Jason Brough

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Mika Zibanejad #93 of the Ottawa Senators prepares for a faceoff against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on February 14, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Sens GM insists money had nothing to do with Zibanejad-for-Brassard trade

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The Ottawa Senators traded Mika Zibanejad for Derick Brassard because they want to win now and they felt Brassard was “a better hockey player at this point in time.”

According to GM Pierre Dorion, the deal had nothing to do with Brassard being owed just $10 million in actual salary over the next three years, after the Rangers had paid the 28-year-old his $2 million bonus for the upcoming season.

“The money didn’t have a thing to do with it,” Dorion told TSN 1200, per Ian Mendes. “I’m happy we saved $2 million because it allows us to do more. But it was more of a hockey deal than anything.”

The Senators’ internal budget is always a hot topic in Ottawa, where owner Eugene Melnyk has claimed massive losses but continues to stress he has “no intention of selling the team at any price.”

So it was no surprise that Dorion was asked if there was a financial motivation behind the trade. Zibanejad can become a restricted free agent next summer. His salary in 2016-17 is $3.25 million, which is actually slightly less than the $3 million the Sens will have to pay Brassard.

At the very least, the trade puts a good amount of pressure on the Sens to bounce back from last season’s 11th-place finish in the East. Brassard will turn 29 in September. The expectations for him are high, and they are immediate.

“Our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs again,” said Dorion, “and we feel Derick’s going to help us make the playoffs.”

Monahan wants long-term contract with Flames, prepared to take less money ‘to be a better team’

Calgary Flames' Sean Monahan, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Johnny Gaudreau during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Sean Monahan would like to sign a long-term contract with the Calgary Flames.

And in the pursuit of a Stanley Cup, if the 21-year-old center has to leave a little money on the table, he’s prepared to do that.

“Our goal is to bring a Stanley Cup to Calgary, so if that’s what it is, that we can bring other players in, to have a little extra money room and get them in to help us to be a better team, I think that’s the idea,” Monahan said Monday, per NHL.com.

Monahan is a restricted free agent. So too is 22-year-old winger Johnny Gaudreau. GM Brad Treliving has said he’d like to get both players signed to long-term deals.

“The preference for us would be to have some cost certainty with them, get them under contract for term, but again it takes two to make a deal here and we’ll continue to work away at it,” Treliving said earlier this month.

Gaudreau led the Flames with 78 points last season, followed by Monahan’s 63 points. Those two, along with 20-year-old Sam Bennett and 18-year-old Matthew Tkachuk, are excellent reasons for optimism in Calgary. The Flames also have a solid defense, led by captain Mark Giordano, who’s already locked up to a long-term contract. And with the additions of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, they’re hoping they’ve stabilized their goaltending.

Certainly, the goal for 2016-17 should be getting back to the playoffs. Like their Alberta neighbors to the north, with all the talent that’s been assembled, it’s no longer acceptable for the Flames to keep missing out on the postseason.

That will be especially true if Monahan and Gaudreau sign big, long-term deals this summer. While still young, they’re around the same age that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane started winning Stanley Cups in Chicago, and when Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty started winning in Los Angeles.

“We both want to be there, we both want to play together, and we want to win in Calgary,” said Monahan.

Jackets give Calder Cup-winning coach a two-year extension

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A Calder Cup championship has earned Lake Erie Monsters head coach Jared Bednar a two-year contract extension.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced the extension this morning. From the release:

Bednar, 44, led the Monsters to a 15-2 record during the playoffs and the first Calder Cup championship in club history, and the first by a Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, in 2016 following a 43-22-6-5 record during the regular season. Named the head coach of the Springfield Falcons in June 2014, Bednar has led Columbus’ AHL affiliates to an 81-50-14-7 (.602) mark in two seasons. He guided the Falcons to a 38-28-8-2 record in 2014-15 after spending the previous two seasons as the club’s assistant coach.

Also announced was the hiring of former NHLer Blake Geoffrion to the role of Monsters assistant general manager. Geoffrion, 28, was forced to retire in 2013 after suffering a serious head injury in an AHL game. Upon retirement, he joined the Jackets’ scouting staff.

The Jackets also appointed Steve McCarthy, recently retired from his playing career, to the role of assistant coach in Lake Erie. The 35-year-old played 17 games for the Monsters in 2015-16.

After offseason ankle surgery, Prust prepared to ‘go earn a contract’

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Brandon Prust #9 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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“Right now, I’d take a job anywhere,” Brandon Prust told TVA Sports in an interview Monday.

The 32-year-old forward, an unrestricted free agent, maintains there’s interest from NHL teams, but concern about the ankle injury he suffered last season has kept him from getting a guaranteed contract.

Prust only played 35 games (1G, 6A) for Vancouver in 2015-16. He ended up in the AHL, before the Canucks allowed him to go home and rehab his ankle. He eventually required offseason surgery.

“I’ve been training now for about a month,” he said. “I waited about a month after my surgery, but I’m back at it now. I started skating last week, so I’m back skating and it feels good.”

Given the concern about his health, Prust knows he may have to accept a training camp tryout.

“I’ll go earn a contract,” he said.

“My goal isn’t to start in the AHL. I would like to go to camp and just be able to prove I still belong.”

Related: Prust fined for spearing Marchand

Trade: Rangers send Brassard to Ottawa for Zibanejad

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Derick Brassard #16 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second goal of the game against the Ottawa Senators at 10_08 of the third period at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2015 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Senators 4-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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It was reported in May that the New York Rangers were willing to trade almost anyone off their roster. Today, they dealt one of their leading scorers, center Derick Brassard, to Ottawa, for center Mika Zibanejad and a second-round draft pick in 2018. (The Senators also received a seventh-round draft pick in 2018.)

Brassard, 28, had 27 goals and 31 assists in 80 games last season. He’s signed for three more years at a cap hit of $5 million; however, he only has $10 million left in salary, which may have been attractive to a budget team like the Sens. (The Rangers had to pay Brassard a $2 million bonus on July 1, per General Fanager.)

Zibanejad, meanwhile, is five years younger than Brassard, just 23 years old. He had 21 goals and 30 assists in 81 games last season. His cap hit for 2016-17 is $2.625 million, after which he can become a restricted free agent.

The Rangers still have to sign RFAs Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes for next season. This trade gives them more cap space to get that done, plus they get younger at center. Whether they’ve gotten better remains to be seen.