Signing bonuses could become next CBA battleground

Jamie Benn (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.

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Matthews’ bonus-laden contract proves Lamoriello is flexible, but firm

Ken Campbell
Lou Lamoriello (left) and Auston Matthews (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

To hear Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello tell it, Auston Matthews was always going to get signed, always going to get the bonuses that were coming to him. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Yes, it took a little longer than usual, but an entry-level contract with Matthews was announced Tuesday, 27 days after he was selected first overall. There had been an enormous amount of consternation about whether or not the Leafs and Matthews were at loggerheads about entry-level bonus money. During his many days with the New Jersey Devils, Lamoriello had a policy of not giving them to anyone. He also had a policy of no beards for anyone in the organization and everyone in the office had to wear a tie even in the summer, but it looks like Lamoriello is changing with the times.

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Rumor Roundup: Bruins need to look to free agents for blueline help

Kris Russell (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins efforts to bolster their defense via the trade market hasn’t panned out so far. The asking prices for available blueliners such as St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba and Anaheim’s Cam Fowler are rumored to be expensive.

It could be time for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to consider his options via free agency. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty lists Kris Russell, James Wisniewski and Luke Schenn as possible blueline targets.

Russell, 29, is a top-four defenseman and shotblocking specialist. The 33-year-old Wisniewski missed all but one game last season to a knee injury. When healthy, he’s a good puckmoving blueliner. Schenn, 26, has a booming shot and plays a physical style.

This trio won’t address the Bruins long-term defensive needs. However, one of them could be a decent, affordable short-term option while Sweeney awaits for the trade market to improve.

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Which players could take on the six vacant captaincies?

Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Four players became first-time captains in the NHL ahead of the 2015-16 season, each to varying degrees of success.

In San Jose, Joe Pavelski took over as captain after years of speculation that he was the next in line to wear the ‘C’ for the Sharks. In his first season, he helped lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final with an impressive post-season performance.

Pavelski was joined as a new captain by Max Pacioretty, who donned the ‘C’ for the first time and did so as a member of arguably the most storied organization in the history of the sport, the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty’s Canadiens flew out of the gate like an early Cup contender, but an injury to Carey Price derailed Montreal’s season.

Also joining the captains club were Nick Foligno, who was chosen to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Andy Greene, selected by the New Jersey Devils to take the captaincy from the retiring Bryce Salvador. Both teams missed the post-season, but took some strides forward that have both fan bases hopeful for the coming campaign.

While four new captains may seem like a lot, there’s potential for as many as seven first-time captains to take over major leadership roles in 2016-17. Anze Kopitar has already been handed the ‘C’ for the Los Angeles Kings, but that still leaves the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers without captains. So, will those clubs have a captain this coming season and, if so, who will stitch the ‘C’ to their sweater? Read more

Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs still haven’t made decision on Lupul’s future

Joffrey Lupul (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons praises the ability of Maple Leafs management to ship out contracts considered untradeable. He observes they’ve shed over $23 million in salary-cap space in the last 18 months by dealing away Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier.

That prompted Simmons to speculate their next trick will be making winger Joffrey Lupul’s contract disappear. Lupul, 32, is signed through 2017-18 at an annual average salary of $5.25 million. He also holds a modified no-trade clause listing 14 acceptable trade destinations.

Since joining the Leafs, Lupul’s continually been sidelined by injuries. He missed 31 games in 2015-16 to a sports hernia. As a result, his name is frequently surfacing in trade rumors. Read more

Maple Leafs trade Jonathan Bernier to Ducks, will look to acquire backup goalie

Ian Denomme
bernier-454009775

Jonathan Bernier is heading back to California after the Toronto Maple Leafs traded the goalie to the Anaheim Ducks.

In return, the Maple Leafs get a conditional 2017 draft pick, but in a sense it’s a completion of the June 20th trade between the two teams that sent goalie Frederik Andersen to the Maple Leafs. It seems in all likelihood Bernier would have been included in that original deal, except he was owed a $2-million bonus on July 1. The Maple Leafs could afford to pay the bonus then complete the goalie swap on Friday.

The deal ends Bernier’s unremarkable career in Toronto after three seasons. He was acquired in a 2013 trade with the Los Angeles Kings and never lived up to high expectations placed on him by the Leafs former front-office group.

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Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

According to Mark Divver from the Providence Journal, the Buffalo Sabres sent an armada to Boston in the hopes of convincing left winger Jimmy Vesey to sign with the franchise. Vesey, whose rights were acquired from Nashville in the lead-up to the draft, is skating in his hometown and has a frenzy of activity surrounding his free agency decision.

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