Tag: Cedric Paquette

Steven Stamkos

Stamkos extension ‘No. 1 priority’ this offseason, says Yzerman


Less than 48 hours after losing the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman was already back at work.

During Wednesday’s end-of-year media availability, Yzerman told reporters he’d identified his top offseason priority — signing captain Steve Stamkos to an extension, which can be done by July 1 at the earliest.

The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given the Lightning don’t have many free agents to deal with. But it is the official start of what promises to be an intriguing negotiation.

Stamkos is heading into the last of a five-year, $37.5 million deal with a $7.5M average annual cap hit. Given he’s one of the NHL’s elite snipers and only turned 25 in February, it’s assumed he’s in line for a raise, with some suggesting he’ll be in conversation to become NHL’s next $10M cap hit, joining Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (their extensions kick in next season.)

But is Yzerman ready to commit that much money to one player?

If this postseason showed anything, it’s that Tampa has a slew of talented youngsters on the verge of becoming stars. Chief among them was Tyler Johnson, the leading playoff scorer — and while both he and Ondrej Palat are locked in through 2017 at $3.3M per, they’ll almost certainly be getting raises on their next deals.

And they’re not alone.

Nikita Kucherov, a bargain at $711,666 annually, is a RFA after next year. So too are Alex Killorn ($2,5M), Cedric Paquette ($633,333) and J.T. Brown ($950,000). Once Victor Hedman’s $4-million-per-season deal is up, he’ll almost certainly top Matthew Carle ($5.5M annually) as the team’s highest-paid defenseman.

Oh yeah, almost forgot — when Hedman’s deal is up in two year’s time, so too is Ben Bishop’s.

Any potential cap crunch could, of course, be mitigated by how badly Stamkos wants to stay in Tampa. It’s clear the team has the foundation to contend for years to come, meaning his decision could come down to the age-old question:

What’s more important, winning or money?

Do consider what Stamkos said today.

“This was one of, if not the best teams I’ve played on,” he said. “Not just skill wise, but how we got along.

“This was the most fun I’ve ever had playing the game.”

No doubt about it: Duncan Keith wins the Conn Smythe Trophy

Duncan Keith, Ben Bishop

CHICAGO — No debate necessary. Duncan Keith has been awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2015 NHL playoffs.

Keith scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal Monday at the United Center, capping a spectacular postseason run for the 31-year-old defenseman, who finished the playoffs with three goals and 18 assists.

Keith’s 21 points were by far the most of any defenseman, seven more than Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.

But it was the time he logged on a depleted Blackhawks blue line that drew the most acclaim. In 23 games, he never played less than 24:05. In total, he spent over 700 minutes on the ice, almost 100 more minutes than second-place Hedman, who played in three more games.

Keith’s goal tonight perfectly illustrated his offensive abilities. Jumping into the rush as he does so effectively, he took a perfect pass from Patrick Kane at the Lightning blue line, wristed a shot that was saved but not controlled by Ben Bishop, then swooped around Cedric Paquette to snap the rebound high past the sprawled Lightning goalie.

A defenseman has received the Conn Smythe Trophy on just 10 occasions since it was first awarded in 1965. Keith is the first defenseman to be recognized since Scott Niedermayer was for the Ducks in 2007.

Timonen to make series debut tonight for ‘Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

CHICAGO — Kimmo Timonen will play for the Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“He gives us some predictability,” head coach Joel Quennville said of Timonen on Wednesday, confirming the veteran d-man would play tonight. “I think his coverage in the D zone, strength in the puck area. He’s smart, experienced.

“I think he did a good job for us throughout the playoffs. Gives him a chance to get in here in an good moment, a big moment. His reads and his position awareness and coverage in his own end will help him.”

So we know Timonen’s in, but the rest is uncertain. There’s been no firm update on the health of Johnny Oduya, who was injured during Game 3 and played just 9:10 over the final two periods.

If Oduya plays (and per Quenneville, it sounds like he will), it’s probable that Kyle Cumiskey — who, like Timonen, is a left-handed shot — will be the odd man out on defense. Cumiskey took some serious heat for losing Cedric Paquette on the game-deciding goal in Game 3, and finished with just 7:38 TOI.

Should things play out this way, Trevor van Riemsdyk would stay in on defense over David Rundblad for the second straight game.

As for the 40-year-old Timonen, he’s set to make his series debut and will play for the first time since Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Ducks — which was 16 days ago. That contest, a 5-4 Anaheim win in overtime, was one of Timonen’s roughest outings in what’s been a forgettable playoff; the veteran Finn was minus-2 in just 8:06 of ice time, and received just three shifts in the third period and OT.

“Coaches make the decisions, they put the best lineup on the ice and that’s it,” Timonen explained. “I’m just the one piece of the team here.

“I decided I’m going to work hard at the practice and stay positive and make sure if that chance comes I’m ready to go, and it looks like it’s here.