A couple of hours before Buffalo will host the 2016 NHL Draft and Sabres forward Evander Kane is in the news again for the wrong reasons.
From WIVB in Buffalo:
Sources have confirmed to News 4 that two crime reports have been filed against Sabres’ left winger Evander Kane.
The crime reports relate to an alleged incident following Kane’s appearance at a Buffalo bar called Bottom’s Up on Chippewa Street on Thursday night.
Witnesses who called News 4 say Kane had been ejected from the bar that night. It’s not yet clear what crimes Kane is accused of committing.
The Sabres have yet to comment.
Earlier this year, Kane, 24, was cleared after an investigation into a sexual encounter he’d had in December in Buffalo. He insisted when that investigation became public that he’d “done nothing wrong.”
Related: Jets’ Kane facing lawsuit for alleged assault
According to Keith Yandle, the decision to sign with the Florida Panthers for the next six years went beyond the $44.45 million he’ll be paid.
“I learned how much the ownership wants to win,” the 29-year-old defenseman said this morning about his negotiations with the club.
“You feel like it’s an all-in organization.”
That’s not something that’s been said very often about the Panthers, a franchise that many saw — and some still see — as a prime relocation candidate.
But with new ownership, a new deal with the county, and a young team on the rise, things really do seem different now.
“We’re thrilled,” co-owner Doug Cifu told the Miami Herald. “[The Yandle signing] shows that top players want to win in Florida. Keith wants to win the Stanley Cup in Florida. That’s why we were his top priority and vice versa.”
Yandle, whose rights were traded by the Rangers earlier this week, is also pretty excited at the prospect of playing with 20-year-old Aaron Ekblad.
Ekblad, by the way, is reportedly close to signing an eight-year extension worth in the neighborhood of $60 million. He has one year left on his entry-level deal, so an extension of that length would buy four years of unrestricted free agency.
Related: Where will Brian Campbell sign?
Everyone knows that Steven Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. It is the furthest thing from a secret in the NHL.
But it’s not July 1 yet, and the interview period for UFAs doesn’t start until tomorrow, so when Canucks GM Jim Benning went on the radio yesterday and said he planned to speak with Stamkos’ agent about possibly signing in Vancouver, it may technically have been tampering with Tampa Bay Lightning property.
Benning also said in that same radio interview that he’d spoken with the Montreal Canadiens about defenseman P.K. Subban, who’s been the subject of ongoing trade rumors.
According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, the league is looking into it:
There’s a precedent for punishing comments that could be deemed tampering.
In 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs were fined an undisclosed amount when then-head coach Ron Wilson went on the radio prior to July 1 and said there was “a real possibility I would think that we would be going after the Sedins” in free agency.
The Canucks, of course, ended up re-signing the twins, who remain in Vancouver to this day.
With his comments yesterday, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen did little to dissuade the speculation that he might actually — no, really, he might — trade the third overall pick in Friday’s draft.
“We’re getting some serious and real offers right now,” Kekalainen said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “We’re making sure we have them all lined up so that we can compare them and see what the best one is and whether it’s worth consideration.”
According to most rankings, the third-best player in the 2016 draft is Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi.
But the Blue Jackets have compiled their own list, and for them, that’s the only list that counts.
“Whether it’s close to the consensus of the experts or not, that’s what we’re going to rely on and how we’re going to do our business,” said Kekalainen. “We feel it’s the only right way to do business.”
If the Blue Jackets do end up trading the third overall pick, they could move down a few spots and select a center like Logan Brown or Clayton Keller.
Related: After trading Ryan Johansen, do the Jackets have a number-one center?
Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
He’s only 28 and he scored 22 goals with 42 assists last season. That’s going to mean a big payday, but it won’t be with the Islanders.
A league source told Newsday that Okposo is “100 percent gone” from the club that drafted him a decade ago. The Isles will miss him. Only John Tavares had more points (70) for them last season.
Okposo is from St. Paul and he played college hockey for the Gophers, so obviously Minnesota has been named as a possible destination.
Contributing to that speculation, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has said that adding more goal-scoring is a priority this offseason.
“There’s so much talent in this league. There’s not a lot separating most of us, and I think if we could find a way to score goals a little more easily that would certainly help our cause,” Fletcher said, per the Star Tribune.
To clear cap space, the Wild could buy out Thomas Vanek’s contract.
If not Minnesota for Okposo, the Bruins could be interested, especially if they don’t re-sign Loui Eriksson, which is looking doubtful.
The Canucks could also be suitors. They’re going to do their best to add a top-six winger, be it Milan Lucic, Eriksson, or whoever can help them put the puck in the net.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.