The PHT Nightcap: Monday, August 2nd

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Rangers acquire Todd White from Atlanta – From a fan base that really disliked him to a larger one that probably won’t like him.

Blackhawks walk away from Niemi’s arbitration award, sign Marty Turco – As we discussed Sunday night, the Blackhawks made a big decision to roll the dice with veteran goalie Turco over the more expensive Niemi.

Blues re-sign defenseman Erik Johnson – Johnson for $2.6 million per year? That’s a great bargain for a former No. 1 overall draft pick who may very well make good on his potential over his next two seasons.

Islanders buy out Brendan Witt’s contract – I already made a car joke about him last weekend, so I’m out of material on this one.

Sabres waive Tim Kennedy, plan to buy him out – It seemed like a semi-reasonable deal for Kennedy – at least compared to some of the other crazy deals given to marginal players – but the Sabres vehemently disagree.

Obama trash talks Ted Leonsis – Strange.

What’s next for Niemi? It won’t be the Flyers – Philadelphia doesn’t believe in the saying “If you can’t beat them, ask them to join you after they become unrestricted free agents.”

Ducks sign Andy Sutton for two years – While he won’t erase the memory of Scott Niedermayer & Co., he’ll help replace James Wisniewski if nothing else.

Kovalchuk hearing might happen Tuesday – Although apparently that’s not a sure thing either. My head hurts.

Forsberg feels good enough to play in Sweden … what about the NHL? – It’s unlikely, but admit it, Forsberg returning would be kind of cool.

Sabres sign Shaone Morrisonn – His name is humorously difficult to spell, I must say.

Glen Metropolit leaves NHL for Swiss league – Metropolit’s name lends itself to quite a few puns. It’s your call if you think they’re any good, but they’re out there.

Willie Mitchell says he’s “symptom-free” after battling concussion issues – The rugged defenseman would/should be in demand if he’s truly healthy.

Forbes lists four NHL teams on “Best American Sports Fans” list – Although they included the decidedly un-American Montreal Canadiens on the list. Whoops.

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    Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

    Robin Lehner
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    Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

    Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

    (So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

    While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

    Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


    The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”

    Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

    Ryan Johansen

    Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

    This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

    More (transcribed from video):

    “That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

    “What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

    The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

    It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

    Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

    All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.

    ‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

    John Collins
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    One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

    John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

    More, from the League:

    Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

    “John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

    Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

    “The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

    Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

    During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

    Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

    Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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    Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

    Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

    It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

    The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

    That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.