The NHL’s 2011 Draft Combine completed this week, providing enjoyable speculation for fans of the 28 franchises that aren’t playing NHL games anymore. We already took a look at some of the workout warriors from the Combine’s tests, but it’s likely that a few other stories might filter through.
You don’t usually have to pry and prod to get a story out of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. His law school background and robust sense of self-worth make him one of the most fascinating figures in the sport, let alone one of the most interesting general managers.
Unfortunately, for all his one-liners and amusing scowls, Burke hasn’t had much success rebuilding the Maple Leafs into a playoff team. One of his most criticized moves involved trading a handful of picks – including one that ended up being Tyler Seguin’s No. 2 pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – for mercurial scorer Phil Kessel.
That move robbed Leafs fans of a big-time prospect to shower with excessive praise and scrutiny, so the fan base is probably hungry for a new savior. Burke is in a better position in 2011 than 2010 with two first round draft picks and a second rounder to boot, but he might want to swing for a home run rather than three hits. In fact, he said basically that much, indicating that he will try to package one of his first round picks with his second round pick to move up in the first round.
It might be a tough sell because the Leafs’ picks are in the lower end of the first round. They’ll get the 25th pick from the Philadelphia Flyers thanks to the Kris Versteeg trade and either the 29th or 30th pick depending upon the Boston Bruins’ results in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. That pick came from the Tomas Kaberle trade and might slightly heal the wounds of that Kessel trade, although the Kessel deal will rear its ugly head again when the Bruins receive the ninth pick in ’11.
In other words, Burke will try to move up in the first round by combining either the 25th or 29/30th pick with the team’s 39th pick. It’s quite possible that it might come down to making a trade on the draft floor, especially if a team in the teens doesn’t like what they’re seeing as the events transpire.
Either way, there’s an excellent chance that Burke will entertain us around June 24. Then again, there wouldn’t be anything unusual about that.
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.
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.
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.
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.