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.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.