Travis Hamonic

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Flames still face cap challenges after Lucic-Neal trade

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The Calgary Flames faced a cap crunch with James Neal on the books, and they still face potential issues with Milan Lucic being traded in at $500K cheaper.

[More on the contract situations here, and Lucic vs. Neal on ice in this post.]

That’s a lot of money under most circumstances, but $500K goes fast in the modern NHL. In fact, $500K wouldn’t cover the minimum salary of a single player. Every dollar could end up counting for the Flames, so it’s nothing to sneeze at, but things could be tight nonetheless. It may even force someone other than Neal out of the fold.

While the Flames currently boast an estimated $9.973 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly, that money will dry up quickly. They still need to hammer out deals for RFAs Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett, and Andrew Mangiapane.

Really, would it shock you if Tkachuk and Rittich came in at $10M combined? Such costs are real considerations for the Flames, assuming they can’t convince Tkachuk to take a Kevin Labanc-ian discount.

In Ryan Pike’s breakdown of the cap situation for Flames Nation, he found that Calgary may still have trouble fitting everyone under the cap by his estimations, even if the Flames bought out overpriced defenseman Michael Stone. Buying out Stone seems like a good starting point as we consider some of the calls Treliving might need to make before the Flames’ roster is solidified.

Buying out Stone in August: Stone, 29, has one year left on a deal that carries a $3.5M cap hit and matching salary. If the Flames bought him out, they’d save $2.33M in 2019-20, as Stone’s buyout would register a cap hit of about $1.167M in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

As frustrating as it would be for the Flames to combine dead money in a Stone buyout with Troy Brouwer‘s buyout (remaining $1.5M for the next three seasons), it might just be necessary. Really, it might be the easiest decision of all.

Granted, maybe someone like the Senators would take on Stone’s contract if the Flames bribed them with picks and/or prospects, much like the Hurricanes did in taking Patrick Marleau off of the Maple Leafs’ hands?

Either way, there’s a chance Stone won’t be making $3.5M with the Flames next season.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Trade Sam Bennett’s rights? With things getting really snug, and the forward unlikely to justify being the fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, maybe the Flames would be better off moving on by sending Bennett/his RFA rights to another team and filling that roster spot with a cheaper option?

If a team coughed up a decent pick and/or prospect for Bennett, assuming he needs a change of scenery, it could be a win for everyone. The Flames might not be comfortable about that yet with Bennett being 23, but it should at least be discussed.

Trade an expiring contract player? T.J. Brodie ($4.65M), Michael Frolik ($4.3M), and Travis Hamonic ($3.857M) all seem to be signed at reasonable prices, if not mild bargains. All three are only covered through 2019-20, however, making it reasonable to picture them as parts of various trade scenarios. In fact, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Flames were working on a potential deal involving Brodie and then-Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, and Kadri admitted on “31 Thoughts” that he didn’t waive his clause to allow Calgary to trade for him.

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Over the years, including this summer with LaBanc and Timo Meier signing sweet deals for the Sharks, sometimes RFAs take care off cap concerns for their teams. There are scenarios where such constraints actually help the given team land some discounts; it sure felt that way when the Bruins got a deal with Torey Krug back in 2016.

As of this writing, it seems like the Flames might face a tight squeeze in fitting under the cap.

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.

Chris Kunitz ejected after elbow to head

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It sure feels like there’s been a lot of game misconducts for dastardly things this weekend.

The latest comes on Sunday night after Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz got his elbow up into the face of Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic in the second period.

Here’s the tape:

Kunitz was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct.

Hamonic was bloodied on the play and had to leave the game to get fixed up. He was able to return later in the period.

The ordeal proved costly for the Blackhawks, who surrendered two goals on the ensuing penalty.

Other ejections this weekend include:


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

Report: Isles, Hickey closing in three-year pact around $6.5M

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Sounds as though the New York Islanders are close to a deal with pending RFA blueliner Thomas Hickey.

Per Newsday’s sources, the contract extension is believed to be of the three-year variety, with Hickey pulling down “in the range of” $6.5 million total — a cap hit of around $2.16M.

For Hickey, 26, it’s a nice bump from the $675,000 he netted annually on his last deal.

The former Kings first-rounder was claimed off waivers by the Isles prior to the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and has been a steady lineup presence ever since; he’s appeared in 82 and 81 games in consecutive seasons and both set and matched a career-high in points, with 22 each year.

Getting Hickey locked in was fairly important for the Isles, as they dealt away Griffin Reinhart at the draft and don’t expect to return Lubomir Visnovsky.

That puts Hickey in a top-six defensive group with Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Calvin De Haan and Brian Strait, with youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield looking to make the leap.

PHT Morning Skate: Lightning, Stamkos feel better prepared for Habs

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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.

After being swept in first round of last spring’s playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens, Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning feel they’re better prepared for this year’s rematch.

“We weren’t ready to play at that level. We had a lot of young guys,” Stamkos said per The Associated Press. “We have another year under our belt. Now we have a series win, and a Game 7 win under our belt. Guys get more confidence.” (AP)

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $15,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $3 to join and first place wins $1,400. Starts tonight at 7:30pm ET. Play Now!

Having won just three bronze medals in the past 20 years at the World Hockey Championship, Ken Campbell writes it’s time for the Americans to pay a little more attention to the international competition. (The Hockey News)

A St. Louis Blues fan won an unfortunate radio contest. Prior to the Blues being eliminated in the first round, a fan had a St. Louis Blues 2015 Stanley Cup champions tattoo paid for by 105.7 the Point. (Bar Down)

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson made good on his bet with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi following the Canucks first round loss to the Flames. (Yahoo)

With it being Thursday, here’s a little throwback highlight pack. The pack features Stamkos, Michael Del Zotto, Alex Pietrangelo, Jordan Eberle, Travis Hamonic, Martin Jones and Tyler Johnson participating at the 2000 Super Novice Brick Hockey Tournament at Edmonton’s West Edmonton Mall.

Hamonic suffered torn MCL on Scuderi hit, no surgery required

The day after the Isles were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, news finally started to surface about their injured players — specifically, defenseman Travis Hamonic.

Hamonic, who missed the entire Washington series with an undisclosed ailment, revelaed he suffered a torn MCL on a hit from Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi in the second-to-last game of the regular season (as pictured).

That was Hamonic’s last hockey-related activity of the year though, per Newsday, the tear didn’t require surgery — in fact, Hamonic was holding out hope of a Round 2 return, should the Isles have won Monday’s Game 7.

There’s no denying Hamonic was missed. The 24-year-old averaged nearly 22 minutes per night this season and broke out offensively, scoring a career-high 33 points in 71 games. Hamonic was also largely assigned the task of defending Alex Ovechkin during the Isles’ regular-season tilts against the Caps, a job that fell to Johnny Boychuk instead.

Boychuk fared well against Ovechkin but, with injuries also hitting blueliners Calvin de Haan and Lubomir Visnovsky, the Hamonic ailment was even more pronounced. On Monday, the Isles were forced to play AHL recall Scott Mayfield and little-used Matt Donovan a combined 26:24 against Washington.