NHL 2016-17 schedule released, Alex Goligoski signs with Coyotes, Vincent Lecavalier retires & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league released its full schedule for 2016-17, with opening night slated for Oct. 12. Four outdoor games are slated, including the Centennial Classic in Toronto on Jan. 1 between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings and the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 in St. Louis between the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. The All-Star break will be Jan. 27-30 and the trade deadline is Feb. 28. The regular season ends on Apr. 9.
The league and the NHLPA announced the salary cap ceiling for 2016-17 will be $73 million and the cap floor set at $54 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That ceiling is $200K higher than recent media projections ($72.8 million) but $1 million less than the league’s original estimate of $74 million. The reason it was raised was due to the PA voting to approve its annual five percent escalator clause.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Reports indicate the Arizona Coyotes have signed defenseman Alex Goligoski to a five-year contract worth $5.5 million per season. The Coyotes recently acquired Goligoski’s rights from the Dallas Stars. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski is completing a four-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $4.6 million. This is a reasonable contract for a pending UFA defenseman like Goligoski. It’s not a ridiculously high raise and the term is reasonable for a blueliner due to turn 31 in July.
It’s a good addition for the Coyotes, who needed another experienced puck-moving blueliner to take some of the burden off Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Goligoski also plays a smart game in his own zone and averages over 23 minutes per game.
The Coyotes still have over $33 million in cap space. While they probably won’t spend to the cap ceiling, they have enough to re-sign other key players and perhaps make another addition or two via trade or free agency.
SPORTSNET: Los Angeles Kings center Vincent Lecavalier announced his retirement. In 17 NHL seasons spent with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and the Kings, he scored 421 goals and 528 assists for 949 points in 1,212 games. He won the Richard Trophy in 2007 as the league’s top goal scorer and helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2004.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lecavalier remains the Lightning’s all-time leader in games-played (1, 037) and goals (383). His 108 points in 2006-07 remains the franchise single-season record.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Patrick Kane is spending the summer training in Chicago, rather than his hometown of Buffalo. “A source said the team wanted Kane to stay in Chicago for the summer, to keep his focus on hockey and to keep him away from any potential trouble back home. Through a spokesperson, Kane and the team said it was purely Kane’s decision.”
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Ryan Callahan underwent hip surgery on Tuesday and will be sidelined for five months.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues are likely to stick with their goalie tandem of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen next season.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a two-year contract worth an average annual salary of $1.15 million.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: A source claims Rogers Sportsnet’s decision to bring back Ron MacLean as host of Hockey Night in Canada was apparently passed by league commissioner Gary Bettman first for his approval.