- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
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.”
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
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
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – With one draft day trade, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland acknowledged he gave his team the ability to make a splash in free agency.
In the middle of the first-round the Red Wings traded Pavel Datsyuk’s dead $7.5 million salary cap weight as part of a package to the Arizona Coyotes.
According to General Fanager, the Red Wings have $53.943 million dedicated to 34 contracts. This puts them about $19 million under the salary cap with just two major restricted free agents to sign in Danny DeKeyser and Petr Mrazek.
The Red Wings may have become the team to watch in the next few days as the unrestricted free agent interview period starts Saturday. Teams cannot sign players until July 1.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Tampa Bay Lightning pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos can now talk to other teams.
This development didn’t shock Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman who assumed Stamkos wouldn’t be re-signed before the unrestricted free agent interview period started Saturday at midnight.
Earlier in the evening, Yzerman said he “assumed” Stamkos would get to this point. What happens next with his 26-year-old captain is uncertain.
When asked if he still had confidence in re-signing Stamkos, Yzerman remained hopeful. Resignation of Stamkos potentially being lost on the open market for nothing hadn’t set in. Stamkos is a former 60-goal scorer with 312 career goals. He was drafted by Tampa with the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 and has been the face of the franchise since then.
In Stamkos' time with the Lightning, the team has made three Eastern Conference Final appearances and made on Stanley Cup FInal.
“I’m not going to – I wouldn’t rule anything out. I’m not going to close any doors,” he said.
Yzerman was also asked if he could give particulars on a final offer to Stamkos.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Plain and simple: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen believed that Pierre-Luc Dubois was the best player available at No. 3.
Most mock drafts heading into Friday’s Round 1 had the Blue Jackets taking Jesse Puljujärvi, right after Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. But Kekalainen surprised everyone inside First Niagara Center with the pick.
So is there something he knows that we don’t?
“Well, there might be," he said. "But it’s not about negative things, it’s about his building our list and believing in our order of preference. Pierre-Luc Dubois was No. 3 on our list."
Heading into Friday there was speculation that the Blue Jackets would look to move the pick. Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he would have been fine trading out of the three spot to move down if the right offer came along. It didn’t, and Dubois heard his name called by head of amateur scouting Ville Siren.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy6 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jakob Chychrun remembers the assignment he was given when his Sarnia Sting took on London Knights in an OHL clash during his first year in the league. He was tasked with slowing down Max Domi, the forward who would post 32 goals and 102 points that season.
Fast forward two years later and Chychrun and Domi are potential future teammates after the Arizona Coyotes selected the defenseman with the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Chychrun had to sit and watch 15 other names come off the board before the Coyotes, who debated picking him at No. 7, made a trade with the Detroit Red Wings to move up to that spot and select the Boca Raton, Florida native.
“You have to really prepare for anything. That’s kind of what I was doing last night,” Chychrun said. “I was kind of preparing for anything that could happen. This was unbelievable. I really wanted to go to a team that wanted me and whenever a team trades up to get you it’s special.”
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy6 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Detroit Red Wings unloaded the contract of forward Pavel Datsyuk in draft day trade with the Arizona Coyotes, which could give them the necessary salary cap space to go after Tampa Bay Lightning pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos.
In the deal, the Red Wings sent the No. 16 overall pick and Datsyuk’s deal for Joe Vitale, the 20th overall selection and the 53rd overall pick. With the 16th pick in the draft the Coyotes selected Sarnia Sting defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
The move enabled the Red Wings to get rid of an unused asset and not have to deal one of the young players off their roster in order to make the trade happen.
Last Saturday, Datsyuk announced he would leave the NHL and head back to his native Russia for family reasons. If the Red Wings couldn’t find a team that needed his cap hit in order to get to the salary cap floor, they would have had to eat his $7.5 million salary for next season.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy7 hrs ago
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.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy7 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Matthew Tkachuk had circled the Calgary Flames as his preferred team several weeks ago.
At the NHL scouting combine Tkachuk met with the Flames and was impressed with the organization and the people he met. From that moment on he said he hoped the draft would break a certain way so he could land in Calgary.
When the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Pierre-Luc Dubois over Jesse Puljujärvi with the No. 3 pick, the projections that had Tkachuk going No. 4 to the Edmonton Oilers over Dubois started to look different.
Tkachuk began to see his pathway to Calgary open up. After the Flames called his name an overjoyed Matthew hugged his family, which included father Keith – a former NHL All-Star. His mother cried.
“At the beginning of the day if you had told a lot of people the draft would be the order it is now they would say definitely not. I was one of those guys and it’s such a relief to go to a team you want to go to and it makes it that much better,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “Everybody says how special it is to play in the NHL, but if you really love the team that picked you it makes it that much better. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy7 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Nearly 20 hours after he officially turned 18 years old, Pierre-Luc Dubois heard his name called during Round 1 of the NHL Draft.
That part was expected. What shocked everyone inside First Niagara Center was when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the name of the 6’2, 205 lbs. forward out of Cape Breton.
Most, if not all of the projections for Friday’s first round saw the Columbus Blue Jackets taking Jesse Puljujärvi with the No. 3 overall pick. Instead, it was Ville Siren, head of the team’s amateur scouting, calling Dubois’ name.
“I was a little surprised, but it’s probably my best birthday I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty happy right now,” Dubois said.
With rumors swirling around not only the Blue Jackets’ pick at No. 3 but also the Edmonton Oilers at No. 4, Dubois said it was impossible to avoid the scuttlebutt. He tried his best to avoid it all, but couldn’t help other people talking to him about what could happen around those selections.