AP

Why a flat salary cap is possible

4 Comments

PITTSBURGH — This may finally be the year that something’s done about escrow.

And the result could be a flat salary cap.

“One of the issues that we hear from the players’ association that causes concern to the players is the escrow,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“Obviously the higher the cap goes, the more exacerbated the escrow problem becomes. Certainly our position with the players’ association has been that we’ll manage the cap tighter and keep it lower to try to address the escrow situation, if that’s your preference.”

One way to keep the cap lower would be to nix the annual five percent growth factor that’s written into the CBA.

It sounds easy, but that wouldn’t be everyone’s preference. On both sides.

“We certainly have some clubs who have an interest in having the cap go up every year … and we have some clubs who don’t want the cap to go up every year,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday. “Same on the players’ side. A certain segment of the population would like a bigger cap, which creates more opportunity, particularly for free agents in terms of signing new contracts. And there’s a significant portion of players, apparently, who have concerns that the higher the cap goes, the escrow goes up as well.”

Related: To understand escrow issue, consider Duncan Keith

Escrow is hardly a new concern for the players, and there’s been plenty of talk the last few years that the growth factor could be renegotiated to zero. But the only time that actually happened was the 2006-07 season.

So, why should we expect anything different this year?

“Because we heard, I think for the first time, this year a really strong sentiment on the escrow,” said Daly. “Our position is if that’s a huge concern for the players, one way to start to address it is to keep the cap lower.”

The league and players’ association will discuss the matter this week, at which point an alternative growth factor could be proposed. If there’s no growth factor, the cap could stay right around its current level of $73 million.

But one thing the NHL won’t consider is a change to the actual system.

“Escrow is part of the deal,” said Daly. “It is what makes the system a 50-50 split between the clubs and the players. You take escrow out of the equation, you don’t have a 50-50 deal anymore. I don’t know how you’d address escrow, unless you change the system in a material way, which certainly is not something our clubs are interested in doing right now.”

Daly was asked if he sensed that some of the players didn’t truly grasp the system.

“I can’t speak for the players, but the mechanism is now 12 years old,” he said. “So if you weren’t a player in this league 12 years ago, and you don’t know what the origins of the escrow are and what they were intended to do, sure, there could be a misunderstanding. You view it as, ‘It’s just a tax on my salary paycheck, and if the Canadian dollar stays where it is, it’s a pretty significant tax on my salary. So let’s do something about the escrow.’ I get it, but escrow is a material element of the system.”

At any rate, a flat salary cap could be a significant issue for some of the NHL’s big-spending teams. Just this morning, for example, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that T.J. Oshie could be re-signed if the cap goes up to $77 million, but that would require the five percent growth factor to kick in.

These 2017 NHL Draft picks lacked hype … but not swagger

Getty
2 Comments

The interview process for draft prospects must be a real beating. Then again, it’s also an opportunity for hopefuls to push back.

In the case of two smaller prospects, it meant providing some swagger in their answers, possibly impressing their new teams. If nothing else, Kailer Yamamoto and Michael DiPietro generated some refreshingly confident quotes.

One would assume that the Edmonton Oilers picked Yamamoto with the 22nd choice for more than just a great answer alone … but still.

Nice, right?

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek related a similar story about DiPietro, who the Vancouver Canucks nabbed with the 64th pick.

Funny story: When one team at the NHL told him “We don’t think you can play in the NHL with our team, you’re too small” at the combine, he fired back with “well, I guess you have a problem with winning, then.” How do you not like that?

If nothing else, those two aren’t shy.

As a bonus story, check out the bumpy path Will Reilly – aka the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2017 NHL Draft – took to being chosen last overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy. From the sound of things, there are worse feelings than going 217th.

The 2017 NHL Draft may have been “pumped down” from a hype perspective, yet it sounds like many of these prospects at least bring some moxie to the table.

Kings, Golden Knights labeled 2017 NHL Draft winners; Bruins, not so much

Getty
7 Comments

It’s nearly certain that we won’t be able to determine the “winners and losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft until, say, 2022. If not later.

Still, what fun is that?

Quite a few outlets pegged some winners and losers, though sometimes the choices were more about themes like nations or player types than specific teams.

For example: Puck Daddy gives a thumbs down to the “green room” experiment.

Let’s take a look at some of the consensus picks.

Winners

Vegas Golden Knights

GM George McPhee was dealt a bad hand when it comes to the lottery draft, so he instead made his own luck. And then he selected three players who could improve this team going forward.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek especially liked the last two of their three first-rounders (Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom), viewing Cody Glass as more of a no-brainer. Plenty of others were on board.

Los Angeles Kings

Gabe Vilardi fell to Los Angeles, whether it was because of shaky skating or some other reason. That potential steal (and some other shrewd moves) impressed the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy, who assembled draft profiles for PHT.

Again, Vilardi’s loss was considered the Kings’ gain, as slower skaters were considered losers by the likes of Post Media’s Michael Traikos.

Philadelphia Flyers

Boy, Ron Hextall is good at this thing, isn’t he? Philly drew high marks even beyond the layup of landing Nolan Patrick. The main area of disagreement revolved around the Brayden Schenn trade, though plenty came out on Hextall’s side there, too.

Arizona Coyotes

Boy, that negative press didn’t last long, did it? Between landing Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, and Antti Raanta in trades and savvy picks, they were a popular choice.

Themes

Smaller players, Sweden, and Finland drew semi-serious mentions as “winners.”

Losers

Boston Bruins

The perception is that they played it too safe.

Colorado Avalanche, for now?

OK, this was more about draft weekend than picks, but people are criticizing Joe Sakic for standing pat. That could change, but the negative sentiment is there.

Detroit Red Wings

Another common choice. Some believe that their draft was the worst of them all, which isn’t great considering the declining opinion of GM Ken Holland overall.

New York Rangers

Lias Andersson was viewed as a reach by plenty, and his connection to the trade to Arizona might intensify the scrutiny.

Themes

Not a great draft for Russian-born players and/or guys who don’t skate quite swiftly.

***

So, those are some of the near-consensus choices for winners and losers, via the brave souls who made rapid reactions to the 2017 NHL Draft.

Ducks ink D Holzer to two-year deal reportedly worth $1.8M

Getty
2 Comments

As the dust settled on the expansion draft, the Anaheim Ducks’ defense is coming into focus.

Sunday continued that pattern; the Ducks signed Korbinian Holzer to a two-year contract worth $1.8 million, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

You can break down the Ducks defense as more expensive players (Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa) and cheaper ones (Holzer, Brandon Montour, and Josh Manson).

Only Vatanen, Lindholm and Holzer see contracts that go beyond 2017-18 – at least without an extension yet for the likes of Fowler and Manson – so Holzer provides a little bit of certainty.

Is the $900K a minor overpay, though? Holzer played in 32 games for the Ducks this season after appearing in 29 in 2015-16. His impact has been pretty minimal, generating seven points while averaging 13:31 in ice time per contest (down from 14:45 the previous season).

Granted he may get more opportunities to show what he’s capable of if the Ducks lose another piece. Then again, at 29, the Ducks likely know what they have.

2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class to be named Monday; Selanne + who?

Getty
14 Comments

The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced on Monday, and every indication is that Teemu Selanne will be on the list. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of question marks.

NHL.com notes that there’s at least a possibility that Selanne will be the only NHL name to be part of this class, which would mark a first since 2010 (when Dino Ciccarelli was the lone addition).

It’s a nice way to continue what’s been a buffet for hockey fans: the 2017 Stanley Cup Final’s conclusion, the expansion draft and then the 2017 NHL Draft. The HHOF announcements are a nice appetizer before free agency gets, well, frenzied?

“The Finnish Flash” was also an obvious top choice in last year’s poll to see who should be in the class.

Now, that doesn’t mean he is the only interesting name.

For one thing, Daniel Alfredsson will be eligible for the first time, much like Selanne. “Alf” falls in the “Maybe” category with some interesting, debatable other options: Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Chris Osgood, and more.

The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class included Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn.