Seattle’s NHL hopes hit another snag as city council vote hinders arena deal

Jared Clinton
Chris Hansen at Seattle Arena Announcement (Mayor Mike McGinn/Wikimedia Commons)

If the NHL is ever heading to Seattle, it doesn’t appear it will happen anytime soon.

The Seattle Times reported Monday that Seattle City Council voted 5-4 against the sale and closure of a portion of a downtown street, Occidental Avenue South, that would have acted as part of the site for a proposed downtown arena. The vote against the street closure could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the half-billion dollar arena that entrepreneur Chris Hansen had proposed to be built in the SoDo area of Seattle.

Designs for the arena were supported by Seattle’s Downtown Design Review Board and the Sustainability and Transportation Committee had voted in favor of giving up a portion of the roadway, but council’s vote makes it unlikely Hansen will get the go-ahead to build his proposed arena. The building would have been the site of an arena that would potentially play home to the NBA’s SuperSonics, as well as opening up the option for the NHL as a second tenant in the building. Read more

Islanders’ Bailey, Pulock could be back for Game 3, Halak not ready yet

Jared Clinton
Josh Bailey (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Islanders went into Tampa Bay and shocked the Lightning in Game 1 en route to splitting the first two games of the second-round series, and as the series shifts to Brooklyn for Games 3 and 4, New York could be in line to get a boost to the depth their lineup.

Josh Bailey and Ryan Pulock missed the first two games of the series with upper-body injuries that were sustained in the final games of the first-round matchup against the Florida Panthers. However, both took part in practices ahead of Game 3, and it appears Bailey and Pulock could be prepared to suit up for Tuesday night’s tilt.

Bailey, 26, is an especially good addition to the lineup, as he chipped in 12 goals and 32 points during the regular season and gives New York an option lower in the lineup that can potentially produce when the Islanders need it. Most of the club’s offense this post-season has run through John Tavares and Kyle Okposo — the pair has combined for 18 points — and while Bailey struggled down the stretch and has only managed one assist during these playoffs, his return could give a boost to the second and third lines.

“I felt good the last few days, been progressing where I need to be,” Bailey told Newsday’s Arthur Staple. “See how it is tomorrow, but as long as I keep feeling the same way, should be good.” Read more

Oilers GM Chiarelli says ‘real, legitimate chance’ Edmonton trades fourth-overall pick

Jared Clinton
Peter Chiarelli (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Oilers finishing the 2015-16 campaign with the league’s second-worst record had some believing the NHL’s draft lottery could again fall in Edmonton’s favor. Instead, the Oilers lost out on a top-three pick and will select fourth overall at the June draft, but that might not be the worst thing for the organization.

Not only did Edmonton’s fall to the fourth-overall selection save the league from a major headache — just imagine if the Oilers had secured the first-overall pick for the fifth time in seven seasons — but it could have very well set the table for GM Peter Chiarelli to really set his plan into motion and shape the future of the franchise. And that plan could include the fourth-overall selection changing hands ahead before the draft.

In an interview with Edmonton’s 630 CHED, Chiarelli admitted he’s disappointed the Oilers fell out of the second spot, but added this could open the opportunity to move the pick now that they’ve fallen out of the top three, where it’s likely Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi will be picked.

“I think that there’s a real, legitimate chance to look to move this pick, to improve our team, to get bigger or to get a ‘D’ or to get something else,” Chiarelli told CHED. “There’s also a chance, as I said in my previous comments, that we could move the pick to get a…top-four defenseman.” Read more

Bonino’s patience, perfect pass set up Hagelin for Penguins’ winning goal

Jared Clinton
Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nearly every post-season, there’s one player who unexpectedly steps up his game and helps lead the offensive charge for his club. Through the early stages of the second round, it looks like this year that player is going to be Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino.

Bonino, 28, had eight points in seven games entering Game 3 of the second-round series between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, and over the course of the playoffs he’s been finding the score sheet with regularity while making things happen with the puck on his stick. In Game 3, he turned what looked like it was going to be a quick shot turned away by Capitals netminder Braden Holtby into an outstanding assist on the game-winning goal.

With five minutes remaining in the second period, Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt shovelled the puck up the middle of the ice, missed his target and turned over the puck to Penguins winger Phil Kessel. Kessel wasted no time moving the puck to the front of the Capitals net where Bonino was stationed. On his backhand, Bonino looked like he was about to chip the puck on goal, but instead waited until he had driven around Holtby before slipping a backhand pass right onto Carl Hagelin’s tape for a tap-in: Read more

Sensational Matt Murray wins Game 3 for Penguins – and the better team loses

Matt Murray and Patric Hornqvist. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

So much for messing with Matt Murray’s head.

That was the concern, at least in this corner, upon learning the Pittsburgh Penguins would dress their usual starting goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for Game 3 of the Metro Division semifinal. Fleury hadn’t played since March 31, when he sustained his second concussion of the 2015-16 season. Fleury earned a clean bill of health after missing the Pens’ first seven playoff games, and coach Mike Sullivan dressed Fleury as a backup to Murray Monday night.

There were two risk factors there. For one, was it worth bringing Fleury back if he wasn’t going to start anyway? Why not rest him further in that case? And secondly, what would Fleury’s presence do to Murray’s psyche? It would only be human to look over his shoulder a little bit with the franchise’s all-time wins leader sitting a few dozen feet away in full gear.

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Suspend him or not: Kris Letang hammers Marcus Johansson with big hit

letang hit

Is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a lightning rod for dangerous plays or what?

Whether he’s giving or receiving, he can’t seem to dodge controversy. Letang avoided a suspension for this slash in the first round of the playoffs on the New York Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg, as the NHL Department of Player Safety felt the stanchion launched Letang’s stick into Stalberg’s face.

Letang might have a tougher time escaping the law after what happened in Game 3 of his Penguins’ Metropolitan Division final matchup against the Washington Capitals Monday. A look at his powerful hit on Caps left winger Marcus Johansson:

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Gostisbehere, McDavid, Panarin named Calder Trophy finalists. Who should win?

Connor McDavid (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015-16 season yielded an outstanding and deep rookie class, one of the best in recent memory. Obvious can’t-miss stars like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the top two picks of the 2015 draft, delivered, but they weren’t alone by any means. We saw an intriguing blend of stars in the making doing what they were supposed to do; late bloomers bursting onto the scene; and a wild-card rookie flourishing after arriving from the KHL.

The rookie crop included a 30-goal scorer, five 20-goal scorers and 12 players with at least 15 goals. Eight rookies topped 40 points. Two played in the All-Star Game. Eight started at least 20 games in net, and three had multiple shutouts.

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Expected No. 1 pick Auston Matthews is a potential superstar for the Maple Leafs, just not next season

Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Leafs Nation erupted on Saturday night, and for good reason. They won the draft lottery and will have the right to select first in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

It’s been a long while since they got a win this big. This one wasn’t on the ice, that’ll have to wait a little longer, but it was perhaps just as important. It means they get a bonafide difference maker and a potential franchise player to hopefully lead them out of the dark abyss that’s been their last 50 season and into the promised land.

The Pittsburgh model. The Chicago Model. The Tampa Bay model. The Los Angeles model. The Edmonton model… Okay scratch that last one, but you get the picture. Be really bad, collect high picks, draft elite players and you’ll have a contender very soon. The Leafs nailed step one, and they’ll be rewarded for their ineptitude in June.

Their reward? Auston Matthews, an uber talented center born in Scottsdale, Ariz., with franchise cornerstone potential. The Leafs haven’t exactly had one of those since Mats Sundin and it’s not exactly far-fetch’d to think Matthews’ ceiling is even higher than that. He’s got potential to be the kind of superstar talent the Leafs have sorely lacked for most of their existence.

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