What Are Jason Botterill’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Buffalo Sabres?
Updates on Alex Ovechkin, Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will skip playing for Russia at the World Championships because of a lower-body injury. Russian coach Oleg Znarok said Ovechin played through knee and hamstring injuries during the Stanley Cup playoffs requiring pain-numbing injections. More details on his condition could be revealed today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would certainly explain why Ovechkin appeared at times to struggle in this year’s postseason. The knee injury could be linked to the hip check from Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri during their opening-round series.
NBC SPORTS: Veteran winger Rick Nash is under contract through next season and intends to return with the New York Rangers. However, he acknowledges change could be coming for the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers put Nash on the trade block this summer I doubt they’ll find many takers. He’s 32, carries a $7.8 million cap hit and is a year away from UFA status.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators shipping defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen was a gamble that paid off. He’s been a significant contributor to this success thus far in the 2017 playoffs.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Marc Methot is focused on beating the Pittsburgh Penguins and not getting revenge on Sidney Crosby for the slash that severed the tip of Methot’s left baby finger during a game in March.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. It’s also unclear if Penguins winger Carl Hagelin’s scratch from Game 7 against the Capitals was injury related.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Defenseman Kevin Bieksa (lower-body injury) is “very, very close” to returning to the Anaheim Ducks lineup. Winger Patrick Eaves (lower left leg) is no long on crutches and the Ducks are hopeful he’ll return at some point in the playoffs.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Chicago Blackhawks re-signed forward Richard Panik to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a notable pay raise for Panik, who earned $875K last season, but it’s an affordable one for the Blackhawks considering the 26-year-old’s breakout performance (22 goals, 44 points) in 2016-17. The signing, however, pushes the Hawks to over $73 million for next season, leaving little wiggle for other signings or additions.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday announced they’ve hired Jason Botterill as their new general manager.