Cory Schneider

Will this be the summer of RFA goalies getting offer sheets?


Over at the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle has an intriguing take on what July 1 might hold for a stellar crop of RFA goalies:

There’s Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, Cory Schneider, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk all in need of contracts, with two or three of those names potential targets for offer sheets when free agency opens this summer.

The Canadiens can avoid that situation with Price by electing for arbitration before July 1, but that isn’t an option until after July 1 with Rask and Schneider given their low salaries.

Both Boston and Vancouver are relatively tight against the cap as well, with big salaries dedicated to Thomas (even if he doesn’t play) and Luongo making their goaltending situations precarious.

Some in the hockey world I’ve spoken with think this is being contemplated and that one reason GMs Steve Yzerman and Brian Burke have been so quiet on the goaltending front is that they plan on making a bold play on July 1.

Some notes:

— Under the current CBA, RFA compensation works like this:

$1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation
$1,034,249 — $1,567,043: Third-round pick
$1,567,043 — $3,134,088: Second-round pick
$3,134,088 — $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
$4,701,131 — $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
$6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

— Teams need to have their original draft picks for compensation. They can’t use picks acquired via trade.

— The Lightning have five picks in the top 50 at the 2012 draft: No. 10, No. 19 (from Detroit in the Kyle Quincey trade), No. 37 (from San Jose in the Dominic Moore trade), No. 40 and No. 50 (from Philly in the Pavel Kubina trade). They also have a third round pick at No. 71.

— As for compensatory picks, Tampa also has all its picks in 2013 and an extra second rounder (again, from the Kubina deal).

— As such, Yzerman’s in an amazing position to throw out an offer sheet and still obtain young talent. For example, he could sign any of the above RFA goalies to a deal that pays, say, $6 million annually and lose his first- second- and third-round picks in 2013. The loss of those picks would be mitigated by his slew of young draftees from 2012.

— That said, some consider offer sheeting RFAs dirty pool. Plenty of GMs don’t like it and only six have been signed since the lockout — Ryan Kesler (Philadelphia), Thomas Vanek (Edmonton), Dustin Penner (Edmonton), David Backes (Vancouver), Steve Bernier (St. Louis) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (San Jose) with only Penner actually moving teams — a move that caused great acrimony between then-Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe.

Coyotes GM ‘called right away’ on Hamonic

Don Maloney
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You can add Arizona to the list of teams that tried to get in on the Travis Hamonic sweepstakes.

“[He’s] a talented player,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the Arizona Republic. “We certainly called right away, but we do not have a good fit for them right now.

“That’s the bottom line. They’re looking for a ready-made complement player.”

Hamonic, who requested a trade out of New York, is garnering plenty of interest across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported five clubs — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Minnesota — were in the mix, with Sportsnet floating potential trade chips like the Jets’ Jacob Trouba, and the Flames’ T.J. Brodie.

It’s unsurprising the Coyotes didn’t have a fit for Isles GM Garth Snow.

It’s hard to imagine — nearly impossible, really — to think Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be on the move, and the rest of the Arizona defense is comprised of unheralded youngsters (Michael Stone, Connor Murphy) or grizzled vets (Nicklas Grossmann, Zbynek Michalek).

But Maloney’s remarks are still noteworthy, because he more we hear about the Hamonic situation, the clearer the asking price gets.

Related: Hamonic willing to finish season with Isles

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”