Cam Tucker

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Welcome Mike Smith to the trade rumor mill

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There has already been a couple of big trades involving goaltenders this offseason.

Ben Bishop, a pending unrestricted free agent at the time, was traded to Dallas, and fellow pending UFA Scott Darling was sent to Carolina. Those clubs needed to address their goaltending going into next season, and took the steps to accomplish that with those deals.

Now, Mike Smith‘s name has been added to the trade rumor mill.

“A lot of teams are asking Arizona about Mike Smith,” said Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos during Game 3. “Mike Smith of course wants to win now. The feeling in Arizona is they might go much younger. Talk is the salary cap might force them to be bottom-feeders, which means they might finally be ready to move Mike Smith.”

Smith turned 35 years old in March. He posted a .914 save percentage this season after facing the sixth highest amount of shots against (1,819) among all NHL goalies. Out of the 10 goalies that faced the most amount of shots, Smith played the second fewest games at 55 — for a young and rebuilding team that finished with the second highest shots-against-per-game rate in the league.

The Coyotes finished 28th in the overall standings.

He’s entering the fifth year of his six-year, $34 million contract that has an annual cap hit of $5.666 million. His current contract also includes a no-trade clause, and he has in the past stated that he’s happy in Arizona.

“Obviously, everyone wants to be in a position to win and get in the playoffs and be a competitive team and that’s no different for me,” said Smith in January. “I think I want to be in a position to have a chance to win before my career’s over, but I feel like this is moving in the right direction. Things can turn around fairly quickly here. I want to be a big part of that.”

Smith has played six seasons for the Coyotes. They last made the playoffs in 2012, prompting Smith in April to voice his frustrations with losing season after losing season in Arizona.

Dino Ciccarelli is pulling for Jake Guentzel to break rookie playoff scoring record

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Jake Guentzel is chasing a Stanley Cup. He is also on the brink of history as an NHL rookie in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Lining up on the wing alongside Sidney Crosby, Guentzel scored again last night, giving him 13 goals in the postseason. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, the Penguins were eventually overpowered in Game 3, as Nashville got back in the championship series with a 5-1 victory.

Guentzel remains one goal back of Dino Ciccarelli‘s postseason rookie record of 14 goals, accomplished in 1981. The Penguins forward, who split this season between Pittsburgh and the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, also has 20 points, which is, once again, only one behind the record.

“I hope he does break the record,” Ciccarelli told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He has great instincts. He has a knack for the net.”

Guentzel, a third-round pick from the 2013 NHL Draft, has emerged as a potential Conn Smythe Trophy candidate. He has four points, all of them goals, in this series. That includes the winning goal in Game 1 after an unimaginable stretch of 37 minutes without a shot on net for the Penguins.

Read more: Jake Guentzel has his scoring touch back

“Well, I think he’s certainly made his influence on the playoffs for our team in such a positive way. He’s a great offensive player,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan on Sunday. “He’s got good instincts. We can play him with anybody. He just has the ability to make plays around him better. He’s got a nose for the net. He can score goals.”

He’s currently scoring goals at a rate that could soon put him in the record books. He’s moved into the conversation for the Conn Smythe, his production helping the Penguins to within two wins of claiming the Stanley Cup for a second straight year.

“You kind of have to soak it in,” Ciccarelli told the National Post. “I remember the older players saying enjoy this, because you never know when you’re going to get back. It took 15 years for me to get back.”

Game 4 of this series goes Monday in Nashville. The Penguins lead 2-1.

Report: Seattle Partners backs out of KeyArena renovation bidding process

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There has been another development in the Seattle arena saga.

The city of Seattle has long since been talked about as a potential destination for an NBA or NHL franchise. There is only one glaring, well-known problem: No sufficient sports arena for such ventures.

In October, Seattle mayor Ed Murray confirmed that the city would request proposals from private companies interested in re-developing KeyArena, which could be one option in solving this dilemma. KeyArena was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics, before they relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, and there had been past reports that a prospective NHL owner was willing to explore KeyArena as a potential option.

On Sunday, reports out of Seattle stated that one of the groups bidding to renovate KeyArena has withdrawn from the process.

From the Seattle Times:

Leaders of the Seattle Partners group said in a statement Sunday that Seattle’s process has “eroded our confidence in the ultimate execution of this project, no matter which group is selected.”

The group said it felt the city had failed to conduct a “sufficiently thorough, objective and transparent process.”

The decision leaves just Oak View Group as the only other bidder for the KeyArena effort.

Another option could be a brand new arena built in downtown Seattle. In October, in one of the many twists to this plot, investor Chris Hansen offered to build a new complex without public financing.

Meanwhile, the Oak View Group is led by CEO Tim Leiweke, former CEO for AEG. Months ago, he spoke highly of the potential for a revamped KeyArena, and what it could mean for the city.

“We believe in the KeyArena location,” Leiweke told the Seattle Times. “We believe that the studies have proven — and we will continue to do additional studies as we go through this process — that there is a chance to renovate and make that arena work for music and sports.”

‘It’s all your fault!’ — Atmosphere at Predators’ games ‘similar to a European soccer match’

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Matt Murray found himself at the center of attention of Predators fans on Saturday night. Nashville’s boisterous hockey fans were unrelenting, with their chants directed at the Penguins goalie.

The home team scored five goals and won Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final to get back into the series, prompting a celebratory atmosphere inside Bridgestone Arena — and outside, too.

They sure let Murray have it.

Chants of “Mur-ray! Mur-ray! Mur-ray!” followed by “You suck!” and finally followed up by “It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!” echoed from the faithful in Cellblock 303 and throughout the arena following Nashville goals Saturday.

“I think it’s great. I just think the atmosphere is great. There’s a lot of energy in the building. I think our players really enjoy it. I think they embrace the moment,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

“This is the best time of year to play. It’s exciting hockey. It’s two great hockey cities. Their fan support is behind them in each city. I think it’s really neat how these cities are supportive of their respective teams.”

The chant that really seemed to connect with Predators coach Peter Laviolette? Penguins player introductions from the arena P.A. announcer immediately followed by fans bellowing out “sucks!” to their unflinching target.

One of those targets was Sullivan, as fans yelled out “You suck, too!” when he was introduced behind the bench.

“I like ’em all. I think they’re great. I’ll be honest, I never heard the introduction to the lineup,” said Laviolette.

“That’s the first time I heard that. I like the way the Pittsburgh lineup got introduced last night. But the reason why I’m saying it is I never heard it before. So that one actually surprised me. But pretty amazing.

“I’ve said before, it’s a little bit similar to (a) European soccer match where everybody is on the same page and knows exactly what to do and when to do it.”

 

Canucks’ asking price for Chris Tanev is reportedly ‘very high’

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After dealing veterans Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen at the deadline, and finally declaring a rebuild in Vancouver, the Canucks still have another valuable trade chip they can utilize, with the expansion and entry drafts quickly approaching.

That would be defenseman Chris Tanev.

His future with the team is a hot topic of discussion in that market, especially as the Canucks look to get younger, stockpile prospects and gather additional draft picks for the future.

The 27-year-old Tanev is entering the third year of a five-year, $22.25 million contract that also has a modified no-trade clause about to kick in on July 1.

Those teams seeking a defenseman capable of impressive bottom-line offensive numbers aren’t likely to get that from Tanev. He’s never registered more than 20 points in a single season. But a reliable shutdown presence in his own end — lauded for his shot suppression abilities — is a reputation he’s garnered for a few years now and that may be an attractive quality for teams looking to shore up that aspect of their game.

Tanev also isn’t getting any younger, and he’s never played a full regular season schedule. Injuries have played a part, particularly this past season when he was held to just 53 games. There may not be many more opportunities after this for the Canucks to get the maximum return on this specific player in a trade.

From Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet during Saturday’s Game 3:

“The one thing I’ve heard is other GMs who say they’ve reached out to Vancouver have been told that this is no guarantee. And if Chris Tanev is going anywhere, the price is going to be very high for him. He’s got three more years under contract. He’s a good player at a good price. I don’t think Vancouver is looking to do this unless it’s a great deal.”

There has been trade speculation involving both Tanev and fellow Vancouver blue liner Alex Edler for quite some time now. Edler is now 31 years old and has two years left on his deal, at an annual cap hit of $5 million. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019, but he also has a no-trade clause in his current contract.

There is also an argument to be made for the Canucks not trading Tanev. His absence would, in the club’s immediate future, leave quite a hole on the right side of their blue line, and Vancouver is already coming off back-to-back terrible seasons in the standings with few bright spots.

“It’s hard to find good defencemen, especially defencemen who are mobile and move the puck,” Canucks GM Jim Benning recently told Postmedia. “Unless it would make sense for our future, I’m not trading Chris. He means so much to our team.”