Ryan Strome

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Report: Tavares, Islanders haven’t discussed money yet

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Look, John Tavares is going to get paid. And he deserves it, especially since the New York Islanders have been enjoying one of the best non-rookie-deal bargains in his $5.5 million cap hit.

There are details to work out, depending upon how much money he wants to leave to build around him and how long a commitment Tavares prefers to make.

Unrestricted free agency isn’t just about squeezing out every dime, after all. It’s as much about finally getting the chance to choose where you work and who you work with.

That’s especially relevant with the Islanders, a team that missed the playoffs in 2016-17 and has been dealing with arena issues. With those factors in mind, it’s not surprising that TSN’s Darren Dreger, Newsday’s Arthur Staple and others report that money hasn’t been the focus of conversations.

Dreger confirmed as much via Tavares’ reps.

In a way, these updates are almost scarier for the Islanders.

GM Garth Snow at least took some measures to try to improve the team around Tavares by trading for Jordan Eberle, although it cost the Isles Ryan Strome and they then traded Travis Hamonic.

Bolstering the team the Islanders put around Tavares and securing the arena they play figures to be challenging and possibly complicated. It could be months before the Islanders get some clarification about their arena situation, for instance.

The good news is that Tavares stated that he’s in “no rush” to settle this, although that does little to calm the nerves of Islanders fans right now.

Tavares is justified in wanting a stable situation for the Islanders before he signs with them, particularly considering the team has only won a single playoff series since 1992-93 (with Tavares starring, of course). You only get so many chances to sign a big deal with a team of your choice, so Tavares should do whatever he can to make the right choice.

It sounds like the Islanders will get a real chance to prove that the best option is for Tavares to stay put, at least once they move into a cozier spot.

For what it’s worth, 60 percent of voters in a PHT poll believe that Tavares will re-sign with the Islanders.

Poll: Are the Oilers legitimate Stanley Cup contenders?

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This post is part of Oilers Day on PHT…

The Edmonton Oilers were one of the biggest surprises of the 2016-17 season. No one expected them to break their 10-year playoff drought last season, but that’s exactly what they did.

Led by Connor McDavid, the Oilers proved to be an offensive force. They finished eighth in goals for (247) and McDavid finished first in points with 100. This off-season, the team handed McDavid a huge eight-year, $100 million contract.

“This may be one of the largest contracts ever given in the NHL, but I can assure you, it could easily have been a lot higher in value and shorter in term,” GM Peter Chiarelli said, per NHL.com. “Building a team to win the Stanley Cup championship was a constant discussion point in this negotiation.”

Chiarelli didn’t make many changes up front during the off-season. He swapped Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome (that move saved them some cap space) and he handed out massive extensions to McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The Oilers also surprised by ranking eighth in the league in goals against (212). Goalie Cam Talbot was the biggest reason for that, as he turned in solid performances night after night. He played 73 games last season and won 42 of them. It’ll be interesting to see if they lighten his workload next season.

Although the defense has improved after the acquisitions of Andrej Sekera and Adam Larsson, the unit is still a work in progress. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse have also developed into solid options for the Oilers, but they’re still lacking a true number one defenseman. Is that going to hold them back in the future?

It’s obvious that the Oilers are no longer pushovers in the Western Conference. But do they have what it takes to to make a run to the Stanley Cup Final?
Alright, it’s your turn to have your say. Vote in our poll and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.

Oilers cap situation is scary, and not just because of Draisaitl, McDavid

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The Edmonton Oilers pulled the trigger – and likely made teams with big RFA headaches like the Boston Bruins grimace – in signing Leon Draisaitl to a massive eight-year, $68 million contract on Wednesday.

You have to do a little stretching to call it a good deal, although credit Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshysnki with some reasonably stated optimism.

Either way, the per-year cap bill for Connor McDavid and Draisaitl is $21 million once McDavid’s extension kicks in starting in 2018-19; that’s the same combined cost that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane receive … and those two got those paydays after they won three Stanley Cups for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Now, if the Oilers struggle in the near future, plenty of people will heap blame on McDavid and/or Draisaitl. Really, though, the true scapegoats should be a management team with more strikeouts than homers.

(As usual, Cap Friendly was a key resource in studying Edmonton’s salary structure.)

Bloated supporting cast

There are some frightening contracts on the books in Edmonton, especially if a few situations work out unfavorably.

At 29, there’s severe risk of regression with Milan Lucic, even if he enjoys a more stable second season with Edmonton. He carries a $6M cap hit through 2022-23, so he’ll be on the books for all but two years of Draisaitl’s new deal.

Kris Russell costs $4.167M during a four-year stretch, and even now, he has plenty of critics. Those complaints may only get louder if, at 30, he also starts to slip from his already debatable spot.

Andrej Sekera‘s been a useful blueliner, yet there’s some concern that time won’t treat him kindly. He’s dealing with injuries heading into 2017-18, and at 31, there’s always the risk that his best days are behind him. Not great for a guy carrying a $5.5M cap hit through 2020-21.

One can’t help but wonder if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might be an odd man out once the shackles of the salary cap really tighten. Just consider how much Edmonton is spending on a limited number of players, and you wonder if the 24-year-old will be deemed too pricey at his $6M clip.

Yeah, not ideal.

It’s not all bad

Now, let’s be fair.

RNH could easily grow into being well worth that $6M. Draisaitl may also justify his hefty price tag. McDavid honestly cut the Oilers a relative deal by taking $12.5M instead of the maximum.

The Oilers also have two quality, 24-year-old defensemen locked up to team-friendly deals: Oscar Klefbom ($4.167M through 2022-23) and Adam Larsson ($4.167M through 2020-21). They need every bargain they can get, and those two figure to fit the bill.

Crucial future negotiations

GM Peter Chiarelli’s had a questionable history of getting good deals. He’ll need to get together soon, or the Oilers will really struggle to surround their core with helpful support.

Cam Talbot is a brilliant bargain at the strangely familiar cap hit of $4.167M, but that value only lasts through 2018-19. After that, he’s eligible to become a UFA, and could be massively expensive if he produces two more strong seasons.

The bright side is that the Oilers aren’t locked into an expensive goalie, so they can look for deals. That isn’t as sunny a situation if you don’t trust management to have much success in the bargain bin.

Talbot isn’t the only upcoming expiring contract. The Oilers have serious questions to answer with Darnell Nurse and Ryan Strome. Also, will they need to let Lucic-like winger Patrick Maroon go? Even with mild relief in Mark Fayne‘s money coming off the books, the Oilers might regret this buffet when the bills start piling up next summer.

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Look, the truth is that management is likely to be propped up by the top-end in Edmonton, particularly in the case of McDavid’s otherworldly skills. As much as that Draisaitl deal looks like an overpay – possibly a massive one – there’s a chance that he lives up to that $8.5M, too.

It’s not just about those stars, though.

The Pittsburgh Penguins gained new life by complimenting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with the likes of Phil Kessel. The Blackhawks have struggled once they couldn’t afford as much help for Kane and Toews.

You have to mix your premium items with bargains, and one wonders if the Oilers will be able to spot sufficient value beyond the no-brainer top guys. Their recent history in that area certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

Poll: Are Preds favorites in West?

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This post is part of Predators Day on PHT…

The Nashville Predators qualified for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the Western Conference. But it’s not about where you start, it’s where you finish, and the Preds made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Led by a phenomenal group of defensemen like Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, the Predators were able to knock off the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks before losing to the Penguins in six games.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to translate the Stanley Cup run into regular-season dominance and more postseason success.

As of right now, they still have the same top four defensemen on their roster. They also added former Canadiens blue liner Alexei Emelin to fold.

Also, don’t forget that on top getting acclimated to his new surroundings last year, Subban also missed 16 games with an upper-body injury. If his postseason success carries over into the regular season, you can expect him to be a whole lot better in 2017-18.

Up front, GM David Poile was able to add a few interesting pieces via free agency. Nick Bonino, who is coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with Pittsburgh, will add some quality depth down the middle. His two-way style should make him an ideal candidate to center the second or third line.

Poile also signed veteran Scott Hartnell, who was bought out by the Blue Jackets. He’s back in Nashville after spending the first six years of his NHL career there. The veteran winger had 13 goals and 37 points in 78 games with Columbus last season.

Are those moves enough to propel them to another Stanley Cup Final berth in 2018? Well, lets look at the competition.

On paper, the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to have taken a step back this offseason, as they traded away Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Scott Darling and Marcus Kruger. Marian Hossa has a mysterious allergy that will keep him out for the year, and Brian Campbell hung up his skates to join the team’s front office.

The San Jose Sharks were able to re-sign Joe Thornton, but they lost Patrick Marleau to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Other than losing Marleau, their roster hasn’t changed too much this summer.

Like the Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks didn’t make a huge acquisition this offseason. They managed to retain potential free agent Patrick Eaves, who they acquired from Dallas at the deadline. Still, they should be plenty competitive in the West this season.

The Edmonton Oilers ended their long playoff drought last spring thanks to Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot. Edmonton swapped Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome and they signed Jussi Jokinen in free agency. All things considered, the Oilers should be ready to make a run, but how far can this young group go?

The Calgary Flames are another intriguing team. They got off to a slow start last season, but their roster eventually came to life and it’s easy to see why. They’re loaded with quality defensemen like Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic, who they got from the Islanders during the draft. They also have Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk  leading the way up front.

The Stars went into last season with plenty of expectation, but they ultimately missed the mark completely by not even making the playoffs. This summer, they added goalie Ben Bishop and winger Alexander Radulov. Those two moves should help them get back on track.

The Minnesota Wild got off to a great start last year, but they weren’t able to sustain that once the playoffs came around. On paper, they still have a very talented roster that could compete with any team in the conference.

The St. Louis Blues went through a bit of a transition phase last season, but they still managed to finish in the top three of their division. It might be a bit of a stretch to consider them as legit candidates to win the West, but they aren’t far off.

How do the Predators stack up against these teams? Are they the favorites to make it to the Stanley Cup Final?

Alright, I’m turning things over to you. Cast your vote in our poll and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.

Strome ready for fresh start in Edmonton

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For the second year in a row Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli traded what was once a core player off of the roster when he sent Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in another one-for-one swap.

After getting defenseman Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall a year ago, he was able to get forward Ryan Strome this time around.

Just looking at things from a numbers perspective it’s a risky trade for the Oilers because Strome’s production has never come close to matching what Eberle did for the Oilers. In what was considered a down year for Eberle in Edmonton this past season he still scored 20 goals and 51 total points. In parts of four NHL seasons Strome, even in his best season, has never scored more than 17 goals and has only reached the 50-point mark (or even come close to it) just one time. The biggest advantage for the Oilers at this point was the salary cap savings, which will be needed with the new contract for Connor McDavid kicking in next season and whatever Leon Draisaitl gets on his new contract this summer.

But Strome is excited about the opportunity to get started in Edmonton and the fresh start that comes with it. Especially on a young team that is on the rise with one of the game’s best players in McDavid.

Here he is talking this past week about the opportunity he is about to get in Edmonton, via the Edmonton Journal.

“With so many ups and downs in my career, I think I’ve definitely learned to handle adversity pretty well,” Strome said. “I’ve had a lot thrown at me and I’ve gone through some stuff. I definitely don’t feel like too much of a rookie anymore, it’s funny how fast time flies. But being traded now, it’s a good opportunity, and people are excited to have me and it’s going to be good. It’s nothing but optimism from my end.”

The Hall-for-Larsson swap was a pretty controversial one from an Oilers perspective and it’s going to be debated for quite some time as to who actually won the trade, or if the Oilers ended up getting enough. It is probably going to be a similar story with this swap because unless Strome takes advantage of his new surroundings and the new opportunities and takes a big step forward he is going to be facing a ton of pressure and scrutiny in Edmonton because he is trying to replace a really productive, proven player. Eberle may have struggled at times this past season, and especially in the playoffs, but he is still a winger you can count on for 20-25 goals and 50-60 points every single season. That is a proven first-line player in the NHL.

The 24-year-old Strome still has a long way to go before he reaches that level.