Author: Jason Brough

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins

Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening


The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded center Brandon Sutter and a third-round draft pick to Vancouver for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a second-round pick.

Sutter had 21 goals and 12 assists for the Pens last season. The 26-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of $3.3 million.

Bonino had 15 goals and 24 assists for Vancouver. The 27-year-old has two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $1.9 million.

Clendening is an offensive defenseman who’s put up good numbers in the AHL, but has played just 21 NHL games for Chicago and Vancouver. The 22-year-old was traded to the Canucks in January.

The Penguins also announced today that they’d signed center Eric Fehr to a three-year deal.

Hitch says Backes’ role will be determined by play of Jaskin, Rattie, and Fabbri

David Backes

A pending unrestricted free agent, David Backes could be relegated to third-line duty next season for the Blues.

According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch interview with coach Ken Hitchcock, Backes’ role will be determined by the readiness of youngsters Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri. If one of those three can hold down a top-six role, Backes will likely be the third-line center. If not, Hitchcock is planning for Backes to play right wing in the top six, with Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera as the top two centers.

“I can tell you right now, (Backes) is going to play more right wing than he’s played since I got here,” said Hitchcock. “Whether he’s a full-time player there or not, we don’t know yet. That depends on those three young kids.”

Backes had 26 goals and 32 assists last season. The 31-year-old’s long-term future with the Blues is not clear at this point.

Report: Hoffman seeking $3.4 million, against Sens’ request of $1.75 million

Mike Hoffman

Assuming his arbitration hearing goes forward Thursday, Senators forward Mike Hoffman will be seeking almost double what his team will be requesting in salary.

According to CBC Sports’ Tim Wharnsby, Hoffman’s ask is $3.4 million against the Sens’ $1.75 million.

Hoffman had 27 goals and 21 assists in 2014-15. The 25-year-old winger finished sixth in the voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

The large majority of arbitration cases get settled before a hearing is even held. However, it’s worth noting that Hoffman’s teammate, Alex Chiasson, required a verdict to be handed down.

So far this offseason, Chiasson’s is the only case to actually be decided by an arbitrator.

Related: Hoffman unsure about long-term deal with Sens

Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference

Nordiques Rally Hockey

If only Seattle had bid.

Or if Quebec City could somehow be picked up and relocated to the West Coast.

That way, commissioner Gary Bettman wouldn’t have to worry about the NHL’s alignment, which currently has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference versus just 14 in the West.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Bettman conceded that, should Las Vegas and Quebec City be granted expansion franchises, both new teams could end up in the Western Conference.

Which wouldn’t be an issue for Vegas.

But would be a pretty big one for Quebec City…


“The answer is that’s something we would obviously have to consider,” Bettman said of putting Quebec City in a conference with the likes of Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose, and in a Central Division (presumably) with teams as far-flung as Dallas and Denver, the closest being Chicago.

Not ideal, to say the least. Lest we forget the rivalry the Nordiques and Habs used to enjoy when both were together in the old Adams Division:

Now, granted, Bettman only said the NHL would have to “consider” putting Quebec City in the West. He also said that just because “we identify [geography] as an issue doesn’t mean we’ve reached a conclusion.”

“The experience with Winnipeg in the Southeast (Division) was less than ideal,” Bettman admitted. “The experience over time with Detroit and Columbus in the West — and they’re farther west geographically — they couldn’t wait to get into the East.”

At the end of the day, Quebec City might not even get an expansion team. At last glance, the Canadian dollar was sitting just below $0.77 US. (Of course, Bettman has brushed that concern aside.)

There’s also the ongoing uncertainly in Glendale to consider. (Of course, Bettman has been adamant that the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere. Ditto for the Florida Panthers.)

It all adds up to quite the puzzle. One that simply doesn’t have a perfect solution.

Related: Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions?

Black out: Sabres name new president

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have replaced Ted Black (pictured) with Russ Brandon as president of the hockey club.

Brandon was already the president of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who were recently bought by Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

“Since we purchased the Buffalo Bills last October, we have been highly impressed with the business acumen that Russ has shown with the Bills,” said the Pegulas in a release.

“Now is an appropriate time to give him additional responsibilities with the Sabres. Russ will work with Pegula Sports & Entertainment to create strong synergies between the Sabres and Bills. With Russ’ strong ties to the area business community and sponsorship partners, he will effectively position both organizations for future growth. We are grateful to Ted Black for all he has done for the Sabres organization and wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

More on Black’s departure, from the Buffalo News:

A source told The News’ Bucky Gleason the Bills and Sabres owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, found how operations worked smoothly with the Bills and wondered why the Sabres had so many problems. Black apparently was “frozen out” during a trip with Sabres and Bills executives in Las Vegas.

For the record, the Sabres say Black “mutually agreed to part ways from the organization.”

Related: Sabres bidding farewell to ‘turd burger’ jerseys