Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reports Predators GM David Poile met with impending UFA defenseman Ryan Suter on Thursday at Suter’s house in Madison, WI.
“The meetings were very, very good,” Poile said. “They were very positive and very constructive.”
Poile also stated he and Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, would continue to talk on a regular basis leading up to the July 1 free agency deadline. Given how the NHL landscape has shifted recently, these talks are going to be of great importance as it seems things are transpiring for Suter to at least test the free-agent waters.
The Detroit Red Wings — rumored to be one of Suter’s main suitors — have both a No. 1 defenseman spot and $6.2 million available now that captain Nicklas Lidstrom has retired.
Yesterday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted that — based on the current CBA and Hockey Related Revenue — the upcoming salary cap would be $70.3 million, meaning a whole bunch of teams could have spending money to throw at Suter.
Of course, the CBA expires on Sept. 15 and nobody knows for certain where the cap will end up.
It should also be noted that Nashville is one of the teams with surplus cap space. The Preds could have as much as $38 million available, though they do have a number of key RFAs and UFAs in addition to Suter: Shea Weber, Sergei Kostitsyn, Alexander Radulov, Colin Wilson, Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad, Jordin Tootoo, Hal Gill and Anders Lindback.
Remember earlier in the playoffs when Russian players were getting a bad rap? Alexander Radulov was out partying, Alexander Semin had his usual ups and downs, and Ilya Bryzgalov had a rough playoffs.
Through all that negativity and occasional needless potshots at Russian players, Ilya Kovalchuk has prevailed for New Jersey. His 18 points leads everyone in the postseason and after never getting out of the first round in his career before this year, he’s become a force to be reckoned with.
Coach Peter DeBoer tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com says Russians get an unfair knock and the Devils couldn’t have made it this far without him.
“Superstars often get bad raps, especially Russian superstars,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said before the series began. “That couldn’t be further from the case. This guy could be born in Canada or the United States and you wouldn’t know the difference other than his accent.
“He’s here to win. He’s a team-first guy. He’s very unselfish and he’s just a great person. I don’t think that’s common knowledge around the league.”
Kovalchuk’s play in the postseason has shown why he’s one of the best players in the league and why the Devils gave him a monster 15-year contract two summers ago. The whole stigma of Russian players being “enigmatic” is pretty silly to begin with (Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk seem to be OK) but Kovalchuk is helping to make sure this one talking point goes away for a while.
The Canadian Hockey League – which oversees the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – dished out its awards today. Here are some of the highlights:
— Nail Yakupov was selected as the Top Prospect of the Year. If you haven’t heard his name yet, you will soon. Yakupov topped the NHL Central Scouting’s rankings and there’s a good chance that he will be selected first overall. One potential obstacle in his path is the fact that he’s a forward and the holders of the first overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers, are already stocked up on superb young forwards. The Oilers might ultimately decide to draft based on need and select defenseman Ryan Murray.
— Brendan Shinnimin became the first player since Alexander Radulov in 2006 to win both the Top Scorer of the Year and Player of the Year awards. Sidney Crosby also captured both of those awards in 2005. Shinnimin had an incredible 134 points, which is the most from a WHL player since 1998-99. Shinnimin went undrafted, but inked an entry-level deal with the Phoenix Coyotes in March.
— Dougie Hamilton nabbed Defenseman of the Year honors. Hamilton was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. They were using one of the picks they got from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Phil Kessel deal.
— Mikhail Grigorenko was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Like Yakupov, Grigorenko is eligible to be taken in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. It would be a huge surprise if Grigorenko ends up being selected before Yakupov, but both should be top-10 picks.
In an announcement ripe for “wonder how he’ll celebrate?” jokes, Nashville Predators forward Alex Radulov has won the Golden Stick trophy, awarded annually to the KHL ‘s most valuable player.
This is the third straight Golden Stick for Radulov, who also won a “Golden Helmet” prize for being named to the league’s All-Star team. Radulov also won the league’s top scorer trophy, which is actually a Brazilian gold mine.
While it might sound like I’m making fun of Russian hockey and its fascination with metallurgy, I have to admit the league awards are pretty cool. For instance, the KHL gives out a “Sekunda” award (“Split Second” award) for scoring the earliest and latest goals in a game. There’s also the “Best Troika” award given to the highest-scoring forward trio in the league and the “Most Valuable Player” award that, for reasons unexplained, is given to the guy with the best plus-minus.
We thought we were done debating Barry Trotz’s decision to sit Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn in Games 3 and 4, but the talk isn’t going away now that we’re getting details about just how late they were out before Game 2 in Glendale.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber wrote a solid piece looking into the news surrounding some of Russia (and Belarus’) finest players in the postseason and in it we get the details about Radulov and Kostitsyn’s night on the town in Arizona. Farber finds out it wasn’t quite the all-night bender it’s been made out to be (emphasis mine).
Although one team official learned about 30 minutes before Game 2 that Radulov and Kostitsyn had broken the Predators’ midnight curfew, he did not feel that it was the appropriate time to relay the news to coach Barry Trotz or general manager David Poile. Trotz learned of the indiscretion after his postgame press conference, when a reporter pulled him aside and mentioned that media members had spotted the two players out late the night before. When the Predators returned to the team hotel adjacent to Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Trotz checked the security logs: Radulov and Kostitsyn indeed had returned around 1 a.m.
Earlier reports had Radulov and Kostitsyn rolling in much later than that and thus thoroughly justifying Trotz’s punishment for Game 3. Breaking team rules regardless of how badly you break curfew requires some kind of punishment. Oddly enough, this story from Farber jives well with Radulov’s assertion he wasn’t out that late.
The debate Predators fans and other hockey folks might get into now is whether missing curfew by an hour requires a two-game suspension.
Related: Did the media tip off the Predators about Radulov and Kostitsyn partying?