Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
The last time we heard a word about Alex Pietrangelo and the status of his ongoing negotiations with the St. Louis Blues was a week ago, when he officially became the all-time leader in "RFAs it took the Blues the longest to re-sign."
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong says no news isn't necessarily bad or good news, it's just the way of the world. Pietrangelo is the one player the Blues have left to re-sign, and they have a little more than $7.6 million in cap space, according to CapGeek, in which to do it. Right now, it appears that this is the sticking point. Pietrangelo and Co. want something along the lines of $7 million, the Blues don't want to go more than $6 million.
You certainly see the situation from both sides: Pietrangelo can argue that he's legitimately one of the best young defensemen in the league today, and thus should be pair along the lines of someone like Drew Doughty or Erik Karlsson, who make $7 million and $6.5 million against the cap, respectively. The Blues can argue that they don't want to go into the season with just $600,000 or so in cap space, and certainly must be taking the Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5.5 million) or Zach Bogosian ($5.14 million) extensions this year as being the baselines for such a deal. There are also a few cautionary tales like Tyler Myers' deal.
The problem with the latter approach is this: Pietrangelo and Co. know for sure that with the cap set to explode in the next few years, something in the neighborhood of even $7 million for a 23-year-old who's already close to Norris caliber will look like a bargain in two or three seasons — along the same lines, it's still next to impossible to understand why Ekman-Larsson took the money he did for six years — and thus seem likely to demand a short-term deal and split the difference on money. That allows him to make this very decent cash now and then back a Brinks truck up to his house in two or three years when the cap's closer to $80 million. The Blues, for their part, will probably push for something closer to five or six years as the term on that deal, in an effort to get him closer to 30 years old for his next contract.
I suppose it once again comes down to the argument over the validity of bridge contracts as a means of saving you money in the long run, especially under this new CBA which limits term for the first time ever. And the thing is, too, that if you look at the Blues' D corps, the idea behind giving Pietrangelo similar term and only about 11 percent more per year than Jay Bouwmeester seems ludicrous. Bouwmeester will make $5.4 million against the cap until 2019, and Pietrangelo should, by rights, be making considerably more than Bouwmeester in a fair and rational universe.
Armstrong may not want to start fans worrying with all these assurances that with training camp still five weeks away, a deal can get done, but the memory of P.K. Subban's holdout has to be dancing through their heads. The now-Norris Trophy-holding defenseman sat out all of training camp and six games this season and took a dirt-cheap contract that's now going to end up costing the Habs a large amount of money down the road.
Of course, most bridge deals are designed to keep player costs extremely low, and the idea that Pietrangelo might be seeking a higher-value one is extremely interesting, and one that could better serve players going forward. Pietrangelo has very little to "prove" to the Blues, and thus a deal that would pay him something like $3 million a year would be pointless.
So now, the Blues are essentially getting down to haggling over $1 million against the cap for a small number of years — fractions of a percent — and it doesn't really make a lot of sense, really. If $6 million means you're renegotiating in two or three years, and $7 million means you're getting the same player for seven or eight seasons, then this would appear to be the easiest decision Armstrong has made all summer.
It's a million dollars. In the NHL, that's almost nothing. Why play hardball here? It only hurts you in the end. Maybe Armstrong and Marc Bergevin can start a support group.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Doesn't seem like Teemu Selanne is necessarily dialed in to play for the Ducks next season. He might retire, but he's also openly talking about going to another team. I hope it's the Avs!
Boston Bruins: Remember when the Bruins traded 21-year-old Tyler Seguin over concerns that he wasn't scoring enough (his points-per-game having dropped from 0.83 to 0.67)? It strikes me as funny that everyone is hyped for Loui Eriksson, then, given that his points per game fell from 0.87 to 0.6 despite his getting more minutes a night. How fast does everyone turn on him when that trend continues, do you think?
Buffalo Sabres: Drew Stafford will be 28 by the end of October and had 18 points in 46 games last season. Is he in the Sabres' future plans? Well for their sake I hope not.
Calgary Flames: Calgary draft pick and great American hero Jon Gillies was only kind of mediocre for the majority of the recent National Junior Evaluation Camp and turned in a world-beating performance against Canada on Saturday due to how awful Canada is at everything.
Carolina Hurricanes: From the context clues here, Zach Boychuk seems to be looking for a one-way contract, which strikes me as being unlikely because he played a total of 13 NHL games for three different teams last season.
Chicago Blackhawks: Steve Montador won't be back with the Blackhawks next year, because he signed in the KHL instead, but mostly because they used a compliance buyout on him.
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O'Reilly seems pretty excited to move to left wing for a guy who just got displaced by a rookie with zero (0) NHL games under his belt.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets have hired Jody Shelley as a team ambassador, which given how his career went, leads me to assume it will involve him walking up to people on the street and punching them until they promise to buy tickets. I think it's a good marketing strategy.
Dallas Stars: If you're a Stars fan, here are two sentences you don't want to read right in a row: "One, Nill knows they have no No.1 defenseman without Gonchar. Two, Gonchar adds a lot of intangibles."
Detroit Red Wings: It's starting to look really unlikely that Danny Cleary will re-sign in Detroit, which leads one to wonder if he's going to sign anywhere. I assume the only reason they kept him around this long was nostalgia, so…
Edmonton Oilers: Remember how hard Justin Schultz dropped off late in the season last year? Well, here's his reasoning: "At times, I was feeling fatigued because I wasn’t used to that many games." Good news, kid. They want you to play 82 in the NHL this time around.
Florida Panthers: Here's a fun reminder that Scottie Upshall has played 53 games in the first two seasons of a four-year contract that will pay him $14 million by the time it's over. Man, remember when Dale Tallon signed every mediocre UFA in the league for way too much money that time? What a world.
Los Angeles Kings: The vast, vast majority of Kings fans thought Mike Richards' season was worthy of no less than a B grade, despite the fact that he only got to 32 points in 48 games despite shooting 14.6 percent. Imagine what happens if he ever gets anything close to a point a game ever again.
Minnesota Wild: GM Chuck Fletcher on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise just one year into their 13-year contracts: "You hear horror stories of all these big free-agent signings that don't pan out…" Well, see, umm.
Montreal Canadiens: On Brandon Prust's three-year anniversary with his girlfriend, he was golfing. But he sent flowers. Good luck to you, a non-NHL player, trying to get away with that.
Nashville Predators: Can the Preds be competitive in Conference III? I think they're probably the fourth-best team in it, but I can see them finishing ahead of Minnesota because it's Minnesota.
New Jersey Devils: Philadelphia 76ers billionaire owner Joshua Harris seems poised to buy the Devils. Wow, an ownership kerfuffle cleared up in just a few weeks rather than several years? It's like I don't even know this league any more.
New York Islanders: John Tavares seems poised to captain the Islanders this season, and that's a fun reminder that he somehow wasn't the captain before this and Mark Streit was instead.
New York Rangers: Looks like the Rangers will be without Ryan Callahan for the first month of the season or so, which is a bummer because he's awesome and fun to watch.
Ottawa Senators: Eugene Melnyk is still crying about how much money Daniel Alfredsson wanted. He realizes his team just got Bobby Ryan, right? Bobby Ryan scores 30 a year like clockwork. The last time Alfredsson got there was 2008. You caught the good bounce here, Euge. Take it easy.
Philadelphia Flyers: About once a week I am reminded that the Flyers plan to go into the season with a goaltending tandem of Steve Mason (who is awful) and Ray Emery (who's a disaster waiting to happen with a larger workload). I would like to thank NHL.com for giving me that reminder this week.
Phoenix Coyotes: Someone in Arizona is just now realizing that the Coyotes are going to leave an NHL team-shaped hole in the side of Jobing.com Arena the second they get that five-year out clause to kick in.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jacques Martin being added to the Penguins' coaching staff seems like a really good move, doesn't it?
San Jose Sharks: "Is it Stanley Cup or bust for the San Jose Sharks this year?" It's that for every team every year. Like, by definition.
St. Louis Blues: One guy Ken Hitchcock loves? Dmitrij Jaskin. "He's 20 going on 26," Hitch says. He's also one of the reasons they felt comfortable clearing out David Perron.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts hired former University of Denver coach George Gwozdecky as an assistant, which should be interesting. He was one of the best coaches in college hockey over the past decade or more.
Toronto Maple Leafs: David Clarkson says the reason he picked No. 71 with the Leafs isn't because it's the reverse of Wendel Clark's number. And if you believe that, I have a 29-year-old "gritty" right wing on a $36.75 million, seven-year contract who's never come close to 50 points to trade you.
Vancouver Canucks: Jason Garrison has worked hard this summer on improving his skating. This was actually a very interesting read.
Washington Capitals: ENIGMATIC RUSSIAN UPDATE: This time it is two-team All-Star Alex Ovechkin who is enigmatic!
Winnipeg Jets: Stirling-Rawdon, population 5,000, will get an NHL preseason game in September after it won a contest to become last year's Kraft Hockeyville, only to have the event wiped out by the lockout. Too bad they have to watch the Jets.
Gold Star Award
Shout out to Sidney Crosby. I wouldn't want to sit next to Pittsburgh residents any longer than I had to either.
Minus of the Weekend
"The Gretzky trade severely hurt hockey in all of Canada," writes a person who clearly missed all the weepy, insipid coverage of the stupid thing all damn week.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "Beendair Donedat" is trying to help someone with this?
To Montreal: Wayne Simmonds
To Philadelphia: 2014 1st round draft pick, Brendan Gallagher, defense prospect (one of Morgan Ellis or Dalton Thrower)
Why not make every Super Bowl a tie so everyone gets a ring and no one is "bummed out," huh?