Latest on the Stanley Cup Finalists, an update on Niklas Backstrom, NHL and KHL may be close to a new agreement and more.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Lightning goalie Ben Bishop’s status remains uncertain for Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Chicago. Bishop twice left Game Two in the second period, resulting in backup Andrei Vasilevskiy finishing the game in his place. Bishop and Lightning coach Jon Cooper remain tight-lipped over his status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some reporters claim Bishop was spotted yesterday walking without a limp and didn’t seem in any discomfort as he traveled with his teammates to Chicago.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee) and left wing Bryan Bickell (undisclosed) could return to the lineup for Game Three of the Cup Final.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom underwent elbow surgery following the season. That could prevent the club from buying out the final season of his contract if he hasn’t received medical clearance before June 30, the end date of the NHL’s two-week buyout period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild currently have over $61 million invested in their payroll for next season, including Backstrom’s $3.417 million cap hit. They hope to re-sign pending UFA goalie Devan Dubnyk and must re-sign RFAs Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula. Those signings could eat up most of their available cap space, leaving little room for other additions.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Experts consider the timing ripe for Pittsburgh Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle to sell their interests in the club. Among the factors: the team has a long-term arena lease designed to keep them in Pittsburgh, a lucrative local broadcasting deal which runs to 2028-29, star power in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin plus the league is operating on a CBA which doesn’t expire until 2022.
NBC SPORTS: The NHL and KHL are reportedly nearing a new transfer agreement which would create a system where there could be fees per player that switches leagues.