Author: Ryan Dadoun

Jonathan Toews

Toews: With new contracts there’s ‘more pressure than ever’


Expectations are nothing new to Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but even for them next season might be different.

In all likelihood, they will enter the campaign as the top two players from a salary cap perspective thanks to their matching eight-year, $84 million contracts kicking in. That pay raise from their previous five-year, $31.5 million deals combined with a smaller cap increase than expected has squeezed the defending Stanley Cup champions, leading to them parting ways with Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Brandon Saad over the summer.

None of that is to suggest that Kane and Toews aren’t worth top dollar after leading Chicago to three Stanley Cup champions, but they are aware that the expectations thrust upon them will only increase with their salary.

“As soon as the next season starts everyone tends to forget about what happened last year and it’s time to go to work again,” Toews told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve shown we can do that and we know given the fact we just lost … important teammates and the focus is on us and our contract that there is more pressure than ever.”

Kane has thought about it a bit this summer too and realizes that that he will be expected to “live up to that contract.”

The good news from Chicago’s perspective is that the duo has been able to step up in the past under pressure, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that they will be able to rise to the occasion again. That being said, they’ve never single handily won anything for Chicago nor can they do so going forward. A big part of the Blackhawks’ strength has been their superb supporting cast and with some key members of it now gone, the pressure will be on others to step up and fill the void as much as it will be on Kane and Toews to continue to lead the charge.

Report: Blue Jackets have interest in Ehrhoff

Christian Ehrhoff

Will Christian Ehrhoff’s long wait for a new contract end with him joining the Columbus Blue Jackets?

It seems that there have been discussions between the two sides, according the Columbus Dispatch’s sources. It was previously reportedly that Columbus went after Dougie Hamilton, Paul Martin, and Kevin Shattenkirk over the course of the offseason in an attempt to bolster their defense, so Ehrhoff would be the latest in a long line of targets.

The problem at this point is that Columbus is close to the cap after acquiring and signing Brandon Saad. Ehrhoff’s agent has already said that his client is open to another one-year contract after completing his $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2014-15 campaign. If he’s willing to be accommodating from a financial standpoint as well, then the Blue Jackets might be able to fit him in under the ceiling.

It’s possible that this situation will drag on as Ehrhoff might wait to see if other more lucrative options materialize, assuming that there aren’t already such prospects on the table.

Ehrhoff was limited to 49 games in 2014-15 due to injuries and finished with three goals and 14 points.

Schneider suggested 3-on-3 OT goalie stats should be kept separate

Cory Schneider

With the latest rule changes to the structure of overtime, has it become so different from the rest of the game that those 3-on-3 minutes should be kept separate statistically, just like shootouts? New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider argued in favor of such a distinction.

“It’s going to be interesting for the goalies,” Schneider said of the decision to adopt the new overtime format, per ESPN. “I was a passenger during that discussion. I suggested a side category where a goalie’s 3-on-3 stats could be hidden away and not put into your main stats, because it’s going to be tough. There’s so much talent in the NHL and sometimes 5-on-5 opens up, but 3-on-3 is going to open up and fans are really going to love it. It’s going to be up and down the ice. It’s going to be hard for us goalies, so we’re going to have to be really sharp and ready to go.”

Of course, the hope is that 3-on-3 overtime has the impact Schneider is suggesting as that would lead to fewer games being decided by a shootout. It also has the potential to hurt the statistics of goalies for the very same reason.

As far as whether or not that’s reason enough to separate those statistics is open to different opinions. As it is there are a lot of different situations that play out over the course of an NHL game that get lumped together if you only look at the base numbers. In 2014-15, Joe Thornton’s five empty-net goals were worth the same as Tyler Toffoli’s five shorthanded markers as far as overall statistics were concerned, just as 3-on-3 play during regulation time would be counted together with 5-on-5 actions.

That being said, with the rise of analytics fans have the luxury of filtering out certain scenarios if they choose to do so. For example, if you want to attempt to evaluate players on a more consistently level field by only looking at 5-on-5 play, you can do that. So in a way, each person will get to decide for themselves if the new overtime play should be counted alongside everything else.

Sharks RFA Tarasov signs with KHL club

Daniil Tarasov

Daniil Tarasov, 24, got his first taste of NHL action with the San Jose Sharks last season, but he won’t be attempting to get back there in 2015-16. Instead, he’s agreed to terms with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL, per the team’s Twitter feed.

San Jose still hold his North America rights as they presented Tarasov with a qualifying offer, according to CSN Bay Area.

Tarasov was born in Moscow, but the undrafted forward made the move to North America in 2009. He spent three seasons in the United States Hockey League before he began to play within the Sharks’ organization for the 2012-13 campaign. The Sharks eventually signed him to a two-year, entry-level contract in March 2013.

He had 16 goals and 33 points in 54 AHL contests last season. He also made his NHL debut on Feb. 5 and finished with an assist in five games with San Jose.

David Wolf heads back to German League

David Wolf
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David Wolf’s North American experiment has come to an end as he has decided to return to the Hamburg Freezers, according to the team’s announcement on Twitter.

The Calgary Flames signed the big forward to a one-year, $925,000 deal for the 2014-15 campaign after Wolf recorded 14 goals, 26 assists, and 152 penalty minutes in 48 games with the Hamburg Freezers of Germany’s top league.

Wolf’s tough play made it easy to link him with Flames president Brian Burke’s preferences and that belief only grows stronger with the knowledge that Wolf was invited to a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect camp when Burke was the general manager back in 2012.

The undrafted 25-year-old ended up spending most of 2014-15 with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames where he recorded 38 points and 168 penalty minutes in 59 AHL contests. However, he also participated in three regular season games with the Calgary Flames and logged 10:25 minutes in Game 2 of Calgary’s second round series against the Anaheim Ducks.