Raffi Torres won’t face fine or suspension for Brent Seabrook hit

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Wherever you stand on the issue, the NHL made its decision regarding Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres’ hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. TSN’s Bob McKenzie passes along a report from Darren Dreger that the league will not provide supplementary discipline for the hit.

In other words, Torres will not face a fine or a suspension for the incident, meaning he will be on the same sheet of ice as Seabrook for at least one more game.

When discussing the hit, I thought the league should suspend him for five games while Joe said he wouldn’t be surprised if nothing ended up happening. He rightly points out that the area behind the red line is given more leeway than other parts of the ice surface and I’ll admit that it wasn’t an especially egregious hit.

That being said, the league handed out a four-game suspension (including two playoff games) when Torres landed a nearly-identical hit on Jordan Eberle that occurred just a stride or two away from the red line itself. My problem isn’t with the overall decision, but rather the lack of much (if any) consistency or clarity in the league’s policies. Would the league have given Torres a pass if he hit Eberle a few feet lower in the Edmonton Oilers’ zone? Was this an example of a blindside hit or not?

This decision making process is about as clear and coherent as the plot of a David Lynch movie at this point. We polled PHT readers regarding what the league should do about the situation; here are the results:

(click to enlarge)

Ultimately, it’s best to break down the factions into “pro-suspension” (about 65 percent) and “anti-suspension” (approximately 35 percent) groups. As you can see, it seems like the greatest numbers were in the extremes. Readers either wanted nothing to be done (almost 30 percent) or they wanted a significant suspension for Torres (a bit more than 36 percent).

There will probably be some Blackhawks fans who are downright angry over the ruling, but I think most feel the same way I do: bewildered. Hopefully the NHL will do a better job of providing some clarity regarding the decision making process next season. If not, the “Wheel of Justice” jokes will continue to spin unabated.

If you want to watch the video clip one more time, here it is.

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Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins