GMs want to know: Will the salary cap be lower next season?

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The general managers are off to lovely Boca Raton next week for meetings and, if time permits, some snorkeling.

Over at ESPN.com, Pierre LeBrun provides a good rundown of what should be on the agenda Monday in Florida:

—- Big surprise, there will be talk about concussions.

—- The push to make shoulder pads smaller, an oldie but a goody, is reportedly on the list.

—- Then there are the potential rule changes, like putting the red line back in (won’t happen), ditching the trapezoid (might happen), and hybrid icing (probably a good idea).

—- Oh, and Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford wants to discuss on-the-fly line changes, which he believes are treated too leniently by officials.

Perhaps the most interesting topic, however, will be the new CBA. Specifically, how it might affect free-agent spending this summer.

Writes LeBrun:

In late June, the league will need to introduce an updated salary cap number (both upper limit and lower limit) in order to set up the opening of free agency on July 1, as per the terms of the current CBA. Based on expanding league revenues, the $64.3-million upper limit for the cap is expected to go up yet again, perhaps as high as $69 million. The problem, of course, is that it’s a cap number that is simply temporary for the summer before the new CBA brings in new financial parameters. And if the owners and league have their way, there will be a lower salary cap for next season.

So, GMs face the bizarre scenario where they get handed a higher salary cap for July and August with the knowledge that it likely will be lower when the puck drops next season. So how much should they spend this summer? Hence, they’ll have questions for the league in the meetings next week.

If you’re wondering why the salary cap could come down, speculation has the owners asking the players to accept a lower percentage of revenues, similar to what just happened in the NFL and NBA.

The NHLPA might have something to say about that though.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.