Latest Stanley Cup Final news, tributes pour in for Gordie Howe & more in today’s collection of NHL morning headlines.
THE MERCURY NEWS: After defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, there’s a growing sense of believe among the San Jose Sharks that they can still win this series. The Sharks trail the Penguins by a margin of three games to two. Game 6 goes on Sunday in San Jose.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are battling history, as only one team (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) rebounded from a 3-1 series lead (in the Leafs case, they were down 3-0) to win the Stanley Cup. Teams holding a 3-1 series lead in the Cup Final won the championship in 31 of 32 series. While the odds still favor the Penguins, a win by the Sharks in Game 6 forces a winner-take-all Game 7. That could tilt the odds in the Sharks’ favor.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins goalie Matt Murray hopes to learn from his rough first period in Game 5. He gave up two goals on three shots in the opening three minutes of that period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s looked shaky in two of his last three starts, with save percentages of .885 and .857 in Games 3 and 5 respectively. However, Murray’s shown the ability to bounce back from a bad game. He could do the same in Game 6.
TSN: Tributes are pouring in from around the hockey world in remembrance of the life and career of Gordie Howe, who passed away yesterday at age 88.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s my take from yesterday. The hockey world is a colder place today. RIP Mr. Hockey.
SPORTSNET: With the NHL board of governors expected to vote on awarding an expansion franchise to Las Vegas, existing teams are receiving information on a potential expansion draft:
“A minimum of two forwards and one defenceman must be exposed who have played 40 games the previous season, or a total of 70 over the previous two.
There is also a requirement that the 40/70 players are under contract for the first expansion season.
Each team will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie.
Players holding no-movement clauses – including those modified by limited no-trades, such as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury – count against the protection limit, provided that those contracts and clauses extend through the 2017-18 season.
Players with no-movement clauses on deals that expire June 30, 2017 won’t have to be protected if the draft is held before that date.
Teams will also be permitted to ask players to waive their no-movement clauses for inclusion in the expansion draft.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bit about the no-movement clauses is important to note, as it was widely assumed players like Fleury wouldn’t have to be protected. That could mean the Penguins try to trade him this summer, as they’ll obviously want to protect rookie goalie Matt Murray.
THE TENNESSEAN: Agent J.P. Barry, who represents winger Filip Forsberg, said progress is being made in contract talks with the Nashville Predators, stating the two sides are zeroing in on a new deal. Forsberg is completing an entry-level contract. Forsberg could receive a new contract comparable to those of Columbus Blue Jackets winger Brandon Saad (six years, $36 million) and St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (eight years, $60 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing Forsberg gets six years at $6 million per.
NORTH JERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils traded minor league forwards Paul Thompson and Graham Black to the Florida Panthers in exchange for their second-round pick in 2018 and the contract of all-but-retired forward Marc Savard. Next season (2016-17) is the final season of Savard’s contract worth a cap hit of $4.03 million, though in actual salary it’s worth only $575,000.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smart move by the Devils, as this moves them closer to a possible salary-cap floor of $55 million without paying out much in actual salary. There was also speculation suggesting the Devils could be a destination for the contract of Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk if he decides to play in Russia next season. The Savard acquisition probably takes them out of the equation.
TWINCITIES.COM: Former Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom signed Friday with HIFK in Finland. It will likely be the last professional season for the oft-injured Backstrom.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames have reportedly signed Czech goalie David Rittich to a one-year contract.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ticket info for next season’s Heritage Classic Game between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets was released yesterday.