<span class="vcard">Ryan Dadoun</span>

Gary Bettman

Bettman doesn’t think loonie’s decline will make expansion to Quebec City a problem

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The NHL has made it clear that it will focus exclusively on the expansion bids from Quebec City and Las Vegas as no other groups managed to file an application before the July 20 deadline.

So while nothing is certain, it’s starting to look like Canada will get an eighth team as the Quebec Nordiques might be reborn just as the Winnipeg Jets before them. But does the fact that the Canadian dollar has declined substantially give the NHL pause? A loonie will get you just 76.65 cents American at this point and the concern, at least from the outside looking in, is that the drop might have a significant impact on Canadian franchises if it’s continued, particularly in small markets like Quebec City would be.

“It’s something the process will have us evaluate,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Boston Globe. “We’ll have to see . . . The Canadian dollar, it tends to get overstated. Our system accounts for the Canadian dollar. The Canadian franchises are seven out of 30 and it gets factored into the system.”

Bettman added that the existing Canadian clubs are doing fine and so he doesn’t see a problem raising the number to eight.

He did add though that the NHL might ultimately only add a single team or none at all.

Related: Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions?

DeBoer gave glowing review of Lamoriello to Babcock

Peter DeBoer
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While Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said he was “thrilled” by the hiring of Lou Lamoriello to the general manager post, there was plenty of speculation about how their relationship would work. Will Lamoriello assert control over how Babcock runs the team from above? Babcock is armed with an eight-year, $50 million contract, but what happens if the two don’t see eye-to-eye?

Peter DeBoer, who has the distinction of being the final coach fired by Lamoriello during his tenure with the Devils, doesn’t buy into the idea that Lamoriello will be telling Babcock how to do his job.

“Not once did he ever tell me what style we should be playing,” DeBoer told the Toronto Sun. “Not once did he ever tell me what line combinations we should be using. Not once did he ever tell me who I should be playing in what situations.

“I had heard a lot of the things you are talking about when I first interviewed for the job, but I found Lou to be nothing like that.

“In fact, in my time there, Lou was nothing but positive. All he wanted to do was to make your life easier as a coach. He would ask how he could help, how he could make things better. He could not have been more supportive.

“I have no doubt he and Mike will be on the same page.”

DeBoer told Babcock the same thing when the Toronto bench boss called him on Thursday to get insight on what it will be like to work under Lamoriello. Babcock noted that he got similar reviews from everyone else he reached out to about Lamoriello despite the fact that most of them had been fired by the former Devils president and general manager.

So maybe when Babcock said he was “thrilled” that Lamoriello was joining their ranks, that’s why.

Arbitrator hands Chiasson $1.2M contract

Alex Chiasson
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Typically speaking, players and teams that file for arbitration are able to agree to terms on their own before the deadline, but that wasn’t the case with Alex Chiasson.

Sunday morning an arbitrator decided for both sides what Chiasson will make in 2015-16 and the new contract is valued at $1.2 million, per the team’s website. That’s a victory for Ottawa as it was requesting a salary of $1 million compared to Chiasson’s filing at $2.475 million.

The 24-year-old forward was coming off of his entry-level contract. He had 11 goals, 15 assists, and 67 penalty minutes in 76 contests last season. That’s down from his 35-point rookie campaign in 2013-14.

Chiasson was acquired along with Alexander Guptill, Ludwig Karlsson, Nicholas Paul, and a 2015 second rounder (Mackenzie Blackwood) in the Jason Spezza trade with the Dallas Stars last summer.

Will Carolina fill defensive openings on UFA, trade markets?

Justin Faulk
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The Carolina Hurricanes have just four defensemen signed with at least 100 games worth of NHL experience. That makes their blueline a major question mark going into training camp, but even as we near the end of July, there are still plenty of options out there for teams looking to bolster their defense.

For example, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson are both still available on the open market. There’s also presumably cheaper options out there like Andrej Meszaros and Jan Hejda.

“There’s been some dialogue with some guys, but we’re still sitting and waiting to see where the numbers go,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis told the News & Observer. “The guys we’ve talked about are not in a range we’d be comfortable with yet, so we’re keeping an eye on it. I’m not in a hurry to jump in.”

Francis added that as more arbitration eligible players either get judgments or otherwise sign, more players might be made available. Additionally, Jeff Skinner is still reportedly on the block, so Carolina might end up making a more substantial trade before the summer is done.

All that being said, Francis sees some appeal in maintaining the status quo.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have a spot open going into camp,” Francis said. “It sends a good message to our younger guys.”

With James Wisniewski, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, and Ron Hainsey all presumably locks to make the roster, that would leave 2015 fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy, Danny Biega, Michal Jordan, Rasmus Rissanen, and Haydn Fleury to compete for the final three openings.

Stepan seeks $7.25M in arbitration, Rangers counter at $5.2M

Derek Stepan
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Restricted free agent Derek Stepan might consume all of the New York Rangers’ remaining cap space.

Ahead of Monday’s arbitration hearing, the 25-year-old forward put in a request for a $7.25 million contract while the Rangers are countering at $5.2 million, per Elliotte Friedman.

While that might sound like a big gap, it’s worth remembering that both have likely chosen their positions strategically, leaving potential room for a compromise. We saw an example of that recently when Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby filed an $8 million request versus Washington’s position at $5.1 million. They ended up agreeing to a five-year, $30.5 million deal. In other words, he’ll come with a $6.1 million annual cap hit.

The Rangers have reportedly already shown a willingness to go above their arbitrator filed price on a long-term deal as they are interested in a six-year contract worth $6.5-6.75 million annually, according to the New York Post. Stepan has countered at $7.25-7.5 million annually for at least seven years.

At the same time, that gap does have major significance to the New York Rangers as they currently have roughly $6.9 million in cap space, per General Fanager. So if the two sides settle close to Stepan’s demands then the Rangers will have essentially no wiggle room going into the season and might even need to make another move to get in a more comfortable cap position.

Stepan had 16 goals and 55 points in 68 contests in 2014-15. He’s never recorded more than 57 points in a single season, although he did have 18 goals and 26 assists in the 48-game 2013 campaign.