Atlanta Thrashers sign Jim Slater, interview Craig Ramsay for coaching job

slaterfight.jpgThere’s good news and bad news for the Atlanta Thrashers as they enter the first off-season of the post-Ilya Kovalchuk era. The glass half-full side will point to their $31 million-plus in cap space and handful of decent young players such as Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian. On the other hand, the team has as many questions as answers.

The Thrashers answered one of their smaller questions today, as they signed 2002 first round pick Jim Slater to a two-year contract. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared the news.

The forward, one of 10 Thrashers scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $2 million Tuesday. The deal will pay Slater $900,000 next season and $1.1 million in 2011-12.

Slater, 27, scored a career-high 11 goals last season. He appeared in 61 games after being a healthy scratch for much of the early season. He was awarded the team’s Dan Synder Memorial Trophy and the Community Service Award following the season.

The team may also be close to finding its next head coach after letting John Anderson walk after the 2009-10 season. Chris Vivlamore reports that the team sat down with Boston Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay, the third candidate they’ve taken a look at after interviewing recently announced Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel and Don Lever of the Chicago Wolves.

Dudley and Ramsay have a history. They played together for three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, even skating on the same line at times. Later at Tampa Bay when he was GM, Dudley hired Ramsay as associate head coach to work with John Tortorella. Dudley considers him the best hire of his career.

“I was very proud of that,” Dudley said. ” … The truth is John Tortorella is a volatile guy. He needed an intelligent guy to come in and know what his role had to be. We didn’t need another volatile guy in there. Craig softened all the blows there. When John undressed somebody, he would go and make them feel good again. He knew that was his role and he did it really well.”

Ramsay has served as head coach of the Sabres (1986-87) and the Philadelphia Flyers (2000-01). After six seasons with the Lightning, including a Stanley Cup title in 2003-04, Ramsay has been an assistant with the Bruins since 2007.

“All [the candidates are] very good in their own way,” Dudley said.

Vivlamore reports that the Thrashers may also consider Chicago Blackhawks assistant John Torcetti, who’s obviously pretty busy right now with that whole “Stanley Cup finals” thing. We’ll keep you up to date as NHL teams start filling out their rosters – from the bench on out.

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    Habs prospect Juulsen out six weeks with fractured foot

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    Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.

    The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.

    The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.

    This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.  

    “We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”

    Fight Video: Lappin, Puempel land some good shots in preseason tilt

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    Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?

    Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.

    On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.

    Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.

    Here’s the video footage of the scrap:

    By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.

    Flames say they were prepared to contribute $275M for new arena

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    The arena situation in Calgary took another twist Thursday, with the Flames revealing that they had been prepared to contribute $275 million to a new arena.

    The Flames released a nine-page report, which included the financial details of their proposed contributions. The organization said funding would also include $225 million from a Community Revitalization Levy, which would be generated from other developments in the immediate area around the arena.

    Last week, it was reported that the Flames were no longer pursuing a new arena in Calgary. The club reiterated as much in their report Thursday.

    “In a “small market” city, even one with an NHL team, a privately funded arena is not economically viable. The City’s proposal is just not workable (or even for that matter, “fair”, based on other arena deals in comparable cities),” the organization stated in the report.

    “As a result, after over two years of discussions, we see absolutely no basis upon which a new arena agreement can be achieved with the City, and we have concluded that there is no point to continue the pursuit of a new arena in Calgary. Many, including us, believe Calgary is a terrific place for NHL hockey and we certainly have great fans. As such, we will strive to operate, as we have for the past 34 years, in the Saddledome for as long as we believe it is feasible.”

    More from The Canadian Press:

    The city proposed a three-way split on the cost of a $555-million arena, with the city and the Flames each paying $185 million and the remaining third raised from a surcharge on tickets sold to events in the new building.

    Flames president Ken King contended the city’s plan amounted to the team paying the entire cost, or more, because the team considers a ticket surcharge paid by users revenue that belongs to the Flames and because they’d pay property tax back to the city.

    The Flames current arena, the Saddledome, is now 34 years old and has drawn criticism in the past from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. In 2015, the Flames unveiled their plans for a new arena — the CalgaryNEXT project — with an original cost of $890 million.

    The city said at the time that the original proposed plan was not feasible. This issue has since continued for over two years now. In June, Brian Burke said the Flames could leave Calgary without a new arena. King, himself, has said the current arena situation in Calgary is not “viable in the near or long-term.”

    “That’s why we’re having this discussion is about a new facility,” King told the Calgary Herald. “So, if we’re successful in that initiative, our near and long-term future is here (in Calgary). If not, we have to decide what the alternatives are … Anyone can connect the dots to how many choices we have left.

    “If we don’t get a deal, what are our choices?”

    There was also this from the commissioner.

    Kings outlast Canucks in first edition of NHL China Games

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    The Los Angeles Kings came away with a 5-2 preseason win over the Vancouver Canucks in the first of the 2017 NHL China Games. This contest took place in lovely Shanghai.

    Adrian Kempe got the ball rolling for Kings, as he scored the first goal of the game on the power play to make it 1-0 for his team (top).

    Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored a great shorthanded breakaway goal to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 2-0 (check out the Pearson goal by clicking the video below).

    The shorthanded goal against wasn’t the only issue the Canucks power play had in this game. Vancouver managed to score once on the man-advantage, but they finished the game 1-for-14 in that department (yes, it’s only a preseason game).

    with Vancouver trailing 3-0 in the second period, Sven Baertschi finally got them on the board to cut the Kings lead to 3-1.

    Markus Granlund made it 3-2 in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canucks would come to tying the score.

    Pearson extended Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2 before Jeff Carter finished off the game with an empty-net goal.

    These two teams will meet again in Beijing on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET.