Kruger hopes for multi-year deal, waiting for ‘Hawks to address cap


The Chicago Blackhawks have already traded Brandon Saad and watched unrestricted free agents Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette walk due to the realities of their salary cap situation, but they aren’t completely out of the woods yet.

They’re still above the cap, per General Fanager, and that’s before re-signing Marcus Kruger or UFA Johnny Oduya. The defenseman has been patiently waiting to see if Chicago can clear the cap space necessary to retain him.

Kruger is in a similar boat. His agent, J.P. Barry, told CSN Chicago that he’s “trying to see if a multi-year contract is possible,” but they might have to wait until Chicago finds a solution to its cap issues before such a deal can be signed.

The upside is that Kruger is a restricted free agent and he decided against filing for salary arbitration, so his situation isn’t urgent, but it needs to be addressed eventually. A team is allowed to exceed the cap by 10% during the summer, but Chicago has to get its house in order before the start of the regular season.

Just keep in mind that the Blackhawks didn’t make the Nick Leddy trade last year until October, so a resolution might not be imminent.

KHL team denies reports that ex-NHLer Nazarov punched out team doctor


The KHL club SKA St. Petersburg is denying reports of an altercation involving its head coach Andrei Nazarov and team doctor Yegor Kozlov.

The Russian website Business Online is reporting that Kozlov was hospitalized with a suspected head injury as a result of the incident.

The fight was also reported by Fontanka. It states (keep in mind this is per Google Translate):

Senior doctor hockey SKA Yegor Kozlov injured as a result of the conflict with the head coach Andrei Nazarov. Presumably fight occurred because of disagreement with the medical personnel policy of the new coach.

As the “Fontanka”, senior physician received injuries have been the subject of increased anxiety members of his family. According to our information, Yegor Kozlov can communicate in fits and starts, as it is difficult to say, but tries to reassure relatives.

Nazarov is a former NHL forward that had 124 points and 1,409 penalty minutes in 571 career games with the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, and Minnesota Wild.

SKA won the Gagarin Cup in 2015 with a team that featured Ilya Kovalchuk.

(h/t to Igor Kleyner and Sports Illustrated)

Blues appear set in the short-term, but difficult decisions loom


Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance last season combined with his solid showing in 2013-14 gave the St. Louis Blues the confidence to sign him to a eight-year, $60 million contract.

With that the Blues are just about set for the 2015-16 campaign. They still need to re-sign restricted free agent Magnus Paajarvi, but that might be the only remaining action we see from them between now and the start of training camp.

That leaves St. Louis near the salary cap, but with a little bit of wiggle room, per General Fanager. The challenge will come next summer when David Backes and Troy Brouwer are set to become unrestricted free agents while Jaden Schwartz will test the restricted free agent market. Schwartz in particular will likely be expecting a big raise from his current $2.35 million cap hit, assuming he has another strong season after his 63-point 2014-15 campaign.

If the Blues intend to keep defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk then they’ll also need to account for the likelihood that he’ll ask for a big raise too once his current four-year, $17 million deal expires in the summer of 2017.

It sets up a scenario where St. Louis might be compelled over the next year or two to trade players they otherwise wouldn’t have to remain cap compliant.

The big X-Factor in this will be how much the ceiling rises, but as we’ve seen this year with the decline of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, big increases in the cap aren’t a given.

Related: Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors

Enforcer Depth: Predators sign Bass; Ducks ink Zolnierczyk


Cody Bass has agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Nashville Predators, per the team’s website.

He can earn $575,000 at the NHL level or $125,000 annually in the minors.

Bass, 28, spent the 2014-15 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs where he recorded six goals, eight assists, and 165 penalty minutes in 61 games. He’s also the veteran of 49 NHL contests between his stints with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile the Anaheim Ducks announced that they have inked Harry Zolnierczyk to a one-year, two-way contract.

Zolnierczyk had 18 goals, 44 points, and 78 penalty minutes in 60 contests. The 27-year-old forward also has nine points and 83 penalty minutes in 59 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Islanders.

Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov


The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Ivan Provorov has agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The financial terms were not released, but Provorov reportedly can earn up to the league’s maximum base salary for an entry-level contract — $925,000 annually — and is eligible for bonuses on top of that, per CSN Philly.

The 18-year-old defenseman was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The fact that the Flyers already locked him up doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s likely to make the team’s opening game roster, but CSN Philly did note that it’s unusual for them to sign their top pick this early.

Provorov already plays a complete game and won’t need time to adjust to North American hockey as he made the move from Russia four years ago. He had 15 goals and 61 points in 60 contests with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings last season.

He’ll be competing for a spot on a crowded blueline as the Flyers already have seven defensemen signed to one-way contracts and that doesn’t include restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto.

Related: Get to know a draft pick — Ivan Provorov