Defenseman Michael Del Zotto has a new two-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers that will pay him an average of $3.8 million per campaign. It’s a nice raise for a player the Flyers took a chance on this season and a bit of security for a still-young D-man who believes he found himself in the City of Brotherly Love.
We’ve seen plenty of turnover on NHL rosters so far this summer, setting up what appears to be even crazier parity than normal in each division. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks made major moves in the Pacific. The Washington Capitals jazzed up their top two lines in the Metropolitan. The Chicago Blackhawks did anything but sit on their championship team, making over a quarter of their roster.
A bushel of franchises, however, have been oddly quiet so far. Some are justified in their thought process. Others have their angry fans yelling “DO something!”
Why do some of these teams appear to be deer in the headlights right now? There’s a plausible explanation for each, though some are more maddening than others.
In recent weeks, there’s been little word regarding the status of Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward. Both have a year remaining on their respective contracts and are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.
Of the pair, Staal is the most important and expensive. The 30-year-old center is still considered their franchise player and earns an average cap hit of $8.25-million, though in real salary he’ll be drawing $9.5 million for 2015-16. ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside wonders what dollar figures will work best for both sides. If unable to reach an agreement, Burnside suggests GM Ron Francis could be forced to part with Staal.
Appearing on TSN’s That’s Hockey, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press said he believes Staal has been in a funk for several years, largely because of the Hurricanes’ lack of talent. Lawless feels he needs to move on, believing the Hurricanes could get a top-line player, top prospect and a high pick in return. Read more
Derek Stepan is eying up a long-term deal, but it appears the New York Rangers aren’t quite ready to dish out the big money their 25-year-old center could be after.
According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the Rangers have yet to begin negotiating on a long-term deal with restricted free agent Stepan with only two remaining until his arbitration hearing. The July 27 hearing could see Stepan awarded a short-term deal that brings him closer to unrestricted free agency, at which point the Rangers could risk losing the three-time 50-point scorer who has stepped up as the Blueshirts’ top-line pivot.
The believed ask from Stepan is a long-term deal – think six-plus years – that will pay him in the neighborhood of $6.5 million per season. Considering the long-term deal that Ryan O’Reilly recently landed with the Buffalo Sabres – a seven-year, $52.5 million deal with an annual cap hit of $7.5 million – Stepan is looking ripe to get paid some serious cash. And he’s earned that right, too. Read more
Kenny Reardon, the rambunctious Montreal Canadiens defenseman, had one thing in mind as he stickhandled across Madison Square Garden ice on the night of March 16, 1947 – freeze the puck. “Dick Irvin, our coach, had bawled me out for losing the puck and the game last time we were in New York,” Reardon said.
Montreal was leading the Rangers 4-3 with 32 seconds left. If the visitors could hold the lead they’d clinch first place and a new prize of $1,000 for each player the NHL was giving away that year. The downtrodden Rangers, on the other hand, needed the win to stave off elimination from a playoff berth.
As hockey games go, this one was ripe for mayhem. The teams had been nurturing individual and collective hatreds all season. Montreal’s Reardon and Maurice Richard squared off with Bill Juzda and Bryan Hextall of the Rangers in the second period. “They were out to get Richard and Reardon,” Irvin charged, “in order to ruin them for the playoffs.” Reardon, who in 1946 had declared war on Ranger fans by slugging a promenade customer, agreed with his coach. “But,” added Reardon, “I couldn’t afford a fight in that last minute. I wanted to stay out of trouble.” Read more
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan was among over 20 NHL players who filed for salary arbitration on Monday. That’s raising concerns in the New York media over whether the Blueshirts can afford to re-sign him.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ recent signing of center Ryan O’Reilly to a long-term contract worth $7.5-million per season ruined any hope the Rangers had of re-signing Stepan to a deal between $6.2 million to $6.5 million. Ryan Kennedy, however, points out O’Reilly’s contract has no bearing on Stepan, as in the eyes of arbitration, their status is different. Read more
The NHL arbitration process is really no fun for anyone involved, since it brings negotiation into a formal setting and forces teams and their players to square off. Teams have to pretend that their own players aren’t really that good and hurt feelings can have long-standing consequences.
Which is why most arbitration cases get settled before the actual hearing. In fact, the Washington Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby are already saying all the right things and trying to get something done beforehand. So there might not actually be much arbitration to hear about this summer, but there are some interesting scenarios nonetheless. Here’s a look at five high-profile cases:
Aside from being teammates in New York, Mats Zuccarello and Martin St-Louis had one thing in common: their stature. So, to say goodbye to his now-former teammate St-Louis, who retired Thursday, Zuccarello turned to Instagram and a fan-made picture of himself and St-Louis as hobbits from the film Lord of the Rings.
Zuccarello and St-Louis formed quite the diminutive duo on the Rangers over the past two seasons, what with Zuccarello standing 5-foot-7 and St-Louis towering over him at 5-foot-8. Both were stars for the Blueshirts, size be darned, but that didn’t stop Zuccarello from being nicknamed the ‘Norwegian Hobbit.’ The “hobbit” nickname is one that has followed Zuccarello for some time now, but bringing St-Louis into the fold to say goodbye as the veteran winger heads to retirement is equal parts endearing and hilarious. Read more