Maxime Talbot

Flyers’ summer of zaniness continues as rumors float that Max Talbot’s deal violates the CBA

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More and more, it’s starting to feel like the Philadelphia Flyers’ front office might actually resemble a laboratory for mad scientists. I went on a limb during the playoffs while arguing in favor of their big picture approaches about building hockey teams only to see them throw logic out the window like shredded paper at a ticker tape parade during this off-season.

After trading away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards while taking a huge risk on Ilya Bryzgalov, it seemed like the Flyers might be capable of anything during this free agent weekend. They certainly didn’t disappoint, either, signing Jaromir Jagr and Maxime Talbot to deals that seemed to antagonize their in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins as much as they improved their team. (Quick aside: the Jagr deal is the better move, in my opinion, because it’s only a short-term risk.)

Of course, when it comes to the Flyers, the drama never seems to stop. TSN’s Gord Murphy points out that Talbot’s relatively modest five-year, $9 million deal could violate the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here’s a quick summary of the structure of Talbot’s new deal in salary form (it would be a $1.8 million cap hit) with the offending span in bold.

2011-12 salary: $2.5 million
2012-13 salary: $2.25 million
2013-14 salary: $2.25 million
2014-15 salary: $1 million
2015-16 salary: $1 million

SBN Philly’s Geoff Detweiler explains why the 2014-15 salary drop could violate the CBA and why it shouldn’t be a big issue if the NHL decides to void the deal.

Briefly, according to Article 50.7 of the CBA, a player cannot have their salary decrease from year to year by more than half the amount of their first two year’s salaries. In the reported Talbot contract, he has a salary of $2.25 million in the second year, but sees his salary decrease from $2.25 million in the third year to $1 million in the fourth year. That $1.25 million decrease is more than half the amount of the lowest salary during the first two years.

While this is clearly a problem, it is relatively easy to fix. If true, the NHL will void Talbot’s contract and make him a free agent again. At which point, the Flyers can simply offer him another five-year, $9 million contract, but this time have him make $2.5 million each of the first two years, and $2 million the third (rather than $2.5 million the first, $2.25 million each of the next two.) Same cap hit, same length, same dollar amount, same two-year bookend.

Either way, it’s a pretty embarrassing mistake by the Flyers and it’s not the first time they’ve … struggled with the CBA. The franchise signed Chris Pronger to what they thought would be a loophole deal during the 2010 off-season, only there was an issue: his deal is a 35+ contract. If Pronger decides to retire once his salary shifts down to $525K per year in 2015-16 and 16-17 – which seems like a safe bet, but not a guarantee – the Flyers would still deal with his $4.92 million cap hit.

The league will generate a new CBA after the 2011-12 season (and maybe bail the Flyers and other teams out of these types of mistakes), but fundamental mistakes with Talbot and Pronger’s deals make you really wonder how carefully teams structure contracts. Unlike Pronger’s potentially problematic 35+ deal, the Talbot gaffe will probably just be a trivial but embarrassing blunder, though.

We’ll let you know if the NHL forces the Flyers to tear up that contract at all, but either way, Philly’s front office might look a little wacky again. They shouldn’t sweat it, though: it’s all harmless fun in the grand scheme of things.

Sharks scratch Flames’ big lead, Calgary wins anyway

Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund (11) chases down the puck against San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl (48) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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If you turned off Thursday’s Calgary Flames – San Jose Sharks game early, you’ll probably be stunned to see that Calgary won 6-5 via a shootout.

For instance:

  • A Sharks fan may have bitterly called it a night when Calgary went up 4-1.
  • Conversely, a Flames devotee might have retired after San Jose took a 5-4 lead, possibly with a broken remote.

The Flames only trailed for about two minutes before scoring the last “real” goal of the game, eventually taking their third straight win thanks to a shootout triumph.

It’s been a strange ride for Calgary, with its most recent win happening after Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma were punished with a healthy scratch. As strange as this game was, the “charity point” can leave both teams looking through a lot of film, yet with something gained as well.

Ultimately, the message may very well be: don’t sleep on these teams.

(In less positive news, Karri Ramo is injured, and it doesn’t look good.

Jonas Hiller closing out the game on a hot streak could be pretty important if Ramo’s out for some time.)

By winning fifth straight, Caps extend Wild’s slump to seven losses

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the second period for his 14th career hat trick, and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, who leads the league with 34 goals, has 13 in his past 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Jason Chimera added an empty-netter for Washington, which improved to a league-best 20-5-2 on the road.

Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals, who won their fifth consecutive game and became the first team to reach 40 victories this season.

Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, but Minnesota lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games (1-10-2). Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Wild, who have lost seven in a row at home (0-4-3).

Ovechkin’s third goal, which deflected off both the post and the back of Dubnyk into the net, was upheld following a coach’s challenge. Wild coach Mike Yeo challenged that the puck had left the zone for offsides, but the call stood after a review showed that Backstrom stopped the puck before it crossed the blue line.

The goal gave Ovechkin his first hat trick since he scored four goals against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2013.

It wasn’t the only fortunate bounce for Ovechkin on the night, and the five-time 50-goal scorer capitalized on each opportunity.

A shot from T.J. Oshie deflected off of Minnesota forward Zach Parise across the ice right to Ovechkin in the left faceoff circle and Ovechkin quickly snapped off a shot to beat Dubnyk, who couldn’t get across the crease to get into position. Three minutes later, Ovechkin scored on the power play when a point shot bounced off the end boards right to Ovechkin in front of the net.

The tally provided some relief for the Capitals’ surprisingly ineffective power play. Washington had one power play in its previous six games, an empty-netter for the only goal in its previous 20 power-play chances. The Capitals were 1 of 5 on the power play on Thursday.

Coyle scored for the fifth time in eight games in the second, but second periods have doomed the Wild during their slump. Minnesota has been outscored 13-3 in the period in five straight losses.

Suter scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third as Minnesota went 1 of 5 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov left in the third period after he was hit in the face by the stick of Mikael Granlund off a faceoff. … Backstrom has 20 points in his last 17 games. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second straight game with an unspecified deep bruise. Spurgeon has returned to practice, but was held out again. … Holtby is 27-1-3 in his last 31 games with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick helps him make more history

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

(He also passed Jean Beliveau for 39th all-time in goals with his 509th, as NHL.com notes.)

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Update: Minnesota managed three goals, but it wasn’t enough, as Washington got the edge 4-3.