Coyotes endgame in Glendale approaching? Winnipeg waits on deck

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Threats, law suits, insults, big money being thrown around. If you didn’t know better it sounds like the plot line to a new drama on network TV. Instead it’s just all a part of what’s going on lately in the ongoing saga of the Phoenix Coyotes, Matthew Hulsizer, the City of Glendale, and the Goldwater Institute.

If you’re not caught up on things, the watchdog group Goldwater Institute says they will sue the City of Glendale before they go through with a bond sale in order to raise the money they’re looking to give to prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer control of the team and keep the Coyotes in Glendale. This means that if the sale is delayed the interest rate on the bonds go up thus making it a lot harder to pull it off, if at all.

Making matters more fun is the City of Glendale threatening a countersuit against the Goldwater Institute, a scare tactic that likely would keep the courts tied up for a long time and end up forcing the team to be sold to the highest bidder virtually regardless of where the new owner wanted to have the team play.

Today, the City of Glendale did not file paperwork to sue the Goldwater Institute. In this game of chicken, Goldwater stood firm while Glendale backed down as they knew they’d have to do. Glendale may still move to do that, but if matters get tied up in court while the NHL sweats out another financial loser of a season in Arizona (reported to be $40 million in losses just this season) there’s virtually no doubt the NHL Board of Governors will seek to sell the team to David Thomson and True North based out of Winnipeg.

As with everything having to do with this story, there’s a lot to believe and not believe with lots of heated opinions and angled takes on matters. Wading through the reports you get that are both pro-Glendale and pro-Winnipeg we can cut through to the heart of the matter and see that things appear to be at their darkest hour in the struggle to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

After all, the Goldwater Institute’s contention is that the bond sale is an egregious misuse of public funds. They feel that  their job is to make sure the city doesn’t go bankrupt and lose out on basic civic functions to help pay off a millionaire to help him buy the team. It’s understandable that the fans in the desert would think the group is just acting like a bunch of spoil sports out to ruin their fun and chase away the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.

That said, there’s something to be said for a community of 250,000 people committing the initial $25 million earlier this year to pony up for the team’s potential losses and then another potential $100 million in the bond sale to keep a hockey team that has the second worst attendance in the NHL. While the city would expect that parking revenues would help them eventually get that money back, that’s like hoping a lottery ticket might pan out and win you money to help pay the bills in the future.

Making the reality of the situation look a little worse for Arizona is the projected revenue the team could see if they moved to Winnipeg. Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika reported today that while NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t think a Goldwater Institute law suit will hamper the sale, the amount of money to be made in Winnipeg would likely turn out to be more than what the Coyotes make in Glendale and even more than what the Thrashers make in Atlanta.

Take into consideration here that Winnipeg is the eighth largest market in Canada while Phoenix/Glendale is the 12th largest in the United States. The potential future home of the Coyotes, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, would also be the NHL’s smallest venue with just over 15,000 seats. The NHL doesn’t want to be in a position to make more with less, they’d like to make more money with more fans but if the courts get factored into matters too heavily in the coming days and weeks in Arizona, Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL might not have another choice than to sell the team to True North and send the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.

Patrick thinks he can make immediate NHL jump with Flyers

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The New Jersey Devils opted for Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick, but time will be the ultimate judge in that debate. The Philadelphia Flyers also might see their guy make a more immediate jump to the NHL.

Patrick made it clear: he wants to go straight from the 2017 NHL Draft to training camp to opening night in 2017-18.

“Yeah, I think after a good summer of training, that’s my goal,” Patrick said.

The second pick of the draft noted not just his size, but also his two-way acumen when explaining why he believes he’s ready for the immediate turnaround. Patrick also brings up an interesting point: he’s already experienced three years of junior. He didn’t come out and say it, but the implication would be that his development might stagnate against lesser competition.

MORE: Check out all 31 first-round picks here

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio got that same sense from Patrick in a one-on-one interview, and noted that the consensus is that he’ll make a difference from Game 1.

Scouts are unanimous in predicting Patrick will play this season in the NHL. He turns 19 during training camp.

One might read the decision to trade Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues as the Flyers’ way of agreeing that Patrick is probably ready, yet GM Ron Hextall wouldn’t just come out and say it. While praising Patrick, Hextall noted that he’ll need to “get to work” and earn a spot.

The odds seem to be in Patrick’s favor, but perhaps it’s better to see him battle for it.

Either way, don’t expect a long wait.

After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

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CHICAGO — Stan Bowman received a lot of kudos for getting the old Blackhawks defense together for another kick at the can.

But the way it played out, bringing back two aging veterans in Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya was a mistake by the general manager. The magic just couldn’t be recreated, and Chicago was swept in the first round by the Nashville Predators.

Then came the offseason changes. Not just on the blue line, either. Brandon Saad is back, while Artemi Panarin is gone. Marian Hossa is gone, too — a huge loss for the ‘Hawks, even if he can be put on LTIR.

So the forward group is going to look quite different next season.

The blue line could look very different, though. Oduya and Campbell are both unrestricted free agents and may not be back. Trevor van Riemsdyk was lost in the expansion draft. And last but not least, Niklas Hjalmarsson is a Coyote now, traded to Arizona for d-man Connor Murphy.

In other words, of the six defensemen who lost to the Predators, only Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are still under contract in Chicago.

“A lot of stuff going on,” Bowman said Friday at United Center. “Sometimes, change is good. You have to make some tough decisions. But at the same time, we’re really excited about our team next year.”

Much will be expected of Murphy, a 24-year-old who’s been toiling in Arizona anonymity since being drafted 20th overall in 2011.

“Connor’s a little bit of a different player (than Hjalmarsson),” said Bowman. “Obviously, he’s a bit bigger, he plays probably a more physical game. But he’s a good skater and he’s six years younger. It’s really hard to find young defensemen like that. He’s got a great contract, too. He’s a guy we’re going to have for a long time.”

Michal Kempny and Gustav Forsling will also be expected to take on bigger roles in 2017-18.

“It’s up to them to take hold of it, but I think the opportunity is going to be there for them,” said Bowman. “It’s time to give these guys a chance to grow and take on bigger responsibilities.”

Speaking of young defensemen, the Blackhawks added another to their stable Friday, drafting Henri Jokiharju with the 29th overall pick.

“Henri’s a player we’ve been high on all year,” said Bowman. “A right-shot defenseman. Those are a commodity in today’s game. It’s hard to find them. He plays a modern style of hockey. Great skill-set, good skater, can handle the puck, make plays. I guess what you would term the modern-day defenseman.”

As for Bowman, he believes his big moves have been made. He promised changes, and changes he delivered.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” he said.

Related: Blackhawks sign Czech defenseman Jan Rutta

Penguins spend big to get bigger, land Reaves from Blues

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Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he wanted to add some snarl to protect stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. You won’t find many – if any – forces more intimidating than Ryan Reaves.

That’s who the Penguins reportedly acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues, who suddenly became very busy toward the end of the 2017 NHL Draft’s first round on Friday.

MORE: Blues acquire Brayden Schenn for Jori Lehtera, picks

Moments ago, Gary Bettman announced the details of the move.

Penguins receive: Reaves, 51st pick of 2017

Blues receive: Oskar Sundqvist, 31st pick of 2017

Penguins’ perspective

Rutherford believed that the NHL was allowing teams to take liberties with star players, particularly Crosby and Malkin. Even after winning consecutive Stanley Cups, it was clearly something important to him.

Rutherford reiterated that thought after the move.

One can debate how much an enforcer such as Reaves really “deters” such behavior, especially since he won’t be on the ice with star players in most close situations. There’s little denying that he’s a fearsome fighter, with six in 2016-17 and as many as 10 in a single season.

Reaves carries a $1.125 million cap hit that expires after 2017-18.

A busy night for Doug Armstrong

Moments ago, the Blues drafted Kim Klostin with the 31st pick, grabbing a player some expected to go much earlier in the first round.

They also acquired Oskar Sundqvist, the 81st pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old was unable to score a point in 10 games with the Penguins last season, but he was productive in the AHL, scoring 20 goals and 46 points.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong absorbed some serious criticism for protecting Reaves instead of David Perron, but now both players are gone. One would assume that’s likely by design, although it’s also possible that the Penguins simply provided an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Armstrong made another big splash by sending Jori Lehtera and draft picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brayden Schenn. Getting the 31st pick was helpful for the Blues after they sent the 27th choice to Philly.

Flyers send Schenn to Blues, take on Lehtera’s contract

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Flyers GM Ron Hextall made a big splash at the end of the draft’s first round on Friday night, sending forward Brayden Schenn to St. Louis in exchange for Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick and a conditional first-round pick in 2018.

Schenn, 25, is coming off two pretty productive years with the Flyers, in which he scored 26 and 25 goals. He just wrapped the first of a four-year, $20.5 million deal — one that carries a $5.125M cap hit.

It’s a big get for the Blues, who now boast Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen at forward.

That hit is largely why Lehtera is on his way to Philly. Coming off a “bad” season in which he struggled with injury and healthy scratches, there was speculation he’d be made available at the expansion draft — which he was — and when he wasn’t selected by Vegas, the likelihood of a trade was high.

Lehtera makes $4.7 million annually, through 2019.

With the 27th overall selection, the Flyers took Sault Ste. Marie center Morgan Frost. Frost finished fourth on the Greyhounds in scoring this year and had a strong playoff, with five goals and 11 points in 11 games. It was the second center Philly scored in the first round, having previously selected Nolan Patrick with the No. 2 overall selection.

And here are the conditions around that ’18 pick: