International team Tattoos
Tim Hulyk, Edmonton, Alta.
International team Tattoos
Tim Hulyk, Edmonton, Alta.
Jacob Trouba’s trade request is both a personal and business move, and while most players understand that, not everyone agreed with the choice. Most notably Jets center Mathieu Perreault, who questioned what more Trouba could want from the Jets.
When defenseman Jacob Trouba’s trade request became public, one of the sticking points seemed to be his desire to play on the right side, something he hasn’t been able to do much of in Winnipeg over the course of the past two seasons.
Even while playing on his off-hand side, though, Trouba has excelled, and the 22-year-old blueliner has gotten some big ice time in the Winnipeg lineup as a result. If that weren’t the case, some in the Winnipeg dressing room might understand Trouba’s request a bit more.
However, given the amount of ice time and opportunity Trouba has been given in Winnipeg, the request isn’t sitting well with everyone, maybe most notable Jets center Mathieu Perreault. While many Jets players reacted to the news of Trouba’s request with support and understanding for both sides, Perreault said he was “disappointed” in Trouba for asking out of Winnipeg.
“We would have hoped he would have, they would have (found) a way to get it done,” Perreault said, according to the Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre and Scott Billeck. “It’s kind of sad to see. He’s such a young player, obviously. I don’t know, it’s a bit of a weird situation…This guy plays big minutes, 22 minutes, and he’s gonna complain some sort of way about his ice time. How much more does he want?”
While he may have been the most vocal about the situation, Perreault wasn’t completely alone in his sentiment. Veteran winger Bryan Little said the situation was “tough,” but there were also “60 guys (at training camp) who would die to put that jersey on.” The most common answer, though, seemed to be an understanding of the business of Trouba’s request with players trying to balance their relationship with their friend and the success of the team.
The contract situation, and now trade request, will be a tough one for the Jets to manage. When the request became public Saturday, everyone learned that Winnipeg and Trouba’s camp, including agent Kurt Overhardt, haven’t had meaningful contract discussions since before the culmination of the 2015-16 season and the original trade request was made in May. Yet, Trouba remains on the Jets’ roster.
According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Jets won’t be willing to move Trouba for anything less than what they believe is fair value — and, Lawless reported, that value is a left-handed blueliner who is at or around the same age and possesses the same skill level as Trouba.
With those as guidelines for a deal, it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for the Jets to find a trade partner. That doesn’t mean a deal is impossible, but it certainly means this situation could drag on much longer than either side would have hoped after the trade request.
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If the Rangers and Blues are still interested in a Nash-for-Shattenkirk trade, the Blues may have found a way to fit Nash's salary on to their books.
A contract dispute with the St. Louis Blues led center Vladimir Sobotka to spend the past two seasons playing in Russia. The 29-year-old reportedly intends to use his out-clause with KHL team Avangard Omsk to return to the Blues in 2016-17
Those plans, however, apparently hit a snag. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Avangard Omsk seeks a fee from Sobotka which he's yet to pay. His agent, Petr Svoboda, is still negotiating his release.
If Sobotka is unable to return to the Blues this season, Rutherford's colleague Jeff Gordon suggests the Blues use the savings to offset some of the cost of acquiring winger Rick Nash and his $7.8 million salary-cap hit from the New York Rangers. Gordon cites the Rangers rumored interest in Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who's an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The “Shattenkirk-for-Nash” rumor isn't anything new, frequently surfacing over the course of the summer. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong reportedly shopped the 27-year-old blueliner in late-June but didn't find any suitable offers. TSN's Darren Dreger still believes Shattenkirk is a trade target, but doesn't believe it's a “front-burner” issue right now.
For now, Armstrong appears intent on keeping Stattenkirk for the start of the season. Whether the puck-moving rearguard is moved depends upon the Blues roster needs over the course of this campaign and their position in the standings before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
If Shattenkirk hits the trade block, there will be considerable interest in his services. Along with the Rangers, the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils could be among the suitors.
While Shattenkirk lacks a no-trade clause, his UFA status at season's end is a stumbling block. Rutherford claims interested clubs want to know if he'll agree to a contract extension before pursuing a trade. He said Shattenkirk's unwillingness to sign an extension with the Edmonton Oilers killed a possible deal that would've shipped left winger Taylor Hall to St. Louis. The Oilers instead dealt Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.
OILERS HAVE INTEREST IN KRIS RUSSELL
The status of unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell is attracting interest in the rumor mill. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites a TSN report claiming the Edmonton Oilers were discussing a short-term contract with the 29-year-old rearguard.
TSN's Bob McKenzie believes Russell could be a decent short-term fit with the Oilers, who still need experienced depth among their top-four blueliners. Earlier this summer, the shot-blocking specialist reportedly sought a five-year deal. McKenzie believes he'll accept a one-year contract, perhaps seeking between $4-$5 million.
The Oilers aren't the only club the Russell camp have spoken with in recent weeks. McKenzie claims they've talked to as many as eight NHL teams. It's rumored the Calgary Flames, who dealt Russell to the Dallas Stars at last season's trade deadline, would like to bring him back. However, they've also got to re-sign restricted free agent star winger Johnny Gaudreau.
It could cost around $7 million per season to get Gaudreau under contract. With $7.9 million in cap space, that won't leave much room for the Flames to pursue Russell unless they make a cost-cutting deal.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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Team Sweden came into the tournament as a favorite to make the final. And now it's out because of the way it approached the game.
Let’s get something straight here. Sweden did not lose the semifinal game in the World Cup of Hockey because of a disputed goal in overtime. It did not lose because it failed to score on the power play. It didn’t lose because all-world goalie Henrik Lundqvist dropped his stick at one of the most inopportune times of his career.
The Swedish players are heading to NHL training camp instead of the best-of-three final in the World Cup of Hockey because they decided - or probably more accurately, had it decided for them - that they were going to play chess until the third period of their 3-2 overtime loss to Team Europe. They played the game afraid to lose and that’s exactly what happened. It was a display of a dull, turgid, safe and utterly ridiculous brand of hockey given their level of talent that came back to haunt them.
And for that we should all be grateful. Even if you’re Swedish. Because perhaps the people who run the national program in Sweden will go back and realize what an opportunity they frittered by taking a bunch of thoroughbreds and forcing them to trot their way around the track. That’s not how these players play in the NHL. That’s not how they’re wired. Players such as Erik Karlsson have to go and holding them back should not be rewarded.
And it this case it was not. Had Sweden somehow underachieved its way to the World Cup final, it would not have highlighted how absolutely terrible this approach was. Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog, who told Scott Oake of Hockey Night in Canada after the first period that, “We kind of stood around waiting for each other,” capsulized the game plan right there. Then he added: “We’re in the World Cup of Hockey semifinal. You’re not going to give them anything just to play beautiful hockey.”
Sweden was outshooting Team Europe 10-5 after the first period, then took a 1-0 lead 2:31 into the second. Perhaps thinking one goal would be enough to win, the Swedes eventually shut it down and collapsed, sending the game into a lull of ennui that made it darn near unwatchable. And if they had won, they would have been rewarded for it. But they didn’t, so that’s a good thing. Only after Tomas Tatar made it 2-1 12 seconds into the third period did the Swedes decide they needed to play with just a little more urgency. And by that time, Team Europe goalie Jaroslav Halak had found his groove. If not for a Karlsson floater that hit Roman Josi’s stick, the overtime wouldn’t even have been necessary.
The Swedes obviously saw this game a lot differently than your trusty correspondent did. When asked why with all this talent, and a brain trust that included Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom, his team could play the way it did, Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg responded by saying he thought his team played well.
“I don’t think we were passive. I think you’re wrong there,” Gronborg said. “We need to show patience, and I think we showed patience. But at the end of the day when they’re scoring six goals against us in an exhibition game, we didn’t show patience. That’s what happens. This is a very good team we’re playing against. What we wanted to do was obviously make sure we don’t get turnovers and we don’t get odd-man rushes against, and I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight. We put ourselves in a position of winning this game. In the offensive zone we don’t put reins on our players. We don’t put defensive assignments in the offensive zone. So I don’t think I agree with you there.”
Looks like we weren’t watching the same game. Nobody said the Swedes had to get all turnover happy and turn the game into a round of pond hockey, but at some point, don’t you realize you’re better than the other team and play to your strengths. The Swedes lost 6-2 to Team Europe in the final pre-tournament game and instead of using that game as a lesson on how to manage the puck better, it responding by thinking it couldn’t try anything creative.
“That’s what teams have done against them and that’s why they lost against this team,” Daniel Sedin said. “They’ve been playing a full-out attack and you can’t do that against this team. They want us to make mistakes and we played a patient game thinking it was going to pay off in the end and it didn’t. It’s easy to say after the game that we should have attacked more.”
Actually, it was quite easy during the game to say that. Anyone who was watching could see where that game was going. And the fact the way it went the way it did is a setback for Sweden, but a triumph for the game. Sweden teased us all tournament, telling us they still hadn't played their best game. They certainly didn't do that Sunday and now they won't have a chance to do it again in the World Cup.
With Team Europe on to the World Cup final, the sizzling two-way defenseman from Nashville will have to play big. But that's just his style.
Team Europe faces a monumental task in the World Cup final, but just for a minute, let’s appreciate the fact they got there in the first place. The oldest squad in the tournament includes a defense corps with 39-year-old Zdeno Chara and 38-year-old Mark Streit, but the marquee names on the back end aren’t all greybeards.
Nashville’s Roman Josi, for example, is just 26 and already playing incredible hockey for the Predators. In Europe’s overtime win against Sweden on Sunday, Josi led all Team Europe skaters with 29 minutes of ice time, playing in all situations.
If you weren’t on the Josi train already, jump aboard fast.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness,” said Preds teammate Mattias Ekholm. “He’s sound defensively and obviously does well in the offensive zone. He has always played well, but last year he started getting the recognition he deserves.”
Indeed, Josi led the Nashville blueline in points and ice time last season, even as star Shea Weber got more of the attention. In general, headlines don’t really matter that much to Josi, however.
“In Nashville, you don’t get that much attention, so you’re always flying under the radar, which is a good thing,” he said. “We don’t get on national TV much. It’s been like that since I got to the NHL, so I’m comfortable with that.”
But the secret is already out and the mega-trade that saw captain Weber dealt to Montreal for the flamboyant P.K. Subban has already seen the hockey world’s focus shift to Nashville in the summer. While Weber’s excellent shutdown capabilities have been on full display at the World Cup for Canada (hey, where’d Ovie go?), injecting Subban into a lineup that already features Josi, Ekholm and Ryan Ellis in the top-four makes for one of the most mobile bluelines in the NHL.
“He brings a lot of things to the table,” Josi said. “He’s very skilled, he’s a great skater, he jumps up in the play – he’s definitely going to bring a lot to the team. It’s going to be very fun.”
Unless of course, you’re facing the Preds. Because Josi is pretty dangerous on the offensive side of the ledger, too. His 61 points in 2015-16 were a career-high, but he’s been trending up for years. And his best attributes aren’t going away anytime soon.
“It’s his skating and his hockey sense,” Ekholm said. “When he joins the rush, he does it with speed, but he also does it with smartness.”
So look out for the Preds this season. That defense corps is going to supplement forwards such as Filip Forsberg and James Neal up front in a big way and pushing San Jose to seven games in the second round of the playoffs has Nashville thinking big. Cautiously, mind you, but there are expectations.
“They’re pretty high after last season,” Josi said. “In the Central Division it’s always tough to even get in the playoffs, so that’s gotta be our goal. After that, everybody’s goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that’s our ultimate goal, too.”
Before that, Josi and his Team Europe cohorts will get at least two cracks at the Canada juggernaut, perhaps three. Josi is used to playing a lot of hockey and if Europe has any chance, he’ll need to be huge. Not that he minds the work.
“You’re never going to say no to a lot of minutes,” he said.