2011 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

Katz gives a little; will an arena deal get done in Edmonton?

The good news is that the Edmonton Oilers have an owner. With teams like the Coyotes, Stars, and Blues undergoing ownership issues over the last few months (years), having an owner isn’t something to be taken for granted anymore. Now having a place to play—that’s a different story. For anyone following the arena negotiations in Edmonton, owner Daryl Katz wants to build a new arena downtown to house the Edmonton Oilers. Not only does he want a new downtown arena, he wants the taxpayers to help fund the deal, and he wanted a non-compete clause with the operator of Rexall Place that would send concerts to the new arena as well.

No word if he wants the City of Edmonton to throw in a pony while they’re at it.

After meeting with Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Gary Bettman in New York this week, it sounds like Katz is willing to limit his demands. He’s publically stated that he’ll take the non-compete clause off the table as he tries to work a deal before October 31. You see, he has until Halloween before he loses the downtown parcel of land that has been reserved for the potential arena. Without the downtown land, there is no downtown arena.

Obviously in negotiations, people don’t make concessions without getting something back in return. From SportsNet:

“In return for taking the clause off the table, the city has agreed to a new ticket tax at Rexall equal to the one proposed for the new arena, said [City manager Simon] Farbrother.

“There would be a level playing field,” he said, adding the city would also stop subsidizing Rexall after the new arena is built.

The debate over a new home for the Oilers to replace Rexall Place, the second-oldest rink the league, has been going for four years.

Although close to a deal, the project’s remaining stumbling block is money. A hefty $100 million is still needed to fund the $450-million arena.

The Katz Group earlier agreed to put up $100 million and tax ticket holders for another $125 million. The city would pony up $125 million.”

As an outsider, it would be great to see the Oilers get a new arena to go with their new team. Rexall Place is the second oldest arena in the league and could definitely use an upgrade. Can you imagine the Oilers taking the next step with all of their young talent—completing in the playoffs with a new sold-out new building in the middle of Edmonton? It sounds like a great idea.

Of course, any time taxpayer funds are being discussed, it opens a political can of worms that has little to do with hockey. Just ask people in Long Island about votes and referendums about new arenas. For the average voter, it comes down to money. More money in the form of taxes means less money in people’s pockets.

The two sides have a little over two weeks to figure this thing out. We’ll keep you updated as the two sides continue to negotiate.

Foley is ‘9.5’ out of 10 confident that NHL will expand to Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 10:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman and President of Hockey Vision Las Vegas Bill Foley pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino announcing the launch of a season ticket drive to try to gauge if there is enough interest in Las Vegas to support an NHL team on February 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Las Vegas franchise would play in a USD 375 million, 20,000-seat arena being built on the Strip by MGM Resorts International and AEG that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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On a scale of 1 to 10, Bill Foley is “9.5” confident that the NHL will grant him an expansion team for Las Vegas.

That was the main takeaway from an interview Foley did with KSNV NBC in Las Vegas.

At the same time, despite his high level of confidence, Foley would appreciate an answer sooner rather than later — especially if the team is to start playing in 2017-18.

” I don’t want to give the league too much time,” he said, smiling. “They’re doing their job, they’re doing their process and so on. We would really like to have the word by June.”

Foley was asked what he believed to be the biggest “concern” the NHL had about expansion. He replied that it was a matter of whether the league expanded by one team or two (Quebec City has also applied for a franchise), but also the expansion draft.

“Who’s available in the draft? Are players with no-trade clauses…are they going to be part of the draft or not part of the draft?” Foley wondered. “So the owners and the league have a lot of things to do and to figure out.”

Full video of the interview can be found here.

Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

Goalie nods: Backup extraordinaire Montoya gets the call versus Wings

Florida Panthers goalie Al Montoya watches game action against the New Jersey Devils' during the second period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.

Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.

The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).

“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”

Beyond Montoya, other NHL backups with particularly good numbers include the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (.933), the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth (.931), the Blues’ Brian Elliott (.930), the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.929), and the Wild’s Darcy Kuemper (.928).

Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings. He used to be Detroit’s backup, but he’s since surpassed Jimmy Howard for the starting job.

Elsewhere…

Cory Schneider for the Devils at MSG, versus Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

John Gibson for the Ducks in Pittsburgh, versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

— Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning in Ottawa, versus Craig Anderson for the Sens.

Blues put Pietrangelo on IR with knee injury

Pietrangelo-Coyle
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Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.

Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.

The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.

The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

Update:

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

“I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.

This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.

“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”

Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.

Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

Vigneault felt the hit was late.

“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.

Beleskey was not suspended.