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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    Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

    Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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    If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

    “Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

    The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

    Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

    With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

    Measuring stick stretch begins

    Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

    This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

    It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

    In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

    Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


    Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

    It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

    His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

    These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

    Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.

    Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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    Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

    Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

    It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

    Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

    Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

    Peter Chiarelli

    It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

    Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

    You can see and hear his full comments below:

    If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

    Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

    Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

    Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.