Author: Jason Brough

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

The Coyotes need to spend some money


Remember a few years ago when the Florida Panthers were forced to go on a crazy spending spree in order to reach the cap floor?

As of right now, the Arizona Coyotes are looking like that Panthers team of 2015.

“We know we’ve got to make some moves,” Coyotes CEO Athony LeBlanc told Sportsnet recently. “We’ve got to pick up a player or two, we’ve got to add some veteran depth, and that’s going to cost some money.”

LeBlanc may be understating the situation. The Coyotes are currently well below the cap floor. On top of that, they don’t have any pending free agents, restricted or unrestricted, that are in line to get major raises. Mikkel Boedker, an RFA, is about the only one that comes to mind.

Of course, any GM can throw money around come July 1. That’s easy. The challenge Don Maloney will have is convincing worthwhile free agents to sign with the Coyotes, a team that’s not expected to be a playoff contender next season, not to mention a franchise that many (despite the commissioner’s insistence) remain convinced will be relocated in the near future.

Maloney’s best route to reaching the cap floor may be the trade avenue. With no shortage of teams needing to shed salary this offseason, the Coyotes could theoretically take advantage.

Related: After ‘unacceptable’ year, Doan thinks ‘urgency is going to be high’ in Arizona

Welcome to the trade rumor mill, Evgeni Malkin and Rick Nash

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has heard from “people around the league” that Evgeni Malkin is unhappy in Pittsburgh and may welcome a change of scenery.

TSN/NBC insider Bob McKenzie believes the Rangers will at least discuss trading Rick Nash.

So, that’s pretty interesting, no?

Obviously, there are significant differences in each team’s situation, but the common denominator is financial pressure:

The Penguins have two of the highest cap hits in the league in Malkin and Sidney Crosby, plus they’ve got Kris Letang on a healthy contract as well. Another thing the Penguins have is a need to get better, and it’s tougher to do that without room under the cap.

The Rangers have a couple of big contracts of their own in Nash and Henrik Lundqvist. They also need to re-sign restricted free agent Derek Stepan this summer, then RFA Chris Kreider next summer.

Throw in the possibility that the salary cap remains at essentially the same level and the financial pressure only increases.

Anyway, enjoy those trade rumors!

Related: Friedman says Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin

On the ‘fine line’ between protecting a lead and sitting back too much

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

TAMPA — Not even a week after being lauded for stifling the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning were beating themselves up for sitting back and playing too passively in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hockey is funny that way. One game, a strategy works out. The next, it fails miserably. Even if the process remains largely the same.

“What had worked for us a little bit in the past, maybe we sat back and thought, ‘Maybe this is going to work for us again,'” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the day after after his team blew a 1-0 third-period lead in a painful 2-1 loss.

Captain Steven Stamkos called it a “fine line” between responsibly protecting a lead and becoming overly passive.

“I think everyone was trying to do the right thing last night,” he said. “We come in with a one‑goal lead into the third. The first thing on your mind is to defend that lead.”

The Lightning were doing exactly that until Teuvo Teravainen beat a screened Ben Bishop on a long wrist shot with less than seven minutes remaining.

“He threw a puck at the net that probably nine times out of ten doesn’t go in, but it went in for him,” said Cooper. “I think that’s what happens to players of his skill level. Pucks have eyes for those guys.”

Perhaps that’s the difference between going into a shell versus the Blackhawks and going into a shell versus some other team. Against the Blackhawks, it’s a more dangerous game to play. Those guys can pick you apart.

“We found out if we’re going to play passive in the third period against Chicago it may not work out too well for us,” said Cooper.

And so the Lightning are forced to approach Saturday’s game at Amalie Arena with the specter of losing and traveling to Chicago trailing 2-0.

There will be those who call Game 2 a must-win for the home team.

“I don’t think there’s a must‑win unless you’re facing elimination,” countered veteran winger Ryan Callahan. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try to win every playoff game. I think that’s the way you approach it. You approach the game; you want to win it.”

Related: Bolts brush off talk of ‘must-win’ Game 2