James O'Brien

Adam McQuaid

Awkward timing? Bruins reportedly sign McQuaid for four years, $11M

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The Boston Bruins continued their busy (and baffling) roll-up to the 2015 NHL Draft by signing defenseman Adam McQuaid to a four-year, $11 million extension, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

On its face, the deal – which carries a cap hit of $2.75 million per year – is probably harmless enough, yet the timing makes it pretty awkward. Doing so not that long after trading away Dougie Hamilton – a player some view as a franchise defenseman in the making – only welcomes jokes.

Especially if this bit about Hamilton’s asking price is true:

Indeed, the signing of McQuaid really brought out bonus snark about the Hamilton swap:

Maybe the best bit of bile came from Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, which provided this headline: “Adam McQuaid signed. Don Sweeney hates you and wants you to be unhappy.”

Ouch.

Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks

Dougie Hamilton
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It’s official: the Calgary Flames have acquired defenseman Dougie Hamilton, sending the Boston Bruins these three draft picks (all in 2015):

  • 15th overall selection.
  • 45th pick.
  • 52nd pick.

The early reactions are that the Bruins didn’t get enough for Hamilton, even if their takeaway is a combination of draft choices and, essentially, cap relief.

As an RFA, Hamilton, 22, still needs a contract. That might not be much of an issue, though.

Even if the Flames trade a blueliner from their bloated mix – perhaps former Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman? – this is a stacked group. Calgary’s defense now includes Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Kris Russell, Wideman and now Hamilton. Few, if any, teams can approach that sort of depth.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie makes an interesting point: even if some are upset with the return, it might be more appropriate to compare it to what they’d have received in an offer-sheet situation.

This continues a run of Bruins trades that also included shipping Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche.

No parka needed: Players ponder possible NHL team in Vegas

2015 NHL Awards - Trophy Display
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The drive to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas one way or another has been a big story for some time, yet it only makes sense that the subject is cropping up when much of the hockey world is fighting off sunburns and/or hangovers in Sin City as we speak.

While the process – which would likely come via expansion – is creeping along slowly, players seem intrigued by the idea … and maybe a little frightened.

For one thing, Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd pointed to the obvious weather advantages, as the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno reports.

“You talk to any human, whether they play hockey or not, they’d rather go to work in shorts and a T-shirt than a parka,” Ladd said.

(One almost wonders if Jets fans collectively cringed at that commentary, although at least he was discussing parkas and not parks.)

The Las Vegas Review-Journal collected a few players’ thoughts on the matter (from Carey Price praising a “glamour city” to Jonathan Toews’ typically serious approach), including Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad discussing the rather obvious about temptations.

“I think there are a lot of places where you can get in trouble,” Ekblad said. “We’re professionals. I think we can learn to adapt to working and living in a place like Las Vegas.”

Honestly, Ekblad’s teammate Roberto Luongo probably said it best, though:

Even if Vegas does get a team, it will take a while. It sounds like quite a few players would be more than fine – though a little apprehensive – about such a concept.

Capitals trot out new third jerseys

2015 NHL Awards - Nominee Media Availability
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Alex Ovechkin wasn’t just on hand to do some interviews at the 2015 NHL Awards on Tuesday. He also served as a model for the Washington Capitals’ new third jerseys.

Here’s the write-up from Caps PR describing the alternate sweaters, in case “rock the red” doesn’t get the point across:

The primary color for the uniform is red and closely resembles the team’s jersey worn from 1974-75 through 1994-95. The original Capitals wordmark is featured on the front of the jersey with six stars above it and five stars beneath the numbers on each sleeve. The Capitals will wear blue pants and red helmets with their third jerseys. The new third jersey will replace the white third jersey the Capitals wore from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

The new duds certainly won Tom Wilson’s approval:

It sounds like the Capitals haven’t been shy about trying out new looks since Ovechkin came to town:

What do you think, is the red an improvement or should they instead stick with white?

For a full gallery, click here.

Lubo won’t go: Visnovsky is ‘definitely’ playing next season

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders
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Earlier in the offseason, Lubomir Visnovsky said he’d like to play next season – and preferably do so with the New York Islanders – if his injury-ravaged frame would allow it. After a couple of months, he seems a lot more confident about his ambitions.

Visnovsky’s agent Neil Sheehy said that he’ll “definitely” play during the 2015-16 season (and also reiterated his interest in sticking with the Islanders), according to New York Newsday’s Stephen C. Lorenzo.

At first glance, one wonders why the Islanders would be all that interested in having him return.

He’s suffered from lousy injury luck basically during his entire NHL career, and it’s difficult to imagine his body holding up any better at his age (he’s turning 39 in August).

“Lubo” was limited to 53 regular season games in 2014-15. Many will remember his campaign for how it ended, as he was on the receiving end of a savage hit by Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson:

It’s a more appealing thought if both sides keep expectations in check, though.

While the Islanders seem like they’re poised to take advantage of other contenders’ salary cap woes a year after poaching Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, Lighthouse Hockey rightly points out that GM Garth Snow must consider the young players set for raises after the 2015-16 season expires.

Visnovsky’s offensive skills could still be of use to the Islanders, especially on the power play … and especially at the right price.

If the Slovak defenseman is expecting anything close to the $4.75 million cap hit (and even larger salary in 2014-15) from his last contract, he’s listening to the wrong advice. However, one could imagine him getting a decent enough deal, especially if he settles for one year.

“The Silver Fox” isn’t the dynamic asset he once was, but he might be just the right fit for the Islanders.

(It’s kind of strange pondering Visnovsky courting the Islanders considering how much he initially resisted joining the team though, isn’t it?)