By keeping Brad Richards in the fold, the New York Rangers basically decided to stay out of the free agent market this summer. They also made retaining some key players of their own that much tougher.
The most important name still unsigned is Derek Stepan, who is a restricted free agent without salary arbitration rights. The New York Post reports that the 23-year-old and his team haven’t made progress in their discussions lately. In fact, the haggling could even stretch out into September (possibly even training camp).
The Rangers also face the prospect of Mats Zuccarello going to arbitration. The Post reports that the 26-year-old forward wants between $1.5 and $2 million while the Rangers are offering “considerably less than that.” With just 67 NHL games under his belt, the 26-year-old winger could represent an interesting case if he gets to that process.
While IR slotting might buy GM Glen Sather a little more breathing room, Cap Geek estimates that the Rangers have about $3.3 million in cap space right now.
One could argue that Stepan deserves that much alone after scoring 44 points in 48 games in 2013 and becoming either the team’s No. 1 center or 1a/1b with Richards.
With new CBA rules prohibiting a team from walking away from any arbitration award under $3.5 million, Sather might need to make a trade or two before the offseason is over for all of this to work.
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: