Which franchise will be the next to win its first-ever Stanley Cup?

Wild-Blues

We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:

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Nashville signs Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy, but were they the right moves?

Ryan Kennedy
Mike-Ribeiro

The Nashville Predators have made a late splash in free agency, inking veteran centers Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy to one-year contracts. And while the Preds were desperate for pivots after learning of Mike Fisher’s ruptured Achilles tendon, I’m not sure this was the right path.

Sure, Nashville has long struggled with offense and GM David Poile has now made several moves to address the problem: Along with the new pair of signings, he also brought in Olli Jokinen, James Neal and offense-minded coach Peter Laviolette recently. But with the exception of Laviolette, none of these guys are winners.

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Rumor Roundup: Could Patrick Sharp end up with Canadiens or Panthers?

sharpdressedman

With the Chicago Blackhawks needing to shed salary before the regular season begins, NBC Sports’ Mike Halford wonders if they could turn to their pipeline with the Florida Panthers.

The Blackhawks currently sit $2.2 million over the $69-million cap for 2014-15. With their recent re-signings of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, they have more than $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16. Assuming the salary cap for that season jumps to $75 million, the ‘Hawks will have less than $10 million to re-sign or replace potential free agents Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Marcus Kruger.

Halford notes the Blackhawks in recent years dealt Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen to Florida. That’s largely because Panthers GM Dale Tallon is also the former GM of the Blackhawks and had a hand in bringing most of the aforementioned to Chicago before he moved on to the Panthers.

In the short term, the Blackhawks could peddle Oduya ($3.38 million) or Leddy ($2.7 million) to become cap compliant for 2014-15. TSN radio host Jason Gregor reports of speculation Oduya could be the likely trade candidate. To free up more cap space for 2015-16, however, they’ll have to ship out a player on a longer-term contract.

Halford noted the recent trade rumors swirling around winger Patrick Sharp, who’s signed through 2017 at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. While Sharp’s agent vehemently denied the speculation, Halford suggests the 32-year-old winger could interest Tallon, who’s seeking an experienced sniper. Tallon brought Sharp to Chicago in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06. Read more

Three playoff teams who could miss in 2014-15, and three non-playoff teams who could get in

Datsyuk nailed

If only the puck bounced this way or that way. If only Wade Dubielewicz hadn’t stood on his head in a random shootout performance on the last day of the season. Making or missing the playoffs often comes down to a few chance occurrences. It’s thus reasonable to forecast a few teams falling on the reverse side of the coin a year later. Toronto, Ottawa, Washington, Vancouver and the Islanders swapped spots with Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Colorado this past season.

Here are three 2014-15 candidates to slide from in the big dance to out – and three to slide from out to in.

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Mike Fisher out four-to-six months with ruptured Achilles tendon – who are Nashville’s top centers now?

Rory Boylen
Montreal Canadiens v Nashville Predators

If Nashville GM David Poile had his way this summer, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher would be his top two centers on opening night. Now, he’ll have neither.

Spezza, of course, refused to waive his no-trade clause to come to Nashville, which left Poile perplexed why an NHLer (especially one who wasn’t crazy about the spotlight) wouldn’t want to live in a wonderful city like Nashville. Fisher was already a big part of the team and the city. But Monday, the hockey team lost his services for at least the beginning of the season when it was announced he injured himself during a training session. Read more

These 23 players can go to arbitration, if they’re not signed to extensions first

reimer

The NHL’s arbitration process is scheduled to begin later this month. Twenty NHL players have filed for arbitration, while three players were taken to arbitration by their teams. Usually, these contracts are settled before the team and player have to face off in front of an arbiter, so expect most, or all, of these to be settled before the process begins.

Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20 and August 5. Here are the eligible players:

Arizona Coyotes
Brandon McMillan - A third round pick by Anaheim in 2008, McMillan played 22 games with the Coyotes in 2013-14, scoring two goals and six points. He also played 46 games with the american League’s Portland Pirates, scoring 11 goals and 26 points. The 5-foot-11 winger was acquired by the Coyotes last year in a trade that sent Matt Lombardi to the Ducks.

Boston Bruins
Matt Bartkowski - A seventh round pick by Florida in 2008, Bartkowski averaged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen in 2013-14 and scored 18 assists. He was acquired by Boston in what turned out to be an awful trade for Florida, which sent Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins for not much at all. Bartkowski has emerged as a physical defensive blueliner who fits in nicely with Boston’s brawny way. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Better fit for Red Wings – Green, Myers or Petry?

myers-184771805

Having been thwarted in his efforts to land a top-four, right-handed defenseman via free agency, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland will, according to Ansar Khan of mlive.com, continue to explore trade options.

Khan considers Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green a viable candidate following their recent blueline additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley speculates the Capitals could draw upon their blueline depth as trade bait for depth at center, with Green topping his list of possible trade candidate. The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt believes Green (who will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer) might make a good trade-deadline chip, but Capitals management intends to keep him for the upcoming season. Read more