Parity in the modern-day NHL creates such a delicate balance between teams that one year’s powerhouse is the next year’s dud, and vice versa. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche, who went from Central Division champs to out of the playoffs, or the Calgary Flames, who went from rebuilding team to round 2 of the post-season.
In all, 2014-15 swapped Calgary, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Washington, the New York Islanders and Ottawa into the playoffs, with Colorado, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose, Boston, Columbus, and Philadelphia falling out. That’s seven new teams out of 16, or 43.75 percent.
With that crazy stat in mind, which 2014-15 post-season qualifiers might slide out in 2015-16? And which teams might take their places? I’ve chosen three candidates in each category.
Anze Kopitar could be one of the biggest free agents next season, but there’s just about zero chance the Los Angeles Kings let their star center get that far.
Jon Rosen of Los Angeles Kings Insider reported this past week that talks between Kopitar and the Kings are, “expected to pick up steam,” throughout July and a deal between the two sides could be in place before the 2015-16 season starts.
But what, exactly, would a new deal for Kopitar look like? For the past few months, one of the main concerns for the Kings has been finding the cap space to avoid a situation like that which the Chicago Blackhawks have gone through this past summer – having to ship out talented players from a winning team due to cap restrictions that make it impossible to retain everyone.
This upcoming season, the Kings have roughly $6 million in free space under the $71.4 million salary cap. Next season, when Kopitar’s new deal would kick in, the club has $50 million committed to the cap with Kopitar, Milan Lucic, Jamie McBain and goaltender Jhonas Enroth as current players who would be unrestricted free agents next off-season. Paired along with the contract termination of Mike Richards, that likely gives the Kings the ability to have enough space to sign Kopitar, 28, long term at a significant raise. What that raise will be, though, is the question. Read more
Status: NHL left winger from 1985-1999 for Boston, Buffalo, Washington, Los Angeles.
HT: 5-9 WT: 185 pounds
DOB: Jan. 7, 1966 In: Fort Erie, Ontario Read more
The Los Angeles Kings officially unveiled the eight teams that will take part in the inaugural season of the L.A. Kings High School Hockey League. And, as always, with new clubs comes new threads.
While all the jerseys follow a similar style, which closely reflects that of the Kings’ jerseys, the color schemes and logos make all the difference in separating the threads that shine and those that could use some improvement. But for a first pass and for an inaugural season, none of the jerseys stick out as an altogether eyesore, which is already a victory for the LAKHSHL. (That initialism needs some work.)
Here are the jerseys, and their rankings, for the 2015-16 season: Read more
Status: NHL defenseman from 1982-1993 for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Chicago.
HT: 6-1 WT: 206 pounds
DOB: Jan 7, 1961 In: Wetaskiwin, Alberta Read more
The Washington Capitals have signed right winger Justin Williams to a two-year contract worth $6.5 million and for a team that has seen its offense evaporate in the most crucial games of the year lately, the guy they call ‘Mr. Game 7,’ seems to be in the perfect spot.
According to a report, an alleged incident at the Canada-U.S. border has Mike Richards under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
TMZ Sports reported late Tuesday evening that now-former Los Angeles Kings center Richards, whose contract was terminated by the Kings for a “material breach” on Monday, was allegedly held up when crossing the border from the United States into Canada on June 17.
Following the TMZ report, the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen cited a source that told him the RCMP are investigating, “after a man was held in custody at the Emerson, Man., border crossing for at least four hours after allegedly trying to import OxyContin pills on June 17.”
It’s important to note, however, that no charges have been laid against Richards. Read more
The CHL’s Import Draft was held today, giving every major junior team on the continent a chance to pick up some prime European talent. Franchises are allowed to play two Euros on their roster, but no goaltenders. Teams that have a European player taken in the first round of the NHL can select a third player’s rights as well, in case the first-rounder ends up leaving.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how things went down. Consider this a non-comprehensive list, as I am cobbling together commitments or denials as I receive them from various sources in the industry.