Another sign for Atlanta relocation? Manitoba AHL team set to move to St. John’s, Newfoundland

While the reports and rumors about the imminent move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba continue to burn there’s the whole matter of figuring out what to do with the Vancouver Canucks AHL affiliate that currently calls Winnipeg home. The Manitoba Moose currently hold down a spot at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and if the Thrashers are going to relocate to the Canadian prairie city, the Moose will need to be set loose.

According to a report in The Telegram out of Newfoundland, the Moose will indeed have a new home should the deal with the Thrashers get done.

Robin Short of The Telegram tells us that an old AHL haunt will once again be home to minor league hockey in extreme eastern Canada.

Six years after the Maple Leafs played their final American Hockey League game in St. John’s, the league is returning to the city for the 2011-12 hockey season.

The Telegram can confirm an announcement outlining the relocation of the Manitoba Moose franchise to Mile One Centre is set for 1 o’clock next Friday afternoon.

Ironically, the Maple Leafs franchise, which lasted 14 years at Memorial Stadium and Mile One, played its final game in Winnipeg on April 30, 2005, when the Moose eliminated St. John’s from the Calder Cup playoffs.

If you’ve never checked out a map of Canada, St. John’s is way out there northeast of Maine. Considering that the team could very well continue to be the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, that would make for one long haul to send guys up and down to the minor leagues. It’s about 4,000 miles between the two cities (depending how much faith you put into directions on Google Maps that is) and that could make things really awkward for the Canucks.

Luckily for them, there’s always a revolving door of affiliates each year in the AHL and it’s possible the Canucks could look to attach themselves with either the Chicago Wolves or Portland Pirates. Of course, this move is all contingent upon the deal with the Thrashers and True North getting done and having the team move to Winnipeg. Should that find a way to fall apart in the end, it’s possible the Moose just stay where they’re at. That possibility seems unlikely with the imminent sale of the Thrashers possibly concluding next week.

True North Sports and Entertainment who is looking to buy the Thrashers also own the AHL Moose. Should the deal to move them to St. John’s get done, they will then be selling the AHL team to local interests in Newfoundland thus making it a great deal for local interests there. All they’re waiting for now is the one big domino to fall in all this.

Brendan Smith still talking to Rangers, ‘trying to make it happen’

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It’s only a few days until July 1 and defenseman Brendan Smith still doesn’t have an extension in place with the New York Rangers.

Not to worry, says his agent. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Smith is going to sign elsewhere.

“No one should read anything into the fact that we don’t have a deal yet,” Anton Thun told the New York Post. “You’re never really close until it’s done, but both sides are trying to make it happen. We’ll have to see.”

Thun told the Post a month ago that Smith, an unrestricted free agent, was “open” to returning to the Rangers.

But there’s also been speculation that the Blueshirts will pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency, which would probably mean less money available for Smith.

It remains to be seen if the Rangers will, indeed, make a big push for Shattenkirk. The addition of Anthony DeAngelo in the Derek Stepan trade may have lessened their urgency in that regard.

“He’s a puck-moving right-handed defenseman that can run the power play and shoot the puck,” GM Jeff Gorton said of DeAngelo, per Sporting News.

Which sounds a lot like Shattenkirk, no?

Smith, 28, was traded to the Rangers from Detroit on Feb. 28.

Sens extend McCormick — two years, $1.3 million

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Looks as though forward Max McCormick has a future in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, the Sens signed McCormick to a two-year extension worth $650,000 annually — and, perhaps most importantly, it’s a one-way deal in the second year.

McCormick, 25, also has a $250,000 guaranteed AHL salary next season.

The deal comes after he set a career high and tied for the AHL Binghamton team lead in goals last year, with 21. McCormick also appeared in seven games for Ottawa — this after playing 20 in ’15-16 — and emerged as a high-energy guy with an edge to his game.

Despite not being overly big (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), McCormick fought seven times for Binghamton last season, and led the team in penalty minutes. The year prior, he scrapped 12 times between the Sens and Baby Sens.

A spot at the NHL level could soon materialize. The Sens have already announced they’re moving on from free agent forward Chris Neil, and the futures of fellow UFAs Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels remain uncertain.

Carolina re-signs Chelios, Brown

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The ‘Canes retained some organizational depth on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Jake Chelios — the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios — and forward Patrick Brown.

Brown’s contract is a one-year, $650,000 extension, one that will pay $160,000 at the AHL level, with a guarantee of $190,000.

Brown, 25, split last season between Charlotte and Carolina, appearing in a career-high 14 contest with the ‘Canes. The Boston College product scored 12 goals and 28 points in 66 games with the Checkers.

Chelios, 26, has yet to make his NHL debut but is coming off a strong season with Charlotte. He served as an alternate captain and had a strong offensive campaign, with 32 points in 76 contests. That led all Checkers d-men in scoring, and he was the only player on the team to appear in every single game this season.

Like Brown, Chelios’ deal will pay $650,000 at the NHL level. It’s $85,000 at the AHL level.

Report: Sens tried to get Methot back from Vegas

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The Ottawa Senators did their best to make sure they didn’t lose Marc Methot in the expansion draft.

They attempted to get Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move clause so they could keep Methot, but that didn’t work out.

On Monday, TSN hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun reported that the Golden Knights and Senators had been talking about a potential trade back to Ottawa.

In the end, Vegas GM George McPhee preferred to ship him to Dallas for 2017 seventh-rounder Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in 2020.

According to beat reporter Bruce Garrioch, Vegas’ asking price to allow the Sens to protect Methot before expansion was a 2018 first-round pick.

Methot has averaged at least 19:49 of ice time during his five seasons in Ottawa.

In the end, all this means is that the Senators will need to find someone else to play on the top pairing with Erik Karlsson next season.

During training camp, Ottawa put top prospect Thomas Chabot with Karlsson. They opted to send Chabot back to junior, but that could be an interesting combination if they think he’s ready to be a regular in the NHL.