Charles Wang, Garth Snow

Are the Islanders not done dealing after landing Brian Rolston?

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Seeing the Islanders and Devils complete a trade the way they did yesterday seeing the Islanders send Trent Hunter to New Jersey was a random shot out of the blue. Two rivals making deals with each other, even out of salary floor/salary cap convenience, doesn’t happen all the time.

For the Islanders, they needed to add salary to get themselves at or above the payroll floor and while adding Rolston’s salary helps them close in on that mark, they’ve still got some work left to do. CapGeek says they’re just over $5 million away from reaching the floor so there are other moves yet to be made. While the rumors of the Isles re-interest in Alexei Yashin will persist, Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank says that there’s another “big” move on the horizon.

Another hockey move is on the way. For what it’s worth, we were also told that we’re going to like this one. In our view, it’s the only way spending $3 million on Brian Rolston instead of somebody younger and better makes sense.

All right, so it’s a hockey move that Isles fans will like and justifies bringing in a guy whose production has fallen off the map the last three years. So that means it’s not Yashin, right?

So let’s get our speculating shoes on. The Isles have a need on defense for someone who can plug in and help give Mark Streit help along the blue line. It’d be reasonable to expect that the Isles would be in the hunt for a defenseman. As for who that might be, your guess is as good as ours. If you judge just based on salary cap numbers at the moment, perhaps the Isles putting in a call to the Sabres to snag Shaone Morrisonn would work out. The Sabres need to cut cash and Morrisonn is making just over $2 million against the cap next season.

That wouldn’t be a move that Isles fans would find exciting, however. That is unless Isles fans find fourth or fifth defensemen to be spine-tingling. If that was the case though, they’d just ride it out with what they have. While the Isles still have to work things out yet with restricted free agent Blake Comeau, you have to wonder if maybe they’re looking for another forward.

This would be where we’d point out how the Washington Capitals are over the cap ever so slightly and how there’s a certain goal-scoring Russian winger making $6.7 million against the cap next season that would give them an offensive lift and help put them well above the salary floor. That wouldn’t make too much sense for the Caps to do that, however, unless they were getting something helpful in return to balance their offense.

As it is, we’ll have to wait things out to see just what the Isles have planned to be crowd-pleasers. Don’t be surprised that if they’ve got a move to make that it happens ahead of the August 1 referendum vote on whether or not to approve building a new Nassau Coliseum. Making a big splash ahead of that would be a good way to show voters who may be ambivalent about voting to get to the polls and support the movement. Here’s to hoping that Alexei Yashin isn’t the guy jumping out of the celebratory cake for that purpose.

Pre-game reading: NHLers sound off on poor ice conditions

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— Up top, Danny Briere recalls that famous line brawl between the Flyers and Penguins in the 2012 playoffs. The two Pennsylvania rivals meet again Saturday, outdoors at Heinz Field.

— It has not been a good year for NHL ice, and a number of players are starting to get fed up. For example, Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, who said, “It’s been awful. I don’t know what it is. Even in our building this year. I thought it was really good [when we came] back for World Cup and right after that for the first little bit. But the last little bit, it’s been so bad. The puck’s all over the place.” Guess we know how he’ll be filling out his survey. (ESPN)

— The days leading up to the trade deadline can be pretty stressful for players who may get moved. And if they do get moved, the days after can be pretty tough, too. “I saw my daughters four days out of three months when I went to Pittsburgh,” said Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak, who’s been dealt three straight years at the deadline. “When I was traded to Winnipeg, I didn’t see my daughters for the two months or more I was there because of the schedule.” (The News & Observer)

— On the 2017 NHL draft, which may not have the star power of the last two drafts, but will still have some pretty good players available. Especially centers. (USA Today)

— San Jose’s Brent Burns is trying to become only the second defenseman in NHL history to win a scoring title. With 64 points, Burns is only three points back of Connor McDavid for the league lead, with Sidney Crosby in the mix as well. Bobby Orr won the Art Ross Trophy twice, the last time in 1974-75 when he piled up 135 points in 80 games for the Boston Bruins.  (Canadian Press)

— Another Shark, Joe Thornton, is just two assists from 1,000 in the NHL. Only 12 players have accomplished that, with Wayne Gretzky’s 1,963 helpers leading the way. Joe Sakic’s 1,016 are the closest to Thornton’s 998. (The Mercury News)

Enjoy the games!

Bolts rule out Callahan indefinitely following second hip surgery

Ryan Callahan
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Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan, who’s only played 18 games this year while recovering from offseason hip surgery, has undergone a follow-up procedure and will be sidelined indefinitely.

The Bolts made the announcement on Wednesday, just hours after a big 4-1 win over Edmonton. Callahan wasn’t in the lineup to face the Oilers — he hasn’t played since early January, when he skated just under 15 minutes in a loss to Philly.

The nature of this ailment has to be concerning.

Callahan, who turns 32 next month, is in the third of a six-year, $34.8 million deal with a $5.8M average annual cap hit. And this lingering hip problem comes on the heels of a disappointing ’15-16 campaign, in which Callahan scored just 10 goals and 28 points — the lowest marks since his rookie campaign.

As such, Tampa Bay is now bracing for an immediate future without a huge part of its leadership group. Captain Steve Stamkos has resumed skating, but there’s no set date for his return from major knee surgery.

Callahan, who’s been an alternate captain in each of the last three seasons, won’t be playing anytime soon either.

 

Kadri ‘not worried’ after Chiarot predicts revenge for big hit (Video)

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Toronto forward Nazem Kadri drew the ire of Jets d-man Ben Chiarot on Tuesday night for a big — albeit questionable — hit in the Leafs’ OT win.

Chiarot was visibly displeased following the game and alluded to getting even.

“It’s not the right time or place to chase him down, but there will be a time down the line,” he said, per Sportsnet. “Might not be this year, might not be next year.

“But there will be a time where the shoe will be on the other foot.”

Today, Kadri responded.

“I’m not worried at all,” Kadri said, per TSN. “I’ll be here for hopefully a few years. But like I said, if that was one of my teammates getting hit like that, I probably wouldn’t be too happy, so I expect that kind of reaction.”

Kadri’s hit, which went unpenalized, drew the ire of Chiarot’s head coach as well. Jets bench boss Paul Maurice was also visibly displeased following the game.

“He’s six inches in the air when he makes contact,” Maurice said, per Sportsnet. “In my mind, from the rear view, the first thing that moves on Benny is the helmet. Didn’t like it.”

Kadri’s been involved in a few high-profile collisions this season. He pasted Sabres captain Brian Gionta in a game earlier this month, and avoided suspension for a controversial hit on Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin back in November.

Have the Blackhawks finally found their first-line LW?

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A three-point night for Nick Schmaltz, which included a nifty pass to Jonathan Toews for the game-winner, must have Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wondering how to approach the trade deadline.

The way the 20-year-old rookie has been playing, does Bowman really need to add a first-line left winger before next Wednesday?

It’s a valid question. Only a month ago, Bowman was reportedly sniffing around the likes of Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

But Schmaltz has since caught fire, with two goals and five assists in his last six games. The rookie from Wisconsin had one goal and two assists in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over Minnesota.

“He’s been really good,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “[Tuesday] was the most we’ve ever seen him with the puck. I don’t know how many times he evaded coverage, and all of a sudden he loses the guy on him and a play develops. That play against the grain to [Toews] was spectacular.”

Toews, of course, has been through a whole host of linemates this season, and only in the last month has the captain really started to produce offensively. Richard Panik and Marian Hossa are two veteran options to skate on his right side, but the left side has been a running audition.

Schmaltz, a first-round draft pick in 2014, only got called back up to the NHL in mid-January.

One month later, Toews is liking the chemistry that’s developed between himself, Schmaltz and Panik.

“We’ve been given the chance to spend a few games together, get some consistency, get some feel and some confidence,” said Toews. “The biggest thing for the three of us is if we go through a game without scoring, we’re given a chance to go out in the next game and try and redeem ourselves and contribute offensively.

“It’s a lot of fun, because I think we’re feeling it. [Schmaltz and Panik] are playing so well at both ends of the rink. They’re playing with a ton of confidence with the puck.”

The ‘Hawks have two games left before the March 1 deadline. They host Arizona tomorrow and St. Louis Sunday.