U.S. Senator wants to see World Junior Championship in Pittsburgh, calls city “America’s hockey capital”

Penguins fans file into the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The World Junior Championship is heading to the United States in 2018, but the host city has yet to be determined. If U.S. Senator Bob Casey gets his wish, though, Pittsburgh will be home to the 2018 competition.

On Wednesday, Senator Casey released a statement publically urging the IIHF to bring the tournament to Pittsburgh and personally addressed a letter to IIHF president Rene Fasel with regards to Pittsburgh’s bid for the tournament. At present, five potential American host cities are known, including Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Glendale or Detroit. Casey offered his two cents on the potential of Pittsburgh as a host. Read more

Is Phil Kessel sad to be leaving Toronto?

Jared Clinton
Phil Kessel (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Five days ago, Phil Kessel became a Pittsburgh Penguin in a trade that brought Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling and a first-round selection back to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But even though it’s been nearly a week, it appears the trade still stings the 27-year-old Kessel.

According to poker star Daniel Negreanu, a Toronto native who has become friends with Kessel, being shipped out by the Maple Leafs was an emotional experience for the goal-scoring winger.

“I spoke to Kessel and he’s obviously sad because he really loves Toronto,” said Negreanu in an interview with PokerListings.com. “But I look at it as a great opportunity for him…He’s going to be able to play with (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk, Lecavalier and Bozak trade talk continues

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Kevin Shattenkirk trade speculation that surfaced during the recent NHL draft gained momentum during the opening day of free agency. Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the defenseman’s agent denied claims his client was being shopped, but it did little to quell the rumors.

It remains to be seen how the speculation will be affected by the Blues recent trade of winger T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals. If they’re still fielding inquiries about Shattenkirk, Rutherford suggests the 26-year-old blueliner’s contract could be the issue. Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal at an average cap hit of $4.25 million. The Blues already have considerable long-term contracts invested in blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Rutherford notes they won’t part with Pietrangelo, while Bouwmeester’s struggles last season could hurt his trade value. Read more

Edmonton big winner, insanity big loser in Free Agent Frenzy

Andrej Sekera  (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The same day Connor McDavid wore his Edmonton Oiler colors for the first time ever on the ice, his bosses were upstairs going about the process of giving him some legitimate NHL players to surround him.

It’s difficult, nay impossible, to declare the winners and losers of a free agent frenzy day before Canada Day has even included, but it’s difficult to not get excited about what’s going on in western Canada these days. The oil patch has been sucked dry of good hockey for so long that sometimes it looked as though neither the Oilers nor the Calgary Flames were ever going to get it right.

Read more

Leafs blow it up real good with Phil Kessel blockbuster

Phil Kessel (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first thing fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to get their heads around is that there’s a very good chance Phil Kessel will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins and score 40 goals a year. He might even score more. He could end up being wildly successful with the Penguins and might even win a Stanley Cup there. Kessel could end up being happier and more productive than he ever was in Toronto. And people will have to learn to be perfectly OK with that.

Because that’s very well what might happen here. But the Maple Leafs traded their franchise player on free agent day because they knew he was never, ever going to do those things for them. Kessel was a terrible fit from the day he first signed with the Leafs, cast in the role of the face of the franchise and the undisputed leader by a GM who obviously failed to do his homework on the player. And the problem was perpetuated when his successor signed Kessel to an eight-year deal worth $64 million prior to last season.

Read more

Penguins ink Ian Cole to three-year, $6.3 million deal

Jared Clinton
Ian Cole (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Amidst news defenseman Christian Ehrhoff wouldn’t be returning to Pittsburgh for 2015-16, the Penguins announced Monday that they have come to terms on a three-year deal with blueliner Ian Cole.

The Penguins acquired Cole, 26, at the trade deadline this past season in a deal that sent Robert Bortuzzo and a seventh-round draft pick in 2016 to St. Louis. Cole was a first-round selection, 18th overall, of the Blues in 2007, but on a crowded Blues blueline that included Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk, there wasn’t room to keep Cole around.

Cole’s new contract, however, makes him cap-friendly for a young defenseman with what looks to be good potential. His three-year contract carries an annual cap hit of $2.1 million. Read more

Ehrhoff’s agent confirms defenseman heading for free agency

Jared Clinton
Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

One season after signing a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Christian Ehrhoff is ready to be an unrestricted free agent once again.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari, Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, confirmed that Ehroff will be testing the free agent waters once again this off-season.

It had been reported earlier that Ehrhoff would likely hit the open market, with Curran telling Mike Halford of Pro Hockey Talk that he, “would suggest (Ehrhoff will) be available come July 1.” The latest report, however, solidifies that the 32-year-old blueliner will be heading elsewhere for the 2015-16 season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Skinner, Sharp & Bieksa trade buzz

Phil Kessel (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015 NHL draft saw its share of trade activity involving established NHL players. Among the notables to change teams were Dougie Hamilton (Boston to Calgary), Milan Lucic (Boston to Los Angeles), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado to Buffalo) and Carl Hagelin (Rangers to Anaheim). Even the rights of all-but-retired defensemen Flyers Chris Pronger was moved as part of a swap that also saw Nicklas Grossman shipped from Philadelphia to Arizona for Sam Gagner.

Despite this unusually high volume of players traded, several others who’ve been frequent fixtures in the rumor mill remain on the market.

On Friday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported multiple source claiming the Pens were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner was on the Pens’ list of trade targets. Read more