Author: Ryan Dadoun

Marcus Johansson

MacLellan doesn’t think summer additions have to take from Johansson

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Marcus Johansson was handed a one-year, $3.75 million contract in arbitration, but there’s been speculation that Washington’s offseason additions might eat into his playing time in 2015-16. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan doesn’t see that as inevitable.

“We just have a deeper top six and you’re going to have to play well and it’ll be hard to keep your job there,” MacLellan told the Washington Post. “He’s going to have to play well from the start.”

At the same time, MacLellan believes that Johansson can maintain a spot on one of Washington’s top two lines and serve on the first power-play unit. The general manager even hinted at Johansson’s role actually expanding as the 24-year-old might help kill penalties.

Washington added Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie over the summer and both of them are expected to serve as top-six forwards along with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. So when everyone is healthy, that will leave just one slot for Johansson or Andre Burakovsky.

Johansson had 20 goals and 47 points in 82 contests last season while averaging 16:28 minutes per contest.

Arbitrator awards Sens’ Hoffman one-year, $2M contract

Mike Hoffman

The Ottawa Senators went two-for-two in arbitration cases this summer.

Senators forward Mike Hoffman requested a salary of $3.4 million from an arbitrator while the Senators countered at $1.75 million. The ruling came down this afternoon largely in favor of Ottawa as Hoffman will earn $2 million in 2015-16, per the team’s Twitter feed.

This comes after forward Alex Chiasson asked for $2.475 million against Ottawa’s $1 million and was ultimately awarded a $1.2 million deal. Chiasson had 11 goals and 26 points in 76 contests last season, down from 35 points in 79 games with Dallas in 2013-14.

Hoffman was coming off of a considerably stronger season offensively though as he scored 27 goals and 48 points in 79 contests. However, the 25-year-old had only participated in 29 NHL contests prior to the 2014-15 campaign, so he still needs to prove that he can maintain or build upon his recently established career-highs.

Ottawa has now settled with all of its restricted free agents, although the stage is set for the Senators to renegotiate with Chiasson and Hoffman again next summer as they’re scheduled to become restricted free agents again. If Hoffman has another strong season and Chiasson is able to bounce back, then Ottawa will be in a considerably more difficult negotiating position.

For now though, the Senators are getting both forwards at close to the price they wanted.

Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

Sam Reinhart

All eyes in Buffalo will be on Jack Eichel during training camp, but it would be a shocking turn of events for him to be left off the team’s opening game roster, so let’s talk about the Sabres other second overall pick because he arguably has a lot more to play for during the preseason.

Reinhart earned that high 2014 selection after scoring 36 goals and 105 points in 60 contests with WHL Kootenay in 2013-14. He managed to secure a roster spot with Buffalo out of training camp, but was given just 10:21 minutes of ice time per game and returned to the juniors after registering one assist in nine NHL contests.

Despite that setback, he went on to record 65 points in 47 WHL contests before heading to AHL Rochester where he registered three assists in three games. On the international stage, he helped guide Canada to a gold medal in the World Juniors by scoring five goals and 11 points in seven contests.

By the time this year’s development camp rolled around, Reinhart looked like a matured player, as Mike Harrington noted for the Buffalo News:

When most of you last saw Reinhart, he looked lost. He was overmatched through his nine NHL games, failing to score a goal, when the Sabres mercifully sent him back to junior hockey. He returned to Kootenay of the Western League needing to work on his skating and, most of all, on his conditioning.

Early returns are very good. Reinhart looks more chiseled. His skating appears eons better, with strong, confident strides and sharp turns. Every step had a purpose. No energy was wasted.

Eichel is the Sabres’ top prospect now and so much of their aspirations rest on his shoulders, but there isn’t a player in this league that can single-handily carry a team. Buffalo needs a core that extends beyond Eichel and Reinhart has the potential to be a vital part of it.

It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Buffalo Sabres.

Since the Sabres’ debut in 1970, Buffalo has finished with a points percentage (points divided by maximum possible points) below .400 just three times and two of those incidences were in 2013-14 (.317) and 2014-15 (.329), so it’s not a stretch to say that their last two seasons have been a statistical low-point for this franchise.

Very little was expected of the Sabres going into the 2014-15 campaign and right from the start they couldn’t subvert expectations. They didn’t even possess a lead in a game until their fourth contest of the season on Oct. 15. They didn’t win a game in regulation time until Oct. 25. At no point during the season did they have own a winning record.

Buffalo did enjoy a stretch from Nov. 15-Dec. 15 where the squad went 10-3-0, but any hope that it would be the part of a march towards the playoffs was quickly dashed as the Sabres fell apart once more. The team only had two winning streaks (each just two games in length) after that point.

Their offense was a particular problem as they didn’t have a single 50-point player and only Tyler Ennis reached the 20-goal mark. Buffalo ended up recording just 1.87 goals per game, making it the second straight season that it was the lone sub-2.00 team.

Off-season recap

And yet there is a sense of optimism in Buffalo and it’s not unjustified.

With the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Buffalo was able to take a potential generational talent in forward Jack Eichel. Combined with their acquisitions of Evander Kane in February and Ryan O’Reilly in June, the Sabres’ offense isn’t looking so anemic anymore.

They also surrendered the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to pry goaltender Robin Lehner from Ottawa. Lehner is coming off of a rough campaign where he posted a 3.02 GAA and .905 save percentage in 25 contests, but he’s still just 24 years old and has a lot of promise.

On the coaching front, Buffalo fired Ted Nolan and replaced him with Dan Bylsma. While how much Nolan should be blamed for the Sabres’ shortcomings last season given the roster they had is debatable, Buffalo is gaining a head coach that has won the Stanley Cup and owns a 252-117-32 regular season record.

Buffalo hasn’t transformed itself into a major contender, but it’s easy to look at what they’ve done and come to the conclusion that they’ve taken a meaningful step forward this summer.

PHT Morning Skate: (Photo) Nieto’s Sharks themed Stormtrooper

Matt Nieto

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.

Matt Nieto has a pretty cool looking Stormtrooper:

Chris Johnston is predicting that Toronto will be getting an extremely motivated Jonathan Bernier. (Sportsnet)

Is getting Marcus Johansson at $3.75 million for the 2015-16 campaign a good deal for the Washington Capitals? (CSN Washington)

While we’re on the subject of the Capitals, is the Johansson signing the last significant move they’ll make this summer? (CSN Washington)

Former University of New Hampshire standout Kevin Goumas has inked an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. (

It’s not too early to start talking about the 2016 draft class, is it? (Last Word on Sports)