Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos and Lightning reportedly closer to a new deal

One of the guys that could be a very attractive restricted free agent is Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos. Stamkos is coming off a season that saw him post 45 more goals on top of the 51 goals he scored last season. After having a half-miserable rookie season, Stamkos is legitimately one of the best goal scorers in the NHL and one of the league’s top young stars. Putting Stamkos alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin isn’t out of the question and with that kind of star power, Tampa Bay management knows they’ve got a deal to get done.

Fortunately for both sides they’re on the same page and with the same line of thought about things.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Stamkos’ agent are busy trying to hammer out a new deal and Stamkos thinks that things will get hashed out soon. Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times gets the scoop from Stamkos about how things are going.

“I’m thinking things are going to get done,” said Stamkos, who at tonight’s NHL awards show at the Palms Hotel is up for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player.

“Tampa is a great organization. With the success we had this year, there are only going to be bigger and better things. You want to be part of that. Whatever happens happens, but I have confidence things are going to get done well before (July 1).”

Cristodero says that the deal is rumored to be worth $7 million a year and for a player of his caliber, that’s about the going rate salary-wise. When you look at the players making $7 million or more per year against the cap, thanks to CapGeek, you’ll see that Stamkos more than belongs among that elite class of the highly paid. After scoring 96 goals and 186 points the last two seasons, Stamkos has proven himself worthy of superstar status in the league.

With the salary cap slated to jump to around $64 million next season, paying up for your young franchise player should be no problem. The Lightning’s current management will just need to learn from mistakes from the past regime and not make his new deal Vincent Lecavalier-esque in its cap-crushing ability. We suspect that Yzerman and owner Jeff Vinnik have a bit more savvy than to let that happen. Not that Stamkos isn’t worth big money, just that everyone benefits from a cap-flexible and friendly deal. We’re sure that every agent in the world hates that last statement.

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen
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Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.

‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

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One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

More, from the League:

Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).