Joe Yerdon

Bettman says Devils’ finances are stable

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While the New Jersey Devils prepare to host the NHL Draft on Sunday, questions about their financial stability continue to come up. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, however, isn’t worried about the team at all.

After yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting wrapped up, Bettman was asked his thoughts on the Devils’ situation and, as Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice shares, he’s actually optimistic about their future.

Contrary to reports last week, Bettman told The Record after today’s Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan that the Devils’ finances are “stable and we remain optimistic about the future of the franchise.”

The Devils have been dealing with these questions for some time now and owner Jeff Vanderbeek has been seeking new partners to help lighten the financial load on him. With the Devils headed into free agency and hoping to re-sign Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, their money worries may come up big.

Daniel Alfredsson to return next season

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Ottawa Senators fans haven’t seen the last of Daniel Alfredsson.

The team captain tells Swedish reporter Marie Lehmann that he’s ready to play next season.

“The playoffs felt great. No back problems,” Alfredsson said. “”I needed a few weeks to see if the necessary urge for summer training and pre-camp was there. And it is.

“The chance to maybe play one more Olympics wasn’t part of my decision to continue but I’d like to, of course.”

Last season, Alfredsson was one of the few key Sens players who avoided terrible injury on his way to scoring 10 goals with 26 points. In Ottawa’s 10 playoff games, Alfie was even bigger with 10 points including four goals.

Next season will be his 18th in the league and now he’ll just need to work out that pesky new contract with the Senators.

Get to know a draft pick — Aleksander Barkov

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Aleksander Barkov (C)

Height: 6’2″  Weight: 205  Shoots: Left

Team: Tappara Tampere (SM-liiga)

Country: Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 European skater

What kind of player is he?

Barkov is the brand of player that makes you feel OK about not landing a Top 3 pick in this year’s draft. At his size, he’s got an NHL build right now and as a center, that makes him a prized player. With Nashville sitting at fourth, if Seth Jones doesn’t fall to them, they’ll likely happily take Barkov off the board.

This past season for Tappara, he had 21 goals and 27 assists and was 9th in the SM-liiga, Finland’s top pro league, in points with 48. He was by far the best player amongst draft prospects in that league and offers the brand of game that could see him start in the NHL immediately next season.

Downside? He had a shoulder issue last season that he says is getting better. That shouldn’t be enough to scare away anyone who might want him.

Quotable:

“He’s been described as NHL ready and I think that would be very accurate. He’s ready to step in and play. The game comes easy to him. He’s got size, he’s got skill and he’s very productive.” — Tony MacDonald, the Carolina Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting (via Chip Alexander).

“Big body, shields puck well, big horse, GREAT in Sundsvall, man among boys, showed he can play with men.”  — Mark Seidel – North American Central Scouting

“He shows a ton of upside as a forward who could walk onto an NHL roster immediately and help a team at the NHL level right away. He has a big upside and whichever team selects Aleksander will be very happy on June 30th.” — Mark Edwards – HockeyProspect.com

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here

Blues’ Shattenkirk ‘on cloud nine’ after signing new deal

It’s been a good couple days for Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He signed a new deal with the team for four years worth $17 million and he couldn’t be happier about that.

“Obviously I’m on cloud nine right now. This is a great opportunity for me,” Shattenkirk said on a team conference call today. “To have the type of commitment that the Blues made and the faith that they have in me to perform and showing it in this way is pretty special.

“We both wanted to get something done and I think there was a deal to be had the whole way through…it’s nice to have this weight off my back and focus on things going forward for the rest of the summer.”

By that he means picking out a sweet place on the beach to relax until training camp starts in September. Well, that’s what I’d do at least.

Next up for Blues GM Doug Armstrong: Getting Shattenkirk’s restricted free agent pal on the blue line, Alex Pietrangelo, locked up to a long-term deal.

After being a Norris Trophy finalist last season and having another strong campaign this season, you can figure he’ll have a lofty deal headed his way. For what it’s worth, Armstrong said they’ll match any offers on their restricted free agents.

Bettman waiting on Glendale, says Coyotes could move

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The NHL Board of Governors meeting wrapped this afternoon with nothing coming from it concerning the state of the Phoenix Coyotes.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with reporters following the meeting and spelled things out rather clearly.

“No board action is required at this point,” Bettman said. “We’re anticipating, or hoping, the Glendale City Council passes the deal with the Renaissance Group. If the council doesn’t approve it… I don’t think the Coyotes will be playing there anymore.”

Bettman set the target date for July 2 for a decision, the same day the City of Glendale is set to vote on their latest proposal.

That proposal is the whopper of one the city presented this afternoon that sees the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment group get $15 million a year from the city to run Jobing.com Arena and a five-year out-clause to leave the city if the losses amount to $50 million or more in that time.

If things fall apart with Glendale, is there time to move the team elsewhere? Bettman is confident there is.

To add to this, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the league has no issues with Key Arena in Seattle if the Coyotes are to move there.

This is it though. The Coyotes saga is going to end one way or another next week.