At last, Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer.
‘The Big E’, the bruising power forward who, when healthy, dominated the game for periods in the 1990s with the Philadelphia Flyers, was officially elected as part of the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class announced on Monday.
This was Lindros’ seventh year of eligibility, and he had seen 19 other players elected during that time before he finally got the call. But with a weak class of first-year eligible players, there was no denying Lindros a spot this time around.
After trying for months to find a trade partner willing take on left winger Chris Higgins, the Vancouver Canucks will instead buy out the final year of his contract.
Higgins, 33, was put on waivers on Monday. When he goes unclaimed the Canucks will buy him out, and save $1.67 million in 2016-17, and have $833,333 count against the cap in 2017-18.
With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here’s a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.
All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.
It’s believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won’t lack for suitors.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he’ll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.
Restricted free agent Filip Forsberg’s six-year, $36-million contract extension with the Nashville Predators, announced Monday, was a slam-dunk deal.
In 2015-16 left winger Forsberg, 21, became the franchise’s first player in six years to crack 30 goals, equalling Jason Arnott’s team record of 33. Forsberg has averaged 29.5 goals and 63.5 points over his first two full NHL seasons, playing all 164 games. He’s safe, he’s young, and he’s already the best young scorer in Preds history. Six years at $6 million per? Fair deal for both sides. General manager David Poile has about $7.1 million in remaining cap space to play with for 2016-17. Some will go to re-signing RFA Calle Jarnkrok but, assuming Poile lets unrestricted free agents Paul Gaustad and Carter Hutton walk, he may have enough cash left for a medium-impact free agent signing.
Nashville can feel good about Forsberg’s deal. It’s an open-and-shut case. Forsberg got about exactly what we figured he’d get. What’s more interesting is pondering how it’ll affect negotiations involving a player with a comparable resume: Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov.
If Eric Lindros is ever going to make the Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday’s vote is his best opportunity yet. Now in his seventh year of eligibility, ‘The Big E’ has seen 19 players get the green light to Hall induction since 2010 while the selection committee said no to him.
This year’s list of first-time eligible players is lean, with Miikka Kiprusoff, Roman Hamrlik and Wade Redden the top names. All are considered long shots to get 75 percent approval from the 18 members of the selection committee. So then maybe 2016 becomes a make-up year for candidates who were previously passed over.
Lindros is at the head of that leftover class. He was among the best players in the game for the first half of his injury-riddled career, winning the Hart Trophy with 29 goals and 70 points in a lockout-shortened 1994-95 – that prorates to 52 goals and 125 points over a full 82 games. He finished in the top 10 in Hart Trophy voting four other seasons, all with the Philadelphia Flyers.
According to multiple reports, right winger Alexander Radulov has priced himself out of an NHL contract. The KHL star always had the fall-back option of staying in Russia, but now that seems to have hit a speed bump, too.
BY MURRAY PAM
Fifteen years ago this week Bill Muckalt was on an emotional high. A piece in one of the most lopsided trades in NHL annals, Muckalt was dealt by the Islanders along with Zdeno Chara and the 2001 second-overall draft pick (Jason Spezza) to the Senators for Alexei Yashin.
The former Michigan Wolverine was elated to play for a contender. However, Muckalt’s season didn’t go as anticipated. In limited ice-time, the right winger failed to notch a goal in 70 games. After netting 11 the previous campaign and scoring 105 at Michigan, Muckalt compared his Ottawa experience to “missing the cut at the Masters.”
Inking a deal with the Wild during the summer, he quickly returned to form, scoring five goals in his first five games. Then disaster struck. Muckalt suffered a debilitating shoulder injury, limiting him to only eight more games the remainder of the season including playoffs, which turned out to be his last in the NHL.
BUFFALO – In the words of veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole, “Everything is happening.” Even though the draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, the off-season heavy lifting for most teams begins now.
With the free agent courting period beginning Saturday, that should create quite a frenzy over the next few days, particularly when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. Teams have called. Teams will continue to call. Whether Stamkos does a tour of each team who wants to speak to him or they come to him at the Newport agency’s offices in suburban Toronto, not unlike the conga line that showed up at its doors when Brad Richards became a free agent in 2011 is not known. But the line will be long and the talk will be rich leading up to the opening of free agency next Friday.