Injuries and Impact: How will Sochi affect the NHL trade deadline?

7 Comments

One of the biggest narratives from the Winter Olympics was the rash of injuries that befell NHL players. With that in mind, here’s a look at the key injuries suffered and what the ramifications might be.

Islanders: John Tavares, torn MCL (out for season)

Yes, Tavares is a star and yes, this is a catastrophic injury. But the Islanders were a longshot to make the playoffs when he was healthy, meaning the biggest impact Tavares’ injury might have is on the speed in which GM Garth Snow begins selling.

According to Newsday, Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald are likely to be moved, and one has to think there’s a fairly substantial market for both. Vanek’s a gamebreaker, the type of offensive talent that could inject life into a sagging attack; MacDonald, in the final year of a deal that pays $550,000 annually, is one of the best bargains on the market given he plays over 26 minutes a night and leads all Isles d-men in scoring.

Will Snow wait to see how the Tavares-less Isles respond out of the Olympic break? Or will he deal as soon as possible?

Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg, back (could miss rest of reg. season)

It’s possible Zetterberg will miss Detroit’s remaining 24 games and try to return for the playoffs — assuming Detroit makes it to the playoffs. The Red Wings’ streak of 22 consecutive postseason appearances is in danger, so getting to the dance is the primary goal. Will GM Ken Holland make a play to get there?

The Zetterberg injury might force his hand. Injured center Stephen Weiss is being looked at to fill the void, a dicey proposition given how poorly Weiss’ first year in Motown has gone. The Wings could get some cap relief by putting Zetterberg on LTIR — he carries a $6.08 million hit — but Holland sounds like he’s loathe to part with prospects and young talent for rentals, telling MLive.com “we have to play our way into being a buyer,” and “I don’t know that there’s players available on the market that are better than the kids we got.”

Rangers: Mats Zuccarello, hand (3-4 weeks)

This injury was huge blow for the Blueshirts as Zuccarello leads the team in scoring, with 43 points. Interestingly, the Rangers were in the midst of numerous trade rumors prior to Zuccarello getting hurt — involving Dan Girardi and captain Ryan Callahan, most notably — and the team raised even eyebrows on Sunday when reports surfaced it had inquired about Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis would certainly add an offensive dimension the Rangers lack, and does have a similar playing style to Zuccarello. That said, reports out of Tampa Bay say GM Steve Yzerman won’t trade his captain — even with whispers that St. Louis demanded a trade following his Team Canada snub.

Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep pressing for a deal, possibly elsewhere. GM Glen Sather has a history of making splashes at the deadline — last year, he flipped Marian Gaborik to Columbus and acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose.

Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, knee; Tomas Kopecky, head (both indefinitely)

The Barkov injury won’t affect much, as he’s one of the team’s young cornerstones (and Florida isn’t making the playoffs this year anyway.) The Kopecky injury could be costly, however — he, along with a number of Florida veterans, were considered to be in play at the deadline.

Kopecky had a solid lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, tying a career-high with 15 goals despite playing just 47 games, and has quite a bit of playoff experience having won a Cup with Chicago in ’10. He could be a decent pickup for a team looking for depth, so it’ll be interesting to see the severity of his injury (suffered a concussion on a hit while playing for Slovakia.)

Blue Jackets: Fedor Tyutin, ankle (2-3 weeks)

Tyutin logs some heavy minutes on the Columbus back end and, with the Jackets chasing a playoff berth, adding a depth defenseman might be necessary to fill the void.

Here’s more, from the Columbus Dispatch:

The loss of Tyutin also could modify the Jackets’ plan for the March 5 trade deadline. John Davidson, the team’s president of hockey operations, was in Springfield this weekend but expects to discuss deadline strategy with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen this week.

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

Getty
Leave a comment

The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

Getty
5 Comments

Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

From The Tennessean:

Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

Getty
Leave a comment

The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.

Columnist: Potential new Hurricanes owner concerned with ‘revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market’

Getty
5 Comments

The Carolina Hurricanes may have a potential new owner in Chuck Greenberg, the former CEO of the MLB Texas Rangers who also had interest in the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

A report Friday goes into further details about Greenberg’s motivation in purchasing the Hurricanes from Peter Karmanos, who has been exploring a sale of the team for quite some time now.

Previous reports indicate the agreement between the Hurricanes and Greenberg would keep the club in Raleigh, amid ages of speculation it may be a candidate for possible relocation to markets like Seattle or Quebec City.

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Interviews with people close to Greenberg and others who have knowledge of the proposed purchase but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks paint a picture of a front man who would be deeply concerned with the fan experience and revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market, but lacking the money to fund the purchase himself and reliant on a group of investors to get the deal done.

If the deal goes through, at a reported price of $500 million that likely includes a large amount of assumed debt while valuing the actual franchise closer to $300 million, Greenberg would move to Raleigh with the intention of making the team work here. That’s what Hurricanes fans long afraid of a move to Quebec City or Seattle during these years of ownership uncertainty as Karmanos has had the team on the market have been hoping to hear.

The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 but haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Despite their postseason drought, Carolina is building quite a depth of young talent, most notably on defense. They could take another positive step forward next season, perhaps contending for a playoff spot. In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Hurricanes also acquired and then signed former Chicago No. 2 netminder Scott Darling.