The Ottawa Senators got almost exactly what they wanted from Mike Hoffman’s arbitration ruling — and it could cost them.
Hoffman will earn $2 million next season, which is significantly less than what you would expect a player to make after scoring 27 goals and 48 points. But there’s a difference between Hoffman and Marcus Johansson, who had 47 points last season and was awarded nearly twice as much in arbitration: The sample size.
Hoffman only had 29 games worth of NHL experience going into the 2014-15 campaign so whether or not he can maintain or build upon his 48-point campaign is in question. Of course, the same could be said for Stone, who had 64 points in his first full NHL campaign and received a three-year, $10.5 million deal from Ottawa, but Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion feels there are some noteworthy differences between the two young forwards.
“Mike’s road to the NHL has been a bit longer than Mark Stone,” Dorion told the Ottawa Citizen. “Stone was one of our best players in the second half last year and his play never tailed off. Mike’s play tailed off a bit in the second half (two goals in the last 16 games) and we want to see if Mike can do it again … we have a lot of confidence and faith Mike can do that next year.”
If Hoffman does do it again though, then the sample size arguments will weaken. At that point he’ll be in line for a considerable raise and a mid or long-term deal would likely come with a higher price tag than it would have been this summer.
The Canucks believe recently acquired Brandon Sutter is a “foundation piece” and now they’ve ensured that he’ll be spending his prime years with the team.
Vancouver announced that Sutter has agreed to a five-year, $21.875 million contract extension. He still has a season remaining on his two-year, $6.6 million deal, so Sutter is now under Vancouver’s control through 2020-21.
Sutter, 26, is a two-way center that scored 21 goals and 33 points in 80 contests with Pittsburgh last season while playing primarily on the Penguins’ third line. He has 98 goals and 185 points in 495 career games.
The Canucks acquired him on July 28 along with a third-round draft pick in exchange for forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a second-round pick.
In Vancouver, Sutter is projected to play on the second line so that 20-year-old Bo Horvat is facing less pressure.
Daniel Negreanu has made a fortune playing Poker and he plans to put some of that money towards buying a portion of Bill Foley’s Las Vegas NHL franchise.
Of course, that franchise doesn’t exist yet and while the league plans to focus exclusively on bids from Foley and Quebecor (Quebec City), there’s no guarantee that the NHL will expand at all in the near future. Still, Negreanu would put the odds of Las Vegas being granted a team — which he thinks should be called the Rat Pack — at 99.9%.
“I just don’t see it not happening,” he told the Toronto Sun. “We have a solid owner, an arena (nearing completion on the Strip with 17,500 seats for hockey) and we sold 13,000 season tickets.
“Vegas has 2.2 million people. It’s a sports town. We’ve been starving for a professional franchise of any kind for many years.”
Negreanu added that in addition to owning a stake in the franchise, he has interest in having a hockey talk show.
If Las Vegas gets a team, it’s possible that will begin play as early as 2016-17.
Related: Quebecor seeks partners in Quebec City bid
The Dallas Stars already had a dynamic one-two punch in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin when they added Jason Spezza last summer. Having that trio leading the charge offensively created a lot of hype about the team going into the 2014-15 campaign and listening to Seguin, it sounds like they bought into it to their detriment.
“We felt we had all these top players, all this firepower that could score a ton of goals. Automatically in training camp we were scoring a ton, but we weren’t focusing on defense,” Seguin told Sportsnet.
“That’s not the on the coaches or GMs at all. That was all on us. We felt we could outscore every team.”
In their first eight games, the Stars had scored a remarkable 28 goals and yet they were still a so-so 4-2-2 because they had surrendered as many markers. Then their offense trailed off briefly and it became apparent they weren’t ready to win low scoring games. Through Dec. 31, the Stars had a 17-14-5 record, but had only won three times when scoring two or fewer goals. By that point they were ninth in goals scored (106) and the fourth worst team in goals allowed (117).
“We were scoring a lot but not winning games because we can’t play defense,” Seguin said. “Last year, our start was terrible. I don’t think we had the right attitude in training camp, and I think that’s going to be a huge stressing point [this] September.”
Dallas has once again had an active summer, adding forward Patrick Sharp, defensemen Johnny Oduya and Stephen Johns, and goaltender Antti Niemi. This is a team with plenty of potential, but they also have a lot to prove.
Detroit has a reputation for letting its players over ripen in the minors before allowing them to crack the team’s roster, but how much of that is philosophy and how much of it is necessity?
As a consequence of making the playoffs every year and often trading the first-round pick, the reality is that the Red Wings have to draft projects rather than players that are close to being NHL-ready. They nearly missed the postseason in 2013-14 though and on top of that the New Jersey Devils were forced to drop to the 30th spot as punishment for their original attempt to sign Ilya Kovalchuk, which led to the Red Wings possessing the 15th overall selection — their highest since 1991.
The Red Wings took Dylan Larkin with that pick, a skilled forward and a potential fan favorite thanks to his Michigan roots. He attended the University of Michigan in 2014-15 as a freshman and recorded 15 goals and 47 points in 35 contests. Afterwards, he joined the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins for their playoff run, scoring three goals and five points in six games.
“Dylan did a real good job when he stepped in for us in the AHL playoffs,” then Griffins and current Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said, per NHL.com. “To step in and have the impact he had, he didn’t look good as a young player. He was good.
“How close is he? He’s certainly close. What does that mean come camp? We’ll see. Everybody takes different journeys to the get to the NHL. How quickly those journeys are depends on the player and the work they put in this summer.”
That being said, Red Wings GM Ken Holland is predicting that it will be tough for Larkin to make the opening game roster. Part of that is due to Detroit’s logjam up front as it already has 16 forwards signed to one-way contracts. Given that, it will be tough for any rookie to make the team.
Still, if one can break through, it would likely be Larkin.