Ilya Kovalchuk

Poll: Can the NHL have too much parity?

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A hard salary cap like the NHL has in it’s expiring CBA helps level the playing field so that a small-market team like the Nashville Predators can compete with the bigger franchises. However, the bigger markets still have some options that a less financially strong team doesn’t.

Under the expiring system, they could attempt to lower their best players’ cap hits by signing them to long-term, heavily front-loaded contracts. In addition, they could bury expensive contracts in the minors to get under the cap.

For example, the New York Rangers have been sparing themselves of Wade Redden’s $6.5 million annual cap hit by having him play in the AHL while they signed Brad Richards to a deal that pays him $12 million in the first year of his contract and $1 million in each of the last three seasons.

“The league refers to it as ‘leakage’,” said an NHL agent, according to Adam Proteau of the Hockey News. “It’s the front-loading of deals, it’s burying contracts in the minors or Europe. Last time, (NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) only cared about the bigger picture – getting the (salary) cap in place and getting rid of (former NHLPA executive director) Bob (Goodenow). This time, he’s interested in all the details and fine print.”

Which begs the question, as Proteau brought up, is complete parity something to strive for? Should teams with bigger fanbases have some sort of advantage?

Ideally, on-ice success leads to financial success, so a system that provides the smaller markets with a chance to succeed can be of benefit in that regard. In the MLB, for example, you could argue that it is significantly harder for a smaller market to consistently challenge a team like the New York Yankees.

However, Proteau argues that, “Considering where the NHL is right now – with the big-markets making life easier for the small markets as it is – it doesn’t need full and artificial equality. It needs a better system to help the small-markets – a system that includes help from the NHLPA – but it also needs to acknowledge which franchises have earned the most juice, too.”

So we’ll turn the question over to you. Do you want to see the existing rules tweaked to bring us closer towards parity or are you comfortable with a system that allows for rich teams to have some advantages over others?

Johansen is a ‘little disappointed’ the Blue Jackets didn’t recognize him in return to Columbus

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 19:  Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators skates against Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on January 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Ryan Johansen played 309 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before a blockbuster trade to Nashville last January.

On Sunday, he finally made his return back to Columbus as a member of the Predators. However, he did not receive any sort of tribute whatsoever from the team that originally selected him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and that is something that apparently bothered him.

“I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”

While Johansen enjoyed some productive seasons with the Blue Jackets, his time in Columbus, particularly his final months, were dogged with contentious headlines about his contract negotiations with the club and then his working relationship with coach John Tortorella.

Johansen, now 24 years old, has nine goals and 40 points in 58 games this season for Nashville. Currently in the final year of his three-year, $12 million contract, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Make that four straight wins for the Bruins

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Brent Burns turned in a dominating performance. But Brad Marchand had the last laugh.

Marchand scored his 25th goal of the season and, more importantly, the overtime winner for the Boston Bruins as they defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Sunday.

That’s Boston’s fourth consecutive win since the controversial coaching change — which took another twist earlier in the week when the rival Montreal Canadiens fired Michel Therrien and hired Claude Julien. Off a defensive zone faceoff, Marchand bolted up the ice for the breakaway pass, on what appeared to be a set play, beating Martin Jones through the legs.

The Bruins move back into third in the Atlantic Division, and are now only four points back of the faltering Habs for first.

Meanwhile, the Sharks were unable to fully capitalize on another freakish Brent Burns outing. He’s been dubbed ‘an unstoppable force’ in recent posts at PHT — a defenseman possessing great size at six-foot-five-inches tall and 230 pounds, but no shortage of mobility and offensive talent with 27 goals and 64 points in 60 games. Um, and did we mention he’s a defenseman. . . ?

Against the Bruins, he had 20 shot attempts — by far the most of any player in this game — in just over 26 minutes of ice time.

Given the final score, that probably doesn’t mean much to Brad Marchand.

Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

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It appears Jacob Trouba will face supplemental discipline from the NHL.

The league’s Department of Player Safety has said in a Twitter statement that Trouba, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman, will have a hearing tomorrow for his head shot on Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone during Sunday’s game.

Trouba was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. Stone, who dealt with a concussion prior to the beginning of the season, stayed down on the ice before he eventually made his way to the dressing room.

The incident occurred when Trouba stepped up to throw a hit on Stone, but instead caught him in the head as he followed through, sending Stone to the ice.

Stone was one of three Ottawa forwards to leave the game because of injuries, which are piling up for the Senators.

Video: Drouin ‘wasn’t going to be denied’ on thrilling OT winner

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime to defeat the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, but it’s a critical win for the Bolts as they try to chase down a playoff spot.

The hero? Jonathan Drouin, and he did so with a thrilling individual effort — making moves, then losing the puck and then immediately getting it back before he finally scored on the backhander.

That’s his 17th goal of the season. Tampa Bay gets a 3-2 win, which keeps them five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the East.