Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(May 1, 2012 - Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

High cap floor might complicate and motivate summer trades

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Maybe the Boston Bruins will find a taker for Tim Thomas’ cap hit after all. With the unrestricted free market getting pretty barren, nearly half the NHL is still under the cap floor according to Cap Geek. Of those teams, 10 of them are still at least $4 million away from reaching the floor.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that while the unrestricted free agent market has largely dried up, there are still several restricted free agents out there that need to be re-signed.

Still, that won’t necessarily help a team like the Phoenix Coyotes, who don’t have any potentially expensive restricted free agents left and are still $10,891,667 below the salary floor with just three spots left on their projected 23-man roster. If they can’t re-sign Shane Doan, then they’ll have to scramble to find another way to get over the floor — and they won’t be alone.

Another example of a team in an awkward position is the Nashville Predators. After losing out on Ryan Suter, they’re $14,195,833 below the salary cap with 17 players penciled into their 23-man roster. Now they do have several restricted free agents left, but let’s say things get complicated with Shea Weber.

As discussed earlier, Weber might not want another one-year contract. With the potential that the next CBA stop future superstars from getting front-loaded, long-term contracts like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise recently got, Weber might seek to either sign a big contract with Nashville or get traded.

If he goes with the latter option, then that might be a problem for Nashville because they will have a tough time trading him and staying over the floor unless they take a sizable amount of salary back.

The Anaheim Ducks would have the same issue if they traded Bobby Ryan and his $5.1 million annual cap hit, given that they’re still $7,135,833 million under the floor with 17 guys currently penciled into their roster. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are currently operating above the floor, would be in a bit of a pickle if they traded away Rick Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit without taking on some salary in the process.

Of course there’s still enough time left in the summer for these issues to be worked out and it’s even possible that the next CBA will tweak the way the cap floor works. However, the high floor might complicate and simultaneously motivate several of the trades we see over the summer.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.