Brad Marchand is one of those players that you hate to play against, but you love him if he’s on your team. That much is fairly obvious.
But last month, Marchand (as well as teammate Patrice Bergeron) proved to be effective recruiters for at least one free agent. David Backes admitted that the phone calls he received from the two veterans definitely helped him settle on the idea of joining the Bruins.
“Talking to [Marchand] a little bit during the interview process before July 1, I hung up the phone and kind of had to take a deep breath and say, ‘Is that the little disturber, pain-in-the-butt? He’s actually a pretty good guy,” joked Backes, per the Bruins’ website.
In an exclusive interview with CSN’s Joe Haggerty, Backes reiterated that both Bergeron and Marchand are a “pain-in-the-butt” to play against, but he quickly added (with a smirk) that Marchand is more ‘obnoxious’ (click the video at the top of the page for the full interview).
So what exactly did Marchand and Bergeron say to Backes during the phone calls?
“Those guys are the best teammates when you get them on your team,” Backes said of Marchand and Bergeron. “When they talk about sharing critical ice, and hard ice, and hard minutes with a couple of lines, to me that’s what you need in this league.”
Backes has always been known for his physical style of play, but at 32-years-old he may not be able to do all the dirty work for much longer. It sounds like both Marchand and Bergeron convinced Backes that the heavy lifting will be a team-effort, as opposed to a one-man or one-line thing.
Of course, the five-year, $30 million contract the Bruins gave Backes was also an effective recruiting tool.
NHL training camps open in September and although most teams have done the bulk of their off-season tweaking, there’s still at least one team that has some serious work to do.
“No real update there,” said general manager Brad Treliving, per the Calgary Herald. “We’ll continue to work away at it.”
The Flames have just under $15 million in cap space remaining, according to General Fanager. There’s a good chance both RFA forwards will take a deep bite into those remaining dollars.
Monahan already said he’d be willing to take less money to get a deal done, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap. The 21-year-old scored 58 goals and 125 points in 162 games over the last two seasons.
As for Gaudreau, he’ll cost a pretty penny as well. The 22-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored 30 goals and 78 points in 79 games.
Here’s an excerpt from the Herald regarding these two players:
With 11 weeks until the regular season begins, here is what we know:
• Both players are restricted free agents and received qualifying offers from the Flames earlier this month. Talks are ongoing.
• Both are expected to receive whopping raises.
• Both are seeking long-term contracts, expressing that they’d like to play together for the foreseeable future.
• Both could be getting paid in the neighbourhood of between $6-million and $7.5-million for between six and eight years (if you use the com parables of Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg, Seth Jones, Aleksander Barkov, and Nathan MacKinnon).
Thankfully for Calgary, they’ve done a decent job of managing their roster and the cap. Gaudreau and Monahan are the only two players on the roster that still need new contracts. The rest of the team is locked up for at least one more year.
After going without a captain last season, the Oilers will have someone wearing the “C” in 2016-17.
“Will we have a captain? Yeah, we will,” head coach Todd McLellan said on Wednesday, per the Oilers’ website. “We will have a captain.”
Last year, the veteran blueliner appeared in just six games, and underwent season-ending hip surgery. He was in no position to serve in the club’s leadership group and, ergo, the Oilers opted to play without a captain.
So… who will be next to wear the “C?”
Most are thinking about Connor McDavid. Though he’s not publicly campaigning for the role, the 19-year-old did say it would “be one of the greatest honors. ” Though he missed significant time to injury last year, McDavid still enthralled Oilers fans with a rookie campaign that saw him rack up 48 points in 45 games, finishing as a Calder Trophy finalist.
Of course, there will be others in the mix.
Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Matt Hendricks have all served as alternates in Edmonton, and Hendricks captained the U.S. at this year’s world championships. There’s definitely some leadership to choose from, and it’s worth noting Eberle is one of the most vested veterans in Edmonton, having appeared in 425 games over the last six seasons.
Bogdan Yakimov is on his way back to Russia.
On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve loaned Yakimov to KHL club Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the same team he joined after leaving AHL Bakersfield last season.
The 83rd overall pick in 2013, Yakimov has appeared in one game for the Oilers since getting drafted. He’s spent almost all of his time in North America in the AHL, and didn’t impress the club last year when he bolted the farm team to return to his native land.
“He made a career decision to return to Russia and I’m not sure how he played or how many games he played,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said at the time, per the Edmonton Sun (McLellan was then informed Yakimov was away for 11 games).
“Well, that’s 11 games he didn’t spend with us. During his time away, there were a number of players recalled. I would have preferred to see him in an Oilers uniform and he was real close. Now he has to reset his Oiler clock and get playing again.”
All told, Yakimov played in 36 games with the Condors last season, scoring five goals and 15 points.
At 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Yakimov has impressive size and is still only 21 years old, so he’s got some value. But it remains to be seen whether he wants to try and push for an NHL career, or opt to stay in the KHL.