Paul Martin

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PHT Morning Skate: Kane talks future; NHL responds to Kid Rock backlash

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Likely-to-be-traded Evander Kane on his future with the Buffalo Sabres “One thing I’ve always said is that I’ve really really enjoyed my time here and will continue to do so for as long as I’m here.” [Buffalo News]

• The NHL explains the decision behind having Kid Rock perform during next weekend’s All-Star Game, which has garnered a bit of backlash. [ESPN]

Jack Johnson and John Tortorella talk about the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman’s decision to request a trade. [Dispatch]

• Before he became one of the league’s top scorers, Anders Lee was chucking the pigskin as a top high school quarterback in Minnesota. [Sports Illustrated]

• How has Willie O’Ree not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame? [Stanley Cup of Chowdah]

• With Paul Martin in the AHL, Brent Burns has a lot of lifting to do to improve his game. [NBC California]

• It’s taken some time, but Kyle Okposo of the Buffalo Sabres is finally feeling comfortable following a concussion suffered last season. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• It’s time that Phil Kessel gets more respect around the league. [FanRag Sports]

Sebastian Aho is out of the lineup indefinitely. How can the Carolina Hurricanes replace him? [Canes Country]

• The Olympic rosters for South Korea’s men’s and women’s teams have a touch of North America on them. [Olympic Talk]

• A look at the good and bad of the NHL partnering with women’s hockey teams. [The Ice Garden]

• Why Adam Lowry is important to the Winnipeg Jets. [Arctic Ice Hockey]

• Solid breakdown of Eric Nystrom’s lawsuit against the Nashville Predators. [On the Forecheck]

• Trying to explain why some players missed out on the 2018 NHL All-Star Game. [Featurd]

• Finally, here’s Eddie Olczyk telling the story of the time the Toronto Maple Leafs traded him to the Winnipeg Jets while he was in the delivery room with his wife:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Brodeur wants another gold; Epic staring contest between two Leafs

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Rangers put an end to the Flyers’ four-game winning streak last night. You can check out the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

• Even though there’s rumors swirling about the Canadiens being interested in Pierre-Luc Dubois, it seems unlikely that Columbus would trade him. (Jackets Cannon)

• Check out this mid-season review of the Bruins season so far. Things are looking up in Boston. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• Now that Andrew Cogliano‘s iron-man streak has come to an end, Nova Caps looks back Doug Jarvis’ career and his record run of 964 consecutive games played. (Nova Caps)

Paul Martin is still property of the San Jose Sharks right now, but it looks like they’ll be showcasing him in the AHL. (Fear the Fin)

• Now that the Oilers are on their bye week, it’s the perfect time to look at their mid-season report card. There’s an “F” and a few D grades to go around. (Oilers Nation)

• Flames GM Brad Treliving talks about Glen Gulutzan’s tirade in practice at the beginning of the month and the concept of the bye week for NHL teams in this Q&A. (Sporting News)

• South Koreans are worried about a potential merger between themselves and the North Korean hockey team. (Associated Press)

• Who doesn’t like a good staring contest? How about this battle between Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen. (BarDown)

• Team Canada assistant GM Martin Brodeur has won Olympic gold before, and he’d love to do it again this year. (CBC)

• The Philadelphia Flyers will retire Eric Lindros’ number 88 on Thursday night. (Philly.com)

• Is Max Pacioretty a better trade target than Evander Kane? (A Winning Habit)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Paul Martin won’t be last problem contract Sharks will want to trade

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The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka reports that Paul Martin wants a trade from the San Jose Sharks, seeking an opportunity to play after injuries and shaky work have mostly kept him out of the lineup.

Other outlets have backed up this report, and Martin admitted as much himself in a clip you might enjoy more for the beard-stroking as anything else.

If Martin’s contract was expiring in 2017-18, it would be easy to imagine teams taking a shot at him. Such a mountain becomes tougher to climb when you realize that his problematic $4.85 million cap hit won’t expire until after 2018-19, according to Cap Friendly.

There’s no denying that Martin has an impressive resume, yet that costly contract, his advanced age (will turn 37 in March), and lack of play this season really make it tough to imagine the Sharks getting anything other than an equally ugly – or uglier – contract in return for the very-much-grizzly veteran.

The best news is probably just that his contract expires after 2018-19, so even if this remains a headache they can’t cure with a trade-based painkiller, the discomfort should lift soon enough.

The more worrisome thought is this: it’s easy to picture more headlines about the Sharks wanting to trade bad contracts, particularly for aging defensemen who were once very good, in the not-too-far-flung future.

Brent Burns is already 32, and his eight-year, $64M contract just kicked in this season, so that $8M cap hit runs through 2024-25. Burns turns 33 in March.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is about to see his ridiculous bargain $4.25M cap hit expire after this season. The Sharks already made a-near-Burns-sized commitment to “Pickles,” handing him an eight-year, $56M extension ($7M cap hit) that expires in 2025-26. Vlasic will turn 31 in, you guessed it, March.

Burns’ yearly salary works out to make him a little bit easier to trade as his deal goes along, but the bottom line is that those contracts are still pretty scary.

The Sharks are making big bets on some aging core pieces remaining difference-makers for the long-term. Martin Jones turned 28 on Jan. 10 and will see his contract extension ($5.75M cap hit through 2023-24) kick in next season.

When you consider how sneaky-old Joe Pavelski is (33 already, only two years remaining on his deal) and Joe Thornton‘s shrinking window either as a difference-maker or as a difference-maker with the Sharks, you could practically hear the ominous music kick in.

Now, sure, some of this comes down to “the cost of doing business.”

That said, the Sharks likely weighed concerns about Martin’s age and dug themselves a hole with his contract, anyway. Such concerns may only become more abundant over the next few years.

For San Jose, the hope is that Father Time merely shows up late.

UPDATE: The Sharks placed Martin on waivers Monday afternoon.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Are the Rangers bad enough to win the lottery?

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–Sharks defenseman Paul Martin inspired this young fan to raise money for his anti-bullying foundation. “The reason I wanted to do this was because Paul had an event and I was too young. But then when I gave him the check, he invited me, my friend, and my mom and my dad.” (fearthefin.com)

Joe Thornton did a Q&A with ESPN.com about a number of hilarious topics, including his current love of Netflix and that ESPN body issue. Thornton is awesome.  (ESPN)

–Wayne Gretzky asked Dr. Murray Howe (Gordie’s son) about his dad’s life. “One of the best lessons Dad taught me was how to be a good hockey parent. He never pushed me to play. After each game he’d ask me, “Did you have fun?” He didn’t point out my mistakes or my teammates’. Instead, he’d identify at least one thing that I did well. Then he’d buy me ice cream.” (mcleans.ca)

–This young Chicago Blackhawks fan that has a muscle disorder in his legs dressed up as the United Center’s Zamboni for Halloween. “Some nights I was working on it ’til two a.m.,” Jim DelGenio said. (abc7ny.com)

–Players from the CWHL and NWHL feel like they need to merge the leagues for the benefit of women’s hockey. “We always talk about it — the best in the world have to merge,” Team Canada’s Laura Fortino said . “We hope the commissioners of both sides come to that reality, that in order for women’s hockey to get to the peak where we want it to be, we all have to be playing with the best.” (New York Times)

–The New Jersey Devils are one of the biggest surprises in the league this season, but they need to find a way to keep it going in November. They kicked off November with a bang last year, they just couldn’t keep it going. (pucksandpitchforks.com)

–Like the Devils, the Canucks are off to a surprising start as well. One reason they’ve had some success is because of strong goaltending from Anders Nilsson and Jacob Markstrom. But which one of these two goalies should be the starter based on advanced stats? (thecanucksway.com)

–The Leafs’ roster is filled with promise this season, but they’re still missing a number one defenseman. But do teams really need a top defender to win a Stanley Cup? Even if they fall short of that goal, they shouldn’t feel too bad about it because the future is bright. (Vice.com)

–The Rangers have been pretty underwhelming this season, but are they actually bad enough to win the draft lottery? Getting the first overall pick could help push them toward a Stanley Cup. (nhlnumbers.com)

Derek Dorsett is off to a crazy start for the Canucks. He has six goals (first on the team) and eight points (second on the team) this season. How long can this keep going? (dailyhive.com)

–University of Denver head coach Jim Montgomery interviewed for the Panthers job this off-season, but he didn’t get it. Instead, he’s back at the University of Denver. The fact that he returned is huge for the team and the hockey program. (collegehockeynews.com)

–You may not recognize Ryan Zapolski’s name, but you might in the near future. Zapolski, who plays in the KHL, is one of the favorites to represent Team USA between the pipes at the upcoming Olympics. He never would’ve imagined that this would be possible. “It’s disappointing for fans that the NHL wouldn’t be there [in PyeongChang],” Zapolski said. “but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.” (NBC Sports)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Don’t be surprised if Kings, Ducks, Sharks finish with similar records

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Heading into the 2017-18 season, there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the Anaheim Ducks, a solid amount still going to the San Jose Sharks, and a pile of doom and gloom for the Los Angeles Kings.

Some of this comes down to crummy luck, but here’s an observation: it’s highly likely that the three California teams will finish very close in the standings.

Let’s consider the state of each team.

To go even deeper, check out PHT’s detailed preview for the Pacific Division.

Waddling through injuries

My goodness are the Anaheim Ducks banged up right now.

The OC Register’s Eric Stephens reports that Ryan Getzlaf won’t play in the Ducks’ season-opening game against the Arizona Coyotes. With John Gibson doubtful, it all adds to a troubling situation. Resounding workhorse Ryan Kesler could be gone for quite some time. Kesler is on IR with wildly underrated defenseman Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Patrick Eaves, and Ryan Miller. Woof.

It’s a testament to what GM Bob Murray’s built that the Ducks still have a fighting chance, as young players like Rickard Rakell bring something to the table.

Still, even well-stocked teams can only withstand so many injuries. Anaheim might just pay the price for its deep playoff run in 2016-17, not to mention the emphasis on aging, physical forwards in the well-compensated duo of Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

In an NHL with injuries turned off like a video game, the Ducks would be one of the NHL’s deepest teams.

Sharks getting sleepy?

Even in losing 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, the Sharks put on a pretty good show. When those top-end players are clicking, they’re still pretty special.

That said, consider how old those guys are. Joe Thornton might be the next Jaromir Jagr in aging like hockey-themed wine, but he could also slip at 38. Joe Pavelski, somehow, is 33 already. With a shaky year or two in Minnesota in mind, many might be surprised that Brent Burns is 32. Paul Martin is 36 and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a high-mileage 30. Even younger cornerstones Logan Couture (28) and Martin Jones (27) aren’t necessarily spring chickens. Joel Ward is 36 and even a supporting guy like Jannik Hansen is 31. This is an old group despite allowing Patrick Marleau to leave for a three-year term.

(Yes, Marleau was great last night, but the Sharks still made the difficult-but-necessary choice there.)

Although there’s skill in players such as Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, being a regular contender has generally limited the Sharks’ ability to surround those aging veterans with a ton of talent.

A slip is coming, and the drop could be sharp. The Sharks just have to hope that it doesn’t come now.

Reports of Kings’ demise exaggerated?

Look, there’s no doubt that the Kings’ salary cap situation is … appalling.

In the long-term, GM Rob Blake has a mess on his hands that Ron Hextall might have winced at early in the Flyers rebuild. Even in 2017-18, there are some problems.

Still, it’s easy to get swept into excessive pessimism and forget that it wasn’t all bad for the Kings; it’s also possible that their luck might go up a tick.

Don’t forget that the Kings still dominated puck possession in 2016-17. Also don’t forget that, even at their best, the Kings tended to struggle during the regular season. Los Angeles ranked third in the Pacific during its two championship seasons; the Darryl Sutter Kings won two Stanley Cups and zero division titles.

Anze Kopitar‘s contract looks scary, yet a 2017-18 rebound is far from unreasonable. They can still revv up “That ’70s Line” with Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Toffoli (or at least elements of that). Perhaps system tweaks will allow Drew Doughty to be the fantasy-friendly scorer many dreamed of?

Now, again, there’s some negative stuff. Even beyond predictably depressing updates about Marian Gaborik, the Kings’ defense looks to be without Alec Martinez for some time.

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With the Central Division looming as a threat to take as many as five of the West’s eight playoff spots (for all we know), the Pacific Division could come down to the Edmonton Oilers and two other teams.

Don’t be surprised if one or more of those positions become, well, a battle of California. And don’t count the Kings out altogether in that joust, either.