NHL Could Face A Reckoning on CTE
Results of the opening round of the 2018 NHL Draft, plus the latest on John Carlson, Paul Martin, Phil Kessel and much more in your morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres selected Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Carolina Hurricanes took right wing Andrei Svechnikov second overall, the Montreal Canadiens selected center Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall, the Ottawa Senators took left wing Brady Tkachuk with the fourth selection and the Arizona Coyotes used the fifth overall selection to take Barrett Hayton. You can see the full list of the 31 selections by following this link. Rounds 2 through 7 will be held today starting at 11 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were a few surprises among the top-10 selections. Hayton went much higher than expected while forward Filip Zadina dropped to the sixth overall selection and the Chicago Blackhawks surprised by selecting defenseman Adam Boqvist. Those moves saw a reshuffling of the projected order, resulting in the Edmonton Oilers landing defenseman Evan Bouchard (10th overall) and the New York Islanders getting blueliner Noah Dobson 12th overall.
There was also a notable lack of trades involving established NHL players in the opening round. Just prior to the start of the draft, the Washington Capitals dealt goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick (47th overall). I’ll have more on the absence of deals later this morning in the Rumors section. I’ll have analysis on any notable moves later today in my Soapbox section.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said his club is really close to re-signing defenseman John Carlson, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Dealing defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado yesterday freed up $5.5-million of salary cap space, providing much-needed room to sign Carlson, who could get an eight-year deal worth around $8 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The interview period for potential UFAs to speak with other clubs begins on Monday, June 25. MacLellan obviously wants to ensure Carlson is signed before then.
THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks placed defenseman Paul Martin on unconditional waivers Friday for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract. The move will free up $3.2 million of salary cap space to put toward re-signing other players or to pursue a free-agent talent such as the New York Islanders’ John Tavares or former KHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk. The Sharks will now have around $19.2 million in cap room.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan denied reports claiming he has a rocky relationship with winger Phil Kessel. He said their relationship is one of mutual respect and that hasn’t changed in the last three seasons. Rumors claiming otherwise emerged following the Penguins second-round elimination from the 2018 playoffs, sparking speculation Kessel could be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sullivan needed to make those remarks about a month ago when those Kessel trade rumors first surfaced. I daresay his comments will be treated with skepticism now.
NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Stephen Johns to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.35 million.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Vancouver Canucks re-signed forward Markus Granlund to a one-year, $1.475-million contract.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Tampa Bay Lightning won’t be re-signing pending UFA winger Chris Kunitz. They re-signed backup goaltender Louis Domingue to a two-year deal worth $2.3 million and hired Jeff Halpern as an assistant coach.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have agreed to a three-year contract with defenseman Samuel Morin. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings hired Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach. Bylsma was formerly head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.
THE ATHLETIC: The Anaheim Ducks have parted ways with assistant coach Steve Konowolchuk.
TSN: Former NHL players Nick Boynton and Dan Carcillo are suing the NHL, “alleging it failed to warn players about the long-term risk of brain damage from fighting.”
Updates on the Capitals, Golden Knights and Senators,the latest on Mike Green, the Lightning and Kings make a trade, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov will not require surgery for injuries suffered during the playoffs. Backstrom had two fractures in his right index finger while Kuznetsov suffered a left-shoulder injury.
Andre Burakovsky revealed he broke both thumbs during the season, one of them in the opening round of the playoffs. Defenseman Brooks Orpik needed surgery to reattach the tip of his left pinkie following a slash by Vegas Golden Knights center Erik Haula in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think anyone’s surprised that Backstrom and Kuznetsov were nursing those respective injuries. Fortunately, they weren’t serious enough to significantly hamper their play in the Stanley Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the status of head coach Barry Trotz, whose contract expires at the end of this month, remains uncertain. Trotz once again said he’d like to return, while general manager Brian MacLellan said he spoke with the coach yesterday morning and intends to meet with ownership to discuss the matter further.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights held a fan appreciation rally yesterday on Fremont Street. Despite a heat advisory, around 7,500 fans turned out to cheer the team.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson traces how the Ottawa Senators became “a dysfunctional mess” this season, from allegations of Mike Hoffman’s fiancee harassing team captain Erik Karlsson’s wife, to ” ownership’s comments at the outdoor game, the swirl of rumours around Karlsson’s future with the team, the waffling on LeBreton, Daniel Alfredsson’s plea for new ownership, to the impending court date for assistant GM Randy Lee in Buffalo”.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan also weighs in on the Senators woes, suggesting things began to fall apart during an unusually lengthy stretch of road games last November. He believes the recent bad news will adversely affect efforts to trade Hoffman (or at least to get a reasonable return for him) and re-sign Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Hoffman’s $5.1-million annual cap hit and now the additional baggage of his fiancee facing harassment allegations, the Senators could find his value is plummeting in the trade market. As for Karlsson, I think he’s a goner now. I know management has stated they intend to offer him a contract extension, but with all that’s transpired since last fall, who could blame him if he rejects it? For that matter, who could fault him if he requests a trade?
MLIVE.COM: Pending free agent defenseman Mike Green has received contract offers of one and two-years from the Detroit Red Wings, who aren’t comfortable with giving him another three-year deal. Green could get lengthier offers on the open market but he likes playing in Detroit.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning traded goaltender Peter Budaj to the Los Angeles Kings yesterday in exchange for forward Andy Andreoff.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has filed a petition asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss his conviction on a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse. He spent nearly two months in jail and received three years of probation. It’s believed this move could be the first step toward his possible return to the NHL.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens won’t be renewing the contracts for three of their amateur scouts.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Nick Boynton recently shared the emotional and physical toll of his 11-year playing career and its effects upon his life since leaving hockey.
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