Author: Ryan Dadoun

Marcus Johansson

Johansson on brink of big raise, but his role with Caps might decline


Marcus Johansson had his arbitration hearing today and whatever ruling gets handed down by Friday afternoon, it’s likely to be a substantial boost from his 2014-15 salary of roughly $2.2 million, but will he earn his next sum?

That’s open for debate and it doesn’t have as much to do with Johansson as it does with the changing makeup of the Capitals as Chuck Gormley argued for CSN Washington:

With Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky slotted as the Caps’ first- and second-line left wings, and T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams slotted as their first- and second-line right wings, Johansson figures to start the season as a third-line left wing with centers Brooks Laich or Jay Beagle and right wing Tom Wilson.

His power-play time (2:55 per game last season, fourth on the club) could also dip because of the additions of Oshie and Williams.

And yet Johansson did record 20 goals and 47 points last season after finishing with 44 points in his previous campaign, so he could very well get somewhat close to his asking price from the arbitrator. Given that, Gormley wondered if the Capitals might end up walking away from Johansson’s contract. They would have the option of doing so provided that the arbitrator’s assigned salary is more than $3.8 million.

Keep in mind that Washington only has about $5 million worth of cap space to begin with and that’s excluding Justin Peters, who will presumably start the 2014-15 campaign in the minors, so the financial flexibility gained from a walk-away would be noteworthy.

At the same time, ending up with nothing in return for Johansson would be a tough pill to swallow. While a contract in the neighbor of $4 million isn’t ideal for someone playing on the third line, he would still have value to Washington in that role.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Johansson and the Capitals can still agree to terms on their own before the arbitrator’s ruling.

Related: Arbitration looms, but Johansson not worried about future with Caps

Shero: Buying out Zubrus creates flexibility to add forward

Dainius Zubrus

While nothing is imminent, the New Jersey Devils’ decision to buy out Dainius Zubrus has set the table for them to make a trade or free agent signing.

“It really wasn’t about Dainius himself,” Devils GM Ray Shero told The Record. “It was more about the roster spot/flexibility moving forward. … If something comes along and we don’t have a roster spot – not so much the 23-man roster, but up front in terms of let’s say you’re carrying 13 forwards, 14 forwards and you don’t have any spots – then you can’t do anything.”

It certainly wasn’t about freeing up cap space given that Zubrus’ $3.1 million cap hit for 2015-16 will count fully against the team’s books even after the buyout because he was a 35-and-over signing. The Devils are still saving roughly $1 million of this way, but Shero insisted that this wasn’t a financial decision.

There are still teams that are looking to get into a better cap position, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, that Shero might have his eye towards as he clears some room on the team’s roster. There’s also some noteworthy free agent forwards left, including Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Tomas Fleischmann, and Jiri Tlusty.

Failing that it gives the Devils an opportunity to have one of their younger players on the roster as New Jersey looks to show signs of progress offensively after spending three straight seasons in the bottom-five in the NHL in terms of goals per game.

Got $1.5 million? Jim Craig is selling his ‘Miracle on Ice’ gold medal

Jim Craig

Jim Craig is ready to sell his personal collection of 19 items from the “Miracle On Ice” 1980 Olympics, including the gold medal he earned with his work between the pipes for Team USA.

The items will be available for private sale from August 1 to November 1, 2015 and if you want the medal itself, that will cost you $1.5 million. The entire collection comes with an asking price of $5.7 million. The cheaper items on the list are a 1980 Team USA Olympic Winter Coat, 1980 Team USA Pre-Olympic Jacket, and National Sports Festival Warm-Up Suit, which each come with a $5,000 asking price.

Some of the other big ticket items include the American flag Craig wore on his shoulders following the States winning the gold medal and his jersey from the USA-Soviet game ($1 million each).

As NBC Olympic Talk noted, he’s the third player to sell his gold medal from the 1980 men’s tournament. Mark Wells auctioned his off for $310,700 in 2010 while Mark Pavelich got $262,900 last year in an auction.

You can head to for the sale.

Gillette Stadium will host Bruins-Habs alumni game ahead of Winter Classic

2016 Winter Classic Logo

Retired greats from two of the most storied franchises in NHL history will renew their rivalry on Dec. 31 in an outdoor game at Gillette Stadium, the league announced today.

At this time it’s not known who will be included in the contest, but Hall of Famer Ray Bourque is looking forward to the event.

Boston and Montreal have faced off in more than 900 games, including their meetings over 34 postseason series. They’ve also battled against each other in more Game 7s (nine) than any other combination of teams in the NHL, MLB, and NBA.

Boston will become the first franchise to host the Winter Classic twice after playing against the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010. It is also the first time the Montreal Canadiens will be featured in a Winter Classic game and the third time the event will pit two Original Six squads against each other.

Gillette Stadium is home to the New England Patriots and seats 68,756.

“It is a true honor and privilege to host the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, during what has proved to be a busy day for him. “Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, we have been fortunate to host many special and memorable events. We are thrilled that the NHL and the Bruins wanted to bring a Bruins-Canadiens NHL Winter Classic to our stadium.”

The Winter Classic is set for Jan. 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET and will air on NBC.

Wilson requests $4.25M in arbitration, Predators offer $3M

Colin Wilson

Restricted free agent Colin Wilson is going to get a significant raise this summer and soon he’ll know exactly how big it is.

With his arbitration hearing set for Tuesday, Wilson has filed a request for a $4.25 million salary while the Nashville Predators have countered at $3 million, per Elliotte Friedman. He earned $2.5 million last season in the final campaign of a three-year, $6 million contract.

The 25-year-old forward set new career-highs with 20 goals and 42 points in 77 contests in 2014-15. He went on to score another five goals in Nashville’s six-game first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He’s the last of the three Predators RFAs to file for salary arbitration to be dealt with. Nashville traded Taylor Beck to Toronto and inked Craig Smith to a five-year, $21.25 million contract.

Barring another trade or signing in addition to Wilson’s, Nashville will likely enter the season with more than $10 million in cap space, per General Fanager. It does have some significant players eligible to test the restricted free agent waters next summer though, including Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm, and Seth Jones.