Bobby Ryan gets his contract – now comes the real pressure

Ken Campbell
Bobby-Ryan Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Now we’re going to see just how much intensity Bobby Ryan has. One thing is certain, though. If he can’t even spell the word the way Brian Burke suggested last season, he can afford to hire someone now to spell it for him…in every language that has ever been conceived.

Ryan acknowledged that adjusting from the laid-back Anaheim to the hockey fishbowl of Ottawa was challenging for him. Well, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet. If he thought his first year in Ottawa was intense, wait until he has to deal with the pressure of living up to the seven-year contract extension worth $50.75 million he signed Thursday morning. Now that the Senators have made a long-term, very lucrative commitment to them, their fans will be expecting an awful lot of him in the future – certainly much, much more than he delivered in his first season in Ottawa. Read more

Erik Karlsson named captain of the Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thursday morning hadn’t even ended yet and it was already a good day for the Ottawa Senators.

There was, of course, the somewhat surprising signing of Bobby Ryan to a seven-year, $50.75 million contract that locks up the goal scorer well before he would have become eligible for UFA status next summer.

And then there was the much less surprising announcement that 2012 Norris winning defenseman Erik Karlsson would be the next captain of the franchise. He’ll be the ninth ‘C’-bearer in team history. Read more

Pavel Datsyuk injury in pre-season money grab a bad omen for Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Well, this is just a lovely start to the pre-season, isn’t it? They’ve barely begun the series of games that determine one or two roster spots and make the owners more money and already the body count is rising.

And we’re not talking about fourth-liners here. Pavel Datsyuk, the player the Detroit Red Wings can least afford to lose, is out at least four weeks with a second-degree separation to his right shoulder after taking a hit along the boards from Rob Scuderi of the Pittsburgh Penguins late in a game Monday night

Speaking of the Penguins, none of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Chris Kunitz is ready for action. The nature of the injuries is clouded in secrecy, but it doesn’t bode well when three players who have had all summer to rest and heal basically aren’t ready for training camp.

Add to that a broken bone in Jordan Staal’s right leg in a Carolina Hurricanes pre-season game, a broken left leg for Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, a possible concussion for Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators, a broken nose for Darren Helm of the Red Wings and a fractured tibia for Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha and it looks as though you have a fully blown injury epidemic on your hands with two weeks still to go before the puck drops for the real games.

The Datsyuk injury, which looks as though it will keep him out of the first two weeks of the season, is disturbing. Four minutes left in a meaningless pre-season game and Datsyuk is on the ice and gets taken into the stanchion. Now the Red Wings, who face an uphill climb even with Datsyuk in the lineup, will have to try to get through the first two weeks without him. Making matters worse is the fact that the Red Wings play seven games in the first 14 days of the season.

(If I were running an NHL organization, I’d keep my star players out of these money-grab games and play them in perhaps the last one or two of the pre-season. Let the third- and fourth-line guys fill out the quota of NHL players each team must ice for these games. Sure, fans don’t get to see the stars in the exhibition games and they might grumble about that, but you’d have to think Red Wing fans would have rather seen Datsyuk suit up for the start of the season instead of playing in a meaningless game in September.)

Datsyuk has never before missed the start of the season and has, with the exception of last season, been a pretty durable player for them. Even when you factor in the fact that he missed 37 games last season, he has still played in 75 percent of the Red Wings games over the past four seasons.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland said during the team’s prospect tournament in Traverse City last week that the Red Wings will be a contending team if two things happened. The first is if Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combine for 140 games between them and the second is Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar combining for 50 goals. The third, which was unstated, is if goalie Jimmy Howard can return to the form he displayed in 2012-13, not the one he displayed in ’13-14.

A healthy Daniel Alfredsson would also help. Alfredsson has made it clear to the Red Wings that he will either play this season for Detroit or he will retire from the NHL. Out of respect for the veteran, Holland is giving Alfredsson the duration of training camp to figure out whether his wonky back will be able to handle the rigors of another season of NHL competition. If not, the Red Wings start the season without their leading scorer from 2013-14.

So if Datsyuk misses seven games, that means the most for which he and Zetterberg could combine would be 157. That doesn’t leave much room for two veterans who combined to miss 74 games last season. If that happens again, the Red Wings can forget about making the playoffs for a 24th straight season and will have to concentrate on rebuilding, not reloading, for the first time in more than two decades.

Top 10 Art Ross Trophy candidates for 2014-15

John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

In the 21 seasons between 1980-81 and 2000-01, a total of three players won the NHL scoring championship. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order. Read more

Rumor Roundup: What’s the chance Johansen gets traded?

Lyle Richardson
Ryan Johansen is coming off his entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets, but hasn't signed an extension yet. (Getty Images)

The contentious contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen have taken a decidedly ugly turn. The situation is overshadowing the start of training camp, threatening to derail the club’s efforts to build upon the promise of last season.

Jackets team president John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen claim the Johansen camp rejected offers of $6 million over two years ($3-million annually), $32 million over six years ($5.33-million annually) and $46 million over eight ($5.75 million).  Davidson went so far as to accuse Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, of “extortion.”

Overhardt’s only response was to call for a resumption of negotiations. TSN reports he’s tabled another two-year contract offer, but Darren Dreger claims it apparently wasn’t well received. Johansen departed Columbus prior to the start of training camp and returned home to Vancouver, while the Jackets prepare for training camp and pre-season without him. Read more

The top 10 fighters to watch this season

Brian McGrattan and Patrick Bordeleau (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you like a good scrap, you might find yourself a bit under siege lately in the hockey world. Regulations are tightening up, though the powers-that-be still maintain that organic fights, rather than staged bouts, are still part of the game. And even though enforcers such as Paul Bissonnette and Colton Orr appear to have uphill battles in returning to the NHL this season, there are still plenty of scrappers to watch. With a shout-out to hockeyfights.com as a research tool, here are the best:

Read more

10 RFAs who missed training camp and how their disputes were resolved

Jamie Benn (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets are…contentious. Yesterday started with Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen drawing a line in the sand by insinuating the start of training camp as a cut off point. Later on, team president John Davidson took aim at Johansen’s agent Kurt Overhardt by saying the numbers he was throwing out made no sense and were embarrassing.

This sounds like it could be one of the bigger RFA battles the NHL has had in recent years, but there’s still a little time before training camps open. And it’s not like it would be the first time a player has missed the start of training camp with a contract dispute.

It actually used to happen a lot more in the NHL. In the 1990s, it was a regular, yearly thing most teams would have to deal with at one point or another. The only great leverage an RFA without arbitration rights has is to stay home and make the team sweat. It maybe doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but the Johansen situation is hardly unique to the NHL today. Heck, Torey Krug, Jaden Schwartz, Reilly Smith, Darcy Kuemper and Cody Eakin are going through their own, less-publicized negotiations right now too.

We take a look at some of the more recent RFAs who missed all or a portion of training camp over a contract dispute and what the outcome was. We didn’t want to look too far back at every situation because market conditions have changed, especially when looking back past the 2004-05 lockout. Anything before then is basically no influence on Johansen’s situation. Just don’t call these guys holdouts.

Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Prior to last season, Stepan missed 16 days of training camp before settling on a bridge deal with the Rangers. Stepan ended up signing a two-year deal that has a $3.075 million salary cap charge. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bruins face excruciating Johnny Boychuk trade decision

Johnny Boychuk and local rescue dog Kona (Steve Babineau/Getty Images)

As NHL training camps open, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks still remain above the $69 million salary cap. Questions persist over how they’ll address the issue.

The Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant before the season begins in October. For months it’s been speculated defenseman Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or fellow blueliner Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) could be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Leddy could be odd man out, citing the $3.4 million it’ll take to qualify his rights next summer. He speculates the Blackhawks could prefer keeping the defense pairing of Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson intact for a Stanley Cup run this season.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes Michal Rozsival ($2.2 million) will also be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Given his age (36) and injury history, Myers doesn’t expect much interest in Rozsival from rival teams. Read more