Report: Brian Campbell considering return to Blackhawks in free agency

Jared Clinton
Brian Campbell (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers’ signing of Keith Yandle to a big-money deal makes it a near certainty that veteran defenseman Brian Campbell will be looking to patrol the blueline elsewhere in 2016-17, and it appears on option could be a return to a former city where Campbell had a lot of success.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, Campbell, 37, is considering a return to the Chicago Blackhawks in the off-season, though it would mean that he has to take a significant pay cut from the $7.14 million he was earning this past season. Campbell had six goals and 31 points during the past off-season and could no doubt command at least $4 million on the open market, but a cap hit of that much almost assuredly wouldn’t work for the Blackhawks, who are already under a cap crunch with not much room to maneuver.

A return to Chicago would be an intriguing move for Campbell, though, and a huge get for the Blackhawks, whose blueline was very clearly missing a key piece during the past season. Read more

Panthers gamble pays off as Yandle signs seven-year, $44.45-million deal

Jared Clinton
Keith Yandle (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

First it was the Arizona Coyotes locking up unrestricted free agent Alex Goligoski after trading for the blueliners rights, and now it’s the Florida Panthers who have become successful in landing one of the best available rearguards before the free agent market even opens.

After trading a sixth-round pick and conditional fourth-round selection to the New York Rangers for Keith Yandle’s rights, the Panthers have locked the defenseman up to a seven-year, $44.45-million contract that will pay the 29-year-old $6.35 million per season, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. It’s a massive payday for Yandle, who was reportedly looking for the max seven-year term on the open market and got that plus a sizeable raise of $1.1 million per season.

According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Yandle’s new contract also includes a no-movement clause in each of the first six seasons and he’ll have a limited no-trade clause in the final year of the contract. Read more

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks the big winners at NHL Awards

Ian Denomme
Patrick Kane. (Getty Images)

Everyone agrees, Patrick Kane was the best player in the NHL in 2015-16. The Blackhawks star cleaned up at the annual NHL Awards taking home both most-valuable-player awards among his three trophies.

Kane was the runaway winner of the most prestigious award, the Hart Trophy, earning 121 first-place votes from media voters. Runner up Sidney Crosby earned 11 first-place votes. Kane also won the Ted Lindsay Award for the most valuable player as voted by fellow players.

Kane also was the Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s leading scorer. He finished the season with a career high 46 goals and 60 assists and was 17 points clear of second-leading scorer Jamie Benn.

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Vegas in the game as expected, but where does that leave Quebec City?

Ken Campbell
Bill Foley (left) and Gary Bettman (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

So this is really happening. The NHL is rolling the dice on Las Vegas. It’s gambling on Sin City, placing its bet, doubling down, upping the ante, raising the stakes, going all in, looking to hit the jackpot, hoping not to crap out. There, we got that out of the way. That pretty much covers the betting analogies, so let’s never see them again for the next hundred years.

With its announcement that the league intends to expand to 31 teams by granting an expansion franchise to Las Vegas, the NHL finally exposed its worst kept secret. Pundits had been professing this was a slam dunk for the better part of the past 18 months, so there was no sense of surprise when Vegas franchise owner Bill Foley, who told reporters that he played “shiny hockey” on a pond when he was a kid when his father was stationed in Ottawa, was invited into the fold.

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Report: Kings GM Lombardi says Lucic will test free agent market

Jared Clinton
Milan Lucic (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings made a big splash last off-season when they acquired Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins for Martin Jones, Colin Miller and a first-round pick, but it looks like Lucic’s tenure as a King will be one-and-done.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBruin reported Wednesday afternoon that Lucic, 28, has decided to head to free agency come July 1. Not long after LeBrun’s initial report, he added that Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed Los Angeles has not been able to come to terms with the hulking winger and that Lucic and his agents have officially been given the go-ahead to begin talking to the league’s 29 other teams about a potential free agent deal.

By hitting the open market, Lucic is almost certain to be one of the two or three highest-paid players in the current free agent crop. It’s a mortal lock that Steven Stamkos will sign the biggest deal of any free agent, but Lucic, along with Kyle Okposo and David Backes, is in a good position to earn himself a huge payday. Read more

THN Versus: Was now the right time for the Maple Leafs to acquire Frederik Andersen?

The Hockey News
Mike Babcock. (Getty Images)

No. What ever happened to that Maple Leafs rebuild?

 

 

THN_KenCampbell_TOP4By Ken Campbell

One of the first things that came out of Mike Babcock’s mouth after he was hired to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer was, “If you think there’s no pain coming, there’s pain coming. The path we’re taking has to be different. There’s no chance for a quick fixer here.”

Well, apparently that pain threshold isn’t quite as steely and strong as we all thought. That path that was supposed to be so different? Well, accelerating rebuilds is a path so well worn in Toronto that the organization still has too look up to see ground level. And no quick fixer? How’s that working out? Well, the first chance the Maple Leafs had, they went out and got a quick fixer.

Whatever happened to that rebuild that was supposed to take place in the Center of the Hockey Universe™? Well, it went out the window when the Leafs traded two draft picks in exchange for goalie Frederik Andersen, then handed him a five-year contract worth $27 million. It’s a move that makes no sense on so many levels for a team that says it’s committed to rebuilding properly.

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Carey Price says he’s 100 percent healthy, will be ready for World Cup

Jared Clinton
Carey Price (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The last time Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price saw NHL action was Nov. 25. The next time he sees a similar level of competition, he’ll be facing off against some of the world’s top talent at the best-on-best World Cup of Hockey.

Price, 28, had a troubling 2015-16 season that saw him able to suit up for only 12 games all campaign and plagued by injuries. Before the first month of the season was through, Price had suffered his first lower-body injury of the season, and less than a week after his mid-November return, Price was back on the shelf, this time for good with what was later revealed to be an MCL sprain.

“The MCL provides support to the inside of the knee and is essential for stability and knee function,” Dr. Vincent Lacroix, the Canadiens’ head physician, said at the time Price was shelved for the year. “Acute, isolated MCL injuries are managed without surgery. Rehabilitation treatments lead to full functional recovery. The recovery process can be long in the case of an elite netminder such as Carey, due to the high demand placed on this anatomical structure by modern goaltending techniques.”

However, even with the injury, Price was named to Canada’s initial 16-man World Cup roster and Canadian GM Doug Armstrong said the team’s understanding was that Price would be healthy before the tournament began. Appearing on TSN’s That’s Hockey Tuesday, Price confirmed not only that he would be healthy, but that he already is. Read more

Down Goes Brown: Five NHL expansion cities that fell through

Sean McIndoe
(Getty Images)

Wednesday is reportedly the day the NHL will confirm what we’ve all expected for months: The league is expanding to Las Vegas, becoming the first major pro sports team to take up residence in the city.

That will no doubt come as a relief to hockey fans in Vegas, since history has shown that new NHL teams have a way of falling through. The league’s expansion era began in 1967, and has seen the league continue to grow ever since. But it’s history of near-misses dates back even further, and includes some cases where a new team seemed to be all but a sure thing.

So today, as we await the official arrival of Las Vegas to the NHL family, let’s look back on some of the times when the league seemed headed to a new home, only to have it fall through.

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