For all the talk about Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash chasing that first playoff goal, the most worrisome slump might revolve around the Minnesota Wild’s big names being unable to solve the Chicago Blackhawks. Simply put, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter have had an awful time against the ‘Hawks in seven playoff games over two postseason series.
The good news is that they still have some time to figure things out, but so far, they seem downright baffled. Sunday’s 4-1 Game 2 loss may represent a new low for the Minnesota trio, too; they failed to score a point and combined for a -8 rating.
Parise, 29, is the only one of the three to even score a point against Chicago over those seven games. He generated an assist in Game 1 and scored one goal in Minnesota’s 4-1 series loss to Chicago in 2013.
In case you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of how all three have fared in the two series against Chicago, with the obvious note being that they have plenty of time to redeem themselves as things shift to Minnesota:
Parise in 2013-14: one assist, -3 rating, nine shots on goal in two games against Chicago; In seven games against Colorado, Parise had a point in every game (three goals, eight assists for 11 points in that series). Parise in 2012-13: one goal, -7 rating, 17 SOG in five games against Chicago.
Koivu in 2013-14: zero points, -3 rating, five SOG; Koivu had six points (one goal, five assists) against Colorado. Koivu in 2012-13: zero points, -6 rating, 11 SOG in five GP
Suter in 2013-14: zero points, -5 rating, four SOG … 27:25 TOI in Game 2 and only 25:22 TOI in Game 1; Suter had four points in Minnesota’s series against Colorado and generally logged his usual heavy minutes Suter in 2012-13: zero points, -5 rating, five SOG in five GP
It’s really important to note that these lousy-looking numbers came in a very small sample size with five against the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup-winning team from last season and two against a championship contender this season. If anything, Chicago deserves as much credit as Minnesota’s biggest names inspire concern.
Still, with all of those caveats aside, it’s clear that things aren’t going well for Minnesota’s leaders (especially Koivu and Suter, as Parise’s shot totals at least imply that he could be more productive with better bounces).
The question is: what needs to be done to get them back on track? Will a change of scenery do the trick? Should head coach Mike Yeo consider shifting lines to try to avoid the likes of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa or is it just a matter of the Wild’s big names digging deep?
That’s up to debate, but if Minnesota doesn’t find an answer soon, it could be another short series.
Rain or shine, as they say. And the rain wasn’t going to put a damper on this parade.
And while the wet stuff poured down prior to the parade proper in St. Louis on Saturday, it let up as to allow quite the sight, one a half-century in the making.
St. Louis fans lined Market Street just days after their Blues hoisted their first Cup in franchise history after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in the Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The parade route began at the intersection of 18th and Market, went down past Enterprise Center — the home of the Blues — and ended at Broadway and Market, a couple blocks from the famed Gateway Arch along the Mississippi River.
The celebrations continued as players, coaches and alumni led a ceremony under the Arch.
“This is incredible,” Craig Berube said. “I knew that there was going to be a lot of support out here today. People are excited and happy and deserving because they love the game of hockey here. The fans are unbelievable. And they finally got a championship.
Brayden Schenn called it the best day of his life. Schenn wore a firefighter hat, honoring his father who is one and was on the back of one of the fire truck floats.
Of course, the Blues parade wouldn’t be complete without Laila Anderson, a part of the team’s inspiration during their run to the Cup.
Anderson was surprised with Game 7 tickets and got to watch the Blues hoist Lord Stanley. She told Fox Sports Midwest that she thought her mom was pulling a prank on her when she said she was getting to go and be part of the championship parade.
Laila Anderson was stunned when she found out she'd been invited to participate in today's parade: "I actually thought my mom was pulling a prank on me." #stlbluespic.twitter.com/D8Q03Exx7f
Phaneuf’s name had been circulating in buyout discussions for a while, so it’s hardly surprising that the Kings have elected to do so.
Phaneuf is a shade of the player he used to be and is on the back nine of his career. He’s got two years remaining on a deal and the Kings will save $2,833 million over the course of the buyout, including shedding over $4 million of cap space next year.
Phaneuf’s cap hit over four years will $8.375 million, with the Ottawa Senators retaining 25 percent or $2.791 million per the transaction the two teams made in 2018.
#LAKings have bought out the final 2 years of Dion Phaneuf's contract.
Today marks the opening of the buyout window where teams can shed bad contracts (for the most part) and save a little money when it comes to the salary cap. MacDonald’s name was written on the wall on Friday, however, after the Flyers and Washington Capitals swapped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen, a defenseman.
MacDonald had a year remaining on his six-year-, $30 million contract he signed prior to the 2014-15 season. The Flyers will save $3.833 million next year, reducing the cap hit from $5 million to just $1.66 million.
“It was a difficult decision,” Flyers GM Cliff Fletcher said. “It was solely cap related…This guys is a constant professional. He did whatever we asked him to do…He’s just a quality person & a guy who played an effective two-way game for our team.”
MacDonald’s play has tanked in recent times and his minutes followed. He had no goals and nine assists last year in 47 games where he averaged around 16 minutes a night, six less than when he was acquired by the Flyers in 2014 from the New York Islanders.
A team’s “out” to a bad contract, often one that said team signed and one they regretted at some point after the ink hit the signature spot on the contract sheet.
It’s an out with a catch. You can shed cap space, but only some. While mistakes can be forgiven, they’re not forgotten for some time. The length varies from case to case. It’s like getting a divorce but still living with your ex-spouse. You’re free, but not really. It’s not ideal.
The fact is, some relationships end up in that spot, and in hockey, when a usually-high-paid player becomes unwanted — a surplus to requirements — or he’s a square peg that can’t be fit into the round holes of a team’s salary cap, it’s one way to trim off some fat.
The buyout window opens today and will remain open until June 30.
Teams are permitted to buyout a players contract to obtain a reduced salary cap hit over a period of twice the remaining length of the contract. The buyout amount is a function of the players age at the time of the buyout, and are as follows:
One-third of the remaining contract value, if the player is younger than 26 at the time of the buyout
Two-thirds of the remaining contract value, if the player is 26 or older at the time of the buyout
The team still takes a cap hit, and the cap hit by year is calculated as follows:
Multiply the remaining salary (excluding signing bonuses) by the buyout amount (as determined by age) to obtain the total buyout cost
Spread the total buyout cost evenly over twice the remaining contract years
Determine the savings by subtracting the annual buyout cost from Step 2. by the players salary (excluding signing bonuses)
Determine the remaining cap hit by subtracting the savings from Step 3. by the players Annual Average Salary (AAV) (including signing bonuses)
With that out of the way, let’s look at five candidates (in no particular order) who may be bought out over the next two weeks.
The once powerful Kings have been reduced to kingdom more befitting of Jurassic Park. They have their share of stars from yesteryear on that team, and a couple making premium coin for regular, unleaded performance.
Phaneuf is a shade of the player he used to be. It’s understandable, given he’s 34 and on the back nine of his career. He’s got two years remaining on a deal that the Kings will be on the hook for $12 million.
Trading Phaneuf isn’t likely. He had six points in 67 games last year and the Kings, who were dreadful, healthy-scratched Phaneuf down the stretch.
Using CapFriendly’s handy-dandy buyout calculator, we see Phaneuf’s buyout would save the Kings just over $2.8 million, including a ~$4 million savings next year and a more modest $1.583 the following year.
Phaneuf’s cap hit over four years would be a total of $8.375 million, with the Ottawa Senators retaining 25 percent or $2.791 million per the transaction the two teams made in 2018.
Scott Darling, Carolina Hurricanes
A lesson in a team throwing way to much money at a backup goaltender with decent numbers.
Darling has fallen out of favor in Carolina after signing a four-year, $16.6 million deal during the 2017 offseason.
Darling’s play was a disaster in the first year of the deal and Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney took over around December of this past season.
Darling was placed on waivers and was unsurprisingly not claimed and seems a shoe-in for an immediate buyout. The Hurricanes will save $2.366 million, taking a total cap hit of just under $6 million over the next four years.
Those savings can go to toward trying to re-up both Mrazek and McEhlinney, a duo that helped the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Jets bet on Kulikov’s lingering back injuries being behind the Russian defenseman when they signed him two years ago in the offseason. The bet was wrong.
Kulikov’s back has a durability rating that would be frowned upon by Consumer Reports.
But his back isn’t the biggest issue Winnipeg has. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has a money issue. You see, he needs to spend a lot this offseason on guys named Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, and he has more than one contract he’d like to dispose of. But while a guy like Mathieu Perreault would find suitors in the trade market, Kulikov won’t.
So while Kulikov has one year left on a deal that hits the cap for $4.333 million, a buyout would save Cheveldayoff close to $3 million in desperately needed cap space for the coming season.
Drafting well in the first round has caught up with the Jets.
Like Phaneuf not far down the I-5, Perry has seen his production nose-dive at 34 years old. There’s a lot of mileage on Perry’s skates, and regular oil changes aren’t cutting it anymore.
Perry has two years left on a deal that hits their bottom line for $8.625 million over the next two seasons.
The Ducks would have $6 million this year alone by buying out Perry, who is essentially trade proof with a full no-movement clause.
Perry’s cap hit would jump up to 6.625 mill the following year with a signing bonus of $3 million still owed, but then would only hurt for $2 million over the two added buyout years. In the end, the Ducks would save $4 million and open up a roster spot for a younger player.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, this guy just hoisted the Stanley Cup and played a hell of a role on the fourth line to help the Blues to their first title in franchise history.”
Indeed, Steen did all of those things. But interim coach Craig Berube put Steen on the fourth line, a role he relished in but one that can be replaced for much, much cheaper.
Steen, 35, has seen his production plummet over the past several seasons — far away from the realm of money he’s making with a $5.75 million cap hit. That’s too much for a fourth line player.
The Blues have some signings to make themselves, including a big-money extension for rookie sensation Jordan Binnington and other pieces to the puzzle such as Patrick Maroon.
Buying out Steen would come with a cap savings of $3 million, including a $6 million savings over the next two seasons. The Blues have $18 million and change to play with and a host of RFAs that need to get paid.
The above five came in no particular order. This list could extend for a while.
Some other notable names that could see their contracts bought out are: