Mike Halford

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 31:  Kevin Reich #30 of Team Germany stops a shot by Jesse Puljujarvi #13 of Team Finland in a preliminary round game during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships at the Bell Centre on December 31, 2014 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Team Finland defeated Team Germany 2-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Get to know a draft pick — Jesse Puljujarvi


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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)

Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 203 pounds Shoots: Right

Team: Karpat (Finland)

Country: Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 3 European skater

Kennedy says:

“At the start of the year, Puljujarvi looked like a pretty good No. 2 behind Matthews, but he was somewhat eclipsed by countryman Patrik Laine along the way. It’s a shame, because Puljujarvi is really good.

“He’s a better two-way player than Laine and has just as much competitive fire. He also has size and can also score with abandon, as his MVP performance at the world juniors proved beyond doubt.

“Hampered by a lower-body injury near the end of the season, Puljujarvi gutted it out through the Finnish playoffs and went to the world under-18s, where he helped Finland win another gold medal. He’s ready for the NHL.”

Related: Could the Blue Jackets really trade the third overall pick?

Click here for all the 2016 NHL Draft profiles.

Avs not trading Barrie, says Sakic

Tyson Barrie

The restricted free agent defenseman market sure has shifted over the last couple days.

After Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he’s not looking to trade Jacob Trouba, Colorado GM Joe Sakic has said the same about his d-man, Tyson Barrie.

From the Denver Post:

Barrie, 24, has been one of the league’s better offensive blueliners over the last two years, racking up 53 points last season and 49 this season. He just wrapped a two-year, $5.2 million deal — one that paid $2.6M annually — and figures to be in line for a hefty raise.

How much? Good question. The bar was (presumably) set in Colorado with Erik Johnson‘s seven-year, $42 million deal, one that carries a $6M AAV. Given the assets Barrie brings — right-hand shot, PP specialist, relatively young — he has to be at least eyeballing that figure, especially since he’s reportedly coveted by a number of NHL clubs.

Which is why he’s been the target of trade rumors for a while now.

Another reason for the rumors is Colorado’s history with RFAs, specifically Ryan O'Reilly, and past negotiations with Newport Sports Management, the agency that represents both O’Reilly and Barrie.

The two sides haven’t always seen eye-to-eye.

Two years ago, things got contentious between Colorado and Newport’s Pat Morris, the agent for O’Reilly. The Avs filed for arbitration in the summer of ’14, a case Morris said “we didn’t think we’d have to attend to,” suggesting the team was playing a dangerous game with one of their key young performers.

While the O’Reilly situation ended with a trade to Buffalo, Barrie’s agent — Newport’s Don Meehan — insists it won’t affect current negotiations.

“We just view it as business, that’s all,” Meehan said, per the Denver Post. “We have a professional camaraderie with Joe [Sakic, Colorado’s GM] that is very good. We will have differences of opinion, but that’s fine.

“We want to be fully open and transparent about a process, and we have a good relationship with Joe.”

Now with all this said about Barrie, do keep a couple things in mind. Prior to finalizing that deal with the Sabres, Patrick Roy said he’d be “surprised” if O’Reilly got traded. Sakic, meanwhile, said his goal was to get O’Reilly signed.

Related: Avs reportedly targeting Trouba

Report: Flames have contacted Pens about Fleury trade

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 09:  Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins defends the goal as he had 24 saves in a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on December 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Calgary has long been rumored as a potential landing spot for Marc-Andre Fleury — and now, there are reports that Flames GM Brad Treliving has reached out to discuss the possibility.

From the Sun:

Trading Fleury now is best for everyone involved.

Flames GM Brad Treliving is well aware of the possible fit and, as should be expected from the diligent workhorse, he’s been in contact with [Penguins GM Jim] Rutherford.

The Penguins could use the cap space as they are currently $2.5 million over the $71.4 salary cap, which may very well dip lower, further exacerbating the problem.

In meeting with the media today, Rutherford addressed the situation at hand with Fleury and Matt Murray, the club’s 22-year-old goalie of the future — and, to be honest, the goalie of the present, given he just backstopped the Pens to the Stanley Cup.

“If it wasn’t for Fleury, we wouldn’t have made the playoffs,” Rutherford pointed out, per DKonPittsburghSports.com. “In a perfect world, [head coach Mike Sullivan] and I would like to keep both Matt and Marc-Andre.”

Earlier in the postseason, Rutherford was more demonstrative in his outlook on Fleury, saying the veteran netminder was “absolutely not” done in Pittsburgh.

Now, though, the reality of the situation may be setting in.

While having a high-quality goalie tandem in Pittsburgh next year would be ideal, it would also be expensive. It’s also fair to suggest Calgary might be Rutherford’s best trading partner.

The Flames don’t have a legit NHL starter under contract for next season and, as the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatshek pointed out last month, Fleury — who’s under contract for two more years at $5.75M per — could be the ideal “transitional guy.”

“In a perfect world you’d bring in a young guy who can play for you for a long time and grow and mature with your group, but if that guy isn’t available and if you think [goalie prospect] Jon Gillies can be that guy in a few years down the road, then you just need a transitional guy,” Duhatshek said, per Sportsnet. “The acquisition cost for a guy like Fleury… that might just be taking him off your hands, free the money off the books, and it doesn’t cost you a tangible asset off your roster.”

Each year, Fleury submits a 12-team list of teams where he can’t be dealt.

Gotta wonder if Calgary is on it.

Spaceman returns? Bryzgalov looking to play in the NHL again

Ilya Bryzgalov
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Ilya Bryzgalov isn’t ready for aeronautics quite yet.

The veteran netminder — who infamously said he would’ve been an astronaut had he not played pro hockey — is gunning for an NHL comeback, per the NHLPA.


[Bryzgalov] just returned from a local Philadelphia rink on a Tuesday afternoon where he spent a few hours on the ice stopping pucks with his 10-year-old son, Vladislav, also a goaltender.

As he steps outside to chat – the cell reception inside of his house ‘isn’t great’ – it’s immediately clear Bryzgalov is seeking another shot at playing in the NHL.

“When I told my son I was looking to play in the NHL again, his eyes lit up,” said the 35-year-old, who is currently an unrestricted free agent. “He was so excited. Now he’s older and he understands the game more. It would be great if he could watch me play again, maybe to learn some things that can help him.”

Bryzgalov hasn’t played at all since the ’14-15 campaign, during which he made eight appearances for Anaheim… and went 1-4-1 with a .847 GAA and 4.19 GAA. That poor performance led to the Ducks waiving him and sending him to the AHL, before reversing course by placing Bryzgalov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of his release.

Once his stint with the Ducks was over, Bryzgalov was reportedly mulling retirement.

Best known for his mammoth nine-year, $51 million deal — one the Flyers used a compliance buyout on, just two years after tabling it — Bryzgalov is pretty far removed from his banner campaigns with the Coyotes, when he emerged as one of the league’s top netminders (finishing second in Vezina voting in ’09-10).

His comeback seems like a pretty big longshot.

Flyers will buy out Umberger

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
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R.J. Umberger‘s time in Philadelphia is up.

On Thursday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall confirmed the expected — the club will buy out the final year of Umberger’s five-year, $23 million deal — one that carries a $4.6M average annual cap hit.

This is what the buyout would look like, per Cap Friendly:


The Flyers would rake in short-term gains (saving $3 million in 2016-17) in exchange for eating costs and spreading a $3.1 million cap hit over two seasons ($1.6 million in 2016-17, $1.5 million in 2017-18).

This could be it for the 34-year-old veteran.

Umberger was a bit player in Philly last year, dressing for just 39 games (though he did have decent production, with 11 points). Umberger’s production has been on a steady decline over the last few seasons, and he’s a long ways away from the 20-25 goal, 50-55 point guy he was earlier in his career.

The cap space gained by the Flyers will presumably help them come to terms with RFAs like Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas and Nick Cousins this summer.