While we wait to see if the NHL will approve the latest contract for Ilya Kovalchuk, we ponder how the NHL’s investigation is going with the other contracts they’ve eye-balled as being potentially cap busting. While folks focused on Marian Hossa’s contract, Marc Savard’s contract extension with the Boston Bruins is one that seemed to slip under the radar of fans but not for the league.
Former executive director of the NHLPA Paul Kelly, however, feels that the league could be going down the wrong road if they choose to fight Savard’s deal. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa has the details.
“Say you challenge Savard and the next arbitrator says, ‘This is perfectly legal.’ Well, now you’ve just thrown everything back into pandemonium and into a gray area,” Kelly said. “Right now, the NHL’s got a good, strong decision. There’s nothing to counteract it. They can wave it in front of the faces of GMs and say, ‘We’re not going to register your contract unless you cut it back.’ There’s a practical reason why the NHL should be content and sit tight.”
If the NHL red-flagged Savard’s contract, the players’ union would appeal. The mechanism would then be the same as what took place with Kovalchuk. The sides would agree on an independent arbitrator, who would then hear the case and make a decision independent of Bloch’s ruling. As such, there’s no guarantee the next arbitrator would side with the league once more.
“I don’t think the Kovalchuk case creates a precedent that would cause another arbitrator to pause very much if he found the facts of a second circumstance warrant a different result,” said Kelly. “You have to be careful what you wish for. The NHL is smart enough to know that even if they’ve won this one, it doesn’t mean you’ll roll over and prevail in every other one that comes down the pike.”
If there’s something this off-season needs it’s yet another bizarre turn of events in this witch hunt against potentially cap-circumventing contracts. Going all in against Savard’s deal only to have the league’s appeal turned on its head would certainly qualify as a game-changer. Or maybe it’d be a game re-changer at this point considering the hassle they’re putting Ilya Kovalchuk, Jay Grossman and Lou Lamoriello through.
Now I kind of want to see the NHL go after these other contracts just so we’ll have even more game-distracting chaos. After all this is said and done, I think we’ll all be able to qualify as paralegals.
Bit of a surprising move out of Anaheim today — gritty forward Ryan Garbutt has been placed on waivers.
Garbutt, 31, had appeared in all 27 games for the Ducks this year, scoring two goals and three points while averaging 9:10 TOI per night. He was one of just 10 players on the roster to dress for every contest this season, though his minutes had decreased lately — he hasn’t cracked the 10-minute mark since Nov. 6, and received two of his lowest totals in recent games — 5:31 in a win over the Sharks on Nov. 26, and 5:50 in a win over Vancouver on Dec. 1.
Last year, Anaheim acquired Garbutt in a midseason deal from Chicago. He performed well for the Ducks, scoring five goals and eight points in 37 games, and scored a goal in the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.
Garbutt is a polarizing player. Over a two-year span from 2014-15, he was one of the league’s most reckless players and found himself in a slew of disciplinary problems. He has gone a while without running afoul of the Department of Player Safety, though, so perhaps he heeded calls to change his game.
Parting with Garbutt could be part of the youth movement that’s at play in Anaheim. Ondrej Kase, a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, is just one of the rookie forwards who’ve played for the Ducks this season. Joseph Cramarossa is another. Nick Ritchie isn’t a rookie, but he’s still on his entry-level deal.
Garbutt is in the last of a three-year, $5.4 million deal with a $1.8M average annual cap hit. Given his experience and style of play, it’s possible he could be scooped off waivers.
Last night, we passed along news that the Vegas Golden Knights trademark had been denied by the U.S. government, based on a “likelihood of confusion” with the NCAA’s College of St. Rose Golden Knights.
Today, the NHL has responded with a statement from deputy commissioner Bill Daly:
“We are currently reviewing the Trademark Office’s letter and will prepare a detailed response demonstrating why we continue strongly to believe the Vegas Golden Knights mark should be registered in co-existence with the college registration, just as a number of other nicknames currently co-exist in professional and college sports (particularly where there is no overlap as to the sport for which the nickname is being used).
“That response is not due until June 7, 2017.
“We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise. We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications.”
Shortly after last night’s news broke, Sports Illustrated received this statement from the Las Vegas group:
The timing of a potential resolution will be something to monitor. As mentioned above, the NHL has until June 7 to challenge the trademark denial — and the Vegas expansion draft is set for June 18-20.
Related: There also might be some issues involving the Army
The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t played since Sunday, so they should be well-rested for tonight’s encounter with the Vancouver Canucks at Amalie Arena.
This is another important game for the Bolts, who’ve won just once in their last six. A Stanley Cup contender in the eyes of many, Tampa Bay (14-11-2) is currently two points out of a playoff spot.
While Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan remain out with injuries, the Lightning are expected to get a couple of key players back when defenseman Jason Garrison and forward Jonathan Drouin return against Vancouver.
The Bolts already feel like they’ve turned the corner, after beating Washington in a shootout Saturday and earning a point Sunday in Carolina.
“When you go through those streaks, it’s kind of like you’re going into games just waiting for something bad to happen,” forward Alex Killorn told the Tampa Bay Times. “I think we’ve kind of gotten over that. You’ve got to be the instigator, got to be the aggressor and take over games.”
There’s definitely the potential for the Lightning to take over tonight’s game. The banged-up Canucks will enter without their two top defenseman, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, and one of their best forwards, Jannik Hansen, among other injuries.
Saturday brings a much tougher test when the Pittsburgh Penguins pay a visit.
But tonight’s focus is the Canucks. The Lightning could really use the two points. They should get them. They just need to play like they can.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get back on track,” Killorn said. “We’re starting to figure things out.”
Oh, those streaky Jets.
After a horrific mid-November run — which included a five-game losing streak where they were outscored 20-9 — the Jets have turned things around, going 4-1-1 in their last six while securing points in three straight.
Tonight, things get even better, as leading scorer Mark Scheifele returns from a brief time on the shelf as Winnipeg hosts the Rangers at MTS.
Scheifele, 23, hasn’t played since a 6-3 loss to Edmonton on Dec. 1. His absence was a big one — in addition to the offensive production (26 points in 26 games), Scheifele averaged over 20 minutes per night and led the team in faceoffs taken.
He’d also developed terrific chemistry with rookie sniper Patrik Laine.
To their credit, the Jets did really well without Scheifele in the lineup. They beat the Blues 3-2 in OT on Saturday, then followed that up with a 2-1 win in Chicago on Sunday. Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss against Detroit was a setback, but the club still managed to secure at least a point, which pushed them into the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Tonight, Scheifele projects to center a top line between Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler. Laine will play on a second line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Bryan Little.