Rumor Roundup: Capitals, Panthers, and Stars could be fits for Byfuglien

Lyle Richardson
Dustin Byfuglien (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien still faces an uncertain future with the Winnipeg Jets. An unrestricted free agent in July, it was recently revealed the 30-year-old was seeking an eight-year, $55 million contract. That could put him out of the budget-conscious Jets’ comfort zone.

Last weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported a couple of sources suggested the Washington Capitals could have interest in Byfuglien if veteran blueliner Brooks Orpik remained sidelined by injury. Friedman noted, however, that Orpik is expected to soon return to action. That means the Capitals can’t afford Byfuglien’s $5.2-million salary-cap hit.

Friedman suggests the Florida Panthers could take a run at Byfuglien. He points out Panthers GM Dale Tallon was part of the Chicago Blackhawks management when Byfuglien was drafted and came up through their system.

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Advanced stats show Panthers, Penguins trending up, Capitals, Canucks trending down

Florida Panthers (Getty Images)

As the month winds down, it’s time to look at which teams have been hot (or not) going into the New Year. Most people would take that to mean who got the most points during December, but with the NHL’s new numbers movement we can dig a little deeper than that. What’s more interesting is which teams actively improved (or degraded) their game regardless of results and identifying which teams are trending in the right or wrong direction.

Most people generally use shot rates to measure the direction a team is going as they can be good indicators of a team’s true talent level. Shot rates fluctuate throughout the year and that movement is worth keeping an eye on. That’s what this trend report is all about because how a team is playing lately is usually a good indication of what’s to come in the future.

Here are three teams going in the right direction and three teams trending the other way: Read more

Why Sweden is the favorite to win this year’s World Junior Championship

William Nylander (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The reason the World Junior Championship is so fun is that in the past five years, five different countries have won the gold medal. That parity is a blessing to the tournament, but it also makes it difficult to handicap a showdown in which two teams with championship aspirations often meet in the quarterfinal, as Russia and the United States have done in the past two years.

But if we’re talking favorites for the 2016 installment, which kicks off in Helsinki on Boxing Day, I will take Sweden. And here’s my logic:

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Senators’ Smith slapped with $2,000 fine for diving

Jared Clinton
Zack Smith (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL has handed down its second fine of the season for diving Thursday as Ottawa’s Zack Smith will be out $2,000 for attempting to sell a call.

Smith, 27, was hit with the fine for his actions midway through the first period of the Senators’ Dec. 10 contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the puck turned over deep in the Tampa Bay zone, Smith was backchecking when he became tangled up with Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Smith fell to the ice after very little contact with Stamkos: Read more

Coyotes could use tax money in potential move to Phoenix, Senators eying downtown arena

Jared Clinton
Max Domi (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes have been weighing their options with regard to a potential move out of Glendale and back to Phoenix, but heading back to the state’s capital might mean taxpayers have to help with a new arena deal.

According to NBC Arizona’s Brahm Resnik, Coyotes CEO Anthony LeBlanc says the team would be willing to put up its own money for a new downtown arena, but that they’d also expect taxpayers to pitch in.

“Would we be looking for a local government or a state government to be involved in the creation of the facility? Of course,” Leblanc told Resnik. “Most facilities outside of markets like New York City are built with some level of public involvement. The City of Phoenix has been very open about that as something they’re exploring. I think it has to be a public-private partnership.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: If Avalanche can’t sign Barrie, watch for trade talk to heat up

Tyson Barrie. (Getty Images)

A month ago, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculated over defenseman Tyson Barrie’s future with the Colorado Avalanche. Barrie, 24, is slated to become a restricted free agent in July. He’s currently earning $3.2 million in actual salary ($2.6-million cap hit) and possesses salary arbitration rights.

Though Friedman said he has no evidence of Barrie on the trade block, he claimed several teams were keeping an eye on the blueliner’s status. If the Avalanche have difficulty getting Barrie under contract, perhaps they’ll consider trading him.

In his Dec. 15 “30 Thoughts’ column, Friedman revisited Barrie’s status. If the Avs can’t or won’t re-sign the blueliner, he wonders if the Vancouver Canucks could make a pitch for him, perhaps by offering up forward Jake Virtanen as part of the return.

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Suspend him or not: Tom Wilson shouldn’t be penalized for being Tom Wilson

Ken Campbell
Tom Wilson pursues Marc Methot (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Ask most fans and players who are not associated with the Washington Capitals who the biggest villain in the NHL is and Tom Wilson would be very, very high on the list. We all know what Kyle Okposo thinks of Wilson. Last spring during the first round of the playoffs, Okposo referred to Wilson as, “an idiot.”

Wilson often hits to hurt and crosses the line with his bodychecks at times. And he chirps, a lot. But it’s hard to believe his reputation wasn’t a major factor with his match penalty and ejection in the Capitals 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night. Take a look at the hit on Curtis Lazar that earned him the match penalty and a game misconduct late in the third period and decide for yourself whether Wilson deserved to be ejected.

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THN.com Roundtable: NHL teams in need of a logo and jersey refresh

Florida Panthers (Getty Images)

Rebranding professional sports teams is not a new or unusual concept. In their 45 years of existence the Vancouver Canucks have had enough logos and jerseys to cover off all the colors of the rainbow.

The Florida Panthers made headlines last week by announcing they were going to make sweeping changes to their logo, colors, and uniforms — then the Toronto Maple Leafs stole their thunder when reports surfaced that they were going to make changes to their iconic logo and uniform as part of their centennial season in 2016-17.

That got us thinking — which NHL teams actually need a logo or uniform refresh? Here are the answers.

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