Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan

This year’s arbitration cases could bring problems for Rangers and Sabres

The last hurrah of free agent season is upon us and it’s not when the last man standing signs on the dotted line. Instead it’s when salary arbitration hearings are had and those players get their new contracts squared away. While many players will look to get a deal done before their hearings go off, sometimes the two sides can’t come to an agreement.

The uncomfortable part about arbitration comes when the team argues against the player over why he shouldn’t be worth what he wants. It’s an awkward arrangement and can sometimes lead to bad feelings between player and management. This year, there are more than a few interesting cases to be settled out and for a few teams, they’re likely hoping that their court date doesn’t come to fruition. The NHLPA released the list of arbitration dates and some of the bigger cases will have a few more weeks to wait to be settled. Arbitration kicks off on July 20 and runs through August 4.

July 20: Teddy Purcell (TB), Lauri Korpikoski (PHX), Viktor Stalberg (CHI)

July 21: Andrew Cogliano (EDM), Brad Richardson (LA), Brandon Dubinsky (NYR)

July 22: Ryan Wilson (COL)

July 25: Andrej Sekera (BUF), Brian Boyle (NYR)

July 26: Kevin Porter (COL)

July 28: Josh Gorges (MTL), Ryan Callahan (NYR)

July 29: Jannik Hansen (VAN)

August 2: Shea Weber (NSH)

August 3: Chris Campoli (CHI), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Zach Parise (NJ)

August 4: Mark Fraser (NJ), Dan Sexton (ANH), Blake Comeau (NYI)

The New York Rangers have the most intriguing summer ahead of them should all three of their cases go to a hearing. With Dubinsky, Callahan, and surprise 20-goal scorer Boyle all potentially going to battle with Glen Sather, the Rangers’ current $51 million payroll could see quite a boost.

Obviously all eyes are going to be on the likes of Shea Weber and Zach Parise. Parise has said he’d take a one-year offer to avoid going to arbitration and having to deal with Lou Lamoriello in an argument. You can’t blame the guy for wanting to avoid that. The thought of that alone makes us cringe.

The guys to really wonder about in their cases are defensemen given how crazy the market for defensemen has gotten. One in particular, Andrej Sekera, could wind up getting a decision that makes life very uncomfortable for the Buffalo Sabres. If you remember last year, the Sabres had an awkward time with forward Tim Kennedy in which Kennedy won his case for $1 million, but not a large enough victory for the Sabres to walk away from. Buffalo wound up getting rid of Kennedy on waivers days later after being unhappy with his contract. Such is life in arbitration and a good reason why both sides like to avoid having the courts settle things out.

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

Nazem Kadri
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Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

Jaden Schwartz
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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

‘Very upset’ Jokinen blasts NHL’s handling of Abdelkader-Barkov hit

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You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.

“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”

Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.

Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.

But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.

Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.

“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”

Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.