- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy43 mins 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.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy44 mins ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray indicated he did not initiate calls about a possible trade of defenseman Cam Fowler.
Once another GM said his team was looking for a left-handed defenseman like Fowler, the rumor mill started to run frantic for the Ducks around the draft and Murray started to received queries about the availability of his player.
“One GM made a comment about looking for a big left-handed defenseman and then I have to get all the phone calls,” Murray said. “But I will do anything to make my team better.”
Earlier in the week, Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said he was looking for a left-handed defenseman.
Fowler stayed put giving Murray a valuable chip moving forward this offseason as he tries to retool his roster for recently re-hired coach Randy Carlyle.
Overall Murray did what he normally does on draft day. He supplemented his already deep pool of prospects with more high-end draft talent. He took London Knights winger Max Jones with the 24th overall pick and then Regina Pats center Sam Steel with the 30th pick in the first-round of the draft.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The New Jersey Devils won’t have any issues clearing the $54 million salary cap floor for next season. With Ryan Clowe still on the books for two more seasons and one more year of Marc Savard’s contract after they acquired his cap hit from the Florida Panthers this week, Ray Shero can focus on trying to sign and re-sign players to reasonable deals.
One of those players is Kyle Palmieri, a restricted free agent who led the team in scoring this past season with 30 goals and 57 points. The 25-year-old forward has earned a significant raise from his $1.6 million salary in 2015-16 and Shero said talks with his agent are moving along smoothly.
“It’s going to work out one way or the other,” Shero said at the conclusion of the 2016 NHL Draft. “I think he’s a real good fit for us. We’re a really good fit for him. It’s just a matter of finding that right term.”
There are options, however, for Palmieri. He could go to arbitration or the two sides could settle on a bridge deal and work on hammering out something long-term should it come to that.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy1 hr 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.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Los Angeles Kings have re-signed forward Trevor Lewis to a four-year contract worth a reported $8 million over the length of the deal.
The 29-year-old Lewis, a favorite of coach Darryl Sutter, was a pending unrestricted free agent.
Lewis just came off a two-year contract worth $3.05 million.
The Kings have about $67.848 million dedicated to 35 contracts next season according to General Fanager. Los Angeles has $5.15 million of salary cap space for next season.
Lewis, who was mostly a matchup fourth-line forward, was one of three of the bigger pending unrestricted free agents on the team, along with Milan Lucic and Luke Schenn.
Los Angeles doesn’t have any restricted free agents of note outside of Nic Dowd.
The Kings and Lucic recently broke off negotiations after trying to hammer out a contract.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy2 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.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy3 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.”
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – New York Rangers’ third-round draft pick Sean Day crowed about the strides he’s made in his conditioning and overall hockey abilities.
For Day it was important to point out that he does indeed have a high-level of talent and isn’t someone who dropped to the 81st overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft because of any issues with his dedication to the game.
“I’ve improved from last year to even now. I’m down to 12 percent body fat from 19 last year,” the defenseman said. “I can tell my skating’s improving and I’m still a big guy, so hopefully I can fit into their style of play I guess and bring something new that hopefully (the Rangers) don’t have.”
The decision to select Day with the 81st overall pick could be either a steal for New York, or it could be a pick that yields nothing in return. Both options wouldn’t be surprising.
Day received exceptional-player status by Hockey Canada in order to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old. This is the same level that was bestowed upon John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid.
- Jen Neale at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
The Florida Panthers acquired Mark Pysyk plus pick No. 38 and No. 89 in this year's draft from the Buffalo Sabres for Dmitry Kulikov and pick No. 33.
Prior to the start of the draft, the Sabres were rumored to be in the hunt for defenseman. They got one in the left-handed shooting Kulikov at a hefty cap hit of $4.33-million. After this coming season, he'll be an unrestricted free agent. Should GM Tim Murray resign both restricted free agents Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres defensive group will have the always desirable three left-handed and three right-handed shots.
Kulikov was a first round pick of the Panthers in 2009 at 14th overall. This past season, he played 74 games for the Panthers; scoring 1 goal and 16 assists. Per Corsica, his score adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi-for was 47.89%
With pick No. 33, the Sabres selected center Rasmus Asplund of Farjestad (Sweden).
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The 2016 NHL Draft featured only two 50-goal scorers from this past season. One was Kieffer Bellows, who was selected 19th overall by the New York Islanders.
The other was one of the smallest players in the draft: 5’7, 165 lbs. Alex DeBrincat from the Erie Otters of the OHL, who landed with the Chicago Blackhawks at No. 39.
DeBrincat’s 51-50-111 season with the Otters was his third straight 50-50-100-plus campaign. In 2014-15, he posted 51-53-104 in his first year in Erie. Before he entered junior, he scored 54-57-111 at Lake Forest Academy, which is about 45 minutes from Chicago.
Going to school just outside Chicago did allow DeBrincat to attend some Blackhawks games. But there was one issue. Growing up in Michigan made him a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. That allegiance is obviously severed now.
The Blackhawks have never been shy about believing in smaller players. It’s worked out for Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and others. With the likes of those two, along with Tyler Johnson, Mats Zuccarello and Cam Atkinson, among others, helping shed the stigma that smaller players can’t succeed in the NHL, DeBrincat is thankful for the opportunity.