With the NHL season underway, the contract statuses of Winnipeg Jets left wing Andrew Ladd and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien remain a key issue for the club. Ladd, 29, and the 30-year-old Byfuglien are eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. Ladd’s current contract is worth an annual average salary of $4.4 million, while Byfuglien’s is worth $5.2 million annually.
Ladd could seek around $6 million per season on his next deal, while Bygulien could command around $7 million. Both will become hot commodities if they decide to test next summer’s free-agent market. To date, there’s no word of progress in their respective negotiations with Jets management. Read more
With another NHL season underway, here’s a look at the NHL players most likely to be dealt by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes. The 30-year-old Hurricanes is an unrestricted free agent next summer. His production’s declined in recent years and the club is rebuilding. If there’s no progress in either the Hurricanes’ performance or Staal’s contract talks, he could agree to be dealt to a contender at the deadline. Read more
Welcome to the rebirth of The Hot List. From now on, my weekly collection of top prospects will be known as Prospect Need to Know and the format will be a little different. The biggest changes involve star power and flexibility – there will be more of both. If your prospect knowledge is limited, I’ll have you covered with a steady dose of names such as Auston Matthews, Alex DeBrincat and Patrik Laine. If you like to go deeper, there will be categories on sleeper picks, major injury news and, as the season goes on, high risers in the draft rankings. Basically, I wanted to make sure I have a platform that would not limit me in bringing you the most essential prospect news. And for organizational purposes, players will now be listed in groupings, with those already drafted first (after the spotlight player, of course). So let’s get to it and have some fun:
With the new NHL season fast approaching, several potential UFA stars appear no closer to re-signing with their current teams. The status of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal remains a hot topic in the rumor mill.
The Tampa Bay Time’s Joe Smith reports the 25-year-old Stamkos denied recent trade speculation tying him to the Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. The longer Stamkos remains unsigned, Smith believes more trade rumors will dog the Lightning captain this season.
As for Kopitar, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides seem no closer to an agreement, though talks remain positive. Kopitar, 28, would like to get a deal done before the start of the season. There’s no word yet if he’ll shut down negotiations once the season begins. Read more
WINNIPEG – There was a time not long ago when players on the fourth line were specialists. And their specialty, more often than not, was to go out and punch people in the face. But the Winnipeg Jets might just have a different kind of fourth-line specialist this season in rookie Nic Petan.
Actually, Petan has two recent trends in hockey working in his favor as he tries to earn a spot on the Jets by bypassing the minors. The first is that there is a place in the game now for players who are 5-foot-9 as long as they have some skill, which Petan has in abundance. The second is the advent of 3-on-3 overtime, which begins this season.
Generally speaking, rivalries are born in the post-season and through on-ice run-ins, but a border battle may have been sparked following coaching decisions in Sunday evening’s pre-season tilt between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
After the first frame, the Wild had total control of the game and ended the first period with a 4-0 lead. By the time the contest was halfway through, Minnesota had taken a commanding 6-0 lead. With Winnipeg reeling late in the third period, fights began to break out and a late-game power play for Minnesota led to Wild coach Mike Yeo icing his first power play unit in a blowout.
The move by Yeo to ice his stars against a Jets team that was already being beaten soundly didn’t sit well with Jets coach Paul Maurice, who spoke to media post-game and pointed out the tactic by Yeo. Read more
Speculation is brewing in Philadelphia over possible moves by the Flyers to shed salary and free up a roster spot for an affordable young player before the start of the upcoming season. The Flyers currently have just over $583K in salary-cap space, giving them no wiggle room to promote a deserving prospect.
CSNPhilly.com’s Greg Paone reports defenseman Luke Schenn seems the most likely to move. The 25-year-old has one season remaining on his contract worth $3.35 million. NJ.com’s Randy Miller claims the Flyers tried dumping Schenn’s $3.6-million cap hit for the past two years. He speculates they might get a third-round pick in return.
Though Paone observes Schenn hasn’t developed into a top-pairing blueliner, the 6-foot-2, 229-pounder has the size and big shot that could prove useful to a rival club. He also lists Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald as trade options, but the 37-year-old Streit is getting long in the tooth while few clubs will have interest in MacDonald’s $5-million annual cap hit. Read more
There’s no denying that already this pre-season, even with limited action, the NHL’s change to 3-on-3 overtime has produced fewer shootouts and made for some beautiful overtime goals. But with so many odd-man rushes, it was only a matter of time before the outstanding OT saves starting rolling in.
After the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild opened their pre-season with a scoreless draw through three periods, the teams headed to 3-on-3 to find the deciding goal. And after the Jets had a failed odd-man rush one way, the Wild turned around with 3-on-1.
Skating in on young Winnipeg netminder Connor Hellebuyck were Thomas Vanek, Matt Dumba and Tyler Graovac. With Dumba staying high as an option, Vanek looked off Hellebuyck and slid a perfect one-timer pass to Graovac, who rocketed a slapshot that was labelled for the back of the net. Hellebuyck had a different idea, though: Read more