James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Check out even more of Burns, Thornton in ‘Body Issue’ (Just not at work)

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Well, wow.

Not long ago, it was clear that San Jose Sharks stars Brent Burns and Joe Thornton bared just about all for ESPN’s “Body Issue.”

It turns out that they truly weren’t shy, as this full gallery makes abundantly clear. Seriously, consider this a warning: you shouldn’t look at their pictures/video at work, and you might find if difficult to shake those images even at home.

To give you an idea of what you’re in for – kind of – this Sharks tweet goes far, but not as far as the photos and clips will.

Yep.

As you would expect, Burns provide the funniest quotes to ESPN about the “Body Issue” experience.

BB: I bet Joe has been training hard for this thing to get his body jacked. Me? I just got back from 10 days at Disney eating funnel cakes and ice cream with my kids. There was a lot of laughing during the shoot, but I think it was mostly people laughing at my body. Jumbo [Joe] is the guy who is the most comfortable naked. He’s always naked. There was a pretty popular picture of us walking around Pittsburgh, and he had his shirt off. He’s a nudist.

And you thought Thornton only took that approach to four-goal games.

“The Body Issue” also includes members of the U.S. women’s hockey team, so the sport is well-covered.

Actually, well-covered probably isn’t the right way to put it.

Maple Leafs sign Zach Hyman for four years, $9M

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The Toronto Maple Leafs signed forward Zach Hyman to a four-year, $9 million contract on Wednesday.

This represents a $2.25 million cap hit for the 25-year-old forward. Refreshingly, the team disclosed the term and financial details.

Hyman played all 82 games in 2016-17, scoring 10 goals and 28 points. He averaged a solid 16:42 TOI per night this past season.

The term indicates that the Maple Leafs expect more from Hyman.

The Maple Leafs’ work is nearly done for the summer, with Connor Brown standing as the last noteworthy RFA to lock down.

Key players from Penguins, Sabres, Lightning headline salary arbitration list

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The NHLPA released a list of players who are filing for salary arbitration during this off-season on Wednesday.

It’s important to note that arbitration hearings rarely happen, and with good reason, as they can be harsh situations that may lead to hard feelings between a player and his team. Hearings take place July 20-Aug. 2, with a 48-hour window for verdicts to be made.

Also, the deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is set for tomorrow (July 6) at 5 p.m. ET.

Another key note: offer sheets are not an option for players who file for arbitration. Now, onto the list, which began with 30 players and is now down to 28:

TORONTO (July 5, 2017) – Thirty players have elected Salary Arbitration:

Arizona Coyotes

Jordan Martinook

Boston Bruins

Ryan Spooner

Buffalo Sabres

Nathan Beaulieu

Johan Larsson

Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Micheal Ferland

Colorado Avalanche

Matt Nieto

Detroit Red Wings

Tomas Tatar

Edmonton Oilers

Joey LaLeggia

Los Angeles Kings

Kevin Gravel

Minnesota Wild

Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter

Montreal Canadiens

Alex Galchenyuk (signed for three years; more on that here)

Nashville Predators

Viktor Arvidsson

Marek Mazanec

Austin Watson

New York Islanders

Calvin de Haan

New York Rangers

Jesper Fast (signed, read about the deal here)

Mika Zibanejad

Ottawa Senators

Ryan Dzingel

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Dumoulin

Conor Sheary

St. Louis Blues

Colton Parayko

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tyler Johnson

Ondrej Palat

Vancouver Canucks

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Vegas Golden Knights

Nate Schmidt

Winnipeg Jets

Connor Hellebuyck

Canadiens get bargain for Galchenyuk: Three years, reportedly $14.7M

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The Montreal Canadiens continue to rotate between bright and puzzling moves with the announcement of a three-year deal for Alex Galchenyuk.

Galchenyuk, whose name comes up repeatedly in trade rumors and who apparently cannot thrive as a center, will carry a $4.9 million cap hit, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

(Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston and plenty of others back up that number. Johnston notes that Galchenyuk will be a UFA when this deal expires.)

At 23, Galchenyuk’s already shown some flashes of brilliance, and – on paper – could stand as a player who could grow into his contract much like newly acquired forward Jonathan Drouin.

That said, Galchenyuk’s time with the Canadiens parallels Drouin’s troubles with the Tampa Bay Lightning, making one wonder if he’ll really stick or instead be moved later. Montreal experienced a similar tug-of-war with P.K. Subban before ultimately trading him to Nashville, after all.

Also:

As it stands, this is a great deal for the Habs. Apparently Galchenyuk initially filed for salary arbitration, but that’s no longer a concern.

GM Marc Bergevin & Co. have absorbed plenty of criticism over the years, yet they’ve done well to experience savings with many RFAs, including Max Pacioretty at $4.5M per season. There’s a strong chance that Galchenyuk will continue that trend.

Of course, as significant as this re-signing is, the Carey Price extension remains the pivotal moment of Montreal’s off-season. That said, it’s been a busy time, with the likes of Alex Radulov, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, and prospect Mikhail Sergachev leaving town while Ales Hemsky and Karl Alzner are big additions.

The Canadiens have solid space (Cap Friendly places it at $9.16 million) remaining if they want to add, say, some defensive help.

Considering the rumblings of Galchenyuk being moved, this deal almost makes him feel like an addition, too.

For now?

In supporting McDavid, Oilers face bigger cap tests than Pens, Blackhawks

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The Edmonton Oilers officially confirmed Connor McDavid‘s contract as the richest in NHL history: eight years at a tidy $100 million.

Remarkably, that $12.5 million cap hit is actually a big break for the Oilers, as McDavid could’ve justifiably demanded more. Either way, what’s next?

GM Peter Chiarelli gave the “no-comment” treatment when asked about Leon Draisaitl, instead praising McDavid for “caring about his teammates.”

Chiarelli’s seen the Blackhawks and Penguins struggle with salary-cap challenges, and the scary thing is that the Oilers must climb a bigger mountain.

Oilers lack some advantages Penguins, Blackhawks enjoyed

As tough as things have been for Chicago and Pittsburgh, Edmonton lacks some of those franchise’s significant edges.

For one thing, signing Sidney Crosby to a 12-year deal with an $8.7 million cap hit wouldn’t be possible today. Edmonton could only sign McDavid for a maximum of eight years, limiting the Oilers’ ability to parallel deals for the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

It’s worth noting that the Blackhawks haven’t won a Stanley Cup since Jonathan Toews‘ and Patrick Kane‘s matching $10.5 million cap hits kicked in, deals that were more costly with the max-year loophole closed.

Yet, even in Chicago’s case, they managed to get a huge-term bargain under its belt during the old CBA. Duncan Keith brings Norris-level defense for a dirt-cheap cap hit of about $5.54 million through 2022-23.

Edmonton must find other opportunities to save money.

Bargains are crucial, and they’re where Chiarelli must “earn his money”

However you slice it, teams must bargain-hunt, and they often need to be creative to make things work.

The Penguins spent assets to land Phil Kessel, and they convinced the Maple Leafs to retain a crucial chunk of his cap hit. They’ve managed to integrate younger players like Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and especially Matt Murray into a mix of established stars. Of course, they’ve also enjoyed some luck along the way, most notably in convincing Marc-Andre Fleury to go to Vegas.

In many ways, Chicago set a template for the Penguins in discovering the likes of Artemi Panarin while also finding success with the likes of Ryan Hartman. Both Stan Bowman and Jim Rutherford have been willing to take chances on players and part ways with guys who weren’t deemed essential.

Such a thought explains why Kris Russell and Milan Lucic stand as polarizing signings; if those two struggle, that’s $10M poorly spent.

Not all bad

Look, Chiarelli faces some difficult challenges, yet he also has some things working in his favor.

Most obviously, this is a largely young core, with players who can improve. It’s reasonable to believe that McDavid and Draisaitl could make other, cheaper wingers better when Edmonton’s budget gets especially tight.

Cam Talbot‘s also been a revelation, and while his $4.2M cap hit expires after two more seasons, it’s a nice bargain to have.

There are also some decent deals on defense.

Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, and Adam Larsson combine for an affordable, solid trio. Klefbom and Larsson are also in their prime years, likely to deliver value for Edmonton going forward.

Once you shake off concerns about Lucic and Russell, the slate is actually fairly clean for Edmonton. That’s especially true if they make another tough call and move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins if his $6M is too much to stomach.

***

The Oilers aren’t in an impossible situation, just a very challenging one. With McDavid as a sure thing alongside other nice pieces, it comes down to Chiarelli providing the supporting cast needed to collect some Stanley Cups.

Signing McDavid was the easy part.