Down Goes Brown: Five expected off-season moves that haven’t happened yet

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The dog days of the NHL offseason got a nice jolt on Monday when the Senators and Rangers hooked up on a decent-sized trade. The deal sends Derick Brassard and a seventh to Ottawa in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second, improving the Senators’ top six while adding some youth to the Rangers and giving them some additional cap room to work with.

The trade also answered one of the offseason’s lingering questions, which was: When are the Rangers going to get around to doing something? We were all told to expect a busy offseason in New York, as GM Jeff Gorton would look to shake up his aging and expensive core. But until this week, not much had happened aside from a few minor free agency signings. Trading Broussard isn’t exactly a blockbuster, but at least now the Rangers are on the board.

But that still leaves a few more stories lingering in the “still waiting” file. Here are five moves everyone went into the offseason expecting to see that still haven’t happened yet. Read more

Marcus Johansson’s three-year, $13.75-million deal a good compromise for Capitals

Jared Clinton
Marcus Johansson (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Capitals and Marcus Johansson were literally minutes away from arbitration, but the two sides have reached a deal that sees the versatile Swedish forward back in Washington on a three-year, $13.75-million deal.

Johansson, 25, was set to become the first player to head to salary arbitration this summer, with his hearing slated for 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, though, the Capitals and Johansson were able to come to terms on the new contract at 8:57 a.m. How’s that for taking things down to the wire?

The new deal is a successful one for the Capitals, especially when considering the difference in salary heading towards arbitration was $1.4 million. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had reported that Johansson was seeking $5.25 million in arbitration, while Washington was hoping the deal would fall closer to $3.85 million per season. With a $4.58-million cap hit, the sides meet almost exactly in the middle.

“We started getting close to each other this morning,” Johansson said. “I think both parties were hoping we could figure it out before we went into the meeting, and I think both parties are really happy we did. A little bit of a tight schedule before the meeting, but I’m happy that we worked it out.” Read more

So is Shea Weber actually an ‘average’ NHL defenseman?

Shea Weber and P.K. Subban at the 2016 All-Star Skills Competition (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Some things in life are not terribly fair. And in the case of the P.K. Subban trade, much of the trade has become a referendum on the merits of Shea Weber. Last I checked, Weber didn’t ask to be traded to one of the most hockey-mad cities on the planet for a player who was universally loved by its fan base. And former Canadiens analytics consultant Matt Pfeffer, whose comments to thn.com about Weber have landed him in the crosshairs of critics, doesn’t deserve to be put through the wringer the way he has.

I feel badly about the latter. Pfeffer is a 21-year-old who is a bright, hard-working kid who’s doing some groundbreaking work when it comes to analytics. We had a very candid conversation Friday afternoon about the Weber trade, perhaps in retrospect for him, a little too candid. He spoke about the trade of course, but also the place of analytics in the game and how hockey is still finding its way. But the comment that seems to be drawing the most ire was when he said: “There’s nothing wrong with being average in the NHL. An average NHLer is worth a heck of a lot and that’s what Shea Weber is.”

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What will the Buffalo Sabres do with Zemgus Girgensons?

Ryan Kennedy
Zemgus Girgensons  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

There is a lot of room for long-term optimism in Buffalo. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly and now Alex Nylander are all gems up front, while Rasmus Ristolainen looks like a solid No. 1 defenseman in the years to come. But the team is still in transition and there will be bumps in the short-term. One of those storylines involves fan favorite Zemgus Girgensons.

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NHL dismisses neutral arbitrator who ruled on Dennis Wideman suspension

Jared Clinton
Dennis Wideman (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

James Oldham’s most notable decision as the NHL and NHLPA’s neutral arbitrator appears as if it will also be his last.

According to the Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen, the NHL has dismissed Oldham from his post as neutral arbitrator. Oldham, a law professor at Georgetown University, was the arbitrator assigned to the Dennis Wideman suspension case. Oldham’s decision on the suspension saw the Calgary Flames defenseman have his 20-game suspension for checking linesman Don Henderson reduced to 10 games.

It was well within the NHL’s power to relieve Oldham of his duties, and either side would have had the power to do so if they believed it was time for a change in neutral arbitrator. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Oldham’s time with the league is up, though, considering the NHL has since sought to have Oldham’s biggest decision, the reduction of Wideman’s original 20-game ban, overruled. Read more

Phil Kessel brings Stanley Cup to Toronto, visits SickKids hospital

Jared Clinton
Phil Kessel poses with a patient at SickKids in Toronto (via The Hospital for Sick Children/YouTube)

Phil Kessel did what Maple Leafs fans had always hoped he would: he brought the Stanley Cup to Toronto. The only difference is he did so as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins rather than as one of the cities beloved Maple Leafs.

But even the biggest Maple Leafs supporter would have a hard time faulting Kessel, 28, for his Stanley Cup plans. On Monday, Kessel had his day with the trophy, and he brought the Stanley Cup to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for a private event for patients and their families. Read more

Monahan seeking long-term deal, says he wants to be Flame for rest of his career

Jared Clinton
Sean Monahan (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames have done pretty well for themselves this off-season. The Flames shored up their goaltending with the acquisitions of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, brought in veteran winger Troy Brouwer and even made some depth signings, bringing in Linden Vey and Alex Chiasson.

The most important part of the Flames’ off-season have yet to happen, though, as Calgary GM Brad Treliving has yet to lock up the talented duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to new contracts. Both restricted free agents, the 22- and 21-year-old forwards are set to cash in this off-season, and there has been talk that the Flames could try to get both inked to big money, long-term deals. And while all’s quiet on the Gaudreau front, a long-term deal that keeps Monahan in Calgary seems to be exactly what the center wants.

Speaking with TSN’s Gino Reda, Monahan said that the hold up at this point is that coming to terms on a new contract is “a process” and the two sides are trying to find a deal that works for both sides. But Monahan said he was hopeful, and he definitely sounds like a player who wants to be in a Flames uniform to start the 2016-17 season. Read more

Patrick Kane shows off incredible hands in ‘Stickhandler’s Playground’

Jared Clinton
Patrick Kane (via Bauer/YouTube)

Patrick Kane is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 46 goals, 106 points and took home the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.

And if there’s any wondering how Kane, 27, was able to capture both MVP awards and win the scoring title by nearly 20 points, a new video that shows off Kane’s almost unparalleled ability to handle the puck makes it pretty clear why the Chicago Blackhawks winger is able to make opposing defensemen look foolish on a regular basis.

Kane is thrown into an obstacle course called the “Stickhandler’s Playground” in the video, produced by Bauer, and he does everything from scooping the puck on his blade to flipping it through the narrow opening in a tire on his backhand. Check it out: Read more