Let’s face it, the new format for this year’s All-Star Game is fascinating.
Most fans have participated in a fantasy draft of some kind before. Whether it’s in hockey, football, or baseball so we know what it’s like when you’re looking at a pool of endless talent and trying to decide on the best of the best. This time around, Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom will be the guys looking at doing that for Sunday’s All-Star Game.
With discussion picking up about who wants to take which players, the discussion of how to get one over on each other is picking up as well. The one guy Eric Staal is hoping to land the most is teammate Cam Ward and today he said he’s willing to do what it takes to try and get his teammate goalie on his team.
When told of Nicklas Lidstrom’s possible plan to pick Ward in order to divide the home crowd’s allegiances — something Lidstrom talked about during a conference call Monday — Staal said he might have to “figure something out as far as making a trade.” He told Bill Clement and Don LaGreca on NHL Live! he might have to bribe Lidstrom by offering to buy him dinner.
However, when asked if Ward will be his first pick if he wins the pre-draft coin flip, Staal was wishy-washy.
Hey, he doesn’t want to let the cat out of the bag early.
“There are plenty of other options out there,” Staal said. “You never know.”
Ahh the careful dance of trying to do what’s best for your team and keep your teammates with you. It’s one of the things that NBC play-by-play man Doc Emrick alluded to in his interview with PHT when talking about this year’s game and this is the brand of fun drama that it will provide.
We’re hoping for trades galore at this draft. We want to see players doing their part to negotiate to get friends and teammates on their side for the game. Have Lidstrom and Staal trade off dinner plans for Corey Perry. Think of the fun we can get here. If Team Staal does take Cam Ward first, how soon does Team Lidstrom with Martin St.Louis as his assistant captain then take Steve Stamkos? 0.4 seconds after that? The possibilities are endless and that’s not even taking into account the Sedin twins and whether or not they’ll end up teammates again or opponents for the first time in their pro careers. Like it or not, it’s generating buzz and has us all keeping an eye on things to see if it pays off in the end.
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.
The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”
Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.
What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.
The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.
Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.
Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.
Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.
It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.
Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.
The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.
Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.
“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”