallas Stars.
Judging by comments on our previous articles, this will be a contentious one. The ninja star logo, introduced a year ago, was the first time the Dallas franchise moved away from a design that was used by the team from Minnesota – and the color was lightened again. You’re either going to love it or hate it. We loved it.
The THN staffers involved in the ranking process appreciated the new green (which is kind of a throwback to the North Star days) and how well it meshes with the silver star. The way the star (and the ‘D’) is sharply designed and colored kind of makes it look like a spur, which is a nice fit in Texas. We liked it enough to rank it No. 6 in the NHL – if you disagree, let us know why in the comments section below. We explain our reasoning for the ranking a little more later.
And, heck, you can even try and design our own logo for the Stars. Use your artistic skills and send your logo redesign to email@example.com. At the end of our logo rankings, we’ll publish our favorite reader redesigns.
(All logos below from Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE STARS LOGO
Originally, of course, the Stars came from the north. In 1967, when the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams, Minnesota was granted one of those franchises. As a result of a public contest, the team was named the North Stars, which gave a nod to the state’s motto L’Etoile du Nord, or The Star of the North.
The first logo had the full team name on it and a familiar looking ‘N’ pointing towards the northern star inside a green circle. The ‘N’ would be refined over the years, but this was the start of a green and yellow color combination I think most of us miss.
As we approach late summer, a handful of older NHL veterans remain unsigned. And that begs the question: are they not listening to Father Time telling them they’re due to retire, or are they right to hold out in the hope a job opens up for them? Let’s take a look at five such players and offer an opinion on whether they should hang in there or hang ‘em up:
Saku Koivu, C: At age 39, Koivu had 11 goals and 29 points for Anaheim last season. His Corsi-for number has fallen steadily since 2012 and his ice time has been reduced by an average of more than three minutes a game (to just 15:02 last year) since 2011-12, but remember, he’s been on a deep Ducks team that didn’t need to rely on him. In the right environment – in other words, on a playoff-bound franchise – he can provide help down the middle and on faceoffs. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there
Martin Brodeur, G: Nobody questions why Brodeur wants to continue playing. When you’ve accomplished as much as he has and is considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, it’s only natural you’d want to stick around for as long as possible. But anyone who’s seen the decline in his game in recent years wouldn’t hold it against him if he retired. The lack of interest in him as a starter is telling. If the 42-year-old is willing to play a backup role on a contender, he might have a little bit left in the tank. If not, the writing is on the wall. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there as a backup; hang ‘em up as a starter. Read more
For those NHL players who don’t step willingly into retirement, there eventually comes a day when UFA stands for unwanted free agent rather than unrestricted free agent.
As July ends and August begins, we’re now closer to the start of NHL training camps than we are the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. For unsigned UFAs, that’s an added layer of anxiety. What if nobody wants me and I’ve played my last NHL game?
Take a browse through capgeek.com and you’ll see half the NHL teams are already at the 23-man NHL roster limit. Another nine teams are at 22 players. And that doesn’t even include the several dozen or so non-roster rookie prospects who will surely make big-league rosters in October.
So not a lot of roster openings remain.
Brad Richards has had a very good, well-decorated career. He’s won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and been paid richly for his efforts.
He’s also been the subject of some criticism, particularly in New York the past few years, and was bought out following the Blueshirts’ playoff run.
During his latter days in Tampa Bay, Richards was part of a triumvirate of stars, along with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis, who were eating up a healthy helping of the Lightning’s cap space and there was strong speculation one would be moved. The needle landed on Richards.