Report: Isles’ arena situation a complicating factor for Tavares


Back in January, John Tavares said he’d be open this summer to signing a contract extension with the New York Islanders.

At the time, it was music to the ears of Isles fans, because it meant their captain and franchise player wanted to stay.

“I’m excited about where the Islanders are headed,” said Tavares, “and hopefully we can work something out.”

Alas, it’s now the summer and no extension has been announced yet. Tavares became eligible to sign one July 1.

Granted, it’s no big deal that Tavares didn’t sign in the first few days he could. Isles GM Garth Snow has been a busy man, and massive contracts typically take time to negotiate.

But according to Newsday, citing “various league sources,” a big reason for the delay is the Islanders’ arena situation, and that may not be solved for a while.

As you’ve no doubt heard, the team wants to move out of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and ownership intends to bid on a development proposal for Belmont Park.

The problem there is that the RFP for Belmont Park has yet to be issued by the state. First there has to be a public hearing on July 10, then the RFP has to get finalized. Then the bids have to be received, and then it could take a few months to pick a winner.

Oh, and even if the Isles win, then the arena has to get built. So where will the team play while that’s happening? Barclays? MSG? Nassau Coliseum?

Bottom line: It’s hard to imagine the Islanders having any arena certainty by the start of next season, and Tavares can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other words, if Tavares wants to know where he’ll be working — and you could hardly blame him for that — this one may come down to the wire.

Burakovsky gets two-year bridge deal with Caps


The Washington Capitals have re-signed winger Andre Burakovsky to a two-year, $6 million contract.

It’s a bridge deal for the 22-year-old. He’ll still be a restricted free agent when it expires.

Burakovsky had 12 goals and 23 assists in 64 games last season, the final year of his entry-level contract. He then added three goals and three assists in 13 playoff games.

The Burakovsky deal comes on the heels of a massive contract extension for Evgeny Kuznetsov. Two years ago, it was Kuznetsov that signed a bridge deal. Burakovsky’s payment breaks down as such:

The Caps still have one restricted free agent in goalie Philipp Grubauer.

Related: Capitals trade Marcus Johansson to Devils

Del Zotto to get bigger offensive role in Vancouver


In Michael Del Zotto‘s first year in Philadelphia, Mark Streit was the top power-play defenseman on the Flyers.

The second year, Shayne Gostisbehere came along, and Streit was still there.

The third year, another talented, young defenseman was added to the mix in Ivan Provorov. That knocked Del Zotto down to fourth in power-play time among Flyers d-men: just 48:46 on the season, compared to 65:16 on the penalty kill.

It also spelled an end to Del Zotto’s career in Philly. The Flyers were moving on without him. On July 1, he signed a two-year, $6 million contract with Vancouver.

For the 27-year-old, the change of scenery should be a good opportunity, given the Canucks’ blue line doesn’t have nearly the kind of offensive ability that the Flyers have built up on theirs.

Mobility was another glaring issue for Vancouver’s defense last season.

“You have to be able to move into today’s game,” said Del Zotto, per The Province. “It’s all about puck retrieval and the strength of my game is that first pass and that’s what the game has become. And I didn’t get a ton of power play time in Philly because my role there was more defensive, which is fine, because it’s about whatever it takes to win.”

Next season, Del Zotto will compete with the likes of Alex Edler, Troy Stecher, and Ben Hutton for power-play time. The Canucks were dreadful (29th, 14.1%) with the man advantage in 2016-17 — a big reason they also signed forwards Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov on July 1.

“We wanted to add experienced players to help with the development of our kids,” GM Jim Benning said, per NHL.com. “These players are still relatively young, they add speed and skill, and it will help with the competition for ice time and jobs. Now our young players have to earn spots.”

Sharks add ‘grit and physicality’ by signing Bollig


On July 1, the San Jose Sharks lost some toughness when forward Micheal Haley signed with the Florida Panthers.

Today, the Sharks hope they’ve replaced that toughness by inking forward Brandon Bollig to a one-year contract.

“Bollig is a competitive player who will add a tough edge to the Sharks,” said San Jose GM Doug Wilson. “He brings with him a lot of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup Championship. His grit and physicality will be a great addition to our team.”

It’s reportedly a two-way deal for Bollig. The 30-year-old spent last season with the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate in Stockton, scoring 11 goals in 60 games with 136 PIM.

Bollig won a Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013.

Kostin released by KHL club, expected to sign with Blues soon


Russian forward Klim Kostin is suddenly free to sign with the St. Louis Blues.

That’s because Kostin, 18, has been released by the KHL’s financially troubled Dynamo Moscow club. His agent, Dan Milstein, tweeted Tuesday that an entry-level contract with the Blues should get signed “in the coming days.”

Kostin was the 31st overall pick in the 2017 draft. St. Louis got that pick in the Ryan Reaves trade with Pittsburgh.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Part of the reason Kostin dropped in the draft was because he’s under contract in the Kontinental Hockey League, but that could be cleared up as soon as Monday. His club, Moscow Dynamo, has new ownership that has threatened not to pay its current players. There are reports that Dynamo could release its entire roster, making the players unrestricted free agents.

But however long it takes to play out, the Blues are convinced that Kostin, much like fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko when he was drafted in 2010, wants to play in the NHL. That was the takeaway after interviewing him three times at the scouting combine in Buffalo last month.

Kostin was the top-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting. He was ranked higher than Miro Heiskanen, who went third overall to Dallas; Elias Pettersson, who went fifth overall to Vancouver; and Lias Andersson, who went seventh overall to the Rangers.

Kostin will likely play in the AHL next season.

“If he’s ready for the American Hockey League, that would be great,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong. “If not, we’ll have to find a different option for him.”