Report: Flames won’t spend to the cap ceiling next season

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The Calgary Flames haven’t been that far from the playoffs despite missing the postseason for three straight years, but that’s little solace to fans – especially since management is paying them like an elite club. Roger Millions passes along an intriguing detail, though: it sounds like the Flames’ days of spending to the cap are over.

To be more specific, Millions expects the Flames’ budget to be around $55 million, which would be about $15 million less than the expected cap ceiling if the CBA doesn’t alter the cap. Either way, it sounds like the Flames’ spending will be reined in quite a bit.

Get rid of Kipper, Iggy or Bouwmeester?

According to Capgeek, the Flames currently have about $50.3 million committed to the cap next season, with 16 players covered. Millions and Kent Wilson believe that one or more of big-money players Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff and Jay Bouwmeester might need to go to make things work.

Perhaps to little surprise, Millions tabbed Bouwmeester as the odd man out, although one could argue that the Flames would be wiser to move Iginla because he might draw a better deal – particularly for a Flames team that still seems to be in “rebuild denial.” Bouwmeester’s disappointing offensive numbers and $6.68 million cap hit probably won’t attract half the attention as Iginla; Bouwmeester (28) is also considerably younger than Iginla (34).

Iginla has one more year left with a $7 million cap hit while Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff’s ($5.8M cap hit) deals run out after the 2013-14 season.

The rest of the moves

Either way, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for GM Jay Feaster. The team can call up some minor league players/prospects to fill some roster spots cheaply, yet that’s not likely to jive well with their stated plans. Here’s a quick list of their pending free agents:

Unrestricted

Olli Jokinen
Lee Stempniak
David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos
Cory Sarich
Scott Hannan

Restricted

Blake Comeau
Mikael Backlund
Akim Aliu
Blair Jones

***

If you were in Feaster’s shoes, would you trade one (or more) of the bigger name players on the team? Would you instead try to get rid of a bigger salary eyesore like, say, Matt Stajan? Or would you blow the whole thing up?

Share your armchair management plan in the comments if you feel the need.

(H/T to Arik Knapp.)

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.