In a win-or-lose game, how can there be compromise?

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Given all the flak the owners have taken (and continue to take) for signing players to big contracts with the expectation clubs will be able to claw back some of the salary under a new CBA, it’s worth asking what the players that sign the contracts are expecting from a new agreement.

Specifically, are the players worried that a new CBA will result in lost salary via rollbacks or escrow?

The Washington Times caught up with John Carlson’s agent, Paul Krepelka, after the young defenseman agreed to a six-year, $23.8 million deal with the Capitals.

So, was Carlsson worried?

“It’s part of the discussion; you have to factor it in,” said Krepelka. “But when you do extensions right now, you’ve got to deal with the rules that you’re given. These are the rules we know and we understand.

“If such a rollback or something in the future were to happen, this is something that the players understand going in and have to live with. It’s a big issue with the CBA; I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

“But if it does, then all these guys that signed extensions know it going in and are aware of it. If it happens, it happens. I don’t think it’s going to, but we’ll see.”

By the sounds of it, the players are banking on no rollbacks. This despite the NHL demanding a “reduction in real dollars” in player salaries.

And as we talked about yesterday, that seems to be the main sticking point (among the many sticking points) that has stalled negotiations.

The problem is that only one side can win it. Either players’ salaries go down and the owners win, or players’ salaries don’t go down and the union wins.

Heels. Commence digging in.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie asked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about this yesterday in New York:

“As long as the players insist on not taking a tangible reduction from $1.873 billion in players’ salaries, and as long as the National Hockey League continues to look for a tangible decrease in that number…how do we solve this?”

Bettman predictably sidestepped the question, instead taking the opportunity to criticize the union’s offer.

And that’s where we’re at.

Stuck.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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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.