Matthews’ bonus-laden contract proves Lamoriello is flexible, but firm

Ken Campbell
Lou Lamoriello (left) and Auston Matthews (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

To hear Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello tell it, Auston Matthews was always going to get signed, always going to get the bonuses that were coming to him. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Yes, it took a little longer than usual, but an entry-level contract with Matthews was announced Tuesday, 27 days after he was selected first overall. There had been an enormous amount of consternation about whether or not the Leafs and Matthews were at loggerheads about entry-level bonus money. During his many days with the New Jersey Devils, Lamoriello had a policy of not giving them to anyone. He also had a policy of no beards for anyone in the organization and everyone in the office had to wear a tie even in the summer, but it looks like Lamoriello is changing with the times.

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Report: Islanders potentially looking at move to Queens, playing near MLB’s Mets

Jared Clinton
Barclays Center (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders’ first season at the Barclays Center was successful on the ice, but that hasn’t stopped rumors from swirling about the potential for the club to find a new home in the near future.

Last week, the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte reported that new Islanders co-owner John Ledecky had said he believed the Brooklyn-based arena would play host to the club long-term, going so far as to call Barclays Center the Islanders’ “home.” However, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, the Islanders may be looking into another option.

Soshnick reported Thursday that the Islanders could be looking to move out of Brooklyn and into Queens, where they would build an arena situated near Citi Field, the home of the MLB’s New York Mets. According to Soshnick, discussions between the Islanders and Sterling Equities, the Mets’ ownership group, have been taking place for “months.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk possible target for Rangers after Brassard trade

Kevin Shattenkirk (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After weeks of anticipation, the New York Rangers finally made a significant roster move this summer. On Monday, they dealt center Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round selection.

In shipping out Brassard’s $5-million annual average salary through 2018-19 for Zibanejad’s $2.65 million in 2016-17, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton freed up an additional $2.35 million. He can put that toward re-signing a restricted free agent forward such as Chris Kreider or Kevin Hayes. He could also use it to his roster via trade or free agency.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News speculates Gorton could use the savings to acquire St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He could then re-sign the blueliner, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, to an extension worth $6-million annually. Leonard also wonders if Kreider could be swapped for Shattenkirk before the winger’s arbitration date on Friday. Read more

USA picks Palmieri to replace Callahan at World Cup, passes on Kessel, Okposo

Jared Clinton
Kyle Palmieri (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

The past year could end up being one of the very best of Kyle Palmieri’s career.

Since being acquired by the Devils from the Ducks, Palmieri, 25, has had the breakout that Anaheim had been waiting for, potting 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games this past season in New Jersey. Palmieri parlayed his huge year into a five-year, $23.25-million contract in early July, and now he’s turned his biggest season into a chance to play alongside the best American players at the World Cup.

Palmieri was officially announced as the replacement for injured Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, who underwent surgery in late-June to repair a labral tear in his right hip.

“Kyle brings an all-around game that we’re confident will fit nicely with the framework we’re looking to build,” said Team USA GM Dean Lombardi in a release. “He’s coming off an outstanding year in New Jersey and will play an important role with our team.” Read more

Colorado re-signs Mikhail Grigorenko; still has work to do

Ryan Kennedy
Mikhail Grigorenko (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche have re-signed center Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, giving the youngster a nice raise for 2016-17. Though the stat is largely ignored now, it’s worth noting that on a team filled with minus players, Grigorenko was a plus-2. But if the Avs want to make it back to the playoffs, they’re going to need more help than that.

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Prust ready to earn spot in training camp — here are five others who could go the same route

Jared Clinton
Brandon Prust (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

After the way things started in Montreal for Zack Kassian, it would have been hard to imagine that it was he who would have had the better season following an off-season trade between the Canadiens and Canucks that sent Brandon Prust to Vancouver.

However, after the off-season crash and stint in the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program, Kassian got his season on track with the Edmonton Oilers and finished the campaign with three goals and eight points in 35 games while averaging nearly 12:30 of ice time per game. Kassian earned himself a $1.5-million contract extension in Edmonton.

As for Prust, well, his season was rough. He dealt with an ankle injury early, was sent down to the AHL by February and finished his campaign on the shelf. Prust notched one goal and seven points with the Canucks, skated roughly 12:45 per game and he’s still looking for work. But the 32-year-old agitating winger said he’s ready to do whatever it takes to earn himself a deal.

“Right now, I would accept a job anywhere,” Prust told TVA Sports. “Everything depends on the team and if they see me in their plans.”

He said the plan is to start next season in the NHL, and added it doesn’t matter if he has a deal to start the season. His intention is to win one. And Prust won’t be alone among the players looking to earn a contract in training camp. Here are five players who could also be looking at securing NHL jobs through tryout contracts: Read more

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