Report: Flames won’t spend to the cap ceiling next season

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The Calgary Flames haven’t been that far from the playoffs despite missing the postseason for three straight years, but that’s little solace to fans – especially since management is paying them like an elite club. Roger Millions passes along an intriguing detail, though: it sounds like the Flames’ days of spending to the cap are over.

To be more specific, Millions expects the Flames’ budget to be around $55 million, which would be about $15 million less than the expected cap ceiling if the CBA doesn’t alter the cap. Either way, it sounds like the Flames’ spending will be reined in quite a bit.

Get rid of Kipper, Iggy or Bouwmeester?

According to Capgeek, the Flames currently have about $50.3 million committed to the cap next season, with 16 players covered. Millions and Kent Wilson believe that one or more of big-money players Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff and Jay Bouwmeester might need to go to make things work.

Perhaps to little surprise, Millions tabbed Bouwmeester as the odd man out, although one could argue that the Flames would be wiser to move Iginla because he might draw a better deal – particularly for a Flames team that still seems to be in “rebuild denial.” Bouwmeester’s disappointing offensive numbers and $6.68 million cap hit probably won’t attract half the attention as Iginla; Bouwmeester (28) is also considerably younger than Iginla (34).

Iginla has one more year left with a $7 million cap hit while Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff’s ($5.8M cap hit) deals run out after the 2013-14 season.

The rest of the moves

Either way, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for GM Jay Feaster. The team can call up some minor league players/prospects to fill some roster spots cheaply, yet that’s not likely to jive well with their stated plans. Here’s a quick list of their pending free agents:

Unrestricted

Olli Jokinen
Lee Stempniak
David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos
Cory Sarich
Scott Hannan

Restricted

Blake Comeau
Mikael Backlund
Akim Aliu
Blair Jones

***

If you were in Feaster’s shoes, would you trade one (or more) of the bigger name players on the team? Would you instead try to get rid of a bigger salary eyesore like, say, Matt Stajan? Or would you blow the whole thing up?

Share your armchair management plan in the comments if you feel the need.

(H/T to Arik Knapp.)

The Colorado Avalanche’s win streak hits double digits

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The streak is now in double digits.

The Colorado Avalanche won their 10th straight game on Monday night, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.

Yes, that’s 10 wins by the team that ended last season with an NHL-worst 48 points.

Hockey is wonderful, isn’t it?

The Avalanche have been pretty darn good during that streak, outscoring opponents 41-16 during that span. Scoring four goals per game on average will win you more than it won’t.

And the Avs have had success on the back end. Jonathan Bernier has been completely lights out during the streak. He is on a streak of his own with nine straight wins, becoming the third netminder in franchise history to win nine in a row.

Colorado’s streak is also an NHL-best this season and it’s the second longest streak in Avs history (they won 12 straight during the 1998-99 season).

The Avs are sitting on 57 points, good for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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How in the world did he get up?

Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

Talk about hard-headed.

Who could take Taylor Hall’s place if he has to miss the All-Star Game?

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With Taylor Hall set to miss the next couple of games due to a hand injury, and with that injury putting his All-Star Game prospects in jeopardy, we look at the players who are worthy of replacing the New Jersey Devils forward if he has to miss this weekend’s festivities.

Two names that immediately come to mind are Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel and Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier.

There was already an argument that Kessel deserved to be at the ASG over Sidney Crosby. He was leading the Penguins in points then and two weeks later, he continues to pace Pittsburgh with 21 goals (tied with Evgeni Malkin) and 54 points, three more points than Crosby.

Couturier has already smashed his previous career highs in both goals (26) and points (47). He’s been part of the reason that Claude Giroux is already headed to the ASG and deserves to be there himself.

At third would have to be Sebastian Aho. The talent in the Metropolitan is evident with his snub. He’s clearly the best player on the Carolina Hurricanes this season (no disrespect to Teuvo Teravainen).

Aho is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie-season totals and a big reason why the Hurricanes are three points back of a playoff spot.

Beyond those three guys, there’s a few that certainly deserve the honor:

  • Anders Lee has 27 goals this season, seven off the pace he set last season with half the season to go.
  • Jakub Voracek leads the NHL with 45 assists, four more than teammate Giroux.
  • Evgeni Malkin. Not having a bad year.

It’s important to remember that the at-least-one-player-per-team rule goes out the window when it comes to replacing another All-Star.

There are certainly some very deserving names that didn’t get the first call.

But life’s about second chances.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Chicago Blackhawks

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Projected Lines

Tampa Bay Lightning

Nikita KucherovBrayden PointTyler Johnson

Vladislav NamestnikovSteven StamkosChris Kunitz

Alex Killorn — Matthew Peca — Yanni Gourde

Michael Bournival — Cedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

Jake DotchinAnton Stralman

Mikhail SergachevDan Girardi

Braydon CoburnAndrej Sustr

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Out of sync’ Lightning look to end three-game losing skid against ‘Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAnthony Duclair

Patrick SharpNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane

Alex DeBrincatArtem AnisimovRyan Hartman

Tomas Jurco — David Kampf — Vinnie Hinostroza

Duncan KeithJordan Oesterle

Erik Gustafsson — Brent Seabrook

Michal KempnyConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Jeff Glass