Coyotes flex cap space again, take on Bolland to land Crouse from Panthers

Jared Clinton
Lawson Crouse (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Life as a budget team hasn’t been bad for the Arizona Coyotes this summer.

At the draft in June, the Coyotes swung a deal to land a prospect they were targeting — defenseman Jakob Chychrun — and all that was required of Arizona GM John Chayka was ensuring he had room to store Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary for the coming campaign. That was no problem for the Coyotes, who had a mountain of cap space, and Chayka was at it again Thursday, utilizing his club’s cap space to further bolster his prospect stock.

The Coyotes used the team’s nearly $8 million of wiggle room under the cap to take on Dave Bolland’s awful five-year, $27.5-million contract from the Panthers, but Chayka wasn’t doing Florida any favors. In exchange for taking on the Bolland deal, Arizona also landed the Panthers’ top prospect, Lawson Crouse. And outside of taking on the salary, all it took for Chayka to land one of the 20-best prospects in the league was one second-round and one third-round pick. Read more

Rapid Fire: with Panthers center Nick Bjugstad

The Hockey News
Nick Bjugstad. (Getty Images)

With Emma Mason

Who did you model your game after?

I was always tall and always skinny, so I liked watching players like Ryan Getzlaf and other bigger guys. Blake Wheeler is a Minnesota kid like me, so I watched him when I was younger. There are a lot of guys that I’ve watched in the league that I take little things from, and I definitely keep learning stuff, especially being able to have 1-on-1 time with Jaromir Jagr. That’s probably the best teaching I can get.

What’s your favorite part about being an NHLer? Read more

Five notable players who could opt for retirement following the upcoming season

Jarome Iginla (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The rough and tumble ways of the NHL are starting to go by the wayside, but veteran winger Shawn Thornton is sticking around for one more season with the Florida Panthers. But Thornton, 39, admitted that before he signed a one-year contract extension in February, he was considering hanging up his skates for good.

Speaking with CBS Boston’s Matt Kalman, Thornton said that while the 2015-16 campaign wore on, he began to think about retirement. As he planned to retire from the game, though, along came a contract offer from the Panthers to come back on a one-year, $750,000 deal. The idea was to keep Thornton around as a locker room leader and a guide for the young players looking to get a foothold in the league.

However, once this season is done, that’s likely it for Thornton. And once his playing days are done, the one-time tough guy could be finding his way to the Panthers’ front office, working on the “business side of things” for the team he has spent the past two years of his career with.

“Things change year to year. This would’ve been a different conversation last year,” Thornton told Kalman. “But as of right now probably leaning more toward the business side of hockey. Once the season’s over I’ll probably move into that role in Florida.”

That this is likely Thornton’s final season in the league isn’t altogether surprising as his career has been winding down since he arrived in Florida. But he’s not the only player who could be riding off into the sunset following the upcoming campaign. Here are five other players potentially headed for retirement after 2016-17: Read more

Boston Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy levels Florida Panthers pick Lawson Crouse in summer Canada-US game

Wilmington, MA - 7/12/2016  -  during Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, MA, July 12, 2016. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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When Canada and the United States face off it’s for keeps. That evidently goes for games in August, too.

Exhibit A: the hit American defenseman Charlie McAvoy levied on Canadian left winger Lawson Crouse during Saturday’s 5-1 U.S. win in the finale of the World Junior summer showcase tournament in Plymouth, Mich.

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World junior camp: Canada must rely on stars

Mitch Marner (photo courtesy Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

PLYMOUTH, MICH. – It was a desultory loss for Canada, dropping their second-last contest of the summer world junior camp tournament 5-1 to Sweden. And to be fair, only some of Canada’s best players were in the game. Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Tyson Jost made up the marquee top line, but big performers such as Lawson Crouse, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Travis Konecny sat out.

But if Canada is going to win the real thing this winter, it’s players such as Strome and Marner who must lead the way.

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Ekblad doesn’t believe front office shake-up will change Panthers’ game

Dhiren Mahiban
Aaron Ekblad. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers have made several offseason moves in the name of analytics this summer, including the naming of Tom Rowe as the club’s general manager replacing Dale Tallon who was named president of hockey operations.

The Panthers are coming off a season in which they finished with a franchise-best for wins (47) and points (103) while winning the club’s second division title. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad acknowledged he’s noticed a shift in focus within the team’s front office.

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Panthers coach Gallant ‘a little bit surprised’ by number of moves team made

Jared Clinton
Gerard Gallant (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The past campaign was the most successful regular season the Florida Panthers have ever put together, so you’ll forgive coach Gerrard Gallant if he didn’t expect to see his club shaken up this summer.

After coaching Florida to an Atlantic Division title and 103-point season, Gallant’s Panthers underwent somewhat of an overhaul in the front office, and that has in part led to a number of on-ice changes for the organization, as well. Dale Tallon was moved from his post as GM and Tom Rowe took over, the deck has been shuffled in the front office and Gallant has seen a few major pieces of the 2015-16 team head elsewhere this off-season.

“You’d like to have your team back as a coach but at the same time there’s salary-cap issues that come into play,’’ Gallant told the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov. “It’s different than it used to be before. I definitely was a little bit surprised, but overall we got a pretty good club. You put it on the board and you’re pretty excited.’’ Read more

Report: Panthers kicking tires on free agent defenseman Kris Russell

Jared Clinton
Kris Russell (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Free agency opened 11 days ago, but defenseman Kris Russell, who was a hot commodity at the trade deadline, has yet to find himself a place to play in the upcoming campaign. However, there may be a new suitor throwing their hat in the ring for the free agent blueliner.

The Florida Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov reported Sunday that the Florida Panthers are “showing interest” in Russell, 29, who spent the past season with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars.

As one of the top free agent defensemen remaining, Russell has likely positioned himself to land a deal with what could be a significant raise on the $2.6 million he earned during the 2015-16 campaign. That could make the chance Russell lands in Florida slim, though, even if the Cats are at the very least testing the waters on signing the rearguard. Read more