James O'Brien

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7

Gibson trade rumors leave Ducks GM muttering profanities

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It only seemed natural to wonder if the Anaheim Ducks’ acquisition of Anton Khudobin would be the precursor to another goalie move, but apparently that’s not the case.

In fact, it sounds like Ducks GM Bob Murray was incensed by the rumors, as you can see from The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell’s account:

“John Gibson is not getting traded,” Murray said. “So put that (expletive) out there, OK. That’s enough.”

This was an amusing way to put it, too:

Murray may rank as the NHL executive most in need of a five-second delay … at least when it comes to rumors about his goalies. Back in January 2014, he needed to be censored when asked about a possible Jonas Hiller trade.

He might not like the rumors, yet they crop up for a reason (much like irksome ones involving Hiller and Bobby Ryan eventually hinted at exits that did happen). The Ducks have three goalies in Khudobin, Gibson and Frederik Andersen under contract for just one more season, so it’s only reasonable to wonder when the other shoe might drop.

You might need earmuffs if you ask Murray about it around kids, though.

Rangers get their new backup in Raanta trade

Antti Raanta
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The New York Rangers quickly filled the void left behind in trading Cam Talbot on Saturday, as they traded for Antti Raanta, sending Ryan Haggerty to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Really, the deal makes sense for both sides.

Again, the Rangers determined that Talbot would be too expensive to re-sign, so they grab Raanta and his $750K cap hit for 2015-16. The 26-year-old was overshadowed by Scott Darling at times this past season, although it’s tough to beat Raanta up for what he accomplished: a sparkling .936 save percentage with a 7-4-1 record. One could argue that his resume may end up looking a lot like Talbot’s after the 2015-16 season ends. (Maybe.)

Both the Rangers and Blackhawks know that every cent counts, and Chicago was already moving toward Darling as Corey Crawford’s backup. It’s not spectacular savings since Darling’s first season is two-way, but it makes sense for the ‘Hawks to grab a prospect for their troubles.

The general reaction is positive, especially for the Rangers.

Trade: Flyers unload Pronger’s contract, get Gagner from Coyotes

Chris Pronger Press Conference and Portrait Session
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For a minute there, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers might enter an era in which splashy moves rarely happened.

Maybe those days are still largely over, but the past echoes in an eyebrow-raising deal: the Flyers send Nicklas Grossmann and the contract of Chris Pronger (their phrasing) to the Arizona Coyotes for Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in 2016 and 2017.

These are believed to be the conditions:

The Flyers also retained some money in the deal:

Philly’s side: While the Flyers have been able to stash Pronger’s cap hit on LTIR once the season starts, they’ve been somewhat limited in their moves during each summer thanks to that albatross (not to mention Nicklas Grossmann’s $3 million cap hit). Philadelphia gets an interesting piece in Gagner; it’s easy to forget that the flawed-yet-skilled forward is still just 25.

Let’s just say a lot of Flyers fans are excited.

Arizona’s side: The Coyotes can spin Dave Tippett’s approval of Grossman all they’d like, but it’s ultimately about money.

Pronger’s cap hit is $4.94 million, but his salary is just $575K for the next two campaigns. There’s no sense denying how much money this franchise needs to save – at least in the near future – and Pronger’s deal is very helpful in that regard.

Winners and losers of the 2015 NHL Draft

150627_ConnorMcDavid
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Hindsight is 20/20, but what about when something is so close it’s directly in your blind spot?

The 2015 NHL Draft is over, and with the long-awaited wave of prospects behind us, it will be years before we can truly judge what just happened. It would be foolish to hand out grades on the same day the draft ended. Who would do that, right?

Well, uh … about that.

Here’s a stab at some of the winners and losers from this busy, busy weekend in the NHL. Feel free to add your own suggestions and counterarguments in the comments (preferably kindly).

Winners

Oilers: They will smile upon this weekend for Connor McDavid alone, but GM Peter Chiarelli also made some interesting trades to improve the team with the likes of Cam Talbot and Griffin Reinhart.

Sabres: In the same “No, duh” spirit as the Oilers grabbing McDavid, the Sabres probably would have come up winners if they merely grabbed Jack Eichel and went into cruise control with picks.

Instead, GM Tim Murray was as busy as his selection announcement for Eichel was brief. Robin Lehner is, at minimum, someone Murray believes in. Ryan O’Reilly is a legit find, setting up Buffalo to have a scary 1-2 punch down the middle with Eichel.

Flames: OK, this has more to do with what happened before the draft than what happened during it … but landing Dougie Hamilton for a package of picks could end up being one of those moves we remember for ages.

That said, getting Oliver Kylington about a round after many believed he would be drafted (60th overall) isn’t chopped liver, either.

Islanders: Over the years, GM Garth Snow has steadily earned a reputation as one of the NHL’s sneaky-shrewdest executives. The 2015 NHL Draft will only strengthen those arguments.

Flyers: Are we prepared for a brave new world in which the Philadelphia Flyers are sober-minded and clever like this? Forgive reheating a joke from last night, but:

Losers

Bruins: Yes, the Bruins’ salary cap is slimmer, and they definitely nailed the draft from a “quantity” standpoint.

Still, they moved mountains to get picks 13-15, but the grades for their picks generally range from “not very sexy” to “huge reach.” Time will ultimately be new GM Don Sweeney’s judge, but right now, he’s probably not the most popular fellow among B’s fans.

Penguins: Actually, consider this grade more of an “Incomplete” than an “F.” Sometimes no splashy moves are better than reckless ones … still, Pittsburgh fans might be a little antsy.

Canucks: That’s a disappointing haul for Eddie Lack, but GM Jim Benning’s biggest mistake might have been forgetting to get an intern to tell him when the camera was on him:

Talk about a caption contest waiting to happen.

***

Again, the Bruins could very well end up laughing at all of us after making bold moves in the middle of the first round. Chances are, there are gems buried in later rounds that will drastically change how we view 2015.

Still, winners and losers lists are fun, so enjoy yourselves in the comments.

Just be nice.

Trade: Oilers send picks 16 and 33 to Islanders for Griffin Reinhart

New York Islanders v New York Rangers
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The New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers combined for an eyebrow-raiser during the 2015 NHL Draft.

The Oilers sent the 16th and 33rd picks in 2015 to the Islanders for defenseman Griffin Reinhart. GM Garth Snow & Co. already cashed in that 16th pick, nabbing Mathew Barzal.

Barzal could be an interesting upside guy for the Islanders, as the playmaker’s stock dropped a bit thanks in part to a knee injury. Read more about the prospect here.

(We’ll wait until Saturday to see what comes of that 33rd pick.)

Edmonton should be familiar with Reinhart, as he won a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 21-year-old’s name has been connected to interesting draft-day stories already, as the Columbus Blue Jackets memorably turned down a boatload of Islanders picks and took Ryan Murray in 2012, forcing New York to settle for Reinhart.

At least, it certainly seems like they settled considering this move.

The Oilers’ side is obvious, too: they add another young player and try to improve a shaky blueline in this bold swap.