James O'Brien

skapskigetty

Rangers’ Skapski faces 4-5 month rehab from hip surgery

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New York Rangers goaltending prospect Mackenzie Skapski is expected to need four-to-five months to recover from hip surgery, which means the rehab could possibly eat into the 2015-16 season.

The 21-year-old tweeted that the surgery was successful and that he hopes for a speedy recovery. More specifically, the Rangers describe the specific procedure as “hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear in his right hip.”

Skapski saw two games of NHL action this past season, winning both contests and even grabbing a shutout. Most of his reps came with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack as he went 15-8-3 with a solid .914 save percentage.

Among Rangers fans and observers, the reaction seems a bit split regarding whether Skapski’s surgery would have any impact on Cam Talbot’s near future.

The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis observes that Skapski’s injury means that the Rangers would have to get a backup goalie from “outside the organization” if they want to trade Talbot.

Others believe that Skapski’s not really in the phase of his career where he’s really relevant to Talbot, who has enjoyed two strong years as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.

As a sixth-rounder (170th pick) from the 2013 NHL Draft, some may dismiss Skapski’s potential, yet the Rangers found Lundqvist in the seventh round back in 2000, so you never know.

2015 NHL Awards entertainers: Rob Riggle and Daughtry

Crackle's "Dead Rising: Watchtower" Cast At Wondercon
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That guy who just didn’t like Will Ferrell’s face in “Step Brothers” (Rob Riggle) and the band with that dude who almost won “American Idol” (Daughtry) will be your entertainers for the 2015 NHL Awards on June 24.

The event will air live at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, by the way.

Riggle (pictured) is a pretty well-known face among comedy nerds, but you may know him from his days as a correspondent for “The Daily Show.” He’s a guy who is seasoned at drawing sports-related laughs, as he also did some work for the NFL. As a general rule, he’s pretty funny when he yells.

Need more examples of his work? The NHL provided a lengthier rundown:

Riggle is widely known for his memorable comedic roles in films such as The Hangover, Step Brothers, The Other Guys, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street and Dumb & Dumber To. The stand-up comedian and improv actor’s television credits include Saturday Night Live, his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show, a recurring role on Modern Family and the star of the new Fox animated series, Golan the Insatiable. The Kansas native is a passionate sports fan and recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after 23 years of service. 

Let’s leave the Daughtry talk to the NHL, too, actually:

Daughtry has scored four No. 1 hits, garnered four GRAMMY Award nominations, won four American Music Awards, sold more than 8 million albums and has sold-out concerts worldwide. Daughtry’s self-titled debut album was the fastest selling rock debut in Soundscan history and its follow up, Leave This Town, marked the quintet’s second consecutive No. 1 album. Daughtry’s third album Break The Spell was certified gold in only four weeks of its release. Daughtry’s single “Waiting For Superman” broke into the Top 15 and its new single “Battleships” is racing up the charts. The band’s latest album Baptized was released in November 2013.

Here’s a photo of lead singer Chris Daughtry, if that helps:

source: Getty Images
Via Getty

Poll: Should the Ducks fire Boudreau?

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Three
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To some, it’s an absurd question. To others, it’s absurd that people would question the decision.

Either way, we just have to ask at this point: should the Anaheim Ducks part ways with head coach Bruce Boudreau?

On one hand, he’s enjoyed fantastic regular season success, piling up division titles and other impressive accomplishments. Boudreau coached in his first conference final series, which mattered until expectations simply rose with that accomplishment.

You probably know the anti-Boudreau drill: his team failed again in a big situation, and it wasn’t pretty. Many will quibble with various matchup decisions and other mistakes.

Also consider this, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

It’s ridiculous to think Bruce Boudreau could be in any trouble after getting within a win of the Stanley Cup Final, but the relationship between he and Murray is… let’s go with “strained.”

Yes, he’s 1-6 in Game 7s, but he’s won his division (and made the playoffs) in seven of his eight years as a coach. It’s harder than ever to get into the playoffs. He gets you there; the Ducks need to remember that. In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss, a couple of coaches remarked how similar it looked to last year’s 6-2 Game 7 defeat to the Kings.

Feel free to weigh in with reasoning in the comments (maybe provide a replacement if you think he should be fired?) and cast your vote in the poll.

Tampa Bay’s cap situation is still pretty promising

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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It’s only natural to look at some upcoming salary cap hurdles and wonder if the Tampa Bay Lightning will stumble while trying to justify all the “team of the future” talk.

Steven Stamkos will command a monster deal after next season. Victor Hedman’s $4 million bargain cap hit dries up after 2016-17. Yikes, right?

MORE: Debating Stamkos’ next contract

Actually, if you dig a little deeper, their opponents should panic instead. Just ponder these nuggets:

Note: As mentioned in the comments, the original version of this article had a mix-up regarding the Lightning’s available cap space. They’re actually closer to $1.1 million. This post has been modified with that in mind. Apologies for the error.

Almost unfair bargains

Just consider this: Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn carry a combined salary cap hit of about $10 million. Johnson and Palat are locked up at their bargain rates of $3.33 million apiece through 2016-17.

Jonathan Drouin didn’t make an impact at the NHL level, yet players of his ilk often make big jumps … and he’s just one of some impressive players Tampa Bay has in its pipeline.

Oh yeah, the Lightning also have 10 picks in the upcoming draft, even if the excess leans toward later rounds.

It almost feels like cheating, doesn’t it?

source: AP
Via AP

Evaporating deals

The flip side of that previous point is that said players will eventually get raises, but their RFA statuses could greatly reduce those worries, anyway.

Either way, relief could come in other forms. Braydon Coburn’s $4.5 million could very well be diverted into Stamkos’ bank account. Mattias Ohlund’s LTIR-bound deal ends after 2015-16. Heck, the Lightning may decide to save some cash and turn to Andrei Vasilevskiy over Ben Bishop long-term, as Bishop’s $5.95 million cap hit expires after 2016-17.

(And Bishop’s surplus could go to Hedman’s raise. Yup, GM Steve Yzerman is practicing some black magic …)

The unknown

What if the 2016-17 salary cap is a lot friendlier than what we expect from next season? Could a possible expansion help teams like the Lightning farm off less-than-friendly contracts? Yzerman may just have a deft hand in getting players to sign cheaper deals, too.

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The Lightning aren’t necessarily on easy street – those young players and stars like Stamkos won’t be cheap – yet the team’s outlook indicates that they’ll remain a team to beat for some time.

Put on the cape: Blues GM wants more from Stastny

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues - Game Two
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With a $7 million cap hit, Paul Stastny is the most expensive member of the St. Louis Blues. By no means was he the most important or productive player on the roster in 2014-15, however.

The Blues didn’t have bloated expectations for Stastny heading into his first season with the team. GM Doug Armstrong noted to the Belleville News-Democrat that he didn’t expect Stastny “to come in here with a cape on and be Superman” when they signed him.

Even so, the two-way forward left something to be desired. Back in December, Ken Hitchcock “wanted him to play better.” Armstrong backed up such a stance to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, stating how much more he wants from the 29-year-old next season.

“Paul Stastny needs to be a bigger part of our group,” Armstrong said. “He’s our highest-paid player, we need him to be a bigger and better part of our team.”

Despite those sober expectations, perhaps the Blues need to be more realistic about this situation?

Managing expectations

Stastny disappointed many in Colorado, in large part because his high salary generated high expectations for big point totals. Instead, the center’s value came from combining decent production with subtly impressive possession stats.

Those “fancy stats” remained positive with St. Louis, but his point totals left something to be desired (most notably a measly goal in six playoff games). Hitchcock and Armstrong must ponder how they’re using Stastny and what they really want from him.

According to Left Wing Lock, his most common linemates were Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin. There’s nothing wrong with those forwards, and placing Stastny with that duo opens the door for St. Louis to boast impressive offensive depth. Still, if you give him a third-line-type assignment, can you complain as loudly about his production?

These aren’t the easiest questions, but the Blues needs to address situations like these if they want to “evolve.”