Author: Jason Brough

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Six

Next season’s salary cap to be revealed this week


Not sure exactly when the NHL will announce next season’s cap number, but the general managers will reportedly learn it tomorrow when they meet in Las Vegas.

The GMs have a media availability tomorrow, tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. Perhaps they’ll share the details then. At some point, the league will make it official with a press release. They did it last year at the draft.

The 2015-16 cap has been the subject of intense speculation this season. A plunging Canadian dollar combined with ongoing player dissatisfaction related to escrow had many wondering if it could be significantly lower than the $73 million figure that commissioner Gary Bettman pegged in December.

In April, Bettman trimmed his prediction to $71.5 million. Considering the cap was $69 million this past season, we’re not talking about a big bump at all.

Related: A holdover from the ‘dark days,’ does Patrick Sharp have a future in Chicago?

Will the Blues make a big move this week?

T.J. Oshie, Marco Scandella

We all wondered what would happen to the St. Louis Blues if they suffered another first-round loss.

And then they went ahead and did it.

While the fallout in St. Louis ultimately didn’t include firing the coach, we may find out in the next few days if there’s a significant trade to be made, possibly one involving a forward.

From the Post-Dispatch:

The Blues ranked No. 5 in the NHL during the regular season with 2.92 goals a game, but among the 16 playoff teams, they were No. 9 at 2.33.

The trio of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie teamed up for 177 points in the regular season but went silent in the postseason, combining for just eight. 

It’s the reason that entering this week’s NHL draft, a time on the calendar in which several significant trades are made around the league, the possibility of the Blues moving one of their household names shouldn’t be dismissed.

In addition to their playoff performances, Steen, Backes, and Oshie are also trade candidates because of their contracts. Backes is only signed for one more year before he can become an unrestricted free agent; Steen and Oshie have just two more years before they can do the same. (For that matter, ditto for Patrik Berglund.)

Perhaps another position to watch is goaltending. Though Ken Hitchcock called it “the least of our problems,” it wasn’t exactly a strength in the postseason. Jake Allen finished with a .904 save percentage in making all six starts. And that was after Brian Elliott was supposed to be the starter, but had the opportunity yanked at the last minute.

Think Elliott was happy about that? This is a guy that’s been waiting a long time to go into the postseason as the number one. Not saying he wants out, but for a team looking for a veteran netminder with an affordable cap hit ($2.5 million), he could make sense to target in a trade.

All that being said, GM Doug Armstrong insisted in April that he was wary of making a move just for the sake of making a move.

“What I don’t want to do is hurt the franchise long-term,” he said. “I don’t want to do something that is going to be a good headline tomorrow, and that we’re going to regret for five or six years.”

So far, Armstrong hasn’t made headlines, other than retaining Hitchcock and telling Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed.

We’ll see if that changes this week.

Report: Bruins trying to keep McQuaid

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning

The Boston Bruins are apparently exploring ways to keep defenseman Adam McQuaid, a pending unrestricted free agent.

GM Don Sweeney hinted at it this morning, saying on a conference call that he’s had talks with teams that may allow the Bruins to re-sign one of their UFAs.

Now, according to Joe Haggerty, “multiple league sources have indicated to that Adam McQuaid is the player Boston would like to re-sign.”

McQuaid would very much like to be back. The physical 28-year-old is coming off a challenging season, one in which the departure of Johnny Boychuk forced him into a bigger role with the B’s. But he’s also the kind of player that would seem to match Sweeney’s plans for the franchise to get back to its aggressive ways.

What’s uncertain is how Sweeney plans to make room for McQuaid. Loui Eriksson and Milan Lucic have both had their names floated in trade rumors. Chris Kelly’s $3 million cap hit stands out, but he’d be tough to move.

Related: ‘Highly unlikely’ Soderberg back in Boston

Report: Wings no longer interested in Phaneuf

Dion Phaneuf

From Red Wings reporter Ansar Khan of MLive:

Phaneuf was reportedly close to joining the Wings in March. Following the trade deadline, it was reported that the two teams may revisit a deal this summer.

That, apparently, is no longer the case.

Phaneuf, 30, is signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million. Like with Phil Kessel, any team that’s interested in acquiring the Leafs’ captain will likely ask that Toronto retains salary in the deal. Doesn’t mean the Leafs will agree to that, but based on what was reported, that may ultimately have been a deal-breaker for the Wings.

Related: Nonis wants people to look at Phaneuf’s numbers

After remarkable finish, Cameron focusing on Senators’ start

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators

Dave Cameron knows what the Ottawa Senators did last season was a remarkable story for a reason.

It’s just not very often that a hockey team goes 24-4-4 in its last 32 games, erasing a 14-point deficit to make the playoffs.

As such, Cameron — armed with a two-year contract extension — would, next season, like to avoid the kind of start that put the Sens in such a deep hole this past one.

“As exciting as that run was, you’re not going to be able to duplicate that under too many circumstances and we don’t want to try and be in that position,” Cameron said, per the Canadian Press“Our start is going to be important and what goes into a start is obviously a good training camp.”

The young Sens have plenty of room to improve. If not for the goaltending they received from unlikely hero Andrew Hammond, they’d have been hard-pressed to do what they did. Puck-possession wise, they were simply average.

In a related story, with Hammond signed through 2017-18, the Sens are expected to trade one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner.

Ottawa had the NHL’s fourth-best team save percentage (.921) in 2014-15, behind only the Canadiens (.926), Blackhawks (.925) and Rangers (.923).

Related: Cameron ‘extremely proud’ of Senators