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 defeat Hurricanes, but Vlasic exits game with lower-body injury

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
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Talk about the ideal start.

Patrick Marleau scored just 12 seconds into the first period and the San Jose Sharks had a 2-1 lead before Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes was even four minutes old.

The Sharks held on for a 4-3 win over the Hurricanes, Kevin Labanc‘s goal late in the second period standing as the winner, as the two teams traded three goals in the span of just over three minutes.

It remains awfully crowded in the Pacific Division. The Flames lead with 34 points, while the Sharks, Ducks and Oilers are all one point back.

The victory came with bad news for the Sharks.

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game in the second period and didn’t return. He’s now day-to-day with a lower-body injury, according to coach Pete DeBoer following the win.

Flames dominate the Jets to take over top spot in the Pacific Division

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 10: Dougie Hamilton #27 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring his team's third goal against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Is there a changing of the guard in the Pacific Division?

It’s the middle of December and the Calgary Flames, now with six straight wins, lead the same division dominated last season by the California powers in Anaheim, San Jose and L.A. The Edmonton Oilers have been inconsistent at times this season but they are right there, too, one point back. Same goes for the Ducks. The Sharks and Kings are definitely in contention.

There is plenty of hockey remaining in the season. Plenty of chances for change in the NHL’s division standings, including in the Pacific. But there’s no denying the Flames are on an impressive run.

Late last month, they had a particularly frustrating loss to Philadelphia and coach Glen Gulutzan voiced his displeasure about it. They followed that up the next day with an overtime loss to the Islanders. Prior to that weekend, there had been rumblings about the future of Gulutzan with the club, despite being only a few months into his tenure.

But since then, the Flames have yet to lose. They continued their winning streak with a convincing 6-2 victory over the visiting Jets on Saturday.

Dougie Hamilton — remember all that trade speculation surrounding the Flames defenseman and Brian Burke’s classic response? — had two goals for Calgary. Chad Johnson was solid in net again. It was a pretty dominant performance all around.

Frustrating night for the Jets and it showed when Dustin Byfuglien dropped the gloves with Garnet Hathaway late in the third period.

There are more difficult tests ahead for Calgary.

The Flames face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday and then the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

In previous seasons, a Friday night game between the Flames and Blue Jackets in the middle of December might not garner much interest. But they are both among the hottest teams in the league right now and it’s likely not many would’ve predicted that a short time ago.

Video: Perlini’s first NHL goal helps lift Coyotes over Predators

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10:  Brendan Perlini #29 of the Arizona Coyotes reacts alongside Calle Jarnkrok #19 of the Nashville Predators after Perlini scored his first career goal during the second period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 10, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Coyotes have moved out of last place in the NHL’s overall standings, courtesy a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Minus forward Max Domi, placed on IR and expected to be out on a week-to-week basis, the Coyotes got a 44-save performance from goalie Mike Smith and recently recalled forward Brendan Perlini pitched in with his first career NHL goal.

That goal gave Arizona a 3-1 lead. Thanks to the play of Smith, the Coyotes wouldn’t relinquish the lead, snapping a six-game losing skid.

It wasn’t all good news for the Coyotes.

Defenseman Connor Murphy played only 4:12. He left the game with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. Per reports, Murphy is considered day-to-day at this point.

The Blue Jackets just keep on winning

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by Cam Atkinson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets after scoring his first career NHL goal during the third period of the game against the San Jose Sharks on October 15, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. San Jose defeated Columbus 3-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift.

Saad, Sedlak and Jones scored in a 5-minute span to make it 6-2 with 5:37 to go.

New York’s third-string goalie Jean-Francois Berube then replaced Halak and stopped the one shot he faced in his season debut.

The Islanders came out quick and it took Columbus a while to get going. New York took a 1-0 lead 5:59 in when a defensive pass by the Blue Jackets’ Sam Gagner at the boards was deflected by Bailey, and the popup was bobbled by Bobrovsky into the net. Bailey was given credit for an unassisted goal.

The Blue Jackets tied it up on a power play with 6:01 left in the first when Johnson wound up from just inside the neutral zone and fired a bullet past Halak. It was Johnson’s first goal of the season.

Columbus’ Brandon Dubinsky and New York’s Travis Harmonic went to the penalty box for 5 minutes each when both threw down the gloves and threw punches near the end of the first quarter.

Columbus took a 2-1 lead when a speeding Atkinson took a pass from Johnson in the neutral zone and beat Halak on the breakaway 10:16 into the second. New York tied with 7:28 left in the period when Tavares lifted the puck over Bobrovsky’s pad from in front of the net.

The Blue Jackets took off in the third period.

After Anderson gave Columbus the lead for good, Saad made it 4-2 on a wrister from the high slot at 9:23.

Sedlak, who scored his first NHL goal on Friday night, scored another when he tapped in a loose puck with 7:21 to go. Jones capped it with just over 5 1/2 minutes remaining.