Posts Tagged ‘NHL’

Evander Kane‘s days with the Buffalo Sabres appear to be numbered.

Kane confirmed to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News that he won’t be re-signed by the Sabres, meaning the winger is set to become one of the bigger prizes at both the trade deadline and in free agency.

From Harrington:

He’s in the final year of a six-year, $31.25 million contract he signed with the Winnipeg Jets in 2012 and confirmed to The Buffalo News this week what has been widely assumed: The Sabres have never negotiated with him on a new deal.

The decision, Kane added, appears to be mainly organizational, as he would’ve been more than willing to talk to general manager Jason Botterill about a contract extension.

“Of course I would have. Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve said from Day One I’ve really enjoyed the time here. For me, it’s a place where I’ve grown to know more and more about Buffalo. It’s been a real great experience for me. I’m just going to continue that until I get told something different.”

Kane has recorded 16 goals and 20 assists in 44 games for the Sabres, and is on pace to match his career-high 30 goals while setting a new personal bar in points.

He’ll be highly sought after in a trade and later on the open market, but the asking price will likely be set quite high by the Sabres, even if interested teams might only gain his services for the balance of this season.

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The Ottawa Senators‘ poor season apparently hasn’t motivated players to head for the hills.

General manager Pierre Dorion noted to reporters Thursday that no player has requested a trade, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Dorion also said he hasn’t shopped any players to other teams – though that’s partly because other teams came calling on their own.

“I haven’t shopped anyone,” Dorion said, according to TSN’s Brent Wallace. He added, “We have good players – that’s why they (other GMs) are calling.”

The Senators currently own the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, and are consequently widely expected to be sellers at the trade deadline.

The general manager added that he has not been instructed to shed salary, suggesting a full-scale rebuild isn’t currently top of mind.

The NHL’s iconic Winter Classic is zeroing in on the Sunshine State, and it’s possible the Tampa Bay Lightning could host the event in the coming years.

“Tampa is absolutely on the shorter list of places that we’re considering (for an outdoor game),” NHL executive vice president Steve Mayer told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think given the stadium, given the team, given the market, I think it’s a great candidate.”

The sites for the 2020 and 2021 outdoor games will be announced this offseason. The Lightning would play at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buccaneers, which seats more than 65,000 fans.

The team ranks sixth in NHL attendance this season, averaging more than 19,000 fans a game at Amalie Arena, according to ESPN.

Tampa’s hosting the 2018 All-Star Game in February.

A staple on the league calendar since 2008, the NHL schedules multiple outdoor games each year. Two have already taken place this season – in Ottawa and New York City, respectively – and a third is set for Annapolis, Md., in March.

Two previous games were held in warmer climates – Los Angeles in 2014 and Santa Clara, Calif., in 2015 – and potential weather challenges won’t deter the NHL.

“The way we’re doing the ice (for outdoor games) has changed and evolved over the years. It can handle extremes,” Mayer added. “You can never play an afternoon game. But nighttime (in Tampa) it gets cool and could easily handle an outdoor game.”

The Arizona Coyotes could be one of the busier sellers ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

It’s been a miserable season in the desert, as the Coyotes have languished in the basement, having won just 10 of 44 games.

That means change is in order, and blue-liners Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson could be wearing different jerseys come March, reports Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

It’s a steep asking price for Ekman-Larsson, with Coyotes general manager John Chayka seeking two top-flight roster players in addition to a first-round draft choice for the star blue-liner.

On a poor performing Coyotes team, Ekman-Larsson has recorded 19 points in 44 games this season and is a key piece of the team’s leadership core following the retirement of former captain Shane Doan.

Signed through next season, a trade for Ekman-Larsson ahead of this year’s trade deadline means the acquiring team would get the Swedish defenseman for two playoff runs before his contract expires. The Coyotes used the same selling point when they dealt Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers ahead of the 2015 trade deadline.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are also shopping Hjalmarsson. The three-time Stanley Cup champion has had little time to make an impact in Arizona after he was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last offseason, as a series of injuries have limited Hjalmarsson to just 18 games this year.

Like Ekman-Larsson, Hjalmarsson is signed through 2018-19, though his cap hit comes in slightly lower, as he’s owed $4.1 million.

Gary Bettman isn’t ruling out the possibility of an outdoor NHL game in North Carolina.

The NHL commissioner said as much at Friday’s news conference introducing new Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon, who has inquired about it.

“Tom has already asked … An outdoor game across the street is not out of the question,” Bettman said, via Luke DeCock of The News & Observer.

PNC Arena, the home of the Hurricanes, is literally across the street from Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, which houses the NC State Wolfpack football program.

The football facility has a capacity of over 57,000.

Only two NHL outdoor games have been played in the southern United States in the modern era. The Los Angeles Kings faced the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in 2014, and the San Jose Sharks hosted the Kings at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. just over a year later.

The New York Rangers defeated the Kings at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas back in 1991.

As far as outdoor NHL games at college football stadiums are concerned, there are two such spectacles on the horizon, with the Washington Capitals playing host to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., on March 3, 2018, and with the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins squaring off at Notre Dame Stadium in the 2019 Winter Classic.

The Detroit Red Wings hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium, home of the University of Michigan Wolverines, in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day back in 2014.

Jack Johnson reportedly wants out.

The veteran defenseman has asked the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade him, sources told The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline on Saturday morning.

Johnson’s reduced role was cited as a reason for the request, as was his desire to better position himself for free agency in the summer, not that he’s unhappy in Columbus or with his teammates, according to the report.

The request was reportedly made weeks ago. Neither Johnson nor Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would comment when contacted by The Athletic on Friday.

The 31-year-old, who’s one of Columbus’ alternate captains, is a pending unrestricted free agent who has plummeted on the team’s depth chart this season.

He ranks fourth among the club’s blue-liners in ice time, but his 19:24 average would be a career-low mark over a full season, and he’s now playing on the third pairing with Scott Harrington.

Johnson has spent parts of seven seasons with the Blue Jackets after playing parts of six with the Los Angeles Kings.

 
 

If the Ottawa Senators want to move downtown, it will be up to the team to foot the bill.

That’s the stance of Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, who on Thursday told Jon Willing of the Ottawa Citizen that the local government won’t help subsidize a new facility for the Senators.

While Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has made no public comment about the city helping to fund a new arena, Watson appears to be getting ahead of the game.

Rival Canadian cities, like Edmonton, have helped bankroll new facilities in recent seasons, and until recent discussions hit a standstill, Calgary was also in talks with the Flames on arena project funding.

“We should not be using property tax dollars to subsidize an NHL team,” Watson said. “That’s not the role of a municipal government, in my opinion.”

As it stands, Melnyk is in negotiations with the National Capital Commission to build a new arena in the downtown neighborhood of LeBreton Flats. The hope is that a move closer to the city core will reinvigorate the team’s sagging attendance figures.

The Senators currently play out of suburban Kanata, a commute that has proven to be a challenge for fans in recent seasons, particularly during last year’s playoff run.

In the meantime, Melnyk hasn’t been shy in voicing his frustrations with the sluggish pace of negotiations with the National Capital Commission.

That was especially evident ahead of last month’s Centennial Classic, when he floated the possibility the Senators could leave Ottawa if the team’s financial position did not improve, something that could become reality if a new arena does not come to fruition.

Those comments didn’t sit well with Watson.

“It was not helpful when Eugene blurted out that maybe (the Senators) don’t have to move downtown because that’s exactly at odds with what he and (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman have been telling me going back four years, that the arena has to be in the downtown core,” Watson added.

“I’m hoping he misspoke and is not casting doubt on all of the work we’re putting in to getting the arena and the whole site revitalized in the downtown.”