One of the biggest changes for the upcoming campaign was set to be the implementation of slimmer fitting, “streamlined” goaltending equipment. However, the new gear may not be ready in time for the upcoming season after all.
The equipment was originally slated to make its debut at the World Cup of Hockey, but at a press conference Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the equipment was “still a work in progress,” before adding that the hope was to at least have it in place for the regular season.
“I know our people in hockey operations are working very hard with the players’ association,” Bettman said, via Sportsnet. “I am hopeful that we can get it in place because I think it’s important.”
According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, though, getting the gear in place might not be a done deal. In fact, there’s a possibility the changes that were set to be in place for the upcoming campaign won’t actually take effect until 2017-18. Read more
At 39 and having just won the second Stanley Cup of his career, Matt Cullen had a chance to go out on top. But the 18-year veteran, who contributed four goals and six points during Pittsburgh’s Cup run, sees an opportunity for the Penguins to win back-to-back championships so he’s sticking around for at least one more season to take a shot at consecutive titles.
The Penguins announced Cullen’s signing Wednesday to a one-year, $1-million deal, and Cullen said that most of the Cup-winning squad is sticking around helped push him towards signing.
“That factored into my decision a lot,” Cullen told PittsburghPenguins.com’s Michelle Crechiolo. “It doesn’t happen often that you win the Cup, but also doesn’t happen that you have virtually the same team back to try to go after it again the next year. We have a really special group and I really, really enjoyed being part of the group.” Read more
Las Vegas’ NHL team has its first Stanley Cup winner.
Owner Bill Foley announced the hiring of David Conte yesterday, bestowing upon him the title of special advisor to hockey operations. I first reported the Vegas-Conte connection last week and now it’s official. But what should Las Vegas fans expect from the veteran hockey mind?
Martin Jones was a revelation in the San Jose Sharks’ crease last season. He appeared n more games than all but four goalies. He finished second in the NHL in shutouts, third in wins and seventh in goals-against average. His sample size entering 2015-16, after the L.A. Kings traded him, was tiny, but Jones generated plenty of buzz nonetheless. There was a reason Sharks GM Doug Wilson felt Jones was worth a first-round pick. Plenty of prognosticators expected Jones would bust out, and he did.
Who will take the mantle from Jones and become a star in 2016-17? Let’s look at some breakthrough performers from last season and who might follow in their footsteps next.
Last week, we looked back on the league’s long history of arbitrators having to sort out messy cases. One of the biggest was the 1991 case that saw Scott Stevens awarded to the Devils as compensation for the signing of Brendan Shanahan. It was part of the league’s old RFA system, under which some players who signed with a new team weren’t subject to a right to match or draft pick compensation, but rather to a forced trade in which each team submitted what they felt was a fair offer and an arbitrator picked one.
It was, to put it bluntly, a fantastic system. Oh, the players hated it, and so did most of the teams. But for fans, it was a great source of entertainment. It was all sorts of fun to debate the teams’ offers, come up with ones of your own, and speculate over which side the arbitrator would ultimately land on. The system lasted until 1995, when Gary Bettman’s first lockout ended with a new CBA that ushered in new RFA rules. This excellent blog post contains a detailed history of the old system; it’s fair to say we’re unlikely to ever see it return in the NHL.
So today, let’s look back on five more cases where RFA signings resulted in an arbitrator forcing a trade as compensation. None were quite as big as the Stevens-for-Shanahan blockbuster, but each had its own impact on hockey history.
Dale Weise may not have set a new career-high in points this past season, but the 28-year-old did notch a career-best 14 goals, had a higher average ice time than any season prior and looked like he could be a constant contributor to a team’s bottom six. So when Weise hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent, it was no surprise he was snatched up quickly.
The offer Weise went with was a four-year, $9.4-million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he had no shortage of options. In speaking with the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan, Weise said that the money on each of the offers he had was roughly the same, but it was Flyers GM Ron Hextall being the first to reach out and making it clear they wanted Weise — and weren’t chasing any other free agents — that persuaded him to sign in Philadelphia.
“With Philly, it was pretty direct, it was pretty honest,” Weise told Cowan. “They said: ‘Here’s how much money we have, we’re not trying to sign anybody else. You’re the guy we want. Here’s what we can offer, here’s where we see it.’ That was a big thing for me.” Read more
The great guessing game over where unrestricted free agent prospect Jimmy Vesey will go is the prime topic in the NHL off-season rumor mill. However, there’s still some speculation kicking around over several current veteran free agents.
The remaining pool of UFAs grew shallower this week. Center Antoine Vermette signed a two-year, $3.5-million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, while right winger Radim Vrbata returned to the Arizona Coyotes on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.
2015 Lady Byng Trophy winner Jiri Hudler is the most notable player still available. The 32-year-old right winger spent last season split between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers, netting 46 points. Once the Vesey sweepstakes is over, Hudler could attract interest from clubs seeking scoring depth.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports defenseman Kris Russell is still waiting for a few teams to free up some salary-cap space. The 28-year-old shot-blocking specialist was considered among this summer’s top UFAs.
It’s the middle of August and most of the NHL’s personnel decisions have been made. Sure, we’re waiting on Jimmy Vesey and Kris Russell, but the most irritating situation out there must be in Calgary, where the Flames are still in negotiations with their two best forwards, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. So what’s the hold up?