Matt Hulsizer is the mystery potential buyer of the Coyotes

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for coyotes1.bmpIf you’ve been wondering just who the super secret interested party is that wants to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, you don’t have to hold your breath waiting to see who it is anymore. Matt Hulsizer, the CEO of PEAK6 Investments is apparently the man on the spot to try and ensure that the Coyotes will stay in Glendale. Hulsizer is based out of Chicago and is a former college hockey player, so he’s got that going for him which is nice.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside tells us about Matt Hulsizer, the latest potential hero to hockey fans in the desert and what he brings to the table as a potential buyer.

Although Hulsizer could not be reached for comment, sources familiar with the businessman and situation in Phoenix believe he may be the answer to the NHL’s search for a viable owner.

In fact a number of sources said he represents the last, best chance to keep this team in Arizona.

“He has an unbelievable financial mind,” one source that has known Hulsizer for years told ESPN.com.

“He’s exactly the kind of guy that the league needs. He’s a legitimate hockey guy with a lot of money.”

Added another source familiar with the situation in Arizona said, “He dwarfs [Jerry] Reinsdorf when it comes to personal net worth. He’s the real deal.”

Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls, was in the running to buy the team but the city refused to meet his demands on a new lease agreement.

If Hulsizer is indeed the real deal then this is a tremendous victory for the City of Glendale and hockey fans in Arizona who have grown to love the Coyotes. The only question that comes to mind now for me is: Where has this guy been since the beginning? After all, if he “dwarfs” Jerry Reinsdorf in net worth that’s a tremendous statement considering that Reinsdorf owns both the Chicago White Sox in Major League Baseball and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. You can’t exactly be a peddler and own two major sports franchises.

Of course, this is now the third time in the last year that we’ve been told that a new contender to buy the team has risen from out of nowhere so you’ll have to pardon us if we feel a bit reserved in our excitement to crown Matt Hulsizer as the new King of Glendale and hockey and desert friendship.

We saw Jerry Reinsdorf get trotted in as the league-mandated hero to help buy a stay of execution for the Glendale city council when the NHL was ready to start sniffing around to guys like David Thomson in Winnipeg. That time bought with Reinsdorf was able to help unearth Ice Edge Holdings who then managed to not work out a deal with the City of Glendale and they’re now apparently ready to give way to Hulsizer much in the same way. Instead of having me rail about this, Travis Hair at Five For Howling does all the speculating for me instead.

THIS SECTION IS PURE SPECULATION: Doesn’t his story seem awfully similar to that of the guys in Ice Edge? Toss in the statements of some of the principles in the group and suddenly it seems like they’re not just bystanders watching another guy come in and take over. In my purely speculative opinion Ice Edge didn’t have whatever monetary levels the NHL wanted and went looking to guys they knew that might be interested.

Hulsizer may have been interested all on his own too, but with the business circles these parties run in it’s not out of the question that Hulsizer is the deep pockets running the group while Ice Edge takes a small role in running the team. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Anthony LeBlanc running some part of the team while Hulsizer funds it.

There are a lot of similarities here and the similarities all seem to boil down to buying more time for the NHL to supply hope to the fans in Arizona that they’ll be keeping a team there. Meanwhile, time ticks away and it’s the biggest enemy to the City of Glendale because at some point, the NHL is going to get tired of waiting to be paid back on their investment in the team and the city. The NHL isn’t in business to lose money and while the City of Glendale did their part in paying off $25 million to make sure the NHL didn’t eat a loss this year.

While we’re not about to declare Matt Hulsizer the savior, retaining hope is key for the tenuous state of hockey in Glendale. Now the Coyotes have to make sure to keep doing their part on the ice to keep the fan interest high. If things go cold in the standings, things could take a very ugly turn.

Shattenkirk on Blues trading him: ‘That’s out of my hands’

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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In a vacuum, it’s confounding to imagine the St. Louis Blues trading Kevin Shattenkirk.

He’s a highly productive defenseman in the meat of his prime at 27, and his cap hit is a super-bargain at $4.25 million.

Of course, as is the case with many of the NHL’s biggest steals, the Blues will eventually need to pay up. In Shattenkirk’s case, his bargain deal ends after the 2016-17 season.

That’s a tough enough conundrum on its own, but consider the deals on the Blues’ cap that also expire after next season.

Now, there are also some areas of relief; some will be happy to see the Blues part ways with Patrik Berglund‘s $3.7 million cap hit (unless he plays out of his mind, naturally).

There are also some other things to consider.

A) What if the salary cap rises more than one might expect for 2017-18?

B) Would expansion help the Blues cut a little fat by losing a less-than-ideal contract?

C) Who are the Blues bringing back from this off-season?

Item C) dovetails with Shattenkirk. Will the Blues try to bring back David Backes and/or Troy Brouwer, possibly squeezing out Shattenirk?

There have been rumors about Shattenkirk being shopped around in the past, yet the summer is a great time to make deals. Teams get salary cap leeway, owners may want reboots and new coaches could really value Shattenkirk’s in-demand skills.

For what it’s worth, Shattenkirk would prefer to stay:

There’s a strong chance that Blues GM Doug Armstrong may bide his time, whether he’s inclined to trade Shattenkirk during the season or re-sign him.

Still, the talented defenseman’s situation shows that the Blues have big decisions to make even regarding situations that do not technically demand immediate choices.

One thing seems certain: it won’t be any easy call.

Related

Blues face tough questions

David Backes wants to stay

So does Troy Brouwer

It sounds like Troy Brouwer would love to return to the Blues

DALLAS, TX - MAY 07:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues after scoring a goal against Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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How much is Troy Brouwer‘s magical postseason run worth to the St. Louis Blues or some other team in free agency? How important is comfort and familiarity to Troy Brouwer?

Those seem to be the most important bigger-picture questions, although from the sound of Brouwer’s comments, nuts-and-bolts issues may decide his future in or outside of St. Louis.

Brouwer raved about his time with the Blues as the team spoke with the media to close out the 2015-16 season. The power forward seemed very happy about his living conditions and the way his style fits with this blue collar team.

Even so, Brouwer also admits that “it’s a business.”

That’s typical talk, yet it was more interesting when he went a little deeper, acknowledging that he understands that GM Doug Armstrong must ask questions about more than just the 2016-17 season.

His playoff production was fantastic, but a smart GM will realize that it probably wasn’t sustainable. Case in point, facts like these:

Even so, Brouwer brings considerable value if you keep expectations in check.

While he fell a little bit short this season with 18, he generally falls in the 20-goal range each year. He’s one of those players who can bring some grit to the table without totally taking away from your team in other ways.

Brouwer was one of the Blues’ top penalty-killing forwards to boot.

It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for Brouwer to enjoy a healthy raise from his expired $3.67 million cap hit, yet you must wonder how much. Maybe most importantly, what kind of term is he looking for?

That last question might just be pivotal regarding a possible return to the Blues. Would he sacrifice some stability to try to make another run with St. Louis?

Even if he isn’t that old at 30, his rugged style might mean that this is one of his last opportunities for a big payday.

Both sides face a tough call, yet it sounds like a reunion is at least plausible.

Related

Tough questions await the Blues

David Backes would prefer to return, too

Trio of Pens forwards take maintenance day on Saturday

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.

On Saturday, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in practice. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that each player had taken a maintenance day.

The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Related:

Pens enter Stanley Cup Final as favorites: online bookmaker

Need for speed: Sharks, Pens brace for ‘fast hockey’ in Stanley Cup Final

Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

‘No question,’ David Backes wants to stay in St. Louis

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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We don’t always get what we want…but we try.

In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.

Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

Re-signing their captain will likely interest the Blues, but can they make it work under the salary cap? St. Louis also has to re-sign RFA Jaden Schwartz and fellow UFA Troy Brouwer this off-season.

The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.

Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.

If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).

It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.