James O'Brien

seguingetty

PHT Morning Skate: Seguin admits Sharp dethrones him as the sexiest Star

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Tyler Seguin on the burning question in Dallas: is Patrick Sharp better looking than he is? (Dallas Morning News)

Former NHL-er (and Calder Trophy winner) Bryan Berard’s story keeps getting sadder. (National Post)

The case for signing Brad Boyes. (TSN)

Enjoy this spirited Q & A with NBC’s beloved Doc Emrick. (Sportsnet)

Update: Frederik Andersen still loves Legos. (The Hockey News)

What it was like for one fan/blogger falling in love with the Detroit Red Wings. (Winging It in Motown)

The AHL provided this handy guide of NHL affiliations, in case you’ve (understandably) had difficulty keeping track of the changes.

This seems like the perfect thing to stare at while you’re not really working on Friday morning.

Duncan Keith on ‘extremely difficult’ year off the ice, from divorce to Sharp rumors

sharpkeithgetty
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From a hockey standpoint, this past year was incredible for Duncan Keith. The same can’t be said for the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman’s off-the-ice life, though.

Keith spoke candidly about raising his son after going through a divorce – and the rumors that surfaced regarding former teammate Patrick Sharp – in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh.

“I’m not going to lie: It has been a long year and extremely difficult,” Keith said. “I know there was a lot of talk throughout the year regarding Sharpie and that was all a complete fabrication as well. My divorce had nothing to do with anything except what was between me and Kelly-Rae, and that’s where I’d like to keep it.”

The 32-year-old* explained that dealing with the tough situation meant finding a sanctuary in the form of “turning the switch to hockey.”

Just about anyone would agree that the results were stupendous: an All-Star Game appearance, that memorable Conn Smythe run and his third career Stanley Cup victory. Sometimes anecdotal accomplishments stand out to people as much as anything else, and Keith’s heavy-minute iron man routine in the postseason likely made many lasting impressions.

It’s not just about the personal glory, though, as the elite blueliner pondered the connections he’s made. Keith explained that Sharp ranks along with Brent Seabrook as “one of his two best friends in hockey.” He seemed wistful about the departures of Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Brandon Saad.

“Anytime you play with someone for a long time you’re going to develop chemistry, a bond and a friendship and I was really close with those three guys,” Keith said. “Sharpie, I played with for 10 years. It’s tough to say goodbye …”

These tough times serve as a reminder that summers aren’t always just for recovering from the physical turmoil of a long season; they’re also an opportunity for players to see their families when they need them the most.

The full article is a great read, so check it out here.

* – His birthday was on Thursday, when that Chicago Tribune story came out.

Caps hand Chris Brown a two-year, two-way pact

Jarred Tinordi, Chris Brown,
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The Washington Capitals really beefed up on Thursday.

After making the Zac Sill signing official, the team also announced that Chris Brown agreed to a two-year, two-way contract.

Perhaps they’ll need Brown on nights when Sill and/or Tom Wilson need to ice their knuckles?

Brown hasn’t really piled up penalty minutes during his sparse NHL appearances (21 PIM in 22 career NHL games spread out over four seasons, most recently with the Capitals). He wasn’t shy about dropping the gloves last season, getting into six fights in the AHL during the 2014-15 regular season and two preseason bouts at the NHL level.

The 24-year-old showed a dash of scoring ability in the AHL last season, too, with 28 points in 64 contests as a member of the Hershey Bears. Brown also played five games with the Caps in 2014-15, scoring one goal.

Del Zotto deal is a reminder: Flyers are in salary cap jail

Edmonton Oilers v Philadelphia Flyers
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Every GM experiences a hiccup or two, but there are many signs that Ron Hextall has a sound plan for the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, Paul Holmgren left behind quite the mess.

Michael Del Zotto’s two-year contract more or less takes up Philly’s cap space for 2015-16 (unless Hextall clears some room with a move or two). That spending has to sting, especially since this largely similar roster failed to earn a playoff bid last season.

By signing Del Zotto to a two-year deal at that $3.875 million cap hit, this also reminds us that the Flyers could take some time to break themselves out of salary cap jail. At the moment, the outlook doesn’t look so great for 2016-17 and maybe beyond:

Indeed, $48.5 million for 13 players is rough when you start to forecast a possible deal for Jakub Voracek, assuming the Flyers can find a compromise with their outstanding winger.

It doesn’t stop there, either.

The summer of 2016 could be challenging

While Sam Gagner’s $3.2 million cap hit could very well be funneled into other bank accounts, the Flyers really might need to fork over some money to keep RFAs Brayden Schenn ($2.5 million next season) and Sean Couturier (a steal at $1.75 million in 2015-16) in the fold.

Much-criticized deals, especially Andrew MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit, only sting that much more when you start to think about the raises Philly may need to hand out.

New life – but also uncertainty – in a few years

Beyond those payouts, there’s also the fact that many contracts run out after 2016-17 … although maybe that’s the time when we’ll really get a sense of what Hextall can do?

That’s actually the enticing thing for Flyers fans: the impressive array of draft picks Hextall has been compiling might start to really pay off by right at the time when the organization could finally enjoy some financial breathing room. Hextall is doing what he can with the situation he’s been given, so it’s intriguing to imagine what he might do with more cash to burn.

You know, if he makes it that far.

Schaller among three Sabres who accepted qualifying offers

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres
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The following players agreed to qualifying offers with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday: Tim Schaller, Jerome Leduc and Nathan Lieuwen.

Schaller (pictured) generated two points in 18 games with the Sabres, representing his first NHL reps. The 24-year-old also generated 43 points and 116 PIM in 65 games at the AHL level with the Rochester Americans.

Leduc, 22, was selected 68th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He hasn’t appeared in an NHL game just yet, but he scored 25 points in 76 games in the AHL.

Lieuwen, 23, played seven games with the Sabres in 2014-15, going 1-4-0 with a .906 save percentage. The big goalie went in the sixth round (167th choice) in 2011.