Tim Murray’s dramatic rebuild in Buffalo continued on Monday, as he declined to make a qualifying offer for RFA defenseman Jamie McBain, and said RFA forward Cory Conacher would “maybe” get one.
That Buffalo parted ways with McBain, 26, is pretty interesting. He played a lot last year — 69 games, averaging over 20 minutes a night — and had decent offensive output with six goals and 17 points. He was on a two-year, $3.6 million deal with a $1.8 million cap hit, so it’s hard to figure why the Sabres didn’t even attempt to bring him back, given they’re $20 million away from the salary cap floor.
The Buffalo News’ John Vogl sheds light on why Murray may have made the decision…
Sabres GM Tim Murray looking for older, character guys for roster. Says this free agent crop has plenty if that.
As for Conacher, this marks the latest in a steady decline since a banner rookie campaign in which he scored 29 points in 47 games and finished sixth in Calder voting. He was scooped off waivers from Ottawa last season and performed reasonably well for Buffalo, scoring six points in 19 games.
That said, Buffalo was his third team in less than a calendar year and there are concerns his diminutive stature (5-foot-8, 179 pounds) just won’t cut it in the NHL long-term.
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: