Author: Mike Halford

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 26:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Expansion process underway as NHL sends out applications


It’s on, per TSN:

The NHL began distribution of application materials for parties interested in expansion on Monday. They are due back to the league by August 10. The fee to apply for an expansion franchise is seven figures – north of $1 million U.S. – and only a portion is refundable.

On top of that, interested parties must demonstrate the ability to pay an expansion fee north of $500 million, prove the viability of their proposed market and evidence the availability of an arena for the team to call home.

Here’s a quick rundown of some groups believed to be interested…

Las Vegas: Spearheaded by owner Bill Foley and the Maloof family, the Las Vegas Wants Hockey group has already orchestrated a successful ticket drive — reportedly receiving cash deposits for 13,200 season tickets — and has a place to play, with the MGM-AEG arena project to be completed next spring. Vegas is the frontrunner for an expansion franchise.

Quebec City: One day after the NHL confirmed it would begin its formal expansion review process, Quebecor — a Canadian media company based out of Montreal — said it would submit an application for expansion.

More, from the Quebecor release:

Quebecor will be the manager of the Videotron Centre for the next 25 years. The state-of-the-art facility in Québec City, which seats 18,259 for hockey, is set to officially open in September 2015. It was designed to meet NHL standards.

TVA Sports, owned by Quebecor, has been the NHL’s official French-language broadcaster since the beginning of the 2014-15 season under a 12-year agreement.

Quebec City has the building and support, but would further imbalance the Eastern-Western Conference setup. There are also potential issues surrounding ownership (see here) and the unstable Canadian dollar.

Toronto: Graeme Roustan, a venture capitalist and biggest shareholder in the company that owns Bauer and Easton, also threw his hat in the ring one day after the NHL’s announcement. Roustan had previously tried to build an NHL-caliber arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham, as part of his long-standing desire to bring a second NHL team to the GTA.

“I will definitely be making an application on behalf of the [Greater Toronto Area],” Roustan told the Hockey News. “I’ve always believed that a second NHL team in Toronto would flourish and I’ve been preparing since 2010 for this possibility.”


Roustan said he will look at all possibilities in the GTA for an arena, including revisiting the possibility of going to Markham. When asked if that would include the possibility of playing out of the Air Canada Centre, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps as a temporary measure, Roustan said, “We’re going to look at every opportunity to have a franchise in the GTA and if that means a possible temporary location, so be it.”

The NHL has always insisted that the Leafs have no veto on a second Toronto team.

Seattle: Per TSN, the league is expecting to receive “one — if not multiple — applications from prospective groups in the Seattle market.” One group’s already thrown its hat in the ring — the one headed by former Glencore oil trader Ray Bartoszek, who is aiming to build an arena in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila.

The other group tied to Seattle expansion, Chris Hansen’s SoDo neighborhood arena project, still appears to be in limbo regarding the arena’s first tenant. There were talks that construction could get underway with a revised memorandum for an NHL-first team instead of NBA-first but, in May, Hansen said he’d yet to receive a formal offer for an NHL club.

It’s worth noting that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has also received interest from Portland and Milwaukee. Kansas City, a market some thought would make a formal expansion application, is now expected not to.

Caps ink Kuznetsov to two-year, $6 million extension

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers

Coming off an impressive first full season in Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored a new deal.

On Monday, the Caps announced they’d signed Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million extension with an average annual cap hit of $3M. The deal allows the two sides to avoid arbitration — the Caps had until today to file — and comes after the 23-year-old put together a solid rookie campaign, notching 11 goals and 37 points in 80 games to finish ninth among first-year players in scoring.

Kuznetsov, who was an RFA, was carrying a $900,000 cap hit on his old deal.

The move is just the latest from Caps GM Brian McLellan, who’s been a busy man of late. He made a splash in free agency by acquiring former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams, then orchestrated the T.J. Oshie trade shortly thereafter.

Previously, MacLellan suggested that Williams and Kuznetsov would play together on a line next season, along with Andre Burakowsky.

As for what’s up next — the Caps still need to reach new deals with two other RFAs: Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson.

Trade: Oilers add goalie depth, get Nilsson from Chicago

Austria v Sweden - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli continued to bolster his goaltending on Monday, acquiring Anders Nilsson from the Blackhawks in exchange for unsigned prospect Liam Coughlin.

Nilsson, 25, is an interesting entity. Picked 62nd overall by the Isles in 2009, he appeared in 23 games for New York over three seasons before signing with KHL team AK Bars Kazan last summer. A few months later, the Isles traded Nilsson’s rights — he was an RFA upon leaving for Russia — as part of the deal that saw Nick Leddy head to Long Island.

In Russia, Nilsson resurrected his stock by going 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2015 Worlds, splitting time with Jhonas Enroth.

At 6-foot-5, Nilsson cuts an imposing figure in goal and it’ll be curious to see where he lands on the Edmonton depth chart. Chiarelli went out and acquired Cam Talbot from the Rangers at the draft, and already had Ben Scrivens in the fold. One has to think Scrivens could be in direct competition for the No. 2 gig with Nilsson, assuming Talbot enters the season as the Oilers’ starter.

‘Hawks training camp heading back to Notre Dame

The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t about to break with tradition.

On Monday, the club announced it would hold training camp for a third consecutive year at the University of Notre Dame — and for the second time as Stanley Cup champions.

In 2013, Chicago conducted its first camp in South Bend just months after defeating Boston in the Cup Final. Last year, the ‘Hawks returned after losing to Los Angeles in the Western Conference final and, this fall, will head back on the heels of their third championship in six years, having knocked off the Tampa Bay Lightning in mid-June.


All Blackhawks practices will be held at Compton Family Ice Arena, beginning on Friday, Sept. 18, and running through Sunday, Sept. 20. The team will return to Chicago for its annual Training Camp Festival on Monday, Sept. 21.

Compton Family Ice, a $50 millionarena opened on Notre Dame’s campus in 2011, features a pair of rinks with a capacity of 5,000.

Bishop Effect: 6-foot-9 goalie ‘trying to make a name for myself’ at Vancouver’s prospect camp


John McLean, the towering NCAA Division III goalie currently participating at Canucks prospect camp, is trending.

For starters, he’s trending on social media. After this picture surfaced on Twitter last week, websites like TSN’s Bar Down and Yahoo’s Puck Daddy took notice of what could be the tallest individual to ever tend goal professionally — after wrapping a four-year collegiate career at tiny Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, the 6-foot-9 McLean played a few games for Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League this spring, which paved the way for his Canucks camp invite.

And with that invite, McLean became part of another trend.

The Canucks are no doubt intrigued by McLean’s size, especially given the recent movement towards bigger goalies in the NHL — like 6-foot-7 Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, who McLean sees as something of a role model.

“I’ve never really been able to play like an NHL goalie until Ben Bishop came along,” he explained, per TSN 1040. “I’ve just kinda played my own way and used my body to my advantage.

“Just in the last couple of years with Ben Bishop and Scott Darling coming into the picture, I was able to relate to some of the goalies.”

According to the database, four current goalies stand 6-foot-6 or taller: Bishop, Darling, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk, the latter being one of three finalists for this year’s Vezina trophy.

A handful of others, like Pekka Rinne and Darcy Kuemper, are listed at 6-foot-5 — and there could be plenty more skyscrapers on the horizon, according to Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history.

“I don’t know if it’ll be the end of the era [of small goalies], but I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” Bishop said during the Stanley Cup Final. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.

“You look at Darling, he’s 6-6, and that guy can move pretty well. You see bigger guys that can move just as well as the smaller guys, and that’s probably why teams have started going in that direction.”

McLean has a long way to go to match the likes of Bishop and Darling, but the fact he’s at an NHL prospects camp at all is telling. Most goalies with resumes boasting Div. 3 hockey and low-tier professional experience aren’t going to get this kind of chance — but then again, most goalies’ waists aren’t at the crossbar while standing, like McLean’s is.

The 25-year-old knows his time in Vancouver is a huge break for his career, and wants to make the most of it.

“I just use my size to my advantage, and try to play big,” he explained. “I’m just trying to make a name for myself right now, and play where someone wants me.”

Related: Does Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, mark ‘wave of the future’ in net?