Best moments of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft, latest on Steven Stamkos and Zemgus Girgensons, and other notable NHL news.
SPORTSNET: A collection of the best moments of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft, which saw Phil Kessel become one of the top picks, only to be traded for Tyler Seguin, while the very wealthy Alexander Ovechkin jokingly hoped he’d be picked last so he would win a car (he was picked third-last).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players obviously enjoyed themselves, perhaps abetted by their libations. That’s the only thing which make the All-Star weekend worthwhile for me. It was nice to see these guys relaxed and acting like human beings instead of wearing their game faces and offering up cliched answers to reporters’ questions.
ESPN.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos indicates his hope is to re-sign a long-term contract extension on July 1. Stamkos is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July 2016.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sorry, Leafs fans, but the Markham, Ontario native wants to stay in Tampa Bay…unless you subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Stamkos is publicly saying he wants to re-sign with the Lightning but privately intends to sign with the Leafs next summer. Nah, that’s too much of a stretch, even for the tin foil hat brigade. The Bolts will open the vault for Stamkos and he’ll earn over $10 million per season playing in Tampa Bay starting in 2016-17 on an eight-year deal.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres sophomore center Zemgus Girgensons is honored and humbled that so his Latvian countrymen made him the top player voted to this year’s All-Star Game by the fans. He’s also a little embarrassed by the campaign, believing you should make it to the Game based on accomplishments.
TSN.CA: Upset over rising escrow, the NHLPA membership could vote against enacting the five percent escalator clause to raise the salary-cap ceiling by five percent for 2015-16. That, along with the decline in the Canadian dollar, could mean the salary cap comes in at $70 million next season instead of $73 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time this has been reported, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks first noted last November the possibility of a stagnant cap due to the falling dollar and the players’ unease over expensive escrow payments. While the PA has voted each year to enact the five-percent escalator clause, last summer the player reps authorized the cap increase by a slim 16-14 vote. Their growing frustration over escrow payments could affect the vote for next season and bring about the nearly stagnant cap Brooks forewarned last fall.
ESPN.COM: NHL owners will meet in Columbus this morning to receive an update on the Las Vegas ticket drive and possible expansion into that market, the falling Canadian dollar and its potential effects upon the salary cap, and the format for the World Cup of Hockey.
NBC SPORTS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirms “internal discussions” about staging a future Winter Classic at Ohio Stadium.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blue Jackets become a perennial playoff club, the odds of a Winter Classic at Ohio Stadium will improve.
THE TENNESSEAN: The strong first-half performance of the Nashville Predators is gaining national media attention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For good reason, as the Predators have the look thus far of a Stanley Cup contender.
NATIONAL POST: It remains to be seen if hockey fans in small European nations like Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland will support a “Team Europe” comprised of players from those countries in the NHL’s proposed World Cup of Hockey.
NJ.COM: The former president of the Prudential Center is suing New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, claiming Lamoriello cost him millions of dollars.