Opening night roster choices in Vancouver, New Jersey, LA, and Philly cause a stir

With teams setting their final rosters for the start of the season, some of the teams with salary cap issues are making what appear to be curious moves but may ultimately prove to be nothing more than paper shuffling for the bookkeepers.

coryschneider1.jpgIn Vancouver, the Canucks recalled defenseman Lee Sweatt while sending goalie Cory Schneider and forwards Jeff Tambellini and Alexandre Bolduc to Manitoba in the AHL. In actuality, sending Schneider and keeping rookie Swedish goalie Eddie Lack on the roster helps give the Canucks a few more days to figure out their more-realistic salary cap situation since they won’t play their first game until Saturday.

While rookie Cody Hodgson is on the roster now, expect him to be headed to Manitoba by Saturday as well so the Canucks will have their actual game-ready crew set to go. It’s a fun dance to do when dealing with the cap.

In New Jersey, the Devils made a surprising move sending rookie defenseman Matt Taormina to Albany in the AHL while recalling rookie center Adam Henrique. Henrique didn’t play in any Devils preseason games and initially appeared to be an early cut in camp.

Instead, he’s back on the roster for the time being and making sure the Devils are $35,835 below the salary cap with Bryce Salvador and Anssi Salmela officially put on LTIR.You can get a pretty sweet car for that amount of money, but not another player as the Devils roster, as we talked about yesterday, is at 20 players.

Some Devils followers, like John Fischer of In Lou We Trust, braydenschenn3.jpggoalies.

As for the Los Angeles Kings, you might actually need a program on opening night to figure out who some of the players are. While the Kings didn’t have a lot of roster turnover to speak of in the off-season, training camp brought through a lot of new faces that will make their debuts with the team.

Among them, former first round pick centerman Brayden Schenn, defenseman Jake Muzzin, and forwards Kevin Westgarth, Andrei Loktionov, Trevor Lewis, and Kyle Clifford. If you’re a fan of the AHL Manchester Monarchs you’ll know a lot of those guys, but chances are the youth movement in Los Angeles will take you by surprise. The most surprising of this group are Muzzin and Clifford. Head coach Terry Murray will certainly have his options available to him to juggle things as the pressure to build off last year’s playoff appearance will certainly be high.

sergeibobrovsky1.jpgIn Philadelphia, Ian Laperriere’s potentially season-ending news about dealing with post-concussion syndrome is causing many hearts to sink, but through that a new name has emerged as a potential cult hero. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is already getting a lot of love from Philly fans for making the team in Michael Leighton’s absence. Given how tenuous the situation in goal can be in Philly, Bobrovsky could just end up being the starter at some point this season. Meanwhile, forward Andreas Nodl found himself being temporarily shuttled to Adirondack in the AHL while the Flyers get things better squared away concerning Laperriere and Leighton.

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    Done deal: Coyotes sign 2016 first-round pick Chychrun to entry-level contract

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Jakob Chychrun poses for a portrait after being selected 16th overall by the Arizona Coyotes  in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Coyotes moved up the draft order to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun at 16th overall. And now, they have signed Chychrun to a three-year entry-level contract.

    The Coyotes made the announcement on Saturday.

    “We are very pleased to sign Jakob to an entry-level contract,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a statement. “Jakob is a highly-skilled player with an all-around game. He has a great work ethic and is very determined. We look forward to watching him continue to develop this season.”

    When the 2015-16 season began, it was suggested Chychrun could potentially be a top-three pick in the draft in June. But he fell down the order, despite being the No. 4-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.

    He was the fifth defenseman taken in the draft.

    Listed at six-foot-two-inches tall and 215 pounds, Chychrun brings size and strong skating ability to the blue line. He had 11 goals and 49 points last season with Sarnia in the Ontario Hockey League.

    The Coyotes selected Chychrun after acquiring the remainder of Pavel Datsyuk’s contract from the Detroit Red Wings and moving up the order.

    Chychrun’s fall — and what precipitated it in the first place — was discussed in great detail when the Coyotes held their development camp earlier this month.

    “I think it was about being tense,” said Coyotes director of player development Steve Sullivan. “All the pressure of wanting to be second overall and maybe not having a great season; it snowballed the wrong way for him.

    “Now he needs to understand he’s been drafted into the National Hockey League and we’re going to put him in a game plan to get him here as fast as we can. He can loosen up and play the way we think he can play. If that happens, there is no reason why he won’t be here sooner than later.”

    Related:

    Coyotes’ defensive makeover continues with Luke Schenn signing

    Report: Stone and Coyotes agree to one-year, $4M deal

    Coyotes sign Connor Murphy to six-year extension

    Report: NHL linesman Henderson required neck surgery, friends fear his career may be over

    Nashville Predators' players look over the bench at linesman Don Henderson after he was hit by Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alberta, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Don Henderson, the NHL linesman knocked to the ice by Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, has undergone neck surgery to repair damage from the hit and there are fears his career may now be over, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

    From Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe:

    According to one of his friends in the officiating business, Henderson’s recent surgery was aimed at repairing two ruptured disks in his neck, the result of the hit. Felled in the second period, he dusted himself off and finished the game the night he was injured.

    “I know a lot of people are saying stuff like, ‘Hey, Wideman’s not that type of guy . . . that’s not in his nature . . . he’s a good kid,’ ’’ said one of Henderson’s longtime pals in stripes. “And I say, ‘Yeah, so what?!’ That doesn’t make it any less egregious. He attacked him from behind, the puck was nowhere near the two of them, and now Henderson’s career may be finished. I don’t see much difference between what he did and Wayne Maki cracking his stick over Teddy Green’s head.’’

    This is the latest development in a saga that has dominated headlines in the NHL since the incident occurred late in January.

    Wideman apologized following the incident, saying the collision was ‘completely unintentional.’ The league later confirmed that Wideman had suffered a concussion from a hit just seconds before he checked Henderson to the ice near the bench.

    He eventually received a 20-game suspension, but that was reduced to 10 games by a neutral arbitrator, although Wideman had already sat out 19 games when the decision was handed down following an appeal.

    Related:

    Report: NHL dismisses neutral arbitrator who reduced Wideman’s suspension

    NHL sues NHLPA to reverse Wideman’s suspension reduction

    NHL Officials’ Association ‘strongly disagrees’ with the decision to reduce Wideman’s suspension

    Gabriel Landeskog hopes his concussion story helps others

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    When you’re an impossibly young captain of the Colorado Avalanche, it’s probably tough to choose your own health over the best interests of your team.

    That scenario presented itself to Gabriel Landeskog, and he decided to fight through the pain. As you can see in the video above, he regrets the decision.

    Landeskog shared his story, stemming from an injury in 2013, with “EMPWR,” a charitable foundation focused on concussion awareness. You can watch him discuss that tough period in his life in the video above.

    It appears that Landeskog was discussing this hard hit by then-San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart:

    NHL.com’s game report notes that Landeskog delivered multiple hits on Stuart after that. While he was giving rather than receiving those checks, those moments still likely left the Avalanche captain vulnerable to further injury.

    It’s easy to say “Don’t go back in the game” when you’re not in the situation, but hopefully more players will protect themselves in the future.

    Landeskog isn’t the only NHL player to share his experiences, and some weren’t as “lucky” as he was. Take Joey Hishon, whose career unraveled thanks in part to concussion issues:

    (H/T to CSNNE.com.)

    Is Rickard Rakell worth $4M per season to the Ducks?

    ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    The Anaheim Ducks have two significant restricted free agents they still need to take care of, and Hampus Lindholm is easily the most important name to cross off the list.

    (Seriously, the analytics community pegs him as a budding star, so the Ducks should probably lock him up for as long and cheap as possible.)

    While Lindholm is a must-sign, Rickard Rakell‘s situation is more interesting since it presents a murkier risk-reward debate.

    Elevated ground

    Rakell broke through in 2015-16, scoring 20 goals and 43 points. He blew away all of his previous numbers while logging more than 16 minutes per game.

    His agent Peter Wallen told the OC Register that the team and his RFA client “I think we will find common ground for a solid agreement,” yet one must wonder if Ducks management is trembling at the gamble ahead.

    That report ponders a long-term deal that would net Rakell around a $4 million cap hit, something that the Hockey News backs up.

    Kadri’s six-year, $27-million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which pays an average of $4.5 million per season, is probably the upper limit of what Rakell is set to earn, while Coyle’s five-year, $16-million deal with the Minnesota Wild, an average of $3.2 million per season, is likely the low end. The most likely comparisons boil down to two players, then, with Rask and Backlund each having signed their current deals over the course of the past 13 months.

    For a budget-conscious team like the Ducks, betting big on Rakell could be especially risky.

    Cushy gig

    If the 23-year-old does land a generous deal, he should send Bruce Boudreau a “Thank You” note or three. Rakell began a whopping 60 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in 2015-16, putting him in a great position to maximize his chances.

    His most common skating partners were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Sami Vatanen and Lindholm to boot.

    One shouldn’t penalize Rakell for seizing his opportunities, but with a limited sample size of the young forward being a difference-maker, you have to wonder how much his value has been inflated.

    ***

    The OC Register explains the advantages of locking him up for a longer term (avoiding arbitration years, not having to risk an even bigger deal if Rakell pans out), yet a “bridge deal” might be the better way to go here.

    Replacing Boudreau with Randy Carlyle was a polarizing decision, yet that the Ducks face some other tough calls this off-season.