The clock is ticking for the Tampa Bay Lightning to sign Ryan Callahan to a contract extension before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Even so, GM Steve Yzerman seemed optimistic about that prospect, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“We still have some time,” Yzerman said. “We’d really like to keep Ryan in the organization, and we’re going to continue to work. I’d like to get a deal done before he reaches free agency.”
Yzerman said he’s had some “really good discussions” with the versatile 29-year-old.
There are some interesting competing forces at play here for Yzerman.
On one hand, he might feel some added pressure to ink Callahan because he was a key piece in the Martin St. Louis trade, even though the Lightning also netted two first-round picks for their trouble.
There are some significant risks to signing Callahan, however … particularly long-term.
- The Lightning are bursting with an array of up-and-coming young talent, especially at that forward position. The likes of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin are affordable now, but if Callahan wants a longer deal, second or third contracts could present added challenges down the line.
- It’s reasonable to wonder if Callahan would be worth a steep price in Tampa Bay. His do-everything, shot-blocking style worked well when John Tortorella was running the Rangers ship, but his 2013-14 season didn’t go well. Injuries certainly factored in, yet he went pointless in the playoffs and only managed 36 points in 65 games between the Rangers and Lightning. Those aren’t unacceptable numbers, yet they don’t exactly scream “big, long-term investment,” either.
- Speaking of injuries, players approaching their thirties tend to be more injury-prone to begin with, but those risks only increase with guys who put their bodies on the line like Callahan does.
Ultimately, it would likely come down to finding the right compromise, which might be difficult in a small window of time (Yzerman’s optimism notwithstanding).
In seemingly even less likely Lightning re-signing news, the Tampa Bay Times also reports that Yzerman said that Anders Lindback is “in the mix” to get a new deal. That’s a bit surprising considering the fact that the big goalie’s been a flop in Tampa Bay – especially in being swept by the Montreal Canadiens – yet the Lightning gave up a significant set of assets to nab him via a trade, too.
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.”
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.
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.
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.