Jason Brough

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 05:  Marcus Johansson #90 of the Washington Capitals looks on  during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on January 5, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Caps, Johansson settle on three-year, $13.75 million deal

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It came right down to the wire, but the Washington Capitals and Marcus Johansson won’t require an arbitration hearing today. They’ve settled on a three-year, $13.75 million deal.

The new contract garners a cap hit of $4.583 million, a compromise of what the two sides had been hoping for. The 25-year-old winger can become an unrestricted free agent after his contract expires in the summer of 2019.

From the release:

Johansson, 25, registered 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 74 games with the Capitals last season. The 6’1”, 209-pound forward set career highs in plus/minus (+12) and game-winning goals (7) in 2015-16 and tied his career high in power-play goals (6). He ranked tied for 11th in the NHL and second on the team in game-winning goals. In addition, Johansson ranked third among Capitals skaters in power-play goals, fifth in assists and sixth in points.

The task now for the Caps is to get Dmitry Orlov signed. The 24-year-old defenseman is their final restricted free agent, and there’s not a ton of cap space to work with.

‘Canes enjoying stronger ticket sales, but ‘fence-sitters’ still need convincing

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 22:  Fans welcome the players to the ice before a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes during play at PNC Arena on January 22, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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The team that finished dead last in NHL attendance last season is enjoying a stronger summer of ticket sales.

Carolina Hurricanes president Don Waddell spoke to the News & Observer recently and shared the encouraging news:

Compared to this time last year, new season-ticket package sales are up about 40 percent and overall ticket sales revenue is up about 60 percent, Waddell estimated on Monday. 

Waddell also said the team’s existing season-ticket member (STM) renewal rate stands at 90.15 percent. Last summer, the team achieved an 87 percent renewal rate but didn’t do so until September, and only about 72 percent renewed the previous summer.

The ‘Canes averaged just 12,203 fans in 2015-16, more than a thousand fewer than the Arizona Coyotes, who finished 29th in attendance. The struggles to fill PNC Arena have only fueled speculation that the Hurricanes could one day be relocated.

Despite the improved ticket sales, Waddell knows the real key to stability will be putting a winning team on the ice. The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs seven years in a row.

“The season-ticket base is really going to grow once we prove to the fence-sitters that we are a playoff-bound team,” he said.

Until then, optimism about the future is what the ‘Canes will have to sell. GM Ron Francis has been building something in Raleigh, but it remains to be seen when the roster will be good enough to actually compete for a Stanley Cup.

Sens GM insists money had nothing to do with Zibanejad-for-Brassard trade

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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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.