Award winners, Las Vegas awarded expansion franchise, Panthers re-sign Yandle & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 


Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane poses with the Art Ross, Hart and Lindsay Awards.

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane poses with the Art Ross, Hart and Lindsay Awards.

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane became the first American player to win the Hart Trophy in NHL history. He already won the Art Ross trophy as the league’s leading scorer. Kane also won the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the players.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby won the Vezina Trophy, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty took home the James Norris Memorial Trophy, Chicago Blackhawks rookie winner Artemi Panarin received the Calder Memorial Trophy,  Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar was honored with the Frank J. Selke and Lady Byng Memorial trophies and Florida Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr received the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz won the Jack Adams Award and Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was named GM of the Year.

The league also revealed its First and Second All-Star Teams for 2015-16 and its All-Rookie Team.

The NHL also officially announced the city of Las Vegas, Nevada was awarded an expansion franchise. The league will receive a $500 million expansion free from Bill Foley, billionaire businessman and the franchise’s principal owner. That fee will be divided evenly among the 30 existing teams.

Rules for the 2017 expansion draft were officially unveiled. Among the notable points:

Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

 

NBC SPORTS: League commissioner Gary Bettman explained Quebec City’s application for an expansion franchise was deferred owing to the volatility of the Canadian dollar and concerns over geographic imbalance between the Conferences. Bettman also denied there are any existing NHL teams that could be relocating.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can bet, however, that if an existing franchise ends up in need of relocation, Quebec City will be the top destination. They’ll also in line for an expansion franchise down the road, once the league sorts out its geographic issues. 

MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Keith Yandle to a seven-year, $44.5 million contract. The Panthers acquired Yandle’s rights from the New York Rangers earlier this week. The annual average salary of the new deal is $6.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The dollar term is around the $6.5 million I expected Yandle to receive on the open market, but I think the term is two years too long. Still, Yandle’s a worthwhile acquisition by the Panthers, replacing the departing 37-year-old Brian Campbell on their blueline.

Yandle’s a skilled puckmoving defenseman with 369 career points. At 29, he’s still in his playing prime and should be a key part of the Panthers ongoing development.

This signing leaves the Panthers with over $16 million in cap space. That should leave them sufficient room for another addition at forward via trade or free agency and to re-sign center Vincent Trocheck.

NEWSDAY: The NHL has approved the transfer of majority ownership in the New York Islanders from Charles Wang to Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks re-signed center Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year contract.

TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Respected TSN insider and hockey analyst Bob McKenzie said he plans to work for another four seasons and then retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means McKenzie will be finished at the end of the 2019-20 campaign. His departure will leave a huge void in the world of hockey media. He’s the most respected and best-connected pundit in the NHL.