Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Report: Shattenkirk in discussions with Rangers (Updated)

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One of the biggest prizes from this year’s free agent class is reportedly off the market.

Per NHL Network’s Kevin Weeks, the Rangers have landed puck-moving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk with a four-year deal worth $6.9 million per season, for a grand total of $27.6M.

Update: There are conflicting reports to the above. The New York Post said the deal as outlined is not accurate, while TSN said the report was premature.

Update 2:

Known for his offensive abilities and power play work, Shattenkirk was named to the All-Star Game in 2015 and represented the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He’s certainly would be a big get for the Rangers, and could fill the offensive blueline void created when Keith Yandle departed last summer.

With the removal of Dan Girardi (via buyout) and the uncertain future of Kevin Klein (mulling retirement), the Rangers have dramatically remodeled their blueline this summer, and Shattenkirk would be a signature piece. That said, GM Jeff Gorton also added Anthony DeAngelo from Arizona in the Derek StepanAntti Raanta trade, and re-upped with pending RFA Brendan Smith.

This would also be a homecoming for the 28-year-old. Shattenkirk is a New York native that was rumored to be seeking a move back to where he grew up.

More to follow…

Report: Habs, Alzner agree to five-year deal

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It looks as though Montreal has made a big play in restocking its blueline.

Per former TSN analyst Aaron Ward, the Habs have agreed to a five-year deal with former Caps d-man Karl Alzner, one with “roughly” a $4.5 million cap hit.

Should that estimate prove accurate, it’s a $22.5 million commitment from Montreal.

That this deal came together shouldn’t be a big surprise, as there was interest from both sides. Earlier this week, Alzner said he would welcome signing in Montreal. And from the Habs’ perspective, major holes needed to be filled on the back end following the departures of Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu and Mikhail Sergachev.

It was also pretty clear Alzner was going to score big in free agency.

The last contract he signed in Washington was a club-friendly deal that paid him $11.2 million over four years. That’s a cap hit of just $2.8 million for a guy that plays top-four minutes against tough competition.

This time around, he wanted not just a pay bump, but some long-term security as well.

“I will wait to see my options, but I am only 28 years old and I can tell you that I would like to get a long-term contract,” Alzner told Le Journal de Montréal (translated). “It is always attractive for a player to be able to settle in the same city for a long time. It would be my dream to sign a long-term agreement.”

Though Alzner doesn’t have much offensive upside — he’s never scored more than 21 points in a single season — Alzner is a pretty steady, consistent and durable guy. He hasn’t missed a regular season contest since the 2009-10 campaign, and has averaged 20:12 TOI per night over his career with the Caps.

Report: Marleau has two-year offer from San Jose

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San Jose is pushing to get Patrick Marleau back in the fold.

Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Sharks have extended Marleau a two-year contract offer, one that Marleau and his family are currently mulling over. This comes after an earlier report from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, which claimed San Jose’s initial offer was a one-year extension.

Marleau, 37, has spent his entire 20-year career in the Bay Area, and is coming off a very productive season in which he scored 27 goals — his highest total in three years.

That San Jose is willing to add term to the offer shouldn’t be a major surprise. Though Marleau will be 38 by the start of next season, he’s one of the most durable and healthy players in the league — he hasn’t missed a game in eight years.

The Sharks may also be operating on the idea that if Marleau sticks, so too will Joe Thornton.

More, from NBC Sports California:

Should Marleau return, it makes the return of Joe Thornton more likely, as well. Thornton, also a pending unrestricted free agent, has been receiving interest from across the league but would prefer to stay in San Jose with his longtime teammate.

There’s still no word on what the financial side of things would look like. Marleau’s last contract paid $6.7 million annually and the one prior to that paid $6.9M.

In short order, Botterill remodeled Buffalo’s blueline

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One of the biggest challenges Jason Botterill faced upon becoming Sabres GM was fixing the club’s defense.

He’s been on the job for 50 days now. And he’s certainly faced that challenge head on.

Friday’s acquisition of Marco Scandella — along with former captain Jason Pominville, while sending Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to Minnesota — was his biggest move to date. It gives Buffalo a bonafide top-four guy, one that can log 20 minutes per night and provide a level of cost certainty. Scandella’s smack in the middle of a five-year, $20 million deal with a $4M average annual cap hit, and is locked in through 2020.

But it wasn’t Botterill’s only move.

The first was acquiring KHLer Victor Antipin. The 24-year-old joined the Sabres after a six-year stint with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who he helped capture two Gagarin Cup titles. Botterill was effusive in his praise of Antipin in announcing the signing.

“Victor is a well-rounded defenseman who has played in all situations at the pro level,” he said, per NHL.com. “His mobility and puck-moving skills make him a perfect match for what we’re hoping to build with our defense corps next season.”

Three weeks after the Antipin acquisition, Botterill was at it again. This time, getting Nathan Beaulieu from Montreal in exchange for a third-round pick.

It was a modest price to pay for a guy that, despite his inconsistencies, put up a career year with the Canadiens. The 24-year-old had 28 points in 74 games while averaging 19:29 TOI.

Botterill still has work to do on this front. Beaulieu is a restricted free agent and needs a new contract though, to hear him explain it, that shouldn’t be a difficult one to negotiate. He’s excited about the future in Buffalo, thanks in large part to another of Botterill’s key moves — the hire of Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley as head coach.

“I’ve got a huge opportunity to re-grow my game with a guy who played the game similarly to the way I would like to play it,” Beaulieu said shortly after getting traded.

The Housley hire will, quite obviously, have a major impact on Buffalo’s blueline. He was lauded for his work as an assistant coach in Nashville, where he oversaw a speedy, play-making group highlighted by P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Matthias Ekholm.

Housley won’t have the same level of talent in Buffalo, but he’ll have a better product than what Dan Byslma coached last year. Scandella, Antipin and Beaulieu have been added to a group that included Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe. Prospect Brendan Guhle could also be in the mix, after he finished last year playing for AHL Rochester.

And hey, Botterill might not be done remodeling. Though it sounds like the Sabres are now out on UFA blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, other options remain. Chris Lee, who was Antipin’s defense partner in the KHL, is still looking for a contract.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain. Buffalo needed to fix its defense, and Botterill wasted no time doing it.

Pittsburgh on verge of trading for Bonino replacement

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The Penguins expect to lose Nick Bonino in free agency, so they’re in the process of finding his replacement.

On Friday, Pens GM Jim Rutherford told the Tribune-Review he’s close to completing a deal that would send a third-line center to Pittsburgh.

“There’s been enough conversation here over the last week that something could happen,” Rutherford said.

Pittsburgh won’t try to replace Bonino via free agency. Rutherford said the available 3Cs were too expensive to acquire given the shallow depth of this year’s market, something reflected in Bonino’s current situation. He’s being courted by a number of clubs, and is believed to be one of the most coveted prizes in free agency.

Whoever Rutherford acquires, there will be a fairly large role for him to fill.

Bonino has been one of the NHL’s best third-line centers over the last two years. This season, he racked up 18 goals and 37 points in 80 games, then another seven in 21 playoff games before suffering a season-ending broken leg in the Stanley Cup Final.

A deft passer that can also put pucks in the back of the net, Bonino regularly manned the Pittsburgh power play. But his game isn’t limited to just offensive contributions — last year, he led all Pittsburgh forwards with 99 blocked shots.