Ryan Dadoun

Joel Ward

UFA of the Day: Joel Ward

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Joel Ward

When Ward was testing the free agent waters in 2011, he was a 30-year-old late bloomer that had never recorded more than 35 points in a single season. However, after stepping up in the 2011 playoffs with 13 points in 12 contests, Washington decided to take a chance on him by agreeing to a four-year, $12 million deal.

There’s some clear parallels going into the 2015 UFA market as Ward had a modest 34 points in 82 regular season games, but he was also tied for the team-lead with nine playoff points in 14 contests. The big difference now is that he’s 34 (35 in December), so there’s a real possibility that this is his last chance to secure a contract of a significant length.

Ward’s agent, Peter Cooney, has clearly stated that his client’s first choice would be to re-sign with Washington. At the end of the day though, term might be a sticking point as Ward is believed to be seeking at least three years while Washington might prefer two, per CSN Washington.

If he does end up on the open market, his work ethic and ability to chip in as a secondary scorer will draw suitors to him. He will probably be of particular interest to squads looking to contend now given his age and reputation for stepping up in the postseason. Teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars might be among those that express interest in him.

Click here for more UFAs.

PHT Morning Skates: Stars weigh in on offensive decline, possible solutions

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Ovechkin offered their thoughts on why we’ve seen a decline in scoring in the NHL since the cap era’s 2005-06 debut season and what might be done to help bolster the game offensively. (Toronto Sun)

For those interested in what could have been, here’s a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup champion memorabilia that never was. (The Hockey News)

While we’re on the subject of champions, here’s an interactive timeline of how the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks were built. (Puck Junk)

Should Buffalo Sabres fans temper their short-term expectations for Jack Eichel? (Buffalo News)

Tyler Seguin is set to be the 11th hockey player to be included in ESPN’s ‘Body Issue’. (TSN)

Here’s Puck Daddy’s Top 20 UFA list. (Puck Daddy)

Report: Doug Armstrong will be Canada’s GM in 2016 World Cup

Doug Armstrong
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St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong has been selected by Hockey Canada to serve as the nation’s general manager for the upcoming 2016 World Cup, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

He’ll be assisted by Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, and Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Rob Blake.

The upcoming World Cup will feature five other nations — the United States, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and Finland — as well as Team Europe and Team North American Youngstars. Team Europe will feature players outside of the continent’s big four hockey nations while the youngsters squad only include players that are 23 years old and under.

In addition to his lengthy NHL resume, Armstrong has also done extensive work for Canada on the international stage. Most notably, he served as an assistant to Steve Yzerman in Canada’s gold medal-winning Olympic showings in 2010 and 2014.

Canada is expected to make his appointment official on Monday.

Tallon interested in drafting wingers, open to trading No. 11 pick

Dale Tallon
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If the Florida Panthers had finished the 2014-15 campaign near the bottom of the standings again then GM Dale Tallon might simply be taking the best player available. Armed with the No. 11 pick though, he’s more likely to draft based on the team’s needs, per NHL.com.

In Florida’s case, that means Tallon will likely be selecting a winger.

“Our depth chart is deep up the middle,” Tallon said. “And when you look at our future as far as the back end is concerned, it’s terrific. … Right now if you look at our depth chart, speed and scoring are two things that we really would like to have.”

That might leave him with Mikko Rantanen or Timo Meier, depending on how the draft shakes out. Alternatively, the Panthers are interested in trading into the top 10 if an opportunity presents itself. Tallon is even open to trading the pick outright if he can get an established scorer out of the deal.

“I like to think outside the box, so you never know what we’re going to do,” Tallon said. “It’s a fun part of the job, draft day, the things that can and will go on that you might not have control over. But I like to think outside the box and I like to take some risk, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

The draft will be in the Panthers’ BB&T Center and while Tallon says that doesn’t change anything as far as what he does, there’s always particular interest in the host team’s actions.

What noteworthy players might get moved at the draft?

Phil Kessel
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June 26th is the day that Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will finally be drafted, but that’s not all that will happen. Each year there are typically some major trades made just before or during the draft. In that spirit, here are some of the popular candidates to be moved this time around:

Phil Kessel — Toronto is looking to go in a new direction and it seems likely that will involve Kessel finding a new home. The big question though is if Toronto can get what it would consider fair value for him. Toronto is reportedly willing to take on a contract to make his $8 million cap hit through 2021-22 more palatable, but it would still be difficult for many contending teams to take him on. At the same time, Kessel has five 30-plus goal seasons under his belt and has reached the 80-point mark on two occasions. He doesn’t have much playoff experience, but he has scored 13 goals and 21 points in 23 postseason games.

Patrick Sharp — Chicago has had to part ways with a lot of talented players over the last several years in order to stay under the cap. The Blackhawks once again have cap issues after winning its third Stanley Cup in six years. They might be able to address it without moving Sharp, but he’ll be 34 years old in December and he has two more years with a $5.9 million cap hit, so now might be the time to move him from a value perspective. Speaking of which:

It would be surprising to see Chicago get that, but this might also be a case of the Blackhawks starting the bidding high so they have something to work down from.

Cam Talbot — In two seasons with the Rangers, Talbot has a 2.00 GAA and .931 save percentage in 51 games. That’s made him the ideal understudy, but it also means that the Rangers aren’t likely to retain his services when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016. With that in mind, it would make sense for New York to move him now, especially seeing as there’s reportedly considerable interest in him. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted, Talbot isn’t eligible to sign an extension until Jan. 1, 2016, which means any team acquiring him will have an increased risk of watching him walk as a free agent. That might hurt the Rangers’ return a bit.

Kyle Okposo — He is a recent addition to the rumor mill as Newsday’s sources said that he could be on the trading block. Okposo only has a year left on his contract and while he currently comes with an affordable $2.8 million cap hit, he’s due for a big raise after recording 120 points in 131 games over the last two seasons. Still the Islanders have cap space to spare and they’re only now emerging as serious contenders, so it would be surprising to see them turn around and trade Okposo this summer. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player moved to catch people off guard though.

Craig Anderson/Robin Lehner — When the Ottawa Senators decided to sign Andrew Hammond to a three-year extension, it all-but guaranteed that they would move a goaltender this summer. The only question is which one. Lehner is just 23 years old (24 in July) and is locked in for two more years at roughly $2.2 million. That would be a pretty good deal if he lived up to his potential, but he’s had a rough couple of years. Anderson was the better netminder in 2014-15, but the fact that he’s 34 years old and still has three years left on his contract at $4.2 million per might give other general managers pause.

This shouldn’t be taken as a complete list, just a sampling of some of the more interesting cases.