Ryan Smyth open to housing Connor McDavid, contemplating future in front office

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Andy Devlin/NHL)

Following one season away from the game, Ryan Smyth is ready to return to the NHL. But don’t expect him to be strapping on the blades.

In an interview with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, Smyth, 39, said that he’s ready to be involved with hockey again, but he’s unsure how exactly he’ll fit in. One thing is for sure, though: he’d love to make his return as a member of the Oilers organization.

“I would like to sit down with (Oilers Entertainment Group chief executive officer) Bob Nicholson and see what they’re thinking,” Smyth told Matheson. “I want to be involved in hockey but I don’t know in what capacity.” Read more

Jonathan Bernier seeking $5.1 million in arbitration, Maple Leafs offer $2.8 million

Jared Clinton
Jonathan Bernier.  (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jonathan Bernier is seeking more than $5 million per season in arbitration, but the Toronto Maple Leafs want to pay the netminder significantly less.

As the two sides prepare to head to club-elected arbitration Friday, the goaltender’s asking price, $5.1 million, and the Maple Leafs offer, $2.89 million, were reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. But even with roughly $2.2 million separating the parties, it’s unlikely Toronto won’t fork over the money to meet Bernier somewhere in the middle, especially considering he has earned it over the past two seasons.

While some would look at the Maple Leafs success – or lack thereof – in the past two years and place the blame on goaltending, Bernier has actually been quite steady between the pipes. Consider that since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, of the 33 goaltenders who have played at least 3,500 minutes at 5-on-5, Bernier has the 15th best save percentage in the league. Sure, that’s only slightly above average, but a contract in the $4 million range is about the going rate for a second-tier starting netminder. Read more

Cory Schneider announces mask design competition, will wear winning mask in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
offtheschneid

Gather round, amateur goalie mask designers. New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider has a task for you.

The Devils announced Tuesday that Schneider, along with renowned goalie mask artist David Gunnarsson of DaveArt, are running a contest that will allow fans of all ages to submit potential designs for Schneider’s mask with the winning design being worn by the New Jersey goaltender this upcoming season.

Schneider’s mask design contest will close on Aug. 7, when he will look over the eligible entries and select five finalists to be announced on Aug. 10. The finalists will receive an autographed photo of Schneider, but the real prize is revealed on Aug. 14, when he decides which design he’ll don on his helmet for the 2015-16 campaign. Read more

Sven Baertschi gets one-year, one-way deal with Canucks

Jared Clinton
Sven Baertschi (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Sven Baertschi has suited up in a mere 69 NHL games since being selected 13th overall in the 2011 draft, but he could more than double that total next season.

The Vancouver Canucks announced late Tuesday they have signed the 22-year-old Baertschi to a one-year, one-way deal that will pay the Swiss winger $900,000 next season. The money is notable if for no other reason than it’s actually a cut in salary from Baertschi’s entry-level contract, on which he had an NHL salary of $925,000.

To say Baertschi has had a turbulent tenure in the NHL would be an understatement. Since being taken by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 draft’s first round, Baertschi has bounced back and forth from WHL to NHL to AHL and back again. Last season alone, Baertschi suited up for the Canucks, Flames, Utica Comets and Adirondack Flames, playing no fewer than five games with each club. The hope now is that he can find a permanent place with the Canucks. Read more

Rebuilding or contending? Making sense of the Canucks’ mess

Matt Larkin
Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

If I could sit down with Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning right this second, the conversation might sound like Skyler probing Walter in season 2, episode 1 of Breaking Bad:

“Will you talk to me, please?”

“I don’t know where to begin.”

Where would Benning begin if asked to describe his team’s off-season? Summer 2015 makes summer 2014, which was wacky and contradictory in its own right, look like a confident vision by comparison.

A brief timeline of Benning and team president Trevor Linden’s key moves since Benning took over as Canucks GM in May 2014:

Read more

Flyers ink Sean Couturier to six-year, $26 million extension

Jared Clinton
Sean Couturier (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Sean Couturier has signed a six-year, $26 million extension with the Philadelphia Flyers that runs through to the 2021-22 season.

Couturier, 22, was a first-round pick of the Flyers in 2011, eighth overall, and made the jump to the NHL immediately following his draft year. In 2011-12, Couturier had a stellar rookie season, scoring 13 goals and 27 points in 77 games with Philadelphia. But more than just his offense, it was his two-way play that brought hope to the Flyers faithful.

Over the past three seasons, Couturier has racked up 32 goals and 91 points in 210 games, with his career best point total coming in 2013-14 when he notched 13 goals and 39 points. He set his career mark for goals in a season with a 15-tally campaign in 2014-15. Read more

Wild’s Dumba gets blessing from Boogaard’s family, changes jersey to No. 24

Jared Clinton
Matt Dumba (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the past two seasons, Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba has proudly worn No. 55 for the Wild, but the club announced Monday he would be switching to No. 24, the number he had worn for much of his junior hockey career.

Usually, there isn’t much hullabaloo about a player switching jersey numbers – it happens on a yearly basis, yet rarely does it make headlines – but Dumba’s situation is made unique by the number he’s choosing to wear.

The No. 24 is synonymous in Minnesota Wild history with cult-star tough guy Derek Boogaard, who passed away suddenly in 2011 from an accidental overdose. Boogaard, one of the most fearsome fighters in the NHL during his playing days, was a fan favorite in Minnesota. As such, Dumba wanted to make sure it was all right for him to wear Boogaard’s former number. Read more

Whoops! EA Sports leaks San Diego Gulls jerseys in new NHL 16 video

Jared Clinton
EA Sports accidentally leaked the San Diego Gulls jerseys in a game trailer. (via EA Sports/YouTube)

Back in February, the Anaheim Ducks officially unveiled that their new San Diego-based AHL affiliate would take on the Gulls moniker that has been associated with hockey in the Southern Californian city for decades.

The name announcement came along with the unveiling of a logo, but fans have been waiting to get a glimpse of the jerseys since the Feb. 22 ceremony. Now, thanks to EA Sports and NHL 16, fans can get their first look at the Gulls’ new uniforms in a video hyping up the return of the NHL series’ famous EA Sports Hockey League game mode. Read more