Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 11 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – The 2016 NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo has come to a close. There were some surprises, some strange decisions, some glorious moments and, of course, plenty of boos for Gary Bettman.
Who won? Who lost?
Here’s how we saw the weekend play out in Buffalo:
WINNER: Brian Elliott
The veteran goalie told the St. Louis Blues that he was done platooning with Jake Allen and wanted to be “the guy” somewhere in the final year of his contract. That somewhere is Calgary, where the Flames will give him plenty of starts and a contract extension. Great fit between Elliott’s work-ethic/character and a Flames team that didn’t need a seven-year commitment to someone like Ben Bishop.
LOSER: Kevin Shattenkirk
According to his agent, the Blues defenseman expected to be traded at the draft given their conversations with the team. Instead, he remains twisting in the wind as two potential trading partners – the Coyotes and Sabres – may have moved on
WINNER: Detroit Red Wings
LOSER: Jim Benning
WINNER: Toronto Maple Leafs
LOSER: Montreal Canadiens
WINNER: Falling Forward
LOSER: Zach Sawchenko
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 13 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – NHL teams had their first chance to speak with the agents for prized free agent Steven Stamkos after the first day of the NHL Draft. (Well, legally, right Vancouver?)
So who's in the Stamkos Sweepstakes?
The Buffalo Sabres have declared their intention to go after him if the star center doesn’t resign with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“The next conversation I have with [Stamkos’ agents], because we’re allowed to now, is to just ask if Steven is going to be available on July 1 and would he have an interest in Buffalo,” said GM Tim Murray. “I plan to. I think I plan to.”
Murray was more than forthright about why he felt the Sabres were in a position to “chase the big fish” this offseason. Obviously, with billionaire Terry Pegula’s financial blessing, the Sabres can offer Stamkos as much money as any other NHL suitor can. What the Sabres also offer, however, is the chance to play and live near his native Ontario while playing on a team slightly closer to contention than, say, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 14 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning is facing punishment from the NHL over tampering charges. Several teams voiced concerns over a radio interview in which Benning openly discussed Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos while both were under contract.
His boss, team president Trevor Linden, acknowledges Benning may have gone too far. But ultimately, he said, the comments were harmless.
“I talked with Bill [Daly], and he recognized that they were rather innocent comments. At the time, in an effort to be candid and honest, he probably crossed the line somewhat. I think they were rather innocent. We’ll see what the league says on Monday,” said Linden, referencing NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who said at the NHL Draft on Sunday that the League will likely “announce something this week” as far as punishment.
Linden said the relationship between Benning and Bergevin is actually agreeable.
“They were considering it and talked about it. We’ll hear more on Monday,” he said.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 14 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Sabres’ draft weekend opened with news that forward Evander Kane was under investigation for two criminal complaints for alleged ‘physical harassment' of two women at the Buffalo bar Bottoms Up. The news was reported by WIVB, which quoted Buffalo police as saying the investigation was in its “preliminary stages.”
It was the second time in the span of seven months that Kane was under investigation. In December 2015, Kane was investigated by police for an alleged 'sex offense' at a local hotel. He was later cleared of all wrongdoing by the police.
Sabres GM Tim Murray was asked about the latest controversy involving Kane.
Murray said the team is waiting to see how the investigation plays out.
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Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 15 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – The NHL expansion draft process continues to gain some clarity, but there’s still much that’s unknown about next summer’s seeding of the Las Vegas franchise’s roster.
For example, we now know there will likely be a window of opportunity for the Las Vegas team to make trades before the draft, in theory around June 1, 2017.
The purpose? To dramatically reduce the number of ‘handshake’ deals between the expansion team and the rest of the NHL, i.e. those agreements to compensate Vegas down the line for bypassing a player in the expansion draft.
“One of the reasons we want a player transaction window in advance is that those deals are legitimate deals. Clubs are getting value for making those commitments, but those commitments will be transparent and there will be bonafide player transactions as opposed to handshakes before they’re able to do those,” said deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
So that’s illuminating. Less illuminating? The NHL expansion rules on young players and what constitutes “professional experience.”
OK, so what’s a first or second-year professional?
One thing we know, for sure: “It’s really professional experience under NHL contract,” said Daly.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 17 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said he’d like to add P.K. Subban or Steven Stamkos to his team this summer.
Since both are under contract to the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning respectively, the NHL is expected to let Benning and the Vancouver Canucks know what they’re going to lose for this chatter – a load of cash at a minimum, draft picks if the damage was seen to be severe.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday that there have been multiple complaints from teams after Benning told TSN 1040 that on Thursday that he had called the Canadiens to work on a trade for Subban and that he intended to call Stamkos after the NHL Draft.
The Subban tampering violation is cut-and-dry – you can’t discuss another team’s player like that while that player is under contract. The Stamkos one is a little murkier, as the negotiating window for unrestricted free agents opened after the first night of the Draft on June 25. But Benning’s comments were made on June 23.
“I’ve had a discussion both with Jim and with Trevor Linden. They understand where we are on this situation. We talked about announcing something early next week,” said Daly.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 19 hrs ago
BUFFALO, NY – With the 10th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected Tyson Jost, a center with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.
The scene that followed was unforgettable.
Jost embraced his grandfather, who sobbed heavily as he hugged the draftee. It had been a long journey for both of them, as Jost's grandparents made a huge change in their own lives to help their grandson live out his hockey dream.
In his early teens, Jost had a chance to attend the Pursuit of Excellence school in Kelowna, B.C. His mother had raised him herself, with the help of other family members. But he would have to leaver her and his home to attend the school.
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News explained how his grandparents stepped up to help jis hockey career:
“My grandpa was tough on me,” he said. “But it was a good tough. You have to work for everything; nothing is handed to you in life.”
He put up 109 points in just 33 games with Penticton, and his journey to being an NHL lottery pick was underway.
“I'm going to remember it for a long time.”
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BUFFALO, NY – No matter where Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman went, he always felt suffocated against the ceiling. But after the first round of Friday’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, he had finally found some space to breathe.
“We have enough cap room now. We don’t have a salary cap problem,” he said.
In the last week and a half, the Blackhawks purged forwards Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw from their payroll, the latter sent to the Montreal Canadiens to kick off the draft in exchangefor two second-round picks. In the process, they opened up what is now $6 million in cap space with a few forward spots yet to fill.
Specifically the ones that Shaw and Teravainen occupied last season.
“We’re trying to look forward. We’re trying to make the situation as best as it is with the salary cap,” said Bowman.
“Roles change. Opportunities are there. You have to give next year’s team a chance to forge its own identity. It may not match up exactly with last year’s team, but that’s OK.”
BUFFALO, NY – The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft is over, the cheers of Toronto Maple Leafs fans and the jeers of everyone else having finally died down.
What were the biggest moments and surprises in the first round? Here’s a look:
10. Jakob Chychrun Tumbles, Happily
Chychrun, the son of former NHLer Jeff Chychrun, was projected to go has high as seventh overall to the Arizona Coyotes and be the first defenseman taken in the NHL Draft. Instead, the Sarnia Sting standout tumbled down to No. 16 overall where he was taken … by the Arizona Coyotes, who traded up to take him as part of their taken on Pavel Datsyuk’s cap space (more on that later). So it all worked out!
9. Olli Over Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk fell to No. 5 in the draft, prompting some to assume that would be the choice for Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning. Instead, it was Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi, arguably the best offensive D-man in the draft, going there with Tkachuk falling to the Calgary Flames at No. 6. Bit of a surprise.
8. Finns Up, D Down
7. Montreal Makes Trades (But Subban’s Safe)
BUFFALO, NY – Auston Matthews breeds hope. Hope breeds swagger. Swagger breeds “Auston 20:16” shirts and a “Matthews [greater-than] Eichel sign” at the NHL Draft in Buffalo.
“I think Auston Matthews is going to be a better prospect in the long run. Jack Eichel is going to be a great hockey player, but Auston Matthews is going generational talent," said Ryan Westlake, one of the true believers.
Westlake was one of three busloads of Maple Leafs fans to whom the team provided tickets to Friday night's Draft and shipped over the border. Over 160 of them. Former Leafs Darcy Tucker, Rick Vaive and Shayne Corson joined them, and everyone hit the bars before the event.
There was no doubt Matthews was going to be the name uttered by Leafs director of player personnel Mark Hunter, but one could still feel the emotional catharsis the obvious provided the Toronto fans in attendance.
Their bellowing roar when Matthews was formally theirs was fueled by a season of intentional failures and decades of involuntary ones. They waived Leafs flags. They chanted “Go Leafs Go!” They were booed lustily by everyone else in attendance.
“Hockey’s a team game. There is really no savior.”