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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Jackets lock in Jones with six-year, $32.4 million extension


Columbus took care of business on Wednesday morning, locking in prized RFA blueliner Seth Jones to a big six-year, $32.4 million extension — one that carries at $5.4M average annual cap hit.

“Acquiring Seth Jones was very important to our organization and reaching a long-term agreement with him to remain a Blue Jacket was a priority, so we are extremely excited about having done so today,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release.  “At 21, Seth is just beginning to tap into his potential as a player.

“He has everything you look for in a defenseman and is going to be a very important player and leader on our team for many years.”

The deal, first reported by Sportsnet, will keep Jones in Columbus through 2022, and is similar to the deal another RFA — Nashville’s Filip Forsberg — signed earlier this week. Like Jones, Forsberg inked a six-year extension (albeit for $36 million) and, like Jones, Forsberg signed his coming out of his entry-level deal.

Acquire from the Preds in a midseason trade for Ryan Johansen, Jones is considered one of the brightest young defensive prospects in all of hockey. He scored 20 points in 41 games with the Jackets last season in a noticeably increased role from the one he had in Nashville, and had his minutes jump from 19:39 per night to nearly 25 per under John Tortorella.

In March, Jones was named to the Team North America roster for the World Cup of Hockey.

With today’s deal he gets a pretty nice pay raise, coming off an ELC in which he made $925,000 annually. Jones also becomes the Jackets’ highest-paid blueliner and fourth highest-paid player, behind Sergei Bobrovsky ($7.4M annually), Brandon Saad ($6M), Brandon Dubinsky ($5.8M) and captain Nick Foligno ($5.5M).

With today’s deal, the Blue Jackets also eliminated the offer sheet possibility. There were rumblings a team would make a play for Jones in that fashion, and that concern was heightened yesterday when reports of another RFA defenseman, Jacob Trouba, was rumored to be getting a monster offer sheet from Boston.

Looking ahead, it’s likely Kekalainen will need to do some maneuvering to get his team better positioned under the salary cap. Per General Fanager, the Jackets already have just $42K in cap space left with only 21 players under contract for next season.

Preds prospect Trenin breaks leg while cycling, out four months

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From the Nashville Post:

Yakov Trenin, the Nashville Predators’ top pick in the 2015 NHL draft, will miss this week’s prospects camp and most – or all – of training camp due to a broken leg he sustained during an accident back home in Russia.

According to general manager David Poile, the 19-year-old center was biking with friends when he was forced off the trail and into a tree.

Trenin, 19, was taken 55th overall in his draft year, then proceeded to score 26 goals and 61 points in 57 games last season for QMJHL Gatineau.

Poile said the organization is “really high” on Trenin and noted that, while the plan was likely for him to return to junior this season, the club had anticipated him participating in training camp and perhaps some of the preseason.

With the broken leg, and a recovery period Poile estimated at four months, those plans are pretty much dashed. Trenin is going to Nashville later this summer for the majority of his rehab.

Canucks fined for tampering, though Benning ‘intended no harm with his comments’

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The NHL has come down on Vancouver GM Jim Benning for remarks made during draft weekend in Buffalo.

From the league:

The Vancouver Canucks organization has been fined $50,000 for violating NHL By-Law 15, the National Hockey League announced today.

“Canucks General Manager Jim Benning violated the provisions of NHL By-Law 15 relating to inappropriate public comments by speaking generally to his Club’s potential interest in players under contract to other NHL Clubs,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

“I spoke with Jim and accept his representation that he intended no harm with his comments and that he will handle similar questions from the media differently in the future,” the Deputy Commissioner added.

The League will have no further comment on the matter.

Benning found himself in hot water after admitting the Canucks were interested in a pair of players —  Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, and Habs blueliner P.K. Subban.

“The price would be really high to acquire a player like that,” Benning said of Subban. “We’ve done our due diligence, like we do with all the players who are out there. But it’s a long way from completing a trade like that.”

Those comments irked Montreal GM Marc Bergevin.

“I was not happy and I’m still not happy about that,” Bergevin said, per the Vancouver Sun. “The league is looking into it. He crossed the line. I don’t know where the line was crossed but he definitely crossed the line. It can’t happen.”

Following the NHL’s ruling, the Canucks released the following statement:

Report: Wings have talked to Ducks about Fowler trade

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Earlier, we passed along a report of Detroit’s interest in Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk and St. Louis’ sky-high asking price in return — rookie phenom Dylan Larkin.

In light of that, not surprising to learn the Red Wings have kicked tiers on a seemingly more attainable blueliner.

Per the Free Press, GM Ken Holland “has talked to Anaheim about Cam Fowler in recent weeks.” This shouldn’t come as any huge surprise — Fowler is young (24 years old) and would be a nice injection onto a blueline featuring the likes of Niklas Kronwall (35) Jonathan Ericsson (32) and Mike Green (30).

Coming off a year in which he had 28 points in 69 games, Fowler — a good offensive d-man — is also quite affordable. He has two years left on a five-year, $20 million deal with a $4M average annual cap hit, which Anaheim may be forced to flip away after inking Sami Vatanen and still needing to come to terms with Hampus Lindholm.

In terms of fit, Fowler is a solid power-play presence, something Detroit needs to upgrade. The Red Wings PP was average at best during the regular season and went completely south in the playoffs, going 1-for-25 in an opening-round loss to Tampa Bay.

It’s a big reason why former assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler — who ran the man advantage last season — has been re-assigned to the press box, replaced by ex-Wild bench boss John Torchetti.

Despite erratic year, Stars say Nichushkin still ‘very important player to us’


Dallas did the expected on Tuesday, and made a qualifying offer for RFA forward Valeri Nichushkin.

Now, for the tricky part.

Described as a “very important player to us,” by GM Jim Nill (per the Morning-News), Nichushkin has until July 15 to accept the offer. He could also try and negotiate an extension with the Stars, or he could sign an offer sheet with another club.

With all those options available, it makes for an interesting dynamic.

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin’s had a pretty eventful first three years in the NHL. He played very well as a rookie, scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games, but his sophomore campaign was a nightmare — he missed nearly the entire season with a hip injury and subsequent surgery, and only appeared in eight contests.

Last year, he struggled.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff made him a healthy scratch early in the season, saying Nichushkin needed to “get his head in the right place.” In late March, an interview with with Russian news outlet Sport-Express made waves, as Nichuskin said he didn’t feel head coach Ruff trusted him, or played him enough.

Not long after, Nichuskin’s agent tried to clear the air.

“Val loves it in Dallas,” Mark Gandler told the Morning News. “He’s very happy there.”

In the end, Nichushkin finished with just nine goals and 29 points in 79 regular season contests. He wasn’t much of a factor at all in the playoffs, playing 10 of 13 games while going goalless.

Last month, Nill preached patience with the 21-year-old Russian, saying “there’s still lots of room for growth.”