Florida Panthers

No parka needed: Players ponder possible NHL team in Vegas

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The drive to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas one way or another has been a big story for some time, yet it only makes sense that the subject is cropping up when much of the hockey world is fighting off sunburns and/or hangovers in Sin City as we speak.

While the process – which would likely come via expansion – is creeping along slowly, players seem intrigued by the idea … and maybe a little frightened.

For one thing, Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd pointed to the obvious weather advantages, as the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno reports.

“You talk to any human, whether they play hockey or not, they’d rather go to work in shorts and a T-shirt than a parka,” Ladd said.

(One almost wonders if Jets fans collectively cringed at that commentary, although at least he was discussing parkas and not parks.)

The Las Vegas Review-Journal collected a few players’ thoughts on the matter (from Carey Price praising a “glamour city” to Jonathan Toews’ typically serious approach), including Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad discussing the rather obvious about temptations.

“I think there are a lot of places where you can get in trouble,” Ekblad said. “We’re professionals. I think we can learn to adapt to working and living in a place like Las Vegas.”

Honestly, Ekblad’s teammate Roberto Luongo probably said it best, though:

Even if Vegas does get a team, it will take a while. It sounds like quite a few players would be more than fine – though a little apprehensive – about such a concept.

Sens inquired about Coyotes’ third overall selection

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With the NHL Draft just days away now trade talk between teams is picking up.

Arizona Coyotes’ GM Don Maloney holds the third overall pick at Friday’s draft and hasn’t closed the door on dealing the selection for the right price.

Bryan Murray told reporters in Vegas on Tuesday that he had conversations with Maloney about the pick.

“I always ask the question, but I don’t think that pick in particular is in play at this point for us,” Murray said. “I think where we’re picking back at 18, that would be hard for him to move that far no matter what price I paid, but we have to ask the question anyway.”

Murray is currently in the process of trying to unload either Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner. The Sens’ general manager said Lehner is getting the most attention at this point.

“People look at the price and maybe look at other things, but Robin Lehner is a hell of a goaltender,” said Murray. “He’s going to perform given a chance, whether it be him getting the chance right away either with us or another team, he’s going to be a good goaltender.”

Lehner is considered to be more attractive than Anderson based on cap hit. The 23-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $2.225 million while Anderson has three years remaining at a cap it of $4.2 million.

“There’s going to be a couple moves. I think there’s three goaltenders really in play at the moment and there are a couple teams that are looking so what will happen based on that, I don’t know,” Murray said. “I think we should be the first choice.

“I think we’ve got the best guy. That’s my feeling and I’m very strong about that, but maybe not everybody looks at it that way.”

Zibanejad & Stone update

Murray met with Craig Oster the agent for restricted free agents Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone on Tuesday in Vegas.

“We’ve made proposals once again and waiting on a reply I think they were going to talk to the players and see what happens,” said Murray.

Murray joked about Sens’ captain Erik Karlsson signing his seven-year, $45.5 million extension the night before the NHL Awards in Vegas back in June 2012 and the luck it brought him on awards night (he won the Norris Trophy).

“Well if Mark Stone is smart, he signs and he might win the award cause that’s what happened with Erik,” Murray said. “Maybe that’ll be the case.”

Stone is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the league’s top rookie along with Aaron Ekblad and Johnny Gaudreau.

Arbitration for Hoffman & Chiasson

While Murray is making progress with Zibanejad and Stone, the same can’t be said for restricted free agents Mike Hoffman and Alex Chiasson.

“We talk to them all the time, but they’re arbitration guys that, at the moment, want to go that direction,” Murray said. “If we’re not going to negotiate, then we have to prepare for that.”

Oddsmaker: Carey Price heavy favorite to win Hart Trophy

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The NHL Awards will be handed out on Wednesday and online bookmaker Bovada is predicting that it will be a very good night for goaltender Carey Price. They put the odds of him winning the Vezina Trophy at a staggering 1/100, which is actually to be expected given that he’s widely regarded as a lock to claim that award.

What is more noteworthy though is the 1/20 odds they’re giving to anyone that wants to pick Price as the Hart Trophy winner. Alex Ovechkin has 5/1 odds while John Tavares is at 10/1. Price was certainly regarded as a serious candidate for that award, but the clear favorite? As good as his season was, the league’s MVP award typically doesn’t go to a netminder, although it wouldn’t be surprising if Price proves to be one of the exceptions.

Keeping with the theme, Carey Price was also given the best odds to win the Ted Lindsay Award (2/7) over Ovechkin (5/2) and Jamie Benn (6/1).

Erik Karlsson is also favored to win his second Norris Trophy over P K Subban and Drew Doughty. Meanwhile Johnny Gaudreau is projected to win the Calder Trophy while Bob Hartley is the favorite for the Jack Adams Award.

You can see the complete list below:

Odds to win the 2015 Hart Memorial Trophy
Carey Price (MON) 1/20
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) 5/1
John Tavares (NYI) 10/1

Odds to win the 2015 Vezina Trophy
Carey Price (MON) 1/100
Pekka Rinne (NAS) 13/2
Devan Dubnyk (MIN) 11/1

Odds to win the 2015 James Norris Memorial Trophy
Erik Karlsson (OTT) 1/4
P K Subban (MON) 11/4
Drew Doughty (LA) 6/1

Odds to win the 2015 Calder Memorial Trophy
Johnny Gaudreau (CAL) 1/2
Aaron Ekblad (FLA) 7/4
Mark Stone (OTT) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Anze Kopitar (LA) 5/11
Pavel Datsyuk (DET) 12/5
Jiri Hudler (CAL) 4/1

Odds to win the 2015 Frank J. Selke Trophy
Patrice Bergeron (BOS) 2/9
Jonathan Toews (CHI) 7/2
Anze Kopitar (LA) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Jack Adams Award
Bob Hartley (CAL) 2/11
Alain Vigneault (NYR) 4/1
Peter Laviolette (NSH) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Ted Lindsay Award
Carey Price (MON) 2/7
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) 5/2
Jamie Benn (DAL) 6/1

Benning: Canucks waiting ‘for the domino effect’ in goalie market

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In 2013, the Vancouver Canucks, then under former general manager Mike Gillis, had goalies Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo and decided to send the former to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick.

In 2015, Jim Benning, entering his second year as the Canucks’ GM, is facing a similar decision in the goaltending department with the first round of the NHL Draft now just six days away. It’s not a Schneider-Luongo situation, but with Vancouver needing draft picks, and three goalies with varying degrees of NHL experience and success in Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, a decision looms.

The Canucks select 23rd overall, but as of right now, they don’t have another pick until the fourth round in what is considered to be a deep draft.

Benning made it known immediately after the trade deadline that he’d like to recoup picks for the draft.

Markstrom, who was the backbone for the Utica Comets in their run to the AHL championship series, is a pending restricted free agent. Lack has one year remaining on his current deal, which is cap-friendly at $1.15 million.

Ben Kuzma of The Province reported this week that Benning has taken trade calls from other teams on both Markstrom and Lack.

Any potential move the Canucks make at this position might be dependent on what, if anything, happens with New York goalie Cam Talbot. Previous reports had as many as six teams having “some interest” in Talbot.

“There’s good depth in the second round and I’d like to have a second-round pick but it’s a balancing act for us,” Benning told The Province newspaper in Vancouver.

“It might not be a pick but a way of making our team better — we’re looking at all options. But I think I’ll be able to figure something out on that (draft pick) because when one goalie goes, they’re going to move on to the next guy. We’re waiting for the domino effect.”

Related: Canucks might move a goalie, but it won’t be Ryan Miller

Panthers cutting ties with Kopecky, Upshall

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Two members of Florida’s big 2011 free agent haul are on their way out of town.

Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall — both primed to become UFAs on July 1 — won’t be offered contract extensions, Panthers GM Dale Tallon announced on Thursday.

Kopecky, 33, had a disappointing campaign in ’14-15, scoring just two goals in 64 games while routinely sitting as a healthy scratch. Upshall, 31, had slightly better production — eight goals and 15 points in 63 games — but, like Kopecky, also spent time as a healthy scratch under first-year head coach Gerard Gallant.

That Florida’s cutting ties with both isn’t surprising.

Signed in July ’11 to similar deals — Kopecky’s was a four-year pact for $12M, Upshall’s was $14M over four — the pair helped Florida make the playoffs in their first season, but struggled to be impact players over the following three (Upshall, it has to be said, was repeatedly plagued by injury.)

The duo will likely be replaced in-house. Florida has a number of young forwards looking to make the leap to the NHL next season, which includes the likes of Rocco Grimaldi, Logan Shaw, Connor Brickley and Quinton Howden.