If the Columbus Blue Jackets enter the 2015-16 campaign with largely the same defense as last season, it won’t be because they didn’t try to make a big change.
Per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
The Blue Jackets were in on trade talks concerning Dougie Hamilton before Boston sent him to Calgary, and they’ve contacted the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jackets also made a contract offer to free agent Paul Martin before he signed with San Jose.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to keep looking, but it’s worth noting that Columbus is only about $4 million below the ceiling after signing Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert, per General Fanager. That’s not to say that Columbus can’t still acquire a top defenseman, but it’s more likely that it would have to involve the other team either retaining salary or taking a contract in order to make things work.
As things stand, the Blue Jackets have one of the cheapest defenses in the league as their money has instead flowed to their forwards and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s thanks in part to the fact that blueliners David Savard, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton each come with a cap hit of $1.3 million or less, but all of them will be restricted free agents next summer and the raises they might demand has to also be a consideration.
So ultimately Columbus might stick with what it has and hope Murray can stay healthy as the 2012 second overall pick has run into serious injury problems early in his career.
“To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer,” Kekalainen said. “It would make a huge difference for us.”
The Calgary Flames’ eventful summer is no where near its conclusion and the decisions they make in the coming weeks could change the look of this franchise is big ways.
Now that the trade and unrestricted free agent markets have settled down, the Flames can shift their focus to internal roster matters and easily the highlight of them is defenseman Mark Giordano’s contract situation. He’s the captain, a workhorse, and if not for the biceps injury he suffered in February, he would perhaps be the reigning Norris Trophy winner as well.
His impact on this team is substantial and with just a year remaining on his contract, re-signing him this summer was previously listed as the team’s number one priority. But since then a report surfaced that the 31-year-old blueliner was seeking $9 million annually and the Flames acquired 22-year-old Dougie Hamilton and inked him to a six-year, $34.5 million deal.
While a strong addition, it’s intensified the questions about how Calgary will handle its cap situation beyond the 2015-16 campaign. If they re-sign Giordano, would they trade Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million annually) before his contract expires in 2017 to make room? Will it impact their ability to re-sign Jiri Hudler, who has a season left on his contract, in addition to giving Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau the big raises they’re likely going to justifiably demand next summer?
It makes their comparatively smaller, current RFA talks with Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, and Josh Jooris higher stakes as every dollar saved on potential multi-year contracts there is one they’ll still have for the bigger summer on the horizon. All three of them filed for arbitration, but can re-sign before their hearings.
It will also likely impact the Flames decisions when it comes to signing any of the remaining UFAs to multi-year deals.
Or as Flames GM Brad Treliving put it to the Calgary Sun: “You’re constantly monitoring the market, but from a priority standpoint, it’s time to get our house in order with our own people.”
Milan Lucic donned a new jersey Saturday, as he met with the media in L.A.
The Kings acquired Lucic from the Boston Bruins at the NHL Draft late last month. The 27-year-old power forward, coming off an 18-goal season in Boston, is entering the final year of a three-year, $18 million contract, which comes with an annual cap hit of $6 million.
A pending UFA at the end of the 2015-16 season, his contract status and the possibility of an extension was a talking point Saturday, although Lucic maintained his focus was on playing well for the Kings, a team that won the Stanley Cup a year ago but didn’t make the playoffs in 2014-15.
“You don’t want to put the emphasis on that heading into the season,” said Lucic, according to LA Kings Insider.
“You want to put the emphasis on playing well and the team winning, and like I said, that usually takes care of itself if you’re focused on the right things.”
For the first time since his trade to the Kings, Milan Lucic will be in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon to tour the team’s facilities and sort out living arrangements for next season.
Lucic will also have his first formal meeting with the local media.
However, he won’t be signing an extension during his visit.
The 27-year-old has one year remaining on his three-year, $18 million deal, which carries a cap hit of $6 million. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career next summer.
On Friday, Lucic took out an ad in the Boston Globe to thank the Bruins organization and the fans.
Originally a second-round pick of the Bruins (50th overall) in 2006, Lucic appeared in 556 games with Boston scoring 139 goals and 342 points to go along with 772 penalty minutes. He helped the Bruins capture the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup in 2011.
The Pacific Division continued to get tougher on Friday in the wake of Milan Lucic’s arrival in Los Angeles.
The Anaheim Ducks signed Brian McGrattan while the Arizona Coyotes added tough guy John Scott on a one-year deal.
Scott spent the 2014-15 season with the San Jose Sharks scoring career-high three goals and four points to go along with 87 penalty minutes in 38 games. The 32-year-old has a history with Coyotes’ assistant GM Darcy Regier as the two were together in Buffalo.
According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Scott’s deal is a one-way contract worth $575,000.
Arizona also signed Steve Downie to a one-year deal on July 1.
The Canucks added Brandon Prust in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
“L.A. got tougher in bringing in Lucic. Other teams got tougher,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said on Thursday when discussing the Prust acquisition. “I don’t want our younger players getting picked on this year. I want them to go out, be able to play and feel comfortable.
“With (Derek) Dorsett and Prust in the lineup, they’re going to create a safe working environment for our young players.”
Dorsett (17) and Prust (16) were second and third in fighting majors last season, according to Hockeyfights.com. Colorado’s Cody McLeod led the league with 19.
Downie was 14th in fighting majors last season with eight.