Brian Burke: It's not automatic Jeff Finger will be sent down for salary space

jefffinger1.jpgA few teams have some salary cap issues to address before the season starts. The Rangers have already gotten a jump on things by putting Wade Redden on waivers. Other teams, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, still have some questions of their own to answer as far as what they’ll do to get under the $59.4 million cap.

While fans and some media alike are suspecting that defenseman Jeff Finger and his $3.5 million cap hit will be put on waivers, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail finds out that Brian Burke thinks a bit differently.

“This speculation that Jeff Finger has been earmarked for assignment, I don’t think is fair to Jeff,” Burke said on a conference call announcing 21 training camp cuts. “It’s not what a professional athlete who signs as a free agent is entitled to.

“I think he’s entitled to a fair look. You can’t come in with a preconceived notion that that’s how you’re going to solve your cap issue. That’s not fair to the player. You start doing stuff like that then players aren’t going sign with your organization.”

A lot of this discussion is coming up because the Leafs are currently over the cap and with the glut of defensemen the Leafs have to choose from, someone will have to go to the AHL one way or another. The Leafs do have players with options that can go down (Carl Gunnarsson for example), but unfortunately for them, those guys are playing well and putting the pressure on Burke and coach Ron Wilson to make the best moves talent-wise and financially for the team. It’s a delicate balance to say the least.

How Burke plays this will be fascinating because he’s done nothing but give the appearance of being honorable towards the players when it comes to keeping their rights and commitments in mind while under contract. If the Leafs move to send Finger to the AHL, how Burke handles the attention brought by that will be interesting. Perhaps getting Garth Snow on the phone to talk about their recent opening on the blue line with Mark Streit out for six months wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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    WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 1 – Sharks at Penguins

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Pittsburgh Penguins fans sit outside of Consol Energy Center prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.

    Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.

    The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.

    Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Vlasic on the unenviable task of matching up against Crosby

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 and Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada look on during the Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal Playoff against the United States on Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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    Plenty of people believe that the San Jose Sharks’ defense is superior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ personnel, but it’s one thing to be better on paper. When you’re on the ice, against a speedy and talented team, can you really stop the Penguins?

    All signs point to sorely underrated Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic drawing the difficult assignment of trying to slow down Sidney Crosby.

    Vlasic, a former Team Canada teammate of Crosby (as you can see from this post’s main image), realizes that he’ll have his hands full. In fact, he seems to believe that this will be an even tougher challenge than trying to solve St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

    The fantastic all-around defender isn’t exactly expecting to reinvent the wheel in his strategy against Crosby.

    “It will be the same as in the first three series,” Vlasic said, via The Hockey News. “We’re playing against the top players on every time – Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and those types of guys for Pittsburgh. Me and (Justin Braun) will just keep doing what we did, taking away time and space and hopefully it works out.”

    The two players have had glowing things to say about each other for some time, but don’t be surprised if this high-level competition turns those happy thoughts into hard feelings.

    It stands as one of the matchups to watch in what could be a fresh and fascinating Stanley Cup Final.

    Red Wings look to future in net … a future possibly without Howard

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a save against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on April 7, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.

    One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”

    It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.

    Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?

    The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.

    “In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”

    In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.

    Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

    BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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    From the NHL:

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    Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

    Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.