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St. Louis inks Upshall to one-year extension


Last year Scottie Upshall had to compete in the St. Louis Blues’ training camp for a contract. He won’t have to go through that again in 2016.

St. Louis announced that they have signed him to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but he’ll reportedly earn $900K, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

Update: Blues GM Doug Armstrong has confirmed that the cap hit is $900K, according to NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

That’s a bump from his 2015-16 salary of $700K, but it’s still a far cry from the four-year, $14 million deal that expired in the summer of 2015.

Upshall is a bottom-six forward with 623 games worth of NHL experience. He appeared in 70 games last season, but averaged just 10:57 minutes per contest.

With the 32-year-old forward signed, St. Louis’ list of noteworthy potential UFAs has been reduced to Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak, and of course David Backes. The Blues have a fair amount of cap flexibility and as you might imagine signing Upshall hasn’t altered that in any significant way. However, the Blues and Backes “haven’t been able to find that common ground” so he might end up on the market anyways.

Rutherford fires back against Malkin trade rumors

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Evgeni Malkin has been the topic of trade rumors recently, but Penguins GM Jim Rutherford insists there’s nothing to them.

“We’re not looking to move him,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jenn Menendez. He went on to say that no team has inquired about Malkin, which seems to counter a a recent report that the Chicago Blackhawks are interested.

Of course that Blackhawks report wasn’t the first we heard about the possibility of Pittsburgh trading Malkin this summer. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested a few weeks back that Malkin might be moved after the Stanley Cup Final.

Trading Malkin would free the Penguins of his $9.5 million annual cap hit, which might make some long-term sense for Pittsburgh as he’ll turn 30 on July 31st and he’s signed through 2020-21. Plus Malkin has only played in 70-plus regular season games once in the past six full NHL campaigns (that excludes the lockout shortened 2013 season). At the same time, one of the key strengths of the championship Penguins was their ability to roll out three strong lines with a star leading each unit in Sidney Crosby, Malkin, and Phil Kessel.

We’ve seen teams make dramatic moves after winning the Stanley Cup, but typically it was because the cap forced their hand. While the Penguins aren’t in an ideal cap situation, they aren’t in a position where they need to do something as drastic as trading Malkin just to get under the ceiling. So when Rutherford makes those denials, it might be reflective of a desire not to mess with a formula that just won the Stanley Cup and no urgent cap need to do so.

Report: BC standout McCoshen reaches agreement with Florida

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It sounds like the Florida Panthers will be announcing in the near future that they’ve signed Boston College defenseman Ian McCoshen. The move was initially reported by CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty and then confirmed by Jimmy Murphy.

McCoshen was taken by Florida with the 31st pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and is choosing to go pro after completing his sophomore season. He had six goals, 21 points, and 86 penalty minutes in 40 NCAA games in 2015-16.

This move follows Florida’s decision to trade 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson last month. As previously noted, it wasn’t that long ago that Gudbranson was regarded as a big piece of the Panthers’ future, but along with McCoshen, the Panthers also boast Alex Petrovic, Aaron Ekblad, and Michael Matheson as far as young blueliners go and that fact might have led to them feeling Gudbranson was expendable.

The Panthers are certainly counting on that young defensive core to guide the team forward. While they’ve expressed interest in re-signing Brian Campbell, it looks like he’ll test the free agent market. Meanwhile Willie Mitchell‘s playing career may be over.

Campbell, Gudbranson, and Mitchell averaged 22:16, 21:40, and 19:55 minutes per contest in 2015-16 when they were healthy. That’s a lot of ice time that need filling. McCoshen might not be ready to step into the Panthers’ lineup right away, let alone play a significant role in 2016-17, but long-term he might be part of the solution.

PHT Morning Skate: Kessel’s probably bringing Cup to Toronto

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Phil Kessel hasn’t finalized his plans yet, but there’s a “good chance” he’ll bring the Stanley Cup to Toronto. (Sportsnet)

The Florida Panthers will hold a Blood Drive on Friday to help the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. (Panthers.nhl.com)

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he and Mike Yeo “hit it off really well.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Though there is outside interest, Canucks GM Jim Benning isn’t looking to trade down from the No. 5 selection in the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft. (Dan Murphy)

Should the Calgary Flames pursue a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury? (Calgary Sun)

Construction has started on the Chicago Blackhawks’ new training facility. It’s projected to open in December 2017. (Washington Times)

NHL sues NHLPA to reverse Wideman’s suspension reduction

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Dennis Wideman‘s suspension saga isn’t over.

The NHL has filed a lawsuit against the NHLPA over Wideman’s suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson from behind being reduced from 20 games to 10 by a neutral arbitrator back in March. The NHL hopes to restore the original 20-game suspension, per TSN.

“We believe that Arbitrator Oldham, in reaching his decision, exceeded his contractual authority by failing to properly apply the parties’ collectively bargained standard of review,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

“Today’s action was motivated primarily by our regard for the collective bargaining process and the importance of maintaining and safeguarding the parties’ reasonable expectations arising from the agreements made in that process.”

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said that the union was disappointed, but are “confident this action is completely without merit and that the court will agree.”

You can check TSN for their complete statements.

Because of the length of Wideman’s appeal process, he had already served 19 games of the suspension before it got lowered to 10. The decision to reduce his suspension did make a difference financially though as he got back half of the $564,516 he was expected to forfeit.

Prior to the arbitrator’s ruling, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reviewed and upheld the original suspension length, adding that he was “troubled by Mr. Wideman’s total failure to accept any responsibility for his actions.”

Wideman argues that his hit was “completely accidental” and he “had no intent on hitting Donnie at all.”


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