Evander Kane will wear Bobby Hull’s old number in Winnipeg

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After a little bit of confusion and some necessary communication, Evander Kane will in fact wear his #9 when the Jets open their season against the Montreal Canadiens. Of course, the uncertainty stemmed from the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg and taking on the old Jets moniker. It’s unchartered territory for a franchise to move to a city and take on a new identity—an identity that’s history was shipped to Phoenix in the 1990s. The Coyotes currently have Bobby Hull’s, Thomas Steen’s, and Dale Hawerchuk’s numbers retired. But those were all Winnipeg Jets players who retired their numbers—so it’s a little awkward when there’s a new team called the Winnipeg Jets and players who are wearing the retired numbers.

Evander Kane – a player who has worn #9 throughout his career – has treated the entire situation with class. Instead of simply assuming that he’d be able to wear the number because he’s worn it in the past, he asked the team and confirmed with Hull himself that it would be acceptable for him to continue wearing the number he’s grown up with. It’s not an instance where a young player is disrespecting the past; he understands the importance of Bobby Hull to the Winnipeg area:

“”Bobby was an outstanding player who represented the city and it’s definitely a real honour to be able to wear that number. You know, I was just checking about what the organization’s plans were for No. 9 and then this story seemed to become a lot bigger than I thought it would.”

“And I did get the feeling from a lot of people on Twitter and others that many were encouraging me to wear it.

“I’m pretty excited just to see a jersey let alone to pull one on,” Kane added with a chuckle. “It’s going to be fun for all the guys that first day in the dressing room pulling on that jersey for the first time. That opening night against the Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 9)… it’s a little bit away still, but it’s hard not to think about it. It’s going to be a real special moment in which history will be made. I can’t wait.”

Teammate Bryan Little had a similar dilemma with the #10 jersey that he wore in Atlanta. Moving to Winnipeg, he would now be wearing Dale Hawerchuk’s retired jersey. For Little, the decision was to simply change jerseys—he’ll be rocking the #18 next season. The organization told him he could do has he pleased and chose to switch numbers and avoid any potential problems.

Just because Kane went a different route doesn’t necessarily mean he made the wrong decision. The most important point was for Kane was to be respectful throughout the entire process. If he came in and acted like he was going to wear any number he wanted, it wouldn’t have mattered if Hull gave his blessing. Since Kane showed the proper respect for one of the games greats, he’s scored points with young and old fans alike.

To recap: Dale Hawerchuk’s #10 has been de facto retired by Bryan Little. Bobby Hull has told the organization that Evander Kane can wear #9. Thankfully no one on the roster wears #25 or we’d be talking to Thomas Steen to get his opinion on the matter.

Then again, they could just trade with the St. Louis Blues for Alex Steen and the whole situation would be much less awkward.

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins