Stars still negotiating with RFAs James Neal and Matt Niskanen

jamesneal2.jpgWhile other teams are getting the last of their restricted free agents into camp, the Dallas Stars continue to plod along with negotiations of their own. There are just four restricted free agents left to be signed this off-season and Dallas has two of them in James Neal and Matt Niskanen (the others are Bobby Ryan of Anaheim and New York’s Marc Staal).

Stars fans are likely getting nervous about things but Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News says that negotiations are ongoing with both players.

The agent for Niskanen, Neil Sheehy, said he expects to meet with the Stars Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., where the Stars prospects are participating in an eight-team tournament. The agent for Neal, Pat Morris, said he continues to have talks with the Stars.

“We will continue to negotiate with the goal to getting a deal done that is representative of James’ progress and stature as the 2nd leading goal scorer for Dallas last year and over the last 2 seasons,” Morris wrote in an e-mail.

The Stars are swimming in cap space, but it’s apparent that their internal budget is what’s slowing things down in a big way to get both of these players signed. Other restricted free agents haven’t had budget-busting deals made for them this year, and the handful that did score big contracts did so to get some of their unrestricted free agent years bought out.

We don’t know what the specifics are with both Neal and Niskanen’s negotiations are, but if the quibbles are over incremental amounts of money, that’s enough to make anyone in Dallas nervous about the state of the franchise while they wait for a new owner to step up.

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    Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

    Alex Ovechkin
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    Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

    He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

    Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

    That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

    This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

    No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

    Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

    Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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    Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

    With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

    Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

    Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

    Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

    The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?