Author: Joe Yerdon

Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler

Winnipeg is close to the cap and they’re OK with that


If you take a look over at, you’ll see a team near the top of the payroll list that we’re not accustomed to seeing there.

The Winnipeg Jets’ payroll this season is currently just over $62 million putting them just $2 million off the cap. After signing Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, and Zach Bogosian to long-term lucrative extensions, cap space is tight and the team executives are just fine with that

As Jets co-owner Mark Chipman tells Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, they’re comfortable spending that much to try and ice a winner.

“As you probably know, we’ve got one of the largest number of multi-year agreements in the league,” he said. “We’ve had plenty of time to consider this and we’ve had a plan established for some time and we’re merely following it.”

The Jets have 11 players signed to multi-year deals through 2015-16. The team also has its season tickets sold out and a waiting list to get them a mile long to help keep bringing in cash.

With that kind of setup it would’ve been more surprising to see the Jets not cough up money to keep players who’ve done well for them.

CBC’s exclusive window to extend NHL deal closing


The cost to get rights to broadcast the NHL in Canada may wind up being too costly for Canada’s national broadcaster.

CBC, the home of Hockey Night in Canada, has an exclusive window to negotiate a new deal to carry the NHL that ends in August. As Steve Ladurantaye of The Globe And Mail shares, time is running out, money is tight, and TSN is eager to pounce on the rights.

But the league must step lightly – both broadcasters have reasons to let the NHL pass them by. “This isn’t a slam dunk for the NHL by any means,” one broadcast executive said. “It’s not as straightforward as someone might think.”

CBC has had Saturday night hockey since 1953 and the current deal expires after this season. Ladurantaye says CBC could lose as much as $175 million if they lose out on the TV package. Hockey broadcasts are also a big money winner for CBC to help them produce other shows.

It would be hard to imagine not seeing Hockey Night in Canada on CBC anymore. If the cost is too high, Don Cherry and his wild suits and opinions might wind up elsewhere.

Calgary’s Baertschi looking to make the leap

Chris Tanev, Sven Baertschi
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Calgary’s Sven Baertschi knows he’s got high expectations to become their next big-time scorer. He also knows now there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it.

John Kreiser at hears it from the young Swiss forward about what he learned from a rocky first season in the NHL and how he hopes to make the leap this year.

“I learned that you’ve got to earn it,” he said. “They’re not going to give you everything, or anything, just because you’re a first-round pick. No one cares. They’re too busy. There’s too much at stake.

“But I know I belong here. I think it helps that I finished the season strong.”

Last season saw Baertschi play in just 20 games for the Flames scoring just three goals with seven assists. He found himself in the AHL with Abbotsford for a spell after being sent down. There he had 10 goals and 26 points in 32 games.

If he can “earn it” and reach his potential the Flames will have that offensive threat to replace Jarome Iginla.

Messier concerned over drop in Canadian kids playing hockey

Mark Messier

A poll taken last winter in Canada determined that fewer kids are getting into hockey. While Canada prides itself on the sport, the drop in participation is taking many by surprise including Mark Messier.

Messier tells The Canadian Press he’s stunned by the results and wants to help improve things as best as he can.

“I think it comes to a shock to everybody,” he said. “We like to consider ourselves at the top of the pyramid in hockey around the world and if we’re going to stay there . . . we have to continue to develop our talent pool.”

Messier wants to do this by introducing more kids to the sport and help keep them interested it as they grow up. Of course, hockey is one of the more expensive sports to play as equipment isn’t cheap so more kids are getting into sports like basketball and soccer.

This development probably doesn’t do much to calm Canadian nerves when it comes to the World Junior Championships either as Canada hasn’t won gold there since 2009.

Buffalo’s Miller-Vanek conundrum

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have been Sabres their entire career and both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both players have been stars in Buffalo but now head into this season with a lot of uncertainty.

Buffalo appears ready to move ahead in goal with Jhonas Enroth and Matt Hackett (acquired in the Jason Pominville trade). With Miller on the brink of free agency, some thought GM Darcy Regier would deal Miller to a team in need of a starting goalie.

Instead, Regier played it close to the vest and held onto Miller, making the situation in goal a bit crowded.

Enroth showed during World Championships in May he may be ready to see more starts and even challenge for the starting job. With Hackett waiting in the wings, it would seem Miller’s future in Buffalo isn’t long. That doesn’t play out well to make a solid trade.

Vanek, meanwhile, is a player the Sabres love. If he had a long-term deal he’d be a candidate to be the new team captain. Instead, his current deal and fat salary cap hit made him nearly impossible to deal this summer and puts him in a position he’s not exactly comfortable with.

Regier and Pegula might want to extend Vanek, but he’d likely be the top free agent available this summer and could fetch a huge return at the trade deadline. For a team that’s hoping to win their first Stanley Cup, this isn’t the kind of talk that comes off as encouraging.

It might take the Sabres pushing for a playoff spot in the new Atlantic Division to keep Vanek interested in staying but that could also hurt their ability to deal Miller during the season if need be. Being between a rock and a hard place like this isn’t enviable to anyone, least of all Darcy Regier.