Mike Condon

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Lightning offload Callahan’s cap hit to Senators

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have ensured they will have the money to spare on Brayden Point‘s next contract.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois offloaded forward Ryan Callahan‘s contract on Tuesday, shedding $5.8 million in cap space along with it in a deal with the Ottawa Senators.

In exchange for taking on the final year of Callahan’s deal, Ottawa gets a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Senators, meanwhile, send goalie Mike Condon and a sixth-round pick in 2020 to Tampa.

Callahan will not play for the Senators after a career-ending degenerative back disease was discovered this past season. That means that insurance will pick up 80% of the salary ($3.76 million) and Ottawa will only be responsible for $940,000 of it.

BriseBois was optimistic on Monday, saying a deal with Point will likely get done prior to the opening of training camp.

That seems increasingly accurate now that Callahan is off the books. The Lightning could have placed him on long-term injury reserve themselves, allowing them to go over the cap by his $5.8 million cap hit.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

With Condon coming the other way, the Lightning presently have $8.9 million, per Cap Friendly, to sign both Point and fellow restricted free agent Adam Erne.

They also have four goalies on their roster, with Condon, Andrei Vasilevsky, Curtis McElhinney, and Louis Domingue. Condon or Domingue will be a surplus to requirements. Condon carries a $2.4 million cap hit next season while Domingue is at $1.15 million.

If buried, CapFriendly says Condon’s cap hit would drop to $1.325 million.

Either way, the Lightning now have room for both their RFAs without much worry.

MORE: Lightning ‘optimistic’ in Point deal before training camp

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

Looking at four potential No. 1 goalie battles in 2019-20

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Battles for the No. 1 goalie spot heading into any given season often isn’t where teams want to be.

The uncertainty for hockey’s most important position is unsettling and often means the team embroiled in a training camp battle for that club’s top job is far closer to the draft lottery than the Stanley Cup.

Not everyone can have an Andrei Vasilevskiy or a Ben Bishop.

Today, we will focus on a few teams that don’t necessarily have that position locked up, and look into four battles that should play out once training camp gets underway in a couple month’s time.

1. Edmonton Oilers 

Mikko Koskinen is Peter Chiarelli’s last defining moment in a terrible tenure with the Oilers. Chiarelli, apparently with the blessing of the team, gave .900-save-percentage man Koskinen a three-year, $13.5 million raise because of reasons that may never been fully certain.

The deal paved the way for a lot of scrutiny, the exit of Cam Talbot and the continuation of what was a compounding year of bad in Northern Alberta.

Now, the Oilers have Mike Smith in the mix, the goalie who started 40 games and posted an .898 save percentage for the Calgary Flames last season in a timeshare with David Rittitch. But Smith’s experience in the playoffs led head coach Bill Peters to give him the nod in goal.

And now Smith heads up the road to battle for a job in Edmonton. Sure, Koskinen has the contract, but there’s no question that Smith could outplay him in training camp and set up a big decision for newly-minted coach Dave Tippett. Tippett knows Smith well from his days as the bench boss in Arizona.

2. Arizona Coyotes

Speaking of the desert dogs, what’s the plan there?

They essentially have two starting-caliber netminders with Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper. Raanta’s season was derailed thanks to injury. He made just 12 starts before Kuemper took over the starting role.

Raanta’s 2017-18 campaign was outstanding with a .930 save percentage across 47 starts. The Coyotes had found someone to replace Mike Smith as a solid No. 1.

When the lower-body injury ended Raanta’s season in Nov. 2018, it would have been easy to write off the Coyotes — something many did.

Kuemper would start 55 games, winning 27 of them and posting a .925 save percentage. His play gave the Coyotes a chance down the stretch, and while it ultimately ended with them not making the playoffs, it certainly showed that Arizona had two viable options between the pipes.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

That’s what makes this situation interesting. A time-share might be ideal here. It’s something that’s worked for several teams, including the New York Islanders, and to a certain extent, the Boston Bruins — while not a true timeshare — were able to rest Tuukka Rask more with a quality backup, allowing them to reach Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

If general manager John Chayka wants, he also has quite the asset in either goalie on the trade market, too. Kuemper is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will likely be looking for a raise.

For now, they have one of the better goaltending tandems in the league and some decisions to make because of it.

3. Ottawa Senators

Craig Anderson has one year left on a deal that will pay him $4.75 million this coming season.

Anders Nilsson is getting $2.6 million next season and impressed in 26 games played last season after getting shipped to Ottawa from Vancouver.

Mike Condon is set to make $2.4 million this season.

Nilsson seems the best bet to grab the starting role after the Sens gave him a two-year deal earlier this summer. Anderson’s season last year wasn’t great and Condon isn’t going to be the starter after playing two games last season.

Nilsson, on his sixth NHL team since being drafted in 2009 by the Islanders, finally found his stride in Ottawa, posting a .914 save percentage on a bad Senators team.

4. Los Angeles Kings

Yes, Jonathan Quick has four years left and yes, he’s getting paid $5.8 million.

He was also a complete disaster last season between the pipes. So were the Kings, for that matter. But who really stood out among the wreckage was backup Jack Campbell.

While Quick, 33, had a less than ideal .888 save percentage across 46 starts, Campbell, 27, and getting paid $5.125 million less than his teammate, put up a .928 on a very bad team. It’s impressive.

While the Kings haven’t done much to improve themselves this summer, giving Campbell a shot at the starting gig might light a spark elsewhere in their lineup. They did seem to play better in front of him, and he inspired confidence with his play.

Perhaps the time is now to give Campbell is chance and let Quick groom him (and potentially Cal Petersen) as the Kings begin to look to the future.

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

Coyotes’ Derek Stepan scores from own blue line

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Oh, boy.

Ottawa Senators goalie Mike Condon likely wanted to the ice to melt, swallow him up and then freeze back over again after his little blunder against the Arizona Coyotes tonight.

With the Coyotes killing a penalty, Arizona forward Derek Stepan floated a shot on Condon from his own blue line. The puck bounced, changed directions and squeaked through Condon’s pads and into the back of the net.

Stepan began skating to the bench, satisfied that he had done enough to have cleared the puck to shave a few seconds of the kill. Before he could get into his bench, the goal had gone in.

Roll the tape:

It’s tough not to feel for Condon there.

The camera was on him for five or so seconds and you could see that he just wanted to curl up into the fetal position and lay there for a bit.

Condon could only hang his head in shame. And to make things worse, he was yanked right after. Condon allowed three goals on 11 shots before heading for the early shower.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


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

Tonight on NBCSN: Doubleheader action with Union-Princeton and Denver-UNO

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Tonight’s doubleheader features a Team USA World Junior gold medalist playing at a legendary rink in the first game and a WCHA showdown in the second.

Princeton Tigers (5-7-4) vs. No. 17 Union College Dutchmen (9-6-4) – 7:30 p.m. ET

The Dutchmen haven’t had quite the follow-up to their Frozen Four season last year. Union has won just once in their last eight games going 1-4-3 in that stretch. Sophomore Team USA star Shayne Gostisbehere has been part of a steady attack for the team scoring five goals with eight assists this year. If Union is going to snap out of it and start making another run for the NCAA tournament, doing damage in conference against teams like Princeton is the way to do it.

Princeton, meanwhile, are winners of two in a row beating out Ivy League rivals Harvard and Dartmouth. Back on December 1 they earned a 4-4 tie with Union in Schenectady. Now that they’re on a mini-roll and on their home ice at Hobey Baker Rink, they’re hoping to keep the good times going.

NHL prospects to watch: Union has a pair of them in Gostisbehere (Philadelphia) and freshman defenseman Tim Boyle (Ottawa). They also have solid undrafted players like Kyle Bodie, Wayne Simpson, and senior defenseman Greg Coburn, brother of Flyers blue liner Braydon Coburn. Last year’s Hobey Baker finalist Troy Grosenick still leads the way in goal.

Princeton rolls with Ottawa prospect, senior defenseman Michael Sdao. You’ll see their best offensive talent in forwards Andrew Calof, Tyler Maugeri, and Andrew Ammon. Senior goalie Mike Condon has been strong this season.

No. 9 Denver Pioneers (12-6-3) vs. No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (13-8-1) – 10:05 p.m. ET

The last time we saw Denver on NBCSN, I was busy throwing the hex on them as they tied Wisconsin 1-1. That came in the middle of a spell that saw them go winless in eight straight (0-5-3). Since then they’ve won three in a row with a  win over Boston University and a sweep of Cornell at home last weekend that didn’t sit too well with Big Red coach Mike Schafer.

Now they’re back into the WCHA schedule facing a Nebraska-Omaha team riding high off their weekend sweep of Colorado College last week. The Mavericks had a bit of bad news this week as Flyers prospect goalie Anthony Stolarz departed for the OHL. On the upside, recently absent goalie Ryan Massa has come back thanks to his departure.

NHL prospects to watch: Denver rolls with Kings prospect Nick Shore as he leads the team in scoring. Oilers prospect defenseman Joey LaLeggia is another guy to keep your eye on. Zac Larraza (F-Phoenix), Scott Mayfield (D-NY Islanders), Josiah Didier (D-Montreal), and Sam Brittain (G-Florida) are other prospects the Pioneers are rolling with.

UNO has Penguins prospect forward Josh Archibald to keep your eyes on. Senior defenseman Bryce Aneloski (Ottawa) is another guy who will see big minutes. Nick Seeler (D-Minnesota), Brent Gwidt (F-Washington), Tanner Lane (F-Winnipeg), and Brian Cooper (D-Anaheim) are the others to keep an eye on. Undrafted forward Ryan Walters is their go-to guy.