During a 2011 NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, iconic ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ play-by-play man Bob Cole exclaimed ‘Everything is happening!” during a frantic series of play.
It has become a go-to saying for hockey fans, especially on Twitter, during periods of excitement or big news. It can definitely be applied to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.
While many fans, pundits, and media sat and waited for big news to start happening on Friday during the official start of free agency, several teams swooped in and made a series of blockbuster moves. Each move on its own could have carried a news cycle for a day, but three came in such rapid succession that it nearly “broke the internet”, as they say.
Here’s a timeline of what went down on Wednesday:
We can only assume that Steven Stamkos’ agents aren’t terribly excited at the moment. His accountants? Well, since there’s no state tax in Florida and Stamkos will earn an average salary of $8.5 million each of the next eight years, well, that should make them fairly happy. We know fans in Toronto are a little down, as they probably are in Detroit, Montreal and Buffalo, too.
But Steven Stamkos is happy and that is the most important part of the equation. And it’s why, despite a year-long soap opera that accounted for a petrified forest worth of newsprint and countless gigabits in cyberspace, he decided to stay with the only NHL team he has ever known. As first reported by Bob McKenzie at TSN and confirmed by thn.com, Stamkos has agreed to an eight-year deal with the Lightning totaling $68 million. The deal involves a full no-movement clause, which means Stamkos isn’t going anywhere unless he approves of the deal.
As the July 1 opening day of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agent market approaches, speculation is heating up over potential destinations of the top free-agent stars.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in bidding for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. He also thinks the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins could join them.
On Sunday, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News cited a report in the Toronto Star claiming the Sabres reached out to the Stamkos camp to gauge his interest in coming to Buffalo. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, meanwhile, reports the Canadiens will chase Stamkos, though they face long odds of signing him.
With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here’s a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.
All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.
It’s believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won’t lack for suitors.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he’ll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.
Restricted free agent Filip Forsberg’s six-year, $36-million contract extension with the Nashville Predators, announced Monday, was a slam-dunk deal.
In 2015-16 left winger Forsberg, 21, became the franchise’s first player in six years to crack 30 goals, equalling Jason Arnott’s team record of 33. Forsberg has averaged 29.5 goals and 63.5 points over his first two full NHL seasons, playing all 164 games. He’s safe, he’s young, and he’s already the best young scorer in Preds history. Six years at $6 million per? Fair deal for both sides. General manager David Poile has about $7.1 million in remaining cap space to play with for 2016-17. Some will go to re-signing RFA Calle Jarnkrok but, assuming Poile lets unrestricted free agents Paul Gaustad and Carter Hutton walk, he may have enough cash left for a medium-impact free agent signing.
Nashville can feel good about Forsberg’s deal. It’s an open-and-shut case. Forsberg got about exactly what we figured he’d get. What’s more interesting is pondering how it’ll affect negotiations involving a player with a comparable resume: Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov.
BUFFALO – In the words of veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole, “Everything is happening.” Even though the draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, the off-season heavy lifting for most teams begins now.
With the free agent courting period beginning Saturday, that should create quite a frenzy over the next few days, particularly when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. Teams have called. Teams will continue to call. Whether Stamkos does a tour of each team who wants to speak to him or they come to him at the Newport agency’s offices in suburban Toronto, not unlike the conga line that showed up at its doors when Brad Richards became a free agent in 2011 is not known. But the line will be long and the talk will be rich leading up to the opening of free agency next Friday.
BUFFALO – Night 1 of the 2016 NHL draft gave us a bit of everything, a blend of expectant nods and wide-eyed gasps.
We saw the predictable occur. Auston Matthews went first overall, Patrik Laine second. The Calgary Flames acquired a goaltender in Brian Elliott. The Chicago Blackhawks squeezed another forward out because of their salary-cap crunch in Andrew Shaw, dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings shipped Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit to the one team we knew would take it: the Arizona Coyotes, striving for the salary floor.
We saw plenty of shocking moments, too. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the draft’s swing pick, usurped Jesse Puljujarvi, seemingly the consensus No. 3 overall selection. The Wings went off the board on Dennis Cholowski at No. 20 overall. We had him 37th in our 2016 Draft Preview, for what it’s worth.
But plenty of hyped storylines remain unresolved entering Day 2 of the draft. Let’s review a few.
BUFFALO – A week from Friday night, we’ll almost certainly find out what the future holds for Steven Stamkos. But when all the dust settles, don’t be surprised if it turns out the fact that Jakob Chychrun’s stock plummeted in the draft had a huge effect on the situation.
Here’s why. With Chychrun still available when the Detroit Red Wings were picking 16th, Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka finally found a trade partner willing to give up his pick so Chayka could choose Chychrun. The Coyotes are thin on defense among their prospects, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take Clayton Keller with the seventh overall pick. Chayka was convinced Chychrun wouldn’t still be available when they picked next in the first round in the No. 20 slot.