Check out the latest preseason news on your favorite NHL Canadian teams.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames have opened contract talks with defenseman Kris Russell, who is slated next summer to become an unrestricted free agent. He’ll earn $2.6 million this season, and given his recent performance and value to the Flames blue line, he will be in line for a significant raise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell was among my 10 potential NHL free agents with the most to gain this season. He’s been overshadowed by Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and the recent-acquired Dougie Hamilton, but Russell is a very important part of the Flames defense. Re-signing him won’t be easy, as he could easily double his current annual salary on the open market next summer.
WINNIPEG SUN: Speaking of the Flames, they were doused by the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in preseason play on Saturday.
THE VANCOUVER SUN/EDMONTON SUN: The Canucks put forward Brandon Sutter on the Sedin Line against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Sutter went scoreless in the Canucks 3-2 win. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed defenseman Nikita Nikitin on waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one will take Nikitin’s $4.5 million salary off the Oilers hands via waivers. They could demote him, though they’ll only get $950K in cap relief. Most likely, they’re hoping this move alerts a rival club seeking blueline depth that Nikitin’s available, though the Oilers will either have to absorb part of Nikitin’s cap hit or pick up a salaried player in return to make this work.
OTTAWA CITIZEN/MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Senators 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens proved costly as winger Clarke MacArthur left the game following a second-period collision with teammate Mark Fraser. No word yet as to the severity of his injury. Meanwhile, Canadiens backup Dustin Tokarski, who’s struggled in preseason play, admitted he didn’t have a good game against the Sens.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs suffered their fifth straight preseason loss, falling 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. It was the first time Leafs coach Mike Babcock faced his former team.