James O'Brien

Slava Voynov
AP

Report: Voynov – KHL bound?

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Slava Voynov might play professional hockey in 2015-16, just not in the NHL.

The self-departed former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is planning on playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to Sports Express’ Igor Eronko plus the Associated Press and ESPN.

Voynov announced his decision to leave the Kings for Russia back on Sept. 16, prompting the Kings to claim that he essentially would not have been welcomed back.

He served some jail time for domestic violence-related charges and was temporarily detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs.

His KHL rights belong to Traktor Chelyabinsk, but they will reportedly be transferred to SKA St. Petersburg. Every indication is that the Kings still hold his NHL rights, for whatever that may be worth.

Hey, Brian McGrattan’s still kicking/punching around

Brian McGrattan
AP
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Enforcers seem to be going the way of the dodo, but one hopes to become a Gull.

The San Diego Gulls added Brian McGrattan to their training camp roster on Friday, reminding us that he’s still attempting to maintain a hockey career.

It’s also an excuse to post this photo, which really must be shared in its full splendor:

Brian McGrattan
via AP

The Gulls are the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, so McGrattan is likely hoping he can make enough of an impression to get the occasional call-up for dust-ups.

On second thought: Coyotes give Potter two-way deal

Corey Potter
AP

We’re at that point during training camp in which teams must make decisions about borderline players (and vice versa).

For fringe guys, that sometimes means signing less-than-ideal contracts after being “cut.”

That seems to be the case for Corey Potter, as he accepted a one-year, two-way deal from the Arizona Coyotes not long after being released from a PTO.

As the main image shows, Potter’s been around, bouncing between several teams after first cracking the New York Rangers’ lineup in 2008-09.

He’s headed to the AHL, but with solid-enough experience, Potter could slip into the Coyotes’ mix if injuries strike.

If nothing else, his name provides a golden opportunity for bad jokes.

More on Blackhawks waiving Bickell

Bryan Bickell, Antti Niemi
AP
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The Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to waive Bryan Bickell raised some eyebrows, but there could be more twists and turns ahead.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun provides the biggest helping of interesting updates, stating that:

  • Bickell might not go to the AHL if he’s waived; instead, the ‘Hawks may just be sending him a “wake-up call.”
  • This might be a heavy-handed way of sending a wake-up call to the NHL’s other 29 GMs, instead. By putting him on waivers, the Blackhawks may get a better read on who might be interested in a swap, albeit one that would probably not involve taking on the full brunt of Bickell’s regrettable contract.

Get this: there could be even more intrigue, as his bout with vertigo could also be relevant to the discussion:

Does anyone else think it’s a little harsh to say “snap out of it” to a guy experiencing health problems? No? Maybe?

At least one of Bickell’s teammates hopes that this all blows over:

Simply put, managing the salary cap isn’t always pretty, and sometimes feelings will get hurt.

Duchene, O’Reilly and Colorado’s $6M ceiling

Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche
Getty
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It’s almost odd that it took so long for an Avalanche player to at least mildly criticize Ryan O'Reilly.

To many, “ROR” leaving Colorado was a matter of when, not if, ever since that strange offer sheet drama fizzled out back in 2013.

Matt Duchene provided somewhat spicy remarks – at least by hockey player standards – to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers.

Here’s a chunk of those comments, noting that Duchene still calls O’Reilly “Factor” after Bill O’Reilly’s show, which ranks as a clever nickname by hockey standards.

” … Factor was always a guy who came — when he was at the rink — he worked hard. And he was a good teammate, at the rink,” Duchene said. “He worked hard on the ice. I think the biggest thing is, contract-wise, it just wasn’t working.”

Duchene went on to say that it wasn’t “his business” and he wasn’t “in the room” when deals were made, but that Denver Post article certainly implies that business became at least a little personal.

Maybe more interesting as far as future contracts go, it sounds like the Avalanche are imposing an internal ceiling of $6 million for any player, via Chambers:

It has become obvious that the individual contract ceiling for the Avalanche is a $6 million cap hit. Matt Duchene is maxed out, Ryan O’Reilly was maxed out, and Erik Johnson will become maxed out next season. Semyon Varlamov is at $5.9 million and captain Gabe Landeskog $5,571,428. All long-term deals.

The $6 million question might be: will that hit a snag with Nathan MacKinnon and/or Tyson Barrie?

Yes, they’re both RFAs, but Barrie brings a lot of earning potential to the table as a near-elite scoring defenseman while MacKinnon is … MacKinnon.

(You think he’s a little jealous of all the attention Connor McDavid is getting?)

It all makes you wonder if Avalanche management might put themselves in jeopardy of fighting offer sheets, and maybe even ones that would actually be valid.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Avalanche face the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 20 and Feb. 14.

Perhaps O’Reilly will exceed his yearly allotment of penalty minutes against his former colleagues?