Extension talks begin between Bruins, Eriksson (who may be pricey)

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The good news is that Loui Eriksson has finally been the quality forward the Boston Bruins were hoping for when they traded for him in that Tyler Seguin deal.

The bad news for the Bruins is that Eriksson’s pulling off this strong work in the final year of his current contract.

Eriksson and the Bruins have begun early contract extension negotiations, according to reporters including ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and TSN’s Darren Dreger.

If Dreger’s sources are correct, Eriksson’s initial asking price is pretty steep: a five or six-year contract in the neighborhood of $6 million per season (so $30 million or $36 million overall).

Eriksson turns 31 in July, so that term could be risky, and that cap price could make it awfully tough to re-sign Torey Krug (contract expires after this season) and the likes of Brad Marchand (his expires following the 2016-17 campaign).

Granted, opening contract requests are designed to be at the extremes for both sides, so this wouldn’t be the absolute asking price … although Eriksson could likely command a pretty penny in unrestricted free agency.

Actually, that’s another concern for Boston. They may need to figure out if they can re-sign him; if not, they may opt to move him during the trade deadline to avoid losing Eriksson for nothing.

LeBrun discussed as much:

Very preliminary contract discussions have begun between the Bruins and pending unrestricted free agent winger Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old is enjoying a fine season and is second on the Boston Bruins in scoring. But whether or not the Bruins and his agent J.P. Barry find common ground on an extension before the Feb. 29 trade deadline remains to be seen.

Long story short, the Bruins have some big choices to make when it comes to Eriksson.

‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

John Collins

One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

More, from the League:

Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

Eric Staal says he’d like to re-sign with Carolina

Carolina Hurricanes v Florida Panthers
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At 31 years of age, Eric Staal may not be the player he used to be.

But he’s still pretty good. And if Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar re-sign with the Lightning and Kings, respectively, Staal could really make a killing in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Who was the last center with Staal’s credentials to hit the open market? Brad Richards in 2011? It just doesn’t happen very often anymore.

Not that Staal will necessarily hit the market.

“I would like to [re-sign with Carolina],” he said today on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at Noon. “Obviously there’s decisions that need to be made moving forward.”

Indeed there are. And let’s remember that the Hurricanes aren’t the Lightning or the Kings. They’re not trying to remain Stanley Cup contenders. They’re not even close to that right now. Even if Staal does really want to stay, re-signing him may not make the most sense for GM Ron Francis.

Does Staal expect to maintain, or even stay in the neighborhood of, his current $8.25 million cap hit?

How many years does he want?

If the answers are “yes” and “quite a few,” the ‘Canes may be better off trading him at the deadline — or even just letting him walk for nothing — then rebuilding around youngsters like Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, not to mention whoever they get in the upcoming draft, which could be Auston Matthews.

Stars demote Radek Faksa to the AHL

Dmitry Kulikov, Radek Faksa
AP
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The Dallas Stars sent Radek Faksa to the AHL on Sunday, one night after another impressive showing by Dallas.

Granted, the impressive showings haven’t really come from Faksa himself.

In 14 games this season, he’s been limited to a single goal and a single assist. Faksa hasn’t really torn up the AHL, either, so his development hasn’t been particularly rapid.

The good news is that he has plenty of time to grow, as he’s just 21.

It seems like it’s a matter of other Stars players getting healthier.

Report: Burrows to meet with NHL officials about Tootoo exchange

Jordin Tootoo, Alexandre Burrows, Derek Dorsett
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The Vancouver Canucks are in Toronto this weekend to play the Maple Leafs.

While they’re in the neighborhood, forward Alex Burrows will have a little chat with league officials about what happened between him and New Jersey forward Jordin Tootoo, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

On Sunday, Tootoo accused Burrows of making disparaging remarks about Tootoo’s “personal life and family” during the Canucks-Devils game on Newark.

Burrows denied that he “crossed the line,” and was adamant that nothing was said about Tootoo’s Inuit heritage or history of substance abuse.

No word if Burrows could face supplemental discipline in the form of a fine or suspension.

If he is fined, it wouldn’t be the first time.