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?
Buffalo Sabres power forward Evander Kane has officially been charged with criminal trespass and up to four counts of non-criminal harassment stemming from an incident at a local nightclub, notes the Buffalo News. In a surreal scene, Kane was even handcuffed when he met with detectives outside of the city’s Central Booking Bureau:
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
Mark Scheifele has been rewarded for his breakout 2015-16 season with an eight-year contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets.
The 23-year-old center will earn $6.125 million annually over the length of the contract that runs until the 2023-24 season. And it may end up being a bargain for the Jets.
Scheifele was sneaky one of the best players in the entire league in the final couple months of the season. When Bryan Little went down with a neck injury on February 18, Scheifele took on a larger role. From that point on till the end of the season, his average ice-time increased from 17 minutes per game to 20 minutes and he scored 17 goals and had 34 points in 26 games, good for a points-per-game average of 1.30. That’s Crosby-level production. He finished the season with 61 points, second on the Jets to Blake Wheeler’s 78.
The Winnipeg Jets have signed center Mathieu Perreault to a four-year, $16.5 million contract extension, the club announced.
Perreault’s new deal comes with a steep $4.125 million annual average value.
Status: Former NHL and WHA defenseman from 1975-1981 for Indianapolis Racers, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguin, Quebec Nordiques and Toronto Maple Leafs. Currently is a Senior Vice President for CBRE Real Estate in Pittsburgh.
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 195
DOB: February 13, 1955 In: Saskatoon, Sask.
First Hockey Memory: “I remember some long, cold days in Saskatoon. I remember skating when I was four or five and I kept falling down on the ice and hitting my head with no helmet, just a toque, which was all I had rolled up for a shock absorber.” Should have known then, it was just the start of things to come.
On the opening day of NHL free agency, 131 players signed contracts worth a combined total of more than $650 million, according to capfriendly.com. While Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, David Backes and Andrew Ladd dominated headlines, signing big-money deals as the best players available, most teams were also filling gaps in organizational depth with signings you may not have even heard about.
A clear sign we’re scaling the peak of NHL off-season activity? A star player signs a contract, and all we want to talk about is the context, the ripple effect, how it plays into other transactions.
The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Wednesday they’d locked up their franchise defenseman, Seth Jones, on a six-year, $32.4-million contract. It carries a $5.4-million cap hit. Jones was a restricted free agent and hasn’t yet maxed out the mammoth upside that made the Nashville Predators choose him fourth overall in 2013, but it was no surprise to see him bypass a short-term bridge contract. Columbus dealt its top-line center, Ryan Johansen, for Jones in January. Jones is clearly part of the Jackets’ long-term plans. He has tremendous size at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds. He’s a graceful skater and puck mover. He uses his big reach impeccably on defense, and he can wire a mean slapshot, too. There’s an excellent chance his $5.4-million cap hit looks like a bargain within a season or two. He and Zach Werenski forge a formidable blueline tandem to build around for years to come.
“He’s a guy who’s come in and solidified what our team is going to be about going forward,” said Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno Friday on a phone call with THN. “He’s a great skater, he moves the puck extremely well, and that’s what we want to see out of our back end.
“For how young he is, it’s pretty incredible the way he can command on the ice. That’s the first thing I noticed, his demeanor. His presence on the ice when he’s playing his game is felt. When he brings it, we’re a way better team. It’s exciting to know he’s going to be here for a while, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do now as he grows and becomes more mature and takes on bigger responsibilities. It’s been nothing but plusses having Seth on our team.”