More aimless Travis Zajac trade speculation

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traviszajac2.jpgIf you’ve not made time to spend with your grain of salt lately, perhaps it’s time you got reacquainted. As we know, now that the Devils officially have Ilya Kovalchuk back in the fold, the Devils are under a bit of a salary cap crunch. The Devils have any number of moves they can make in order to help the team get back under the salary cap (they’re over by around $3 million at the moment) and while there’s a couple of players we mentioned the other day that could be on the move, one Ottawa columnist opines that one other player in particular could be the one to go. Grain of salt, go!

Sources say since Lamoriello is not happy with the idea of giving up picks, the Devils have been quietly dangling around 25-year-old centre Travis Zajac, who has a $3.9- million cap hit through 2012-13.

“He’s a good player,” said one NHL executive.

The Devils got their man by signing Kovalchuk, but it comes with a whole new set of headaches.

By the time training camp wraps up at the end of this month, there could be a few familiar faces missing.

Of the players the Devils have that have a high salary and could be moved (Salvador, Zubrus, Zajac, Brian Rolston), Zajac is the most attractive as he’s proven he’s got top skills and, more importantly, he’s much younger than the other three players by far. Zajac is just 24 years-old and would be a welcome addition to any team that wanted to bring him on. Of course, the Devils dealing him away would make them that much older and they’d be losing a guy who’s developed a ton of chemistry with Zach Parise, the Devils other major goal scorer.

It would, ideally, be easier to find suitors for Zajac, of course, even with a cap hit near $3.9 million for the next three years because he’s young and his career is still on the rise. Guys like Salvador, Zubrus and Rolston are already maxed out as far as their careers go. You’re probably not going to see much more improvement out of them and in the case of Brian Rolston, his game has fallen off so hard in the last year that his $5 million cap hit for the next two years looks especially painful.

Could Travis Zajac be traded? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? No. The only way it becomes at all feasible is if the Devils are really desperate to get under the cap and don’t want to pay Brian Rolston $5 million to play for Albany in the AHL, a possibility that hasn’t even been discussed at all publicly. (edit: Thanks to the comments for pointing out my brain fart. The only cap relief a 35+ contract gets if a player is sent to the AHL is $100,000. CapGeek has that info in their FAQ under “What’s a 35+ contract”.)

Thank goodness for the grain of salt.

‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin
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Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

“We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

“Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

“He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

 

Coyotes hire new COO

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

“Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.

Despite Canadian dollar, Bettman still expects ‘revenue increase’

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)
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The Canadian dollar is trading at around $0.77 USD today. While that’s up considerably from where it was a few months ago, the damage has already been done to NHL revenues.

“If the Canadian dollar was still at par, we would be $100 or 200 million higher perhaps than we may find ourselves,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Bloomberg Television today.

Having said that, Bettman still expects there will be a “revenue increase” compared to last year, adding that “we continue to grow year after year and set new records.”

More from Bloomberg:

Bettman said that while the NHL’s revenue growth has come across the entire business, the league has seen its biggest boon in its digital platform. The league last year signed a six-year, $1.2 billion contract with Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet arm, or BAM, to operate the its digital operations, streaming services and TV network. The NHL got a 10 percent stake as part the deal.

The NHL playoffs are currently in the middle of the conference finals. The NHL’s fiscal year ends June 30.

League revenues, of course, have a direct impact on the salary cap, and let’s face it, that’s the only thing most fans care about.

As of March, the cap was expected to grow from $71.4 million in 2015-16 to $74 million next season.

However, that projection assumed the NHLPA would accept the CBA’s standard five percent growth factor, and with escrow topping the list of player concerns, that’s no given.

The players’ association will discuss and make a decision on the growth factor at some point before July 1.

Related: Bowman noncommittal on Shaw and Bickell, needs to know salary cap first