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Parros to crack down on slashing, will seek supplemental discipline for certain incidents

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman vowed this summer that the league would crack down on slashes this upcoming season after a rash of incidents occurred in 2016-17.

On Thursday, George Parros, the newly appointed senior vice-president of the Department of Player Safety, echoed support for that initiative, while stating he wants longer suspensions for players that commit non-hockey infractions, according to a report from NHL.com.

From NHL.com:

“I’ve always thought that they could have been a bit harsher on certain plays that I felt where clearly someone intended to do something that was away from the play, had nothing to do with the game and no benefit other than to disable or hurt a person,” Parros said. “Just trying to go a little bit harder on those, because I felt it’s been soft in some instances.”

Slashing will be a point of emphasis for the referees this season. It is common, and not every slash will result in supplemental discipline. But Player Safety will address serious incidents and look for patterns with individual players and within the League.

“If they seem to be intentful or directed at the fingers and hands with greater force, we’re going to be looking to do something — fines, suspensions, whatever it might be,” Parros said. “We’re going to try to change player behavior.”

As the report pointed out, slashing is a common occurrence throughout the course of the game and it would be difficult — if not impossible — to find a player that has never delivered a whack to the back of the legs or to the hands and fingers of an opponent.

But there were a number of incidents last season that put the act of slashing under intensified public scrutiny. Sidney Crosby shattered the finger of Marc Methot with a slash to the hand and didn’t receive any supplemental discipline, much to the frustration of the Ottawa Senators. Methot was forced to miss the remainder of the regular season due to the gruesome injury suffered from the incident, but he did return for the first round against the Boston Bruins.

Calgary’s star scorer Johnny Gaudreau missed time earlier in the season due to a finger injury, which, the Flames allege, occurred on a slash from Eric Staal.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” said Flames forward Troy Brouwer at the time. “I know in my game I give a lot of top players good whacks and stuff. You obviously don’t want to let it be happening to your team, but star players are going to be keyed on.

“It’s no different than what we do (to the opposition).”

Report: NHL trade deadline will be Feb. 26

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Set the date.

The 2017-18 NHL trade deadline, one of the most highly anticipated days of the hockey calendar, will take place on Feb. 26, according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

The lead-up to last year’s trade deadline saw a number of high profile deals.

The struggling Canucks went into sell mode by trading Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen. Bolts netminder Ben Bishop was sent to the L.A. Kings,  and Kevin Shattenkirk went to Washington as the Capitals attempted to bolster their lineup for what they were hoping was going to be a lengthy Stanley Cup run.

Of course, this year’s trade deadline will include the Vegas Golden Knights and general manager George McPhee. They have nine players that will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of next season.

Gionta still considering options with NHL training camps approaching

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With NHL training camps beginning next week and free agents either signing late-summer deals or professional tryouts, Brian Gionta is still without a team for the upcoming season.

His agent, Steve Bartlett, recently spoke to the Buffalo News about that, indicating interest in his client from teams, though specific details weren’t publicly revealed.

“Gio has not made any final decision on his future,” Bartlett told the Buffalo News. “We have had a number of teams that have indicated they would sign him, but he is not sure right now which if any offer he would accept.

“He will continue to prepare as though he will play, and we will see how things play out here over the next couple weeks.”

Gionta wrapped up a three-year, $12.75 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres at the end of last season, eventually making him a free agent at the beginning of July.

He’s now 38 years old, with 1,006 career regular season games played. His tenure in Buffalo included two seasons in which he hit 35 points, while scoring 15 goals last season.

Sweeney: ‘No timetable’ for when Pastrnak deal might get done

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Talks between the Boston Bruins and David Pastrnak‘s agent continue. But with training camp a week away, there is still no deal in place.

Pastrnak is Boston’s lone remaining restricted free agent to get under contract. The 21-year-old forward broke out offensively last season with 34 goals and 70 points.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney offered an update but didn’t get into specific details about those contract talks, prior to the opening of rookie camp.

“Status quo there,” Sweeney told reporters on Thursday. “[Pastrnak’s agent] J.P. [Barry] and I continue to talk and will continue to talk and find a deal at some point in time. But there’s no timetable on it and nothing really to expand on other than the nature of the talks have been ongoing.”

It’s already been reported that the Bruins have offered a long-term deal at $6 million per year. Last week, it was reported that Pastrnak’s camp was going to ask about an eight-year contract. That put Cam Neely in a position to discuss the possible impact Leon Draisaitl‘s new deal in Edmonton might have on these specific negotiations.

From CSNNE.com:

Meanwhile, the Bruins would probably like to sign Pastrnak to something more like the six-year, $40.5 million ($6.75 million) contract that Johnny Gaudreau agreed to with the Calgary Flames roughly a year ago. That kind of deal would pay him more than Cup-winning veteran Brad Marchand, but it would be a tick less than Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million) and David Krejci ($7.25 million) in Boston’s internal salary structure.

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins currently have about $10.1 million in cap space.

Ideally, the Bruins would like to have a deal done before training camp begins in order to avoid one of their top forwards missing any time as the team prepares for the regular season.

“I was on record a while ago, and I think I read even a general manager yesterday talking about [it]… nobody really hides from the fact that I don’t think it’s productive on either side [to miss camp],” Sweeney told reporters.

Predators’ Ellis to miss ‘several months’ following offseason surgery

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Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis will miss a significant portion of the 2017-18 season.

The Predators delivered the bad news on Thursday, stating that Ellis will miss “several months” following offseason surgery to repair a “lower-body ailment.” According to Thomas Willis of the Predators, general manager David Poile told the media that Ellis isn’t expected back until the new year.

Ellis left Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with an undisclosed injury but he returned to the lineup for Game 6. He appeared on a Hamilton, Ont., television station a couple of weeks later, sporting a large knee brace.

He told CHCH that he underwent a “minor procedure” on his right knee.

“It looks worse than it probably is,” Ellis said at the time. “Hopefully be back on the ice in no time.”

Unfortunately for Ellis and the Predators, that isn’t going to be the case.

After finishing as the second wild card team in the West last season, the Predators bolted through three rounds of the playoffs before ultimately losing to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final. There were a number of factors that contributed to their success in winning the Western Conference, most notably the performance of their top-four group of defensemen, which includes Ellis.

Given how well that unit played last season, this is a significant loss for a team expected to once again compete for the West this season and going forward for the next few years. He was able to log heavy minutes, averaging almost 24 minutes a night during the regular season, while playing on the power play (contributing four power play goals and 11 points) and leading the team in ice time on the penalty kill.

A few days after Ellis revealed he had surgery, Poile went out and acquired left-shooting defenseman Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights. That cost the Predators a third-round pick in 2019.