PHT’s 2016 free-agent frenzy tracker

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Welcome to Thunderdome!

Come embrace the madness with us. Throughout the weekend, we’ll be keeping tabs on all the UFA signings across the NHL, so check back regularly for all the biggest signings, trades and other acquisitions.

Saturday, July 2

— New York Islanders sign P.A. Parenteau: one year, $1.25 million (link)

— Toronto signs Roman Polak: one year (link)

— Florida signs Jason Demers: five years, $22.5 million, $4.5M AAV (link)

Friday, July 1

— Boston signs Riley Nash: two years, $1.8 million, $900,000 AAV

— Vancouver signs Jayson Megna: one year, $600K

— San Jose signs Mikkel Boedker: four years, $16 million (link)

— Los Angeles signs Teddy Purcell: one year, $1.6 million (link)

— Detroit signs Steve Ott: one year, $800,000

— Winnipeg signs Brian Strait: one year, $600,000

— Arizona signs Ryan White: one year, $1 million

— Ottawa signs Mike Blunden: two years, $$1.475 million, $737,500 AAV

— Detroit signs Thomas Vanek: one year, $2.6 million (link)

— Minnesota signs Victor Bartley: one-year, $650,000

— Montreal signs Daniel Carr: two years, $1.45 million, $725,000 AAV

— Toronto signs Matt Martin: four years, $10 million, $2.5M AAV (link)

— Winnipeg signs Quinton Howden: one year, $650,000

— Tampa Bay signs Gabriel Dumont: one year, $575,000

— Nashville signs Matt Irwin: one year, $575,000

— Vancouver signs Philip Larsen: one year, $1.025 million

— Dallas signs Patrick Eaves: one year, $1 million

— Arizona signs Kevin Connauton: two years, $2 million, $1M AAV

— Carolina signs Viktor Stalberg: one year, $1.5 million (link)

— Carolina signs Lee Stempniak: two years, $5 million, $2.5M AAV (link)

— Nashville signs Yannick Weber: one year, $575,000

— Montreal signs Zach Redmond: two years, $1.225 million, $612,500 AAV

— L.A. signs Michael Latta: one year, $600,000

— L.A. signs Zach Trotman: one year, $650,000

— Winnipeg signs Shawn Matthias: two years, $4.25 million, $2.125 AAV

— Los Angeles signs Jeff Zatkoff: two year, $1.8 million, $900,000 AAV

— Washington signs Brett Connolly: one year, $850,000

— Colorado signs Fedor Tyutin: one year, $2 million (link)

— Colorado signs Patrick Wiercioch: one year, $800,000 (link)

— Colorado signs Joe Colborne: two years, $5 million, $2.5M AAV (link)

— New York Rangers sign Adam Clendening: one year, $600,000 (link)

— New York Rangers sign Nathan Gerbe: one year, $600,000 (link)

— New York Rangers sign Michael Grabner: two years, $3.2 million, $1.6M AAV (link)

— New Jersey signs Jon Merrill: two years, $2.275 million, $1.137M AAV (link)

— New Jersey signs Devante Smith-Pelly: two years, $2.6 million, $1.3M AAV (link)

— New Jersey signs Beau Bennett: one year, $725,000 (link)

— Dallas signs Dan Hamhuis: two year, $7.5 million, $3.75M AAV (link)

— Los Angeles signs Tom Gilbert: one year, $1.4 million (link)

— Philadelphia signs Dale Weise: four year, $9.4 million, $2.35M AAV (link)

— Montreal signs Alexander Radulov: one year, $5.75 million (link)

— Calgary signs Chad Johnson: one year, $1.7 million (link)

— Montreal signs Al Montoya, one year, $950,000 (link)

— Edmonton signs Jonas Gustavsson, one year, $800,000 (link)

— Boston signs Anton Khudobin: two years, $2.4 million, $1.2M AAV (link)

— San Jose signs David Schlemko: four years, $8.4 million, $2.1M AAV (link)

— Minnesota signs Chris Stewart: two years, $2.3 million, $1.15M AAV (link)

— New York Islanders sign Jason Chimera: two years, $4.5 million, $2.25M AAV (link)

— New Jersey signs Vern Fiddler: one year, $1.25 million (link)

— New Jersey signs Ben Lovejoy: three years, $8.1 million, $2.66 AAV (link)

— Arizona signs Jamie McGinn: three years, $10 million, $3.3M AAV (link)

— Boston signs John-Michael Liles: one year, $2 million (link)

— St. Louis signs Carter Hutton: two years, $2.25 million, $1.125M AAV (link)

— Minnesota signs Eric Staal: three years, $10.5 million, $3.5M AAV (link)

— Detroit signs Frans Nielsen: six years, $31.5 million, $5.25M AAV (link)

— Calgary signs Troy Brouwer: four years, $18 million, $4.5M AAV (link)

— Boston signs David Backes: five years, $30 million, $6M AAV (link)

— Vancouver signs Loui Eriksson: six years, $36 million, $6M AAV (link)

— Buffalo signs Kyle Okposo: seven years, $42 million, $6M AAV (link)

— Edmonton signs Milan Lucic: seven years, $42 million, $6M AAV (link)

— Florida signs James Reimer: five years, $17 million, $3.4M AAV (link)

— St. Louis signs David Perron: two years, $7.75 million, $3.875M AAV (link)

— New York Islanders sign Andrew Ladd: seven years, $38.5 million, $5.5M AAV (link)

— Pittsburgh re-signs Steve Oleksy: one year, $575,000 (link)

— Pittsburgh re-signs Tom Sestito: one year, $575,000 (link)

— Chicago signs Brian Campbell: one year, $2 million (link)

— Detroit re-signs Darren Helm: five years, $19.25 million, $3.85M AAV (link)

Previous deals of note

Steve Stamkos re-signs in Tampa Bay: eight years, $68 million, $8.5M AAV (link)

Trevor Lewis re-signs in Los Angeles: four years, $8 million, $2M AAV (link)

Drew Miller re-signs in Detroit: one year, $1.025M (link)

Jordie Benn re-signs in Dallas: three years, $3.3 million, $1.1M AAV (link)

Keith Yandle signs in Florida: seven years, $44.45 million, $6.35M AAV (link)

Kyle Brodziak re-signs in St. Louis: two years, $1.9 million, $950,000 AAV (link)

Scottie Upshall re-signs in St. Louis: one year, $900,000 (link)

Alex Goligoski signs in Arizona: five years, $27.5 million, $5.475M AAV (link)

Cam Ward re-signs in Carolina: two years, $6.6 million, $3.3M AAV (link)

 

 

 

Unique NHL playoff format looking more likely

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It’s Wednesday, April 8 and tonight we should have been parking ourselves in front of our televisions or gathering inside hockey rinks across the U.S. and Canada to watch playoff hockey.

Instead, we wait. We don’t know when the NHL will resume its 2019-20 schedule and we don’t know how they will complete it if playing out the regular season isn’t an option. Since the NHL pause on March 12,  various formats thrown out, garnering a myriad of responses. If time prevents the league from holding a normal postseason, they’ll have to be creative.

“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told Mike Tirico on NBCSN’s Lunch Talk Live Tuesday. “We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light — and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”

So what are possibly looking at for a right-to-the-playoffs scenario?

Points percentage

Here are your Round 1 playoff matchups if points percentage was to determine the eight teams in each conference:

Bruins vs. Islanders
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Flyers vs. Penguins

Blues vs. Flames
Avalanche vs. Stars
Golden Knight vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Canucks

There are some juicy pairings in that lot, but what of those teams who missed the cut? Surely the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Panthers, Jets, Wild, and Coyotes would like to see the field expanded considering the unique situation we find ourselves in.

“I don’t think it would be right if we’re left out,” said Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov. “We’re close to a playoff spot and have 13 games left. We just started playing as well as we did before the All-Star break, the bye week. We were feeling pretty good, playing with confidence.”

If you stick with the traditional series format, the timing of everything would affect series lengths. Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly have been vocal about not having the 2020-21 season interrupted, so if we’re talking about July or August playoff hockey, we can’t have four rounds of best-of-sevens.

Tournament

P.K. Subban said he’d love to see a 31-team tournament to decide the 2020 Stanley Cup winner — and why wouldn’t he when you glance at the Devils’ place in the Eastern Conference standings. But while including every team in the league isn’t the best idea, using this opportunity to be different opens the door for that kind of format if there isn’t time for a full four rounds of playoffs.

Like the points percentage idea, a tournament would require some sort of cut off point to fill the field. Do you forget conferences and just go with an overall Sweet 16 and best-of-three series? Would it be ideal to include 24 teams and work in byes for those atop the standings?

Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly told NHL.com’s The Rink podcast that he wants a full four-round playoff.

“I know you can do it in a different way, but if it was up to me, from my time being in the League and other guys I’ve talked to on the team, we really need to protect the integrity of the Stanley Cup,” he said. “It’s a whole other season in its own so I think it’s got to be a full, best-of-7 for four rounds, for sure. It’ll be interesting to see how they make that work, how you can condense it to still give the teams fighting for a wild card a chance, but I think you have to have the full thing.

“It’ll be tough and obviously I don’t have all the answers, but I feel it really protects the integrity of the Stanley Cup. It is extremely difficult. Having to beat a team four times is not an easy thing to do, and I just feel we need to have that.”

Neutral sites

An NHL playoff or tournament set up with games played in either one city or multiple locations? That’s been discussed with locations such as Buffalo and Grand Forks, North Dakota serving as potential options. However many teams, isolated in a city, away from their families. The league would love the unique aspect to such a conclusion to a season, but would the players? 

As with the Major League Baseball idea that was floated on Tuesday or the NBA’s in Las Vegas, what would the logistics look like for the NHL? Would there be fans? How long of a period of time would the players and staff be away from their families in such a scenario? Will there be tests upon arrival? What if a player or staff member contracts the virus? Will there be an expansion of rosters?

And that’s just with the logistics involving the teams. What about the people working at the arena(s)? And should medical personnel be used in this case and not be assisting hospitals?

As Bettman said Tuesday, there’s too much uncertainty to have an idea when the NHL will be given a green light to resume games. The planning needs to be done for all situations once that happens, and more and more it’s looking like if playoffs do happen, it will be a unique format that wins out for this special circumstance.

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

What is the Kings’ long-term outlook?

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings
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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Los Angeles Kings.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The Los Angeles Kings currently revolve around two cornerstone pieces, captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty.

They were central figures during two Stanley Cup seasons in 2012 and 2014 and remain vital to the organization. The Ilya Kovalchuk experiment ended when they placed the veteran winger on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract in mid-December.

But now the focus has shifted, and general manager Rob Blake is tasked with finding new pieces to help usher in a different era of Kings hockey.
Blake and his staff aim to build through the draft and own 11 picks in the upcoming draft, including three in the second round, two in the third round and two in the fourth round. The Kings currently sit in the bottom five of the NHL standings and will have a premium first-round pick depending on the results of the lottery at the conclusion of the NHL season.

The Kings also made two selections in the first round of the 2019 draft and have a top-five NHL farm system, according to The Athletic’s prospect rankings this past summer.

Los Angeles won’t return to glory overnight, but they have the ammunition to rebuild their foundation and become a contender in the Western Conference once again.

Long-Term Needs

The Kings need to hit on their upcoming draft picks, simply put. The decisions made by the front office in the upcoming offseason could define the success of the franchise. It will be the difference between a three-year rebuilding process or 10-year absence from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Los Angeles also has to manage the salary cap over the next few seasons. Its patience will be tested, but the organization needs to wait until Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter’s lucrative contracts expire after the 2021-22 season. Goaltender Jonathan Quick’s deal expires the year after.

With new talent on the horizon, the Kings are in a position to clear out bad contracts but should avoid long-term commitments until a new core is established at the NHL level.

Long-Term Strengths

The good news is Kopitar and Doughty are still performing at a high level. The captain led the team in scoring with 62 points, surpassing his total from last season in 11 fewer games. Doughty leads the team in ice time, averaging a shade under 26 minutes per game and was close to eclipsing the 40-point mark for the sixth straight season.

In addition, Sean Walker secured a spot on the blueline with strong play in the first 70 games of his career. The undrafted defenseman also showed ability on the offensive side of the ice with 24 points, most of which came at even strength.

Most importantly, Todd McLellan looked to be making strides in his first year as head coach. The Kings finished (maybe) the season with an impressive seven-game winning streak and went 10-2-1 in the final 13 games.

The team has a lot of flexibility going forward and now it’s up to Blake to make the correct decisions, and McLellan to execute that plan on the ice.

MORE ON THE KINGS:


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Brian Burke, Mike O’Connell feud over claims about Joe Thornton trade talks

Burke, O'Connell feud over Thornton trade
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Hockey fans have fond memories of Brian Burke’s feud with Kevin Lowe, and now it seems we have a sequel. Burke and former Bruins GM Mike O’Connell are in a war of words over alleged Joe Thornton trade talks. The biggest winners? Us.

Consider it a very short three act play or … boxing match, maybe more appropriately?

Round 1: Burke recalls trying to bring Thornton to the Ducks, “babysitting” O’Connell

Burke provided refreshingly candid answers to fan questions during an April 2 Twitter Q&A. The thread is worth your time, as Burke discusses the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Phil Kessel, Roberto Luongo, and Gary Bettman.

But it was a two-part bit about Burke trying to bring Thornton to the Ducks that got the ball rolling.

Burke explained that he’s “still bitter” that the Ducks didn’t land Thornton, and believes he offered O’Connell a better deal than the Bruins ultimately received from the Sharks.

Most fascinatingly, Burke even gave specifics about what he was willing to offer. Now, one can speculate about who would have been in the Ducks top five in 2005. Would Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry possibly been available for Thornton?

But either way … wow.

As a reminder, the Bruins ended up receiving Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart for Thornton. As Bruins fans would like to forget, Thornton continued to be a star for the Sharks, including winning the 2005-06 Hart Trophy.

[PHT Time Machine: The Eric Lindros trade that didn’t happen.]

Round 2: O’Connell says Burke’s Thornton claims were a “fabrication”

Things got juicier between O’Connell and Burke on Tuesday.

O’Connell told The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (sub required) that Burke’s hypothetical offer didn’t happen, and that the details were a “fabrication.”

“The details surrounding this story are fabricated and I can confirm that no such offer was made to me as I never informed Anaheim of my intentions to trade Joe Thornton,” O’Connell said. “Unfortunately, certain personalities never let the truth get in the way of their ultimate goal, self-promotion.”

Whew! (Shakes hand to indicate serious heat emanating from this rivalry.)

Round 3: Feud sizzles to a new level as Burke counters

Not to be outdone, Burke responded to O’Connell’s claims in a fiery appearance on ESPN on Ice with Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski. Burke made a key point by noting that current Ducks GM Bob Murray was in Burke’s office when he made the offer(s).

Burke also revived memories of wanting to battle Kevin Lowe in a fabled barn over the Dustin Penner offer sheet, saying “I wish we were in the same room, if you’re calling me a liar.” You really need to hear the entire clip, which Wyshynski posted:

*Ponders putting on oven mitts, this is all too hot to handle*

So obviously, this is a he-said, Burkie-said situation. We can only take each hockey executive’s word for it, and one could even argue that Murray might feel loyal to Burke.

But, considering the specifics of Burke’s claims, it seems feasible that the Ducks made some sort of offer for Thornton.

Theories

Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

It’s also crucial to realize how much a person’s memory can be altered by time. This happened in 2005, and sometimes the seeds of trades are planted far before a deal is consummated. It’s possible that O’Connell flat-out doesn’t remember Burke’s offer(s).

Not only has time passed, but O’Connell also took a ton of heat for the trade. McDonald notes this anonymous reaction from a Bruins player at the time of the trade:

“Are you kidding me? We traded Joe Thornton for three guys who can’t tie their skates.”

The Bruins fired O’Connell in March of 2006, and the Thornton trade undoubtedly served as a catalyst. Such events can leave you a bit scarred, and maybe even prompt you to forget certain details. Maybe phrasing like “babysitting” bothered O’Connell, even if I took it to mean that Burke was checking up on the situation quite often.

Or maybe O’Connell is right in claiming that Burke is making those Thornton trade claims with the “ultimate goal” of “self-promotion?”

One thing’s clear: this is fun

We can only really guess, and perhaps spend this coronavirus quarantine time imagining “What if?” scenarios. Could Thornton have pushed the Ducks into mini-dynasty status, as this was during their Chris Pronger – Scott Niedermayer era? Would the Bruins have landed blue chips rather than “guys who can’t tie their skates?”

(That’s totally unfair to Primeau, Sturm, and Stuart, as they all had lengthy NHL careers. Though I admit I have not received definitive proof of how adept they are with laces.)

The one thing we do know is that Thornton landed with the Sharks and had a great run. And that O’Connell (currently director of pro development for the Los Angeles Kings) and Burke (Sportsnet personality) probably aren’t best buds.

Hey, it’s a lot more fun than talking about escrow though, right?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour: McGinn stuns Capitals in double OT

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NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour continues this week with matchups featuring unsung heroes.

The Hurricanes battled the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals to a Game 7 in Round 1 of the 2019 Playoffs. In Game 7 in Washington, Carolina rallied from two separate two-goal deficits to force overtime. In the second overtime period, Brock McGinn netted the winning goal that ended the third longest Game 7 in NHL history.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire had the call of Game 7 from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 7
• Hurricanes vs. Capitals (2019 Round 1, Game 7, Brock McGinn) – 5 p.m. ET
• #HockeyAtHome: Episode 1 – NHL Brothers – 6:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, April 8
• Senators vs. Penguins (2017 Eastern Conf. Final, Game 7, Chris Kunitz) – 5 p.m. ET
• NHL: Pause and Rewind – 6 p.m. ET

Thursday, April 9
• NHL: Pause and Rewind (Encore) – 5 p.m. ET
• Rangers vs. Kings (2014 Stanley Cup Final, Game 5, Alec Martinez) – 6 p.m. ET

#HOCKEYATHOME: EPISODE 1 – NHL BROTHERS – TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
Kathryn Tappen and Sportsnet host David Amber will co-host a 30-minute program about brothers in the NHL. The three sets of brothers interviewed and featured in the program are Eric, Jordan, and Marc Staal; Brady and Matthew Tkachuk; and Quinn and Jack Hughes.

NHL: PAUSE AND REWIND – WEDNESDAY, 6 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
The premiere of a one-hour special, NHL: Pause and Rewind, will take a look back at this past NHL season as well as how players are spending their time off in the current league hiatus. Highlighted segments will include a look at the current top five teams in each conference, reflecting on the season’s milestones, including Alex Ovechkin’s historic 700 goal accomplishment, as well as revisiting the Blues’ improbable Stanley Cup victory last season.

NBC Sports commentators conducting player interviews and sharing #HockeyAtHome social content will also be featured throughout the program.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour can be found here.