The low-down on Carey Price's contract talks in Montreal

careyprice2.jpgWhen a restricted free agent is slow in working out a contract with their team in the NHL, this is about the time of year where regular hockey fans will start to get a little bit antsy to get something done. Picture then, if you will, what it’s like for fans of the Montreal Canadiens to sit around and wait for news, any news at all, on what’s going on with restricted free agent and prospective starting goalie Carey Price.

There hasn’t been any news at all on what’s going on with Price and with Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi back on the market as an unrestricted free agent, some fans are getting a little bit worked up about things. Thankfully, Dave Stubbs of Habs Inside/Out is here to settle everyone down.

Gerry Johannson, Price’s agent, says that the two sides “are not necessarily close, but it’s not that we’re not close in a bad way. We’re having good conversations and we both are commited to getting things done.” Johannson says the slow pace of talks is “relatively normal” and that his hope is to have a deal done by the end of this month or early next month.

The agent says he’s seeking a shorter-term deal, which would likely translate to a year or two.

It’s an unusual summer, of course, with the number of goaltenders changing address and teams’ rosters still taking shape. The Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to walk away this week from the Antti Niemi arbritration ruling has begun rumours in Montreal that the Canadiens would go after the goalie who led the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup since 1961. But Johannson has been told by Habs GM Pierre Gauthier that “this is 100 per cent not the case.”

All right Habs fans, get off the ledge and everything will be OK. This is just business as usual. As for speculation about what Price will get contract-wise, consider these facts. Price was, for all intents and purposes, a backup goalie to Jaroslav Halak last year and Halak earned $3.75 million per year from the Blues after the Habs traded him to St. Louis. Antti Niemi was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions after taking the starting job from former Habs goalie Cristobal Huet and won a $2.75 million award in arbitration.

Price should be asking for $3 million a year, but willing to settle for $2 million a year if the Habs are feeling generous like that. Let’s face it, the goalie market is bad and demanding a king’s ransom goes over about as well as losing a game in Montreal. What won’t help Price’s negotiations out is what Marty Turco signed for in Chicago as that will be viewed as the right way to settle a deal with a guy desperate for a job.

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    It’s New York Islanders day at PHT

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    Understatement 1: the 2016-17 season was rough for the New York Islanders.

    Understatement 2: John Tavares‘ future is a pretty big deal, to Islanders and hockey fans alike.

    Many of the worries surrounding the second understatement stem from the first one; last season was rough, to the point that people are worried that Tavares’ confidence might be shaking in the Isles.

    Of course, it’s not just about the 2016-17 season.

    After all, they’ve only won one playoff series (eliminating the Panthers in 2016) since 1992-93. If Tavares is growing impatient with the Islanders’ process, then 2017-18 stands as potentially integral in keeping him around. Islanders fans cringe at such talk, but there’s no sense pretending that isn’t an issue on Isles day.

    Ouch. Sorry.

    The Islanders are sticking with Doug Weight as head coach after a largely successful interim run.

    As far as changes go, GM Garth Snow traded Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle, a player Tavares has some history and chemistry with. That was a good way to entice Tavares … but trading away Travis Hamonic might not have been the most endearing move. At least since the Islanders didn’t land, say, Matt Duchene for their troubles.

    There’s always the chance that a Duchene deal – or some other upgrade – could still be in the works, but as is, this off-season feels more like a lateral move for the Islanders. The draft picks they got for Hamonic probably don’t mean much for Tavares, after all.

    Islanders day will explore many facets of the team on Monday. Some might not even revolve around that Tavares fellow.

    Malkin on ‘workaholic’ Crosby, Penguins’ chances for three Cups in a row

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    Evgeni Malkin shared some interesting observations with Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko this weekend, including that he believes that the Pittsburgh Penguins “have all the tools” to win a third Stanley Cup in a row.

    Quite reasonably, Malkin notes that the team kept its core intact.

    Of course, Malkin and Sidney Crosby are still the catalysts for the Penguins, so it’s always fun to come across the latest observations from the Russian star.

    Good stuff.

    It’s not surprising to see Malkin praise Crosby and pump up the Penguins’ chances. Last year, he showed confidence in Pittsburgh’s repeat chances and professed an interest in being on the same team with Crosby for the next “10 years.”

    This summer’s been a great one for Geno, with plenty of team honors mixing with some great individual feats. For example:

    Habs’ Byron got to skate(board) with Tony Hawk

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    Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron is so speedy on the ice, his skating can sometimes be intimidating, particularly when he’s on the penalty kill.

    Every now and then, we’ll see, say, a floppy-haired snowboarder also show some serious skateboarding acumen, and skateboarding seems to blend well with surfing to boot. So what about ice skating and skateboarding?

    Well, Byron apparently got to meet Tony Hawk – along with his kids – and at least made a solid impression, as the Canadiens website notes.

    “Paul can hold his own. I bet he’d do better on my board,” Hawk said. “It wouldn’t be so wobbly.”

    The only bummer is that it doesn’t seem like footage of Byron skateboarding is available. There is some cute footage of Hawk with Byron’s kids, though:

    Little B's turn💙

    A post shared by Sarah Byron (@sarahannbyron) on

    There’s also Hawk skateboarding in a Canadiens sweater. Fun stuff.

    (H/T to Sportsnet.)

    Taylor Hall’s remarkable run of bad luck

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    This post is a part of Devils day at PHT…

    Taylor Hall deserves credit for that great “lottery ball specialist” tweet when the New Jersey Devils landed the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, but you could picture the star winger making such a joke while gritting his teeth.

    You see, as much as Hall seems to be a luck rabbit’s foot for a team when it comes to landing the top pick of a draft – just consider his Edmonton Oilers days on top of this last bit – but that good fortune hasn’t always come from an individual standpoint.

    In hopes that we may some day see Hall in, say, a playoff game, let’s recount some of his unluckiest moments. Keep in mind that he’s still just 25.

    Injuries

    He became the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, which means he’ll be compared to Tyler Seguin (though that discussion mercifully doesn’t come up that often).

    Hall’s rookie season was limited to 65 regular-season games thanks to the ill-advised decision to fight Derek Dorsett. His first NHL bout ended his 2010-11 campaign; Hall received criticism for the choice, which sometimes overshadowed debuting with 22 goals.

    It was reckless to fight, especially with someone like Dorsett, but we’ve seen plenty of players get through skirmishes without anything major happening. Jarome Iginla endeared himself to hockey fans, in some ways, by doing just that … but Hall wasn’t so lucky.

    Even if you chalk that first bit up to poor decisions, Hall’s injury luck has often been poor. He was limited to 61 games in his sophomore season, 53 in 2014-15 and missed significant pieces of 2013-14 and last season, too.

    Some of the injuries were just downright-freakish.

    Click here if you want to remember the time he caught a skate in the head during warm-ups, which left him with a disgusting “Frankenstein” wound and … it’s just gross. If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky.

    While his speedy, courageous style might leave him susceptible to issues, it seems like Hall catches an unusually high number of bad breaks.

    Terrible team to bad team

    Taylor Hall has been a productive player, keeping his head up even as he’s played for some miserably bad teams.

    The Oilers have been pretty clueless for virtually the entirety of Hall’s career; this National Post article provides a handy rundown of their mishaps in rarely finding decent defensemen.

    Those struggles likely inspired the team to trade Hall for Adam Larsson, a steady Swedish blueliner.

    It says a lot that Oilers fans voted massively in favor of the Oilers winning that trade in at least one poll, as most hockey people agree that the Devils ended up with the upper hand.

    Team success can skew the views of certain players, something Hall knows too well as a frequent scapegoat in Edmonton. If you want to roll your eyes, peruse some of the “not captain material”-type takes that Hall likely became all-too-familiar with.

    He didn’t even get to truly benefit from Connor McDavid‘s presence, as Hall’s bad injury luck seemed to transition to McDavid for a brief spell; as you recall, McDavid’s season was greatly limited by an lucky fall that came from the same sort of driving style you’d expect to see from Hall.

    Who could blame Hall for being jealous of the Oilers’ success now that he’s gone?

    New Jersey is making some nice strides toward being a more competitive team, and Hall’s a big part of that sunnier outlook. It has to sting to take all those steps back to the painfully familiar rebuilding stages after suffering through all of those with the Oilers.

    ***

    Look, Hall is nicely compensated for his play. He also was the top pick of a draft, so it’s not like he’s totally anonymous.

    Still, it’s difficult not to root for the guy to soak in the accolades that come with greater team success, as Hall has been a fantastic power forward in some not-so-fantastic situations.

    In other words, here’s hoping a little more luck goes his way … on the ice rather than in the carousel.