John Tavares

Report: Isles John Tavares and Buffalo’s Tyler Myers both close to signing extensions

4 Comments

Late last night TSN’s Bob McKenzie broke news of how New York Islanders rising star John Tavares and Buffalo Sabres phenom defenseman Tyler Myers are both close to signing contract extensions with their respective teams. Both players are in the final year of their entry level deals this year and after seeing the troubles that some teams are having this summer in re-signing their restricted free agents, getting something done this soon makes a world of sense.

For John Tavares, he sees what’s going on with guys like Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, and Brad Marchand as well as the arbitration dealings of Shea Weber and doesn’t want to have that distraction heading into what could be a big building year for the Islanders. Arthur Staple of New York Newsday hears it from Tavares himself.

“It’s not something I want hanging over the season and affecting the team,” he said Tuesday after an informal skate at IceWorks in Syosset. “I know I’m going to be here for a long time and I’d like it to get done.”

The numbers are not known; it’s believed that the length of the deal being discussed is in the five- to six-year range. Islanders general manager Garth Snow and Pat Brisson, Tavares’ agent, declined comment on the talks.

Should the Islanders get Tavares locked up to a long-term deal, that would mean they’ve gotten virtually all of their young talent locked in place for the next few seasons. Matt Moulson is signed on for three more years, Michael Grabner signed a five year extension this summer and Kyle Okposo is also locked in place for the next five years.

source: APWhat’s being worked on in Buffalo with Tyler Myers is looking a but juicier than what’s going on with Tavares. While things with the Sabres aren’t imminently close to being done, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the framework for Myers’ deal with the Sabres is for seven years at $5.5 million per year.

If those numbers are close to what happens, the Sabres cap situation is going to be fascinating to watch with a new CBA coming next summer. According to CapGeek, if Myers re-upped for $5.5 million per season, their cap situation next season would put the Sabres at just over $55 million with only 16 players signed. If there was a salary cap roll back in place as part of the new labor deal, the Sabres would find themselves in quite the predicament after the monster deals they signed Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff to this summer as well as from previous deals to Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek.

That’s not even digging into the debate as to whether or not Myers is worth that kind of monster deal. That debate can hold off until he’s actually signed.

These two deals getting worked on, however, shows what this summer did for both the players and general managers around the league. With six prominent restricted free agents still working on getting deals done just days before training camp, some players and teams just don’t want to have that distraction heading into next season. For the players, it seems to be working out just fine financially speaking and for the teams, they’re realizing that when the bill comes due and great talent is close to being free they’ve got to pay up to make it happen.

Sounds like Blues will be more aggressive

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 06:  Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blues defeated the Coyotes 6-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

With their former captain now a member of the Boston Bruins and their coach on year-to-year deals, it’s appropriate to say that the St. Louis Blues are in a period of transitions.

It’s also a convenient choice of words, as it sounds like the Blues are going to change the way they transition on the ice.

That’s the indication given by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and players like Chris Porter approve.

“The play in the neutral zone will fit this team great with the speed and the size that they already have in place,” Porter said. “I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment for the guys, I think it’s just a little tweak here or there.”

Perhaps hiring Mike Yeo had something to do with taking a more modern approach?

Either way, getting more aggressive makes a lot of sense for the Blues, at least on paper.

With David Backes and Troy Brouwer out of town, younger and speedier players get to take more of a role. Some Blues fans will probably view this tweak – big or small – as a long time coming.

Of course, there’s a give-and-take when it comes to situations like these, and becoming more attack-minded sure makes retaining Kevin Shattenkirk that much more important. The underrated blueliner still expects to be moved despite being named an alternate captain, yet you wonder if these changes might prompt GM Doug Armstrong to try to pull some strings to keep him around.

(Giving Alexander Steen a contract extension means that much less room for the likes of Shattenkirk.)

Even if the Blues eventually need to part ways with Shattenkirk, there are some other nice assets who can use this change as a catalyst to push this team up another level.

In an ideal scenario, the Blues would enjoy those improvements and keep Shattenkirk to reap those rewards.

Update: Clarke MacArthur suffers concussion

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 8: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on October 8, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/ Getty Images)
Getty
3 Comments

Update: As many feared, Clarke MacArthur suffered a concussion. The Ottawa Senators announced that he will be “evaluated daily.”

***

Rough news for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday: forward Clarke MacArthur needed help off the ice following a big hit during a team scrimmage.

The hit was delivered by Patrick Sieloff, prompting an immediate response from Bobby Ryan, according to The Hockey News’ Murray Pam.

MacArthur has been hoping to return to NHL action after some serious concussion issues, so this is a troubling situation. More than a few people wonder if this might end his career.

Update: Here’s a GIF of the hit.

Robin Lehner certainly has swagger

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

Robin Lehner is a big goalie, and barring possible language barrier issues, sure seems to have a pretty big personality.

That at least seems to be the case with the Buffalo Sabres’ top guy, who provided the Buffalo News’ John Vogl with a great quote:

“There’s a lot of pressure on me, and that’s fine. … I know I’m a good goaltender,” Lehner said.

Hey now.

As much as the Sabres feel like a work in progress, acquiring Lehner was one of GM Tim Murray’s boldest moves. Murray was able to observe Lehner in Ottawa, and despite some struggles, the big Swede (6-foot-5, 240 lbs.) was sneaky-good in 2015-16.

Twenty-one games serves as a limited sample size, yet a .924 save percentage seems quite promising. His 107 career regular season games are spread over six seasons, so to some extent, the 25-year-old is still something of an unknown entity.

If nothing else, it looks like he could provide some Bryzgalovian entertainment.

Back in March, Ben Scrivens admitted he was happy to avoid a fight with a guy he called a “bit of a psycho.”

Sounds like a guy to watch.

Team Europe is happy to play underdog role

Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) When the World Cup of Hockey started, Team Europe was not picked as a team to beat.

In fact, the unique team made up of eight nations outside of the continent’s traditional hockey powers was expected to be out of the best-on-best tournament.

Team Europe had other plans.

The blended group of players opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over the U.S. and then beat the Czech Republic in overtime to seal a spot in the semifinals before losing to Canada.

“I know nobody really expected us to be here right now,” Danish and Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen said Saturday. “But when you look in the room and go over the team, there’s not a lot of players better than (Anze) Kopitar in this tournament. We got (Marian) Hossa. We got some good guys on the backend and good goaltending.”

The Europeans will face Sweden on Sunday for a spot in the best-of-three finals against the winner of Saturday night’s Canada-Russia game.

When Team Europe players have faced Sweden for their countries – Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Norway – in previous, they didn’t have a legitimate chance to win.

They do now.

A veteran group of skaters and a star in Kopitar along with Slovak and New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak give them a shot on any sheet of ice.

“He’s the kind of goalie that almost every night, he gives you a chance to win,” said Nielsen, who played with Halak in New York. “And, he’ll make that save when you need it.”

Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger said he’ll likely save his rah-rah speeches for another team because this one simply doesn’t need it.

Krueger began to sense something special was in store for Team Europe nearly a year ago when several candidates to be on the team met when Boston and the New York Islanders played. When the entire group gathered nearly three weeks ago in Quebec, Krueger got even more excited about the natural chemistry the team already had from their shared experiences.

“We didn’t have to do a lot of extra team-building,” Krueger said. “It just happened with a combination of leadership and personalities and character and will – of pure will – of these eight nations that are forever underdogs, forever going home when the final four is staged, forever watching other teams play in finals of best of best. That opportunity has fueled the fire that taken us here.”

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage