Playoff turnover is a hallmark of the NHL’s salary cap era. It’s rare to see a single franchise entrenched in a contending position for decades at a time. The Detroit Red Wings are the remarkable exception. Typically, we see plenty of playoff squads slide out of the picture from one season to the next, while several also-rans sneak back into the big dance.
Five Canadian teams qualified for the playoffs in 2014-15, and all five missed in 2015-16. The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets slipped out, replaced by the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. The 2015-16 playoff picture consisted of 31.25 percent “new” teams. That’s down from 43.75 percent the year prior but still constitutes significant turnover.
Chances are, it’ll happen again in 2016-17. Which recent qualifiers might slip out of the post-season and which might claw their way back in?
When the NHL announced last fall its seven-year partnership that will see adidas become its official outfitter starting next season, your trusty correspondent asked commissioner Gary Bettman whether the deal would be extended by a year if there were another labor dispute. Bettman responded with a one-word answer.
“Really?” Bettman asked, with a good amount of offense and incredulity. Well, about as much offense and incredulity as someone who has shut down the game three times in the past 20 years could muster.
Ahead of their scheduled arbitration date with Brayden Schenn, the Philadelphia Flyers were seeking to lock the 24-year-old up to a two-year deal worth slightly more than $4.3 million per season. Schenn’s request was a one-year deal worth $5.5 million. Turns out the two sides didn’t need arbitration to find a fit.
The Flyers announced Monday that they’ve inked Schenn to a four-year deal, and they even found a middle ground when it came to the salary. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the contract will pay Schenn $5.125 million per season — a total of $20.5 million over the course of the deal.
Schenn’s past production may have some scoffing at the price tag, though. It’s a hefty salary for a player who had only once scored 20 goals in his first four seasons in Philadelphia. But there’s no doubt the hope for the Flyers and GM Ron Hextall is that Schenn’s late-season surge is a sign of things to come and that the young winger will build on his career-best 26-goal, 59-point campaign. Read more
The Flyers didn’t make a big splash in free agency, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive news coming out of Philadelphia.
After going under the knife in mid-May to repair a sports hernia and a hip injury, Flyers star center Claude Giroux is ahead of schedule and appears as though he’ll have additional time to recover ahead of the World Cup in September, where he’s set to compete as part of Canada’s roster. The original recovery time for the surgery was expected to be anywhere from 10-12 weeks, but Giroux hit the ice in Philadelphia this week, which means he’s back in action just nine weeks after his surgery.
That Giroux, 28, is healthy ahead of schedule bodes well for the Flyers, especially as the past campaign was a disappointing one for the club’s captain. Read more
Free agency is well under way but the opportunity to negotiate a new deal has led a number of restricted free agents to salary arbitration.
The NHLPA announced the dates for the 24 arbitration hearings that are slated to take place between July 20 and Aug. 4, though some players have already reached agreements with their respective clubs ahead, helping both sides avoid arbitration.
The most productive player to avoid arbitration thus far is Kyle Palmieri, who posted 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils in 2015-16. Palmieri had filed to take the Devils to arbitration to hammer out a new deal on July 5, but New Jersey and Palmieri landed on a five-year, $23.25-million deal just two days later. Others who have filed but since settled include Detroit Red Wings minor-league goaltender Jared Coreau and Philadelphia Flyers winger Jordan Weal, both of whom signed deals worth over $600,000.
There are some big names still without contracts for the upcoming campaign, however. Here are five key arbitration hearings that could impact some important players: Read more
Five months after saying he’d like to continue his hockey career in the NHL, Evgeny Medvedev has signed a two-year deal to return to the KHL. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound defenseman has signed with Avangard Omsk, the club announced.
The 33-year-old signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers last May. In 45 games with Philly, the Russian blue liner scored four goals and eight assists while averaging 18:50 in ice time a night.
The most notable exclusion from the 24 players who filed for salary arbitration Tuesday was Petr Mrazek, but that doesn’t mean the Detroit Red Wings goaltender won’t be included in the process. Sources have told thn.com that the Red Wings will take Mrazek to arbitration before teams are required to file at 5 p.m. (eastern time) Wednesday.
This is a bit of a chess game here. Had Mrazek filed for arbitration, the Red Wings would have been able to choose either a one- or two-year reward. With the Red Wings filing, Mrazek will now have the choice of a one- or two-year award. Regardless, it means Mrazek is guaranteed to have a deal with the Red Wings for at least one season and will be available to the Red Wings for the start of the season. Mrazek is expected to be the Czech Republic’s No. 1 goaltender for the World Cup of Hockey.
It’s early July, so obviously there’s another important day coming up on the hockey calendar. Coming up next: the deadline for restricted free agents to file for arbitration, which is on the docket for Tuesday.
This will likely be a procedural day for many players because so few actually end up going the full distance in arbitration, but one thing it will do is tell us which players will definitely be in uniform for their teams at the start of training camp in the fall. That’s because arbitration forces a ruling on both sides, meaning the player is under contract for either one or two more seasons.