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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    Losing Neal to Vegas was a ‘pretty big price to pay’ for Predators

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    The Vegas Golden Knights named their team on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that James Neal was among their selections in the expansion draft.

    Why not? Since entering the league in 2008, Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine seasons, hitting the 40-goal mark in 2011-12 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    But after coming up two wins shy of a Stanley Cup this spring, Neal was left unprotected by the Predators.

    Predators general manager David Poile had reportedly been in talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, but a deal couldn’t be achieved.

    “With how well we played in the playoffs, I’d certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high,” Poile told the Predators website.

    “[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that’s a pretty big price to pay.”

    Neal has one more year left on his six-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $5 million, before he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

    Nashville has about $22.7 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, but five pending restricted free agents — Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg and most notably Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson — in need of contracts. In Arvidsson’s case, he’s due for a significant raise from the $640,000 he made in NHL salary last season, in which he scored 31 goals and 61 points.

    “James had a much bigger contract and he only had one year left before he was an unrestricted free agent. We didn’t have any negotiations, but there was no guarantees that we would be able to keep him. It really was a business decision. It was as simple as that,” Poile the Tennessean.

    Caps re-sign Christian Djoos, who could get his NHL shot next season

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    The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract.

    It’s a two-way deal in 2017-18, and a one-way deal the following season.

    Djoos, 22, is expected to push for an NHL spot next season, along with Madison Bowey and possibly Tyler Lewington.

    That’s because Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, both unrestricted free agents, aren’t expected to re-sign with Washington.

    On top of that, the Caps lost d-man Nate Schmidt in yesterday’s expansion draft.

    Djoos, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games for AHL Hershey this past season.

    It was his second full season in the AHL.

    Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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    Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

    Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

    Related PHT coverage:

    Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

    — Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

    — Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

    — Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

    Report: Vegas sends Trevor van Riemsdyk to Hurricanes

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    Here. We. Go.

    According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Vegas Golden Knights have sent defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Van Riemsdyk was among 15 defensemen taken by the Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft, however, general manager George McPhee made a point of saying that, as a result of having this sudden surplus at the position, he was going to have to move some of those blue liners.

    McPhee has been busy over the past few days, making deals with a number of teams ahead making his expansion selections, stockpiling draft picks, including three in the top 15 of the first round.

    More to come.