Welch, 24, has one goal, one assist and 22 penalty minutes in 22 games with the Penguins this season. The six-foot-four blue-liner added five goals and 12 assists in 20 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Welch, 24, has one goal, one assist and 22 penalty minutes in 22 games with the Penguins this season. The six-foot-four blue-liner added five goals and 12 assists in 20 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Sidney Crosby’s run atop Forbes’ list of the NHL’s highest-paid players has ended as Jonathan Toews has taken top spot. Crosby still remains the league’s endorsement king, though.
Along with announcing their franchise valuations each season, Forbes has taken to putting together a list of the 10 players earning the most in each given campaign, and this year’s list sees four fresh faces and, for the first time, not a single player under $10-million in projected earnings.
The 2016-17 projections also feature a change on the top of the list.
For years, Sidney Crosby has been the face of the NHL and he was paid as such, too. For each of the past three seasons, Crosby has been among the highest paid players, earning $12-million per year. That was a big help when it came to finding himself at the very top of the Forbes’ list, but the reasons for his security in top spot go beyond his massive NHL paycheck.
Crosby has expansive endorsement portfolio, and, even though he finds himself in second place this year, he’s making almost a third of his money from endorsements. Crosby is one of the faces of Tim Hortons’ NHL campaigns alongside Nathan MacKinnon, as well as earning endorsement dollars from CCM and Gatorade. All told, Forbes estimated his non-hockey earnings to be somewhere in the $4.5-million range.
A dip in salary to $10.9 million, however, sees Crosby now second in overall earnings to Jonathan Toews.
Toews, the Blackhawks captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion, is tied with Patrick Kane as the second-highest salaried player in the league with $13.8-million salary. What helps Toews bump himself up to first on the list, though, is his estimated $2.2 million in endorsements. Canadians get a healthy dose of Toews on any given night they’re watching hockey, seeing him pop up in ads for Canadian Tire every few breaks. Toews also has deals with Bauer, Hallmark, and Chevrolet in Chicago, according to Forbes.
And rounding out the top three, and keeping the trio in the top three spots unchanged, is Kane. His monstrous salary has helped him stick around at the top of the list. Kane also is set to earn a reported $1 million in endorsements, including a deal with Bauer that often sees him featured in highlight-reel videos.
The only change in the entire top-five is the addition of Anze Kopitar, and the Los Angeles Kings pivot has his massive new contract to thank for coming in at No. 4. Kopitar is the highest-salaried player in the league right now, making $14-million in the first year of his eight-year, $80-million deal with the Kings, but he’ll slowly slip down the ladder. Next season he’ll be down to “just” $13 million, $12 million in 2018-19, $11 million in 2019-20 and then $30 million spread over the next four years.
For the second consecutive year, Alex Ovechkin is in fifth spot. His $10-million salary almost seems pedestrian at this point, but his $4 million in endorsements is anything but. In fact, he’s the second-highest endorsement earner in the league, behind only Crosby. Ovechkin arguably has the more interesting endorsements, too. Bauer, Nike, Coca-Cola, Upper Deck, Fanatics and a Russian bank all have Ovechkin on board, according to Forbes, and that’s leaving out his role as one of the faces of a Russian mobile strategy game.
The bottom half of the list has the bulk of the fresh faces, with P.K. Subban, Ryan O’Reilly and Steven Stamkos all making their way into Forbes’ Top 10 this year. Subban’s $11-million salary and off-ice work has him in sixth spot, which was previously occupied by now-10th Henrik Lundqvist, while O’Reilly and Stamkos fall in eighth and ninth, respectively. Rounding out the list is Shea Weber, who fell from fourth to seventh because of a $2-million drop in his salary.
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The 1998 expansion draft results.
Let's take a look back at five fairly big names that have been called at expansion drafts and how they managed to avoid ever actually playing for those teams.
Now that the Vegas Golden Knights have a name, a logo, and a future head coach, everyone is turning their attention to June's expansion draft. Who will the Knights end up with? Matt Murray? Jakob Silfverberg? Trevor van Riemsdyk? Maybe even an established veteran who waives a no-movement clause, like Dion Phaneuf or Rick Nash?
Those are all reasonably big names, and if the Golden Knights wound up picking any of them, you'd think it would make for a memorable moment.
Then again, maybe not. You see, sometimes NHL expansion teams end up taking big name players, and everyone just kind of forgets about it. That's because there's no guarantee that any player taken by an expansion team will ever actually play for that expansion team.
So today, let's take a look back at five fairly big names that have been called at expansion drafts of the past, and how they managed to avoid ever actually suiting up for the fledgling franchises that chose them.
Tim Kerr, 1991
Early NHL expansion drafts of the 60s and 70s were fairly standard. A handful of good players were picked, including names like Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall and Bernie Parent. But for the most part, the established teams didn't offer much in the way of talent, and the expansion franchises patched together a team with whatever they could find. That's why most of the early expansion teams were awful.
But by the time the second wave of expansion had hit in the 1990s, the new teams were willing to get a little more creative. Oh, they'd still be awful. But they realized that just because they drafted a player didn't mean they had to keep him, and it became common to see trades worked out as soon as the expansion draft was over (and sometimes even sooner).
Take the 1991 draft, for example. That was the weird expansion/dispersal hybrid that featured the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota North Stars, which we covered in some depth over the summer. The most famous weird pick from that draft was the very last one, in which the North Stars picked quasi-retired Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur because they didn't want any Quebec Nordiques and the rules wouldn't allow them to pass. But another well-known sniper was also taken that day.
That would be Tim Kerr, a four-time 50-goal scorer for the Flyers who'd been slowed down by injuries. By 1991, he hadn't put together a full season in four years. But he was still scoring at well over a point-per-game pace when he did play, and seemed like the sort of guy who could be a good gamble for a contender.
The Sharks weren't a contender, but the Rangers were. And so the Sharks grabbed Kerr off of the Flyer's unprotected list, and then immediately flipped him to the Rangers in exchange for Brian Mullen. It was a smart deal for San Jose; Mullen ended up being their second-leading scorer in their debut season. It worked out worse for the Rangers, as Kerr struggled through another injury-shortened year before being dealt to Hartford.
Daren Puppa, 1993
Here's a fun way to confuse hockey fans of a certain age: Ask them how Daren Puppa ended up with the Lightning back in 1993.
Chances are, they'll tell you some version of the same story: Puppa was splitting time in Buffalo with newcomer Dominik Hasek, then was traded to the Maple Leafs in the big Grant Fuhr/Dave Andreychuk blockbuster. He backed up Felix Potvin in Toronto for their epic playoff run, then went to the Tampa Bay Lightning in that summer's expansion draft.
Just about everyone remembers it that way. But there's a slight problem: The Lightning were already in the league in 1992-93. Their expansion draft had been the year before, when Puppa was still with the Sabres.
That glitch in the matrix can be explained by an oddity of the 1993 expansion draft: There were actually two of them. The first stocked the two new teams, the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The second allowed the three most recent teams, the Sharks, Senators and Lightning, to pick players from those two newcomers.
That's what happened with Puppa. It was actually the Panthers who snagged him from Toronto. Then the Lightning took him off of the Panthers' hands.
Fellow goaltender Glenn Healy followed a similar path, but with an additional stop. He went from the Islanders to the Mighty Ducks to the Lightning over the course of the double draft. But he didn't stop there. The Lightning turned around and flipped him to the Rangers in exchange for a third round pick.
Not too many players get to be the property of four teams within a few hours, but it all worked out well for Healy. He won a Stanley Cup in New York the next year, backing up superstar Mike Richter.
Speaking of whom…
Mike Richter, 1998
As every Rangers fan knows, Richter played his entire 14-year career in New York, debuting in 1989-1990 and sticking with the franchise until 2003. Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.
That's why it may come as a surprise to see Richter's name show up as one of the picks in the 1998 expansion draft. But indeed he was, taken by the Predators and becoming an inaugural member of the first NHL team ever put together in Nashville.
For six days. Then he became an unrestricted free agent. Then he re-signed with the Rangers.
That sounds ridiculous, but what the Predators were doing actually made perfect sense. This was back when the NHL had a weird draft pick compensation rule for teams that lost free agents. The Predators knew that Richter would never play for them, but when they technically "lost" him to the Rangers, they got a free draft pick from the league for their troubles. They did the same with another one of their expansion picks, Uwe Krupp.
(By the way, that same rule led to Richter departing New York a second time, this time in a trade to the Oilers in 2002. Once again, he simply re-signed with the Rangers a few days later.)
Mathieu Schneider, 2000
In addition to being a very good defenseman for most of his career, Mathieu Schneider is one of the great "played for everyone" guys of his generation. He had a 20-year career, during which he played for a staggering 10 different teams. He was traded seven times, in deals involving everyone from Kirk Muller to Wendel Clark to Sean Avery. He got around.
So you'd assume that he must have suited up for an expansion team at least once. Nope. But he was drafted by one in 2000, when the Blue Jackets joined the league.
Schneider had finished up the 1999-2000 season with the Rangers, because apparently they need to be involved in every one of these things. He was scheduled to hit UFA status, so you can probably see where this is going. Yes, it's another one of those shady compensation pick deals, in which the Blue Jackets wound up claiming a fourth-rounder in the 2001 draft after Schneider signed with the Kings later that summer.
The Blue Jackets probably didn't mind too much, since Schneider was already 31 at the time and only had a few years left in him. "A few" ended up being a full decade's worth; he played until 2010.
As a side note, the Blue Jackets ended up flipping that fourth-round pick to the Panthers in a deal that brought Ray Whitney to Columbus. So in a sense, Whitney and Schneider were sort of traded for each other. I'm not sure how many trades in NHL history involve two players who could account for 42 seasons and 18 teams, but I'm guessing it's not many.
Mike Vernon, 2000
We'll close with yet another goaltender, since there's something about the position that just seems to attract expansion draft shenanigans. Marc-Andre Fleury, keep your head up.
By the time the 2000 offseason rolled around, Vernon had just about done it all over the course of a long career. He'd won a Cup with two different teams, been a Vezina finalist, won the Jennings and the Conn Smythe, and pummeled Patrick Roy. He had a good run.
The one thing he hadn't done was get picked in an expansion draft. The Minnesota Wild took care of that, plucking him from the Florida Panthers in a move that made everyone go "Wait, Mike Vernon once played for the Florida Panthers?"
He did, for a few games at the end of the 1999-2000 season. But he never played for the Wild. They turned around and traded him that same day, sending him home to Calgary to finish his career. Other familiar names that were picked by the Wild and then immediately traded include Joe Juneau and Chris Terreri.
As for Vernon, he played parts of two more seasons in Calgary before retiring as a Flame in 2002.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
They sure teased us there during the first two weeks of the season. But we should have known all along that the NHL would go back to its defensive ways.
Boy, the NHL sure had us there for a while. During the first two weeks of the season, players were filling the nets like it was the Bill Clinton administration. The first three nights of this season, there was an 11-goal game, a 10-goal game, three nine-goal games and two eight-goal games. Rookie Auston Matthews turned in a record on the first night of the season by scoring four goals in his NHL debut and his team still lost the game.
Good times. Yup, good times. And like all good times, it inevitably had to come to an end. Because NHL. The orgy of scoring we saw early in the season has been replaced with what seems like a record number of loop passes from the defensive zone. And why are defensemen doing this at such a regular pace? Because trying to get the puck through the neutral zone along the ice is almost impossible.
Through the first 356 games of this season, NHL teams have scored a total of 1,880 goals. Those are real goals. The phony ones teams are awarded for winning the NHL’s skills competition are not included. That means teams are scoring at an average of 5.28 goals per game this season, which if it sticks, will mean scoring is at its lowest in the NHL since The Dead Puck Era™.
To put that into perspective, consider this: the Edmonton Oilers scored a total of 2,114 goals in the five seasons that spanned from 1981-82 through 1985-86. Even if they had recorded a shutout in every one of those 400 regular-season games, they’d still have averaged more goals per game (5.285) all by themselves than what both teams are scoring this season. Think about that for a minute.
Whatever the effect there was on goal scoring early in the season has clearly dissipated. After the first two weeks of the season, teams were scoring at a clip of 5.92 non-shootout goals per game. Since then, teams are scoring at just 5.04. As Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter recently put it, “Then NHL is a 3-2 league.” Unless it’s 2-1 in a shootout.
There were a number of theories as to why scoring was so high early in the season. Some thought it was because the 168 NHL players who played in the World Cup were in mid-season form and therefore, so much further ahead of their teammates. Another theory held that there were so many young players in the league who were not only dazzling fans with their scoring, but making the kinds of mistakes that result in goals going in on their own net. The third was that some early-season injuries to goalies were forcing a number of teams to use backups.
Whatever the case, the NHL has adapted the way it always does. Of course it doesn’t help that the NHL allows the Minnesota Wild to hack away at Johnny Gaudreau’s hand, with Eric Staal finally dealing the killing blow and breaking it with a third try, with impunity. Then you have Gaudreau’s own teammate Troy Brouwer basically saying he does that kind of stuff a lot, so all’s fair, then goes out and proves it by going after leading Calder Trophy candidate Mitch Marner’s hand with a two-hander a couple of weeks later. When these things go unpenalized, few in the hockey community point out that, you know, you’re not supposed to do that and it’s not such a good idea to target the best young players in the league. And those who do get shouted down by hockey people who claim these kids should be wearing more protective gloves to guard themselves from something that happens a hundred times a game. Well, if that’s the case and it does actually happen a hundred times a game, that tells us something about why scoring is so low in the first place.
While other leagues try to encourage offense, the NHL does almost nothing. Certainly nothing radical. It’s been more than a decade since the league reinvented itself after the 2004-05 lockout, but much of what the league has eliminated has crept back in. The league and NHL Players’ Association continue to work toward streamlining goalie equipment at what seems like a sloth’s pace. Ideas to limit shot blocking or reconfigure the goal posts so more pucks will go off the post and into the net are seen as far too radical.
Meanwhile, the goals continue to dry up. According to the Elias Sports Bureau at this point last season scoring was slightly lower than it is this season, but rallied to end up at 5.34 goals per game. Each of the past five years, goal scoring totals have been essentially identical, never going below 5.31 or above 5.34. That could very well be where we end up this season. The biggest difference between this season and last, said Bob Waterman of Elias, is that scoring didn't vary that much from Day 1 to the end of the season in 2015-16, but there was a glut of goals early this season.
The modern-day low for scoring is 5.14 goals per game in 2003-04, the season before the NHL unshackled its star players. If it breaches that number, it would hit a 61-year low (5.07 was recorded in 1955-56). Perhaps that might be enough to push the NHL to do something about it. Or not.
Despite firm denials about Dougie Hamilton trade rumors from Brian Burke, there has been a notable increase in those reports lately.
Calgary Flames president Brian Burke voiced his displeasure over “an army of leakers” creating mischief by claiming his club could trade defenseman Dougie Hamilton. He pinned the blame upon an unnamed team, threatened to unveil said team if the rumors persisted, and added those engaging in such speculation didn't know what they were talking about.
Of course, Burke did this in his own colourful way, driving home the point that his team had no intention of trading Hamilton. For his part, the 23-year-old blueliner acknowledged hearing the rumors but didn't put any stock in them.
The trade chatter surrounding Hamilton kicked around for over a month, with most of it coming from TSN and Sportsnet. In each case, the reports stated the Flames were listening to offers for Hamilton, but weren't trying to trade him.
Of late, however, there was a notable increase in those reports. Factor in some thinking-out-loud musings from some pundits believing Hamilton could be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with the Leafs visit to Calgary on Thursday to play the Flames, and it's no wonder Burke and his GM Brad Treliving publicly denied the rumors.
Still, not everyone is buying it. The Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur reports that, despite the Flames' denials, there are some around the league insisting Hamilton could be had for the right price.
This also isn't the first time Burke took to the press to deny trade speculation over one of his defensemen. In January 2012, when Burke was the Leafs GM, he said there was no truth to reports he was planning to trade blueliner Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk. Six months later, following the 2012 NHL draft, Schenn was swapped for van Riemsdyk.
That doesn't mean the Flames intend to move Hamilton. As Burke noted, they gave up a lot of assets and money last year to acquire and sign him. Hamilton has considerable size, skills and potential. It would be hasty to ship him out simply because he's taken longer than expected to reach his full potential.
Burke's comments could put all the Hamilton trade chatter to rest for the remainder of this season. Depending upon how this season ends, and with next June's NHL expansion draft likely to have a ripple effect upon the trade market, don't be surprised if Hamilton's name resurfaces in the rumor mill.
LATEST ON BISHOP AND FLEURY
The Tampa Bay Lightning could be in need of depth on their defense corps. Since Anton Stralman suffered an upper-body injury on Nov. 12, they have won five of their last 10 games and dropped four of their last five.
Even when Stralman returns, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times believes the Bolts still need to bolster their blueline. He cites TSN's Craig Button observing they lack really good No. 2 and No. 4 defensemen.
Smith notes finding such blueliners won't be easy or affordable. While they could use pending free agent goaltender Ben Bishop as bait near the trade deadline, that creates the problem of finding a suitable backup for Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Earlier this season, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman indicated his preference to keep Bishop and Vasilevskiy for one more run at a Stanley Cup. Considering which teams are out of playoff contention by the deadline and which blueliners are available, perhaps Yzerman can address that issue without resorting to putting Bishop on the trade block. Rental players can usually be had for one or two draft picks.
Bishop might not be the only notable goalie available by the trade deadline. Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury's been a fixture in the rumor mill since last June.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford hoped to go through this season with Fleury and promising Matt Murray sharing the goaltending duties. However, Rutherford told Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that carrying two No.1 goalies hasn't worked as well as expected. Fleury and Murray are used to starter's minutes but are now forced to split the workload, leading to some recent inconsistent performances from both of them.
Rutherford can only protect one goaltender in next June's NHL expansion draft. He told Molinari he's not feeling any urgency to address the issue, but admitted it's the one most on his mind of late.
Fleury has a no-movement clause, meaning the Penguins must protect him unless he agrees to waive it for the draft or to accept a trade. It's assumed the Pens will shop him at some point this season in order to protect Murray. That move could come by the trade deadline.
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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