Should Winnipeg name their team the Jets? Andrew Ladd sees both sides of argument

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If you ask many observers, True North Sports and Entertainment would be crazy not to name the relocated Atlanta Thrashers the Winnipeg Jets.

First and (you would think?) foremost, it’s what the fans want. Yes, it’s true that True North already banked on a staggering commitment from locals to look up 13,000 season tickets for multiple years in the blink of an eye. Still, merchandise sales* and general fan happiness are factors they should absolutely keep in mind and naming the team the Jets will leave a lot of customers pleased.

On the other hand, True North has some reasons to shy away from the Jets name. One big reason would be that they want to make it their own team, so piggybacking on an old idea might take some of the personal satisfaction away. Perhaps a more pertinent reason to go with a different title is that some might think that the Jets name carries a stain of failure with it. Maybe the best way to avoid a similar fate is to wipe the slate clean altogether?

Andrew Ladd sees both sides, discusses restricted free agent status

The Winnipeg Sun caught up with Andrew Ladd to get his take on the subject. Ladd makes an interesting brain to pick; he was last season’s team captain but also remains an unrestricted free agent. If he follows the team to Winnipeg, would he prefer to be a Jet, Moose or some other wacky mascot? It seems like he understands the logic from both sides of the equation.

“I’d love it. It’s got history,” Ladd, the first member of the former Atlanta Thrashers to hit town, said, Thursday. “I was talking to (former Chicago teammate and Winnipegger) Cam Barker the other day, and he was like, ‘There might be a riot if they go in a differnt direction.’ I’m a big fan of the name.

“But it’s a new group, and I don’t think the success was there in the past and we want to start something new here, too.”

It’s interesting to get his perspective on the team’s new mascot, but it’s probably more important to focus on his thoughts on free agency.

Scheduled to become a restricted free agent, July 1, Ladd told reporters he hasn’t begun negotiations on a new contract with Kevin Cheveldayoff, but likes what he heard of the vision of the newly hired GM Thursday morning.

“And I trust it, too, which is a big thing,” Ladd said. “You need to trust people you’re going to work with and know that you’re in good hands. I have a lot of respect for Chevy and looking forward to working with him.”

Ladd’s negotiations could be rather interesting. He’s a restricted free agent, so much of the power is in Winnipeg’s corner. It might come down to how close the team thinks he’ll come to matching his surprising 29-goal output from the 2010-11 season.

Can Ladd duplicate his success from the 2010-11 season?

There are some reasons to think he can approach that level in future seasons. He reached the 49 point mark in 08-09 (just 10 short of last year’s 59) and he has the pedigree (Carolina made him the fourth overall pick of the 2004 draft) to indicate that he could be a legitimate producer. This was also the best chance he had to produce at the NHL level; he played a little more than 20 minutes per game in 10-11 (almost six minutes more than his career time on ice average of 14:23).

Then again, it’s probably true that he’s not an ideal option as a first liner. He also produced those numbers in a contract year, which is always a red flag for teams weary of getting burned.

Will Ladd be a Jet or whatever True North names the Winnipeg team? Could he play somewhere else entirely in 2011-12? We’ll find out the answers to both questions soon enough.

* – Some people might counter that a) people already own a bunch of Jets memorabilia and b) they’ll likely gobble up merchandise anyway, but a simple logo re-design would solve those complaints anyway. Say what you will about the “Buffaslug,” it didn’t exactly slow down Buffalo Sabres jersey sales. Plus, let’s face it: it’s pretty tough to mess up a logo that involves jets.

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

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Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

From The Tennessean:

Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

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The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.

Columnist: Potential new Hurricanes owner concerned with ‘revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market’

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The Carolina Hurricanes may have a potential new owner in Chuck Greenberg, the former CEO of the MLB Texas Rangers who also had interest in the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

A report Friday goes into further details about Greenberg’s motivation in purchasing the Hurricanes from Peter Karmanos, who has been exploring a sale of the team for quite some time now.

Previous reports indicate the agreement between the Hurricanes and Greenberg would keep the club in Raleigh, amid ages of speculation it may be a candidate for possible relocation to markets like Seattle or Quebec City.

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Interviews with people close to Greenberg and others who have knowledge of the proposed purchase but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks paint a picture of a front man who would be deeply concerned with the fan experience and revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market, but lacking the money to fund the purchase himself and reliant on a group of investors to get the deal done.

If the deal goes through, at a reported price of $500 million that likely includes a large amount of assumed debt while valuing the actual franchise closer to $300 million, Greenberg would move to Raleigh with the intention of making the team work here. That’s what Hurricanes fans long afraid of a move to Quebec City or Seattle during these years of ownership uncertainty as Karmanos has had the team on the market have been hoping to hear.

The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 but haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Despite their postseason drought, Carolina is building quite a depth of young talent, most notably on defense. They could take another positive step forward next season, perhaps contending for a playoff spot. In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Hurricanes also acquired and then signed former Chicago No. 2 netminder Scott Darling.