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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Prospect Need to Know: Team Canada’s Mason McDonald feeling the heat

Mason McDonald  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Canada is off to Finland now in preparation for the world juniors and a couple big names will not be making the trip. Yes, there are always surprising cuts and this year was no exception with Islanders pick Michael Dal Colle and top 2016 defense prospect Jakob Chychrun getting axed early. Having seen the team’s exhibition game on Saturday, I can understand what happened. Dal Colle was given plenty of ice time but never really seemed to get in gear. He’s an offensive player but didn’t look too dangerous. Cold at the wrong time, I suppose. Chychrun, being the youngest potential blueliner, had to stand out and in my mind, the key to his roster spot was in physicality: Canada has plenty of puckmovers already. The big kid didn’t rattle many cages on Saturday however, and perhaps that’s why he will return to Sarnia. But hey, it’s a really tough team to make – and a lot of great players never got to play for Team Canada in the past. Let’s take a look at some other names in the news right now:

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Senators’ Chris Phillips could be out for the entire season

Jared Clinton
Chris Phillips (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Veteran defenseman Chris Phillips may have played his final game in the NHL, as the Ottawa Senators blueliner is considered a “long shot” to come back to the team this season.

Phillips, 37, was placed on injured reserve in October following off-season back surgery, and he’s been attempting to get in shape for a comeback since the season began. However, according to Senators GM Bryan Murray, things aren’t looking great for the Senators’ all-time games played leader.

“Chris is a ways away,” Murray told TSN 1200 Thursday. “He’s trying really hard. He’s in the gym and doing some skating, but I would say, in my estimation, he’s a long shot to come back.” Read more

Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman is gonna get seriously paid if he stays hot

Ryan Kennedy
Mike Hoffman (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers did something few teams have been capable of lately: they kept Mike Hoffman off the scoresheet. The Ottawa Senators left winger has been on fire lately and, Sunday’s New York loss aside, Hoffman is proving to be one of Bytown’s best offensive options.

This is great news for the Senators – even if it will come at a steep financial price this summer.

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The Senators are fun as heck to watch – but a big fall is coming

Matt Larkin
Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Kyle Turris. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

True story:

While covering an event this past summer, I found myself on a couch with Washington Capitals center Michael Latta and Ottawa Senators left winger Mike Hoffman. It was THN prediction season, and Latta and Hoffman were curious about how we forecasted their teams to finish in 2015-16.

“Well, you’ll be happy,” I told Latta. “We have the Caps winning the East and reaching the Stanley Cup final.”

“What about us?” Hoffman asked.

Then, the awkward silence.

“Come on,” Latta said with a smirk. “Tell him. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t hold back.”

I looked Hoffman in the eye.

“…We have you ninth,” I said. “Sorry man. You were eighth for a while, but when Pittsburgh added Bonino and Fehr, we had to flip-flop you.”

It was painful to tell a good young player we didn’t think his team was quite good enough to reach the big dance again, but it was how we felt at THN. The Sens were a sensational story last season but needed an inhuman run by goalie Andrew Hammond just to qualify for the playoffs on the final day. They had a promising future, and GM Bryan Murray did a great job re-signing youngsters Hoffman, Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad, but there wasn’t room to add much more to what was already a bubble team. We figured Ottawa would stay competitive but fall just short.

Here we are in December and the Sens look more than competitive. They’re 13-7-5, third in the Atlantic Division and one point out of second with a game in hand on Detroit. The Sens are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games. They took down the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night. Only the powerhouse Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens have scored more goals. All-world blueliner Erik Karlsson continues to be Erik Karlsson, and Ottawa has gotten outstanding individual effort from its top six forwards. Bobby Ryan is playing the best hockey of his career, almost to the point of becoming a Hart Trophy dark horse. Hoffman and Stone have not only proven last year’s breakouts were legitimate, but they have improved on the paces they set in 2014-15. Kyle Turris continues to hum along as one of the sport’s most underrated pivots. He and Stone have been point-per-game players for almost a full calendar year now.

So it appears Hoffman and Co. are poised to make THN chow down on roasted crow this spring. But beneath the extremely entertaining hockey to which Ottawa has treated us lie some alarming tendencies that suggest this team is what we thought it was during that awkward summer couch chat.

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