Evander Kane

A look at some of the best remaining RFAs


Let’s be realistic: the vast majority of restricted free agents will simply re-sign with their respective clubs. The odds of any given RFA getting an offer sheet are remote, but that doesn’t mean all of the remaining RFAs are as good as signed.

Ignoring for the moment the RFAs that have arbitration dates, some of them might hold out in the hopes of getting a better deal. We’ve seen noteworthy RFAs such as Drew Doughty and Kyle Turris fail to report to training camp because they were unable to agree to terms in time. If a RFA is particularly difficult to sign, his rights might even be traded.

With that in mind, here are a few of the most interesting remaining RFAs:

Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) — Weber could just sign a one-year contract this summer so that he can test the unrestricted free agent market in the summer of 2013, but the uncertainty of the CBA situation might motivate him to ink a long-term deal now. The Predators are interested in signing him to such a contract, but he might ultimately wish to be traded following the loss of Ryan Suter.

Just keep in mind that the Predators are well below the salary floor, so if they trade him they’re probably going to need to receive a sizable contract in return.

Evander Kane (Winnipeg Jets) — Kane is coming off a 30-goal season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s seeking a big payday. Almost three weeks ago Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff cautioned that there was a “tremendous amount” of work that needed to be done behind the scenes with regards to Kane.

There’s also a month-old report that suggested that Kane didn’t want to negotiate with the Jets, but Cheveldayoff denied it.

Mike Green (Washington Capitals) — Green turned down his one-year, $5 million qualifying offer, but he might be close to re-signing.

It will be interesting to see what Green gets. On the one hand, he’s coming off back-to-back disappointing and injury-riddled seasons. At the same time, he’s not that far removed from his days as a point-per-game defenseman and given his youth, it’s not so unreasonable to expect him to rebound.

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.