Report: Eric Belanger's mystery team is the Washington Capitals; is Tomas Fleischmann on his way out?

ericbelangershove.jpg(Note: as always, it is important to note that the REPORT in the headline of this story. The Capitals have not confirmed anything yet, but it’s reasonable to say that Eric Belanger will be a member of their team next season.)

Last night, we discussed the somewhat odd story circulating that Eric Belanger had signed with a team but couldn’t announce which one it was because that team was looking to make space for him. It seems all but certain that his “new” team will be his “old” team as James Mirtle and other media members report that he’ll re-sign with the Washington Capitals.

Mirtle reports that it will be a one-year deal that will give the versatile forward a modest raise to $1.85 million (his previous salary was $1.75 million).

The most interesting aspect might not be Belanger signing with the Capitals, but rather who Washington will trade to make room for the forward … or perhaps more precisely, which defenseman they may add to bolster their nearly-set roster. Here is more on that subject from Mirtle.

Washington apparently does not want to announce they’ve signed Belanger in order to help first complete another deal, potentially to move out a forward and bring in a defenceman. I’m told that one player the Caps are looking to trade is 26-year-old Tomas Fleishmann, who had 23 goals and 51 points in a bit of a breakout season last year and signed a one-year, $2.6-million deal this summer.

The one trade the hockey world is expecting in the next few days, meanwhile, is that of Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, whose no-trade clause comes back into effect on Monday. While Washington was rumoured interested in him in the past, Leafs GM Brian Burke said they are not one of the 10 teams that have enquired about Kaberle’s availability.

“We are not in discussions with the Capitals about Tomas Kaberle,” Burke said. “Not once.”

You really have to love Brian Burke. He must be the most entertaining GM in hockey, at least from a “public persona” perspective.

It may take some time to get the official word, especially if the team is still in the negotiation process, but we’ll let you know when (or if) something happens.

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    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

    Stanley Cup
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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Friday night. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    St. Louis at Dallas (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 1 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Nashville at San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 1 will also be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

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    Report: NHL, NHLPA agree on expansion draft rules

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman answers a question during a news conference before the NHL All-Star hockey game skills competition, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
    Associated Press
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    The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on the framework for a potential expansion draft, according to TSN’s Gary Lawless.

    Last month, we found out what each team will be able to protect if ever the NHL adds expansion franchises. Bill Daly made it clear that each existing team would only lose one player per expansion team coming into the league. More specifically, teams would be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie or eight skaters (any position).

    Although this agreement between the league and PA doesn’t guarantee expansion will happen, it does ensure that one major step is out of the way if ever the league decided to add a team or two.

    The agreement between the two sides also includes an expansion scenario for players with no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts.

    Here’s an excerpt from Lawless’ story:

    The NHL has hundreds of steps to go through before expansion can potentially become a reality and getting an agreement with the NHLPA was viewed as near top of the list. The executive committee would not have recommended expansion to the NHL’s board of governors for the purpose of a vote without an agreement in place with the NHLPA, and in particular, a resolution on how existing no-trade and no-move clauses will be handled.

    Las Vegas and Quebec City have been mentioned as two potential destinations for  expansion franchises in the near future. As Lawless mentions in his story, NHL general managers were told to expect a decision on expansion for 2017-18 by the NHL Entry Draft in June.

    Related:

    NHL insists ‘no final decisions’ have been made on expansion.

    Daly: Teams can only lose one player per expansion team

    ‘Roster chaos’: Let’s ponder some possible expansion draft scenarios

    PHT Morning Skate: Nick Foligno pulled off an awesome prank on Cam Atkinson

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    John Tavares and Steven Stamkos once played on the same youth team. That team went 49-0-1. (Newsday)

    –Which team deserves to win the NHL Draft lottery? (Winnipeg Sun)

    –Rick DiPietro wasn’t happy about something Mike Francesca said. (BarDown)

    –Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Capitals and Penguins. (Top)

    Nick Foligno pretended to be a season ticket holder and pranked Cam Atkinson. Funny stuff.

    –Prior to Game 1 between the Penguins and Capitals, T.J. Oshie‘s daughter was filmed kicking a Penguins poster. Maybe she should do it more often because her father scored a hat trick just a few hours later. (Instagram)

    –Brett Hull says “goals don’t matter” when you play for Ken Hitchcock. (Sportsnet)

    Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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    What a start.

    This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

    This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

    What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

    This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

    There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

    Twice:

    If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

    NOTES:

    Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

    — Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

    — Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

    — This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

    — Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.