Tuesday night in the NHL and all is well. Sure, the NBA is starting tonight but we don’t care about that, do we? All times are Eastern because we’re biased that way.
Florida @ Toronto
The Leafs are looking to right the ship after three losses in a row. Another loss and things might start getting nervous in Toronto, especially against the Panthers. That’s not to say the Panthers are bad, they’re perfectly average at 3-3-0, when in reality they’re a major pain in the butt to play against. If Toronto can’t get their offensive woes turned around, the panic button won’t be far behind.
Buffalo @ Philadelphia
The Flyers come into the game after a stinker against Columbus last night that saw them lose 2-1. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod in goal against Buffalo who is riding high off their 6-1 demoralizing beatdown of the Devils. The Sabres are still trying to get their act together and perhaps that offensive breakout against New Jersey is the spark they needed. We’ll see if that’s the case tonight.
Phoenix @ Ottawa
The Coyotes come rolling into Canada’s capital city after a tough overtime loss in Montreal. Playing against the Senators might be the sort of thing that helps them shake that off. The Sens will be going without Jason Spezza yet again while Brian Elliott gets the start in goal. The Sens have just two wins so far this year and if Phoenix comes into town feeling down, they could turn the tables on them. Helping the Coyotes out will be the return of captain Shane Doan after his three-game suspension.
Edmonton @ Calgary
It’s only been a few days since these two played each other, so it only makes sense that they get together yet again. Sneakily so, the Flames find themselves on top of the Northwest Division and they’re coming into this Battle of Alberta matchup high off a 4-0 shutout of San Jose. Meanwhile, the Oilers are struggling and scoring is their bugaboo as they’re currently 29th in the NHL in scoring, having just 15 goals in six games.
Anaheim @ Dallas
So the Stars aren’t undefeated anymore and they’re coming off a 1-0 loss to Nashville. They’re still playing pretty good hockey. The Ducks, on the other hand, are continuing to be inconsistent and are last in the league in goals against. The Ducks might be coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder, however. Their last game against Detroit ended with a late goal against and the Ducks snarling about Niklas Kronwall. Things might get feisty in Dallas.
Colorado @ Vancouver
The Canucks were figuring on coming out and running rampant on the NHL this year. Things have started off a bit slowly and dealing with the frenetic Avalanche won’t make it easier to try and get consistent. To help things out for Vancouver, Peter Budaj gets the start in goal for Colorado. Some Canucks fans are hoping to see more of Cory Schneider in goal since he’s got two of Vancouver’s wins. Don’t expect there to be a goalie controversy there though, Roberto Luongo is kind of a big deal.
Trevor Linden didn’t mention Evander Kane by name, because, well, you know…
But yesterday on the radio, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations sure didn’t close the door on acquiring a player with Kane’s type of history.
You can listen to the audio of Linden’s interview with TSN 1040 here. (The Kane discussion starts at around the 3:10 mark.)
The main takeaway is that Linden refused to say that a player with a history of getting into trouble with the police would absolutely not be welcome on the Canucks.
“I think with any situation, they’re all unique to themselves,” Linden said, before warning against the temptation to jump to conclusions prior to knowing all the facts.
“Ultimately we’d prefer not to have that situation arise, certainly with our own players,” he added. “It’s a big world out there. Obviously, the challenges are significant for young guys who make a lot of money and get themselves into spots that they make mistakes.”
The Kane speculation has been kicked into overdrive in Vancouver (where Kane was born and raised and played his junior hockey), despite the absence of any hard evidence that the Canucks are talking seriously with Buffalo about a deal.
It’s been reported that the Sabres’ ability to sign Jimmy Vesey could impact their willingness to trade Kane. Vesey can’t make his decision until Aug. 15, so perhaps we’ll have to wait until then.
But according to Canucks beat writer Jason Botchford (The Province), Kane is definitely on Vancouver’s radar.
“There’s no doubt about it, the Vancouver Canucks are going to be in on Evander Kane,” Botchford told TSN 1040 radio. “Ownership loves Kane. Jim Benning really likes Kane. Trevor? He’s maybe a little bit ambivalent, but he could be won over. They’re going to be in on Evander Kane.”
Related: Canucks made Jets ‘fair offer’ for Kane
Nashville’s momentous offseason continued today with the signing of forward Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year, $12 million contract.
That’s a cap hit of just $2 million, all the way through 2021-22.
Suffice to say, it’s not often that a player signs such a long deal, for such a modest cap hit. Jarnkrok notched career highs in goals (16) and assists (14) in 81 games last season for the Preds. He kills penalties, too.
At the very least, the 24-year-old has some financial security now. But for Nashville, as long as his production doesn’t fall off a cliff, he could end up being a great bargain.
Jarnkrok had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 4.
Related: Preds avoid arbitration with Petter Granberg — two years, $1.225 million
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t need Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing either.
The day after the Wings avoided the process by locking up defenseman Danny DeKeyser, they agreed on a two-year deal with Mrazek, with a reported cap hit of $4 million.
Mrazek, 24, went 27-16-6 last season with a .921 save percentage. Those numbers compared favorably to Jimmy Howard‘s (14-14-5, .906); however, GM Ken Holland has argued that keeping Howard could be best for Mrazek’s development.
“It could possibly be detrimental if we put Petr in a situation where we’re just going to throw him out and play 70 games and no matter how you play, we’re going to keep putting you out,” said Holland.
Granted, it may be that Howard is simply untradeable. He’s 32 years old, hasn’t put up solid numbers the past three seasons, and has three years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of just under $5.3 million.
If Howard remains, the Wings will have just under $9.3 million in cap space allocated to their goaltenders next season, one of the highest totals in the league.
Mrazek, by the way, will still be a restricted free agent when his new contract expires in the summer of 2018.
With new majority owners and now talk of a new arena, the future of the New York Islanders has been a popular topic lately.
Not surprisingly, it’s led to plenty of discussion about the future of captain John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.
Ownership has insisted that it won’t get that far, that Tavares will be re-signed. The Isles will have “no financial constraints,” owner Jon Ledecky promised.
But what about Tavares? What does he think?
“I think I’ve always showed my commitment, my appreciation and my desire to play on Long Island,” the 25-year-old told Sportsnet 590 radio on Tuesday, per NHL.com. “I would love for that to continue for the long haul. I think you look at some of the greatest players in the game have been able to spend their entire career somewhere. I hope I’m in that same position.”
As for the speculation he could sign in Toronto?
“I would not count on that,” he said.
So start the countdown to July 1, 2017. That’s when Tavares can officially start negotiating an extension with the Isles.
Perhaps by then we’ll even know where the team will be playing its future games. Will it be Brooklyn or somewhere else?