Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Cap Issues

(10/24/2020)

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet, Some of these clubs — the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, in particular — need to prioritize locking up their own restricted players instead of looking elsewhere. (And certainly some franchises not on this list have internal caps set by ownership they must solve.) Not only has a crowded cap hellscape left more UFAs on the board than normal and forced a surge in minimum-wage contracts, but in-season manoeuvres could also suffer with a lack of breathing room. Without further ado, here’s a look at 10 teams living in cap hell, and how and when they might climb out. Tampa Bay Lightning Cap space: $2.9 million Roster size: 18/23 The difference between the Blues and Lightning and the rest of these franchises in a bind is about 14 karats. No doubt, it’s easier to rationalize life in cap hell when you’re wearing a Cup ring. Tampa is the early Las Vegas favourite to go all the way again in 2021, but GM Julien BriseBois has some serious lifting to do yet. All three RFAs — Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak — are players worth investing in. All three need raises. Even with letting nice role players like Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian walk, more money needs to be shipped out. That Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) cleared waivers unclaimed — and that loyal captain Steven Stamkos’s name was dared to be raised in trade rumours — illustrates just how difficult it’ll be to get money off the books here. BriseBois will either need to attach draft picks to tough contracts (Johnson, Alex Killorn) or ship out a player he’d rather keep (Ondrej Palat? Yanni Gourde?). This is one heckuva pickle, but banners hang forever. nine more teams

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

High Grades For Ken Holland

(10/24/2020)

from David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, In a Cult of Hockey poll, fans weighed in and handed Holland high marks with 86.5 per cent of them giving him a grade of A or B: On Oilers Now, former NHL GM Brian Lawton said Holland did well. “For me, when I look at how teams have done, and I’ve been going through and seeing who had made some really nice adjustments in the offseason that will help them win more, I always compare it to what their ability was to spend money as well. The Oilers didn’t have a lot of money to spend. What they were able to accomplish, I would actually rank in the top third in terms of the position they were starting from.” Article content continued And former NHL GM Brian Burke, also on Oilers Now talking to Bob Stauffer: “I think Kenny is a Hall-of-Fame for a reason. I know people are upset about the goaltending but keep in mind the goaltending was above average during the regular season. It just kind of fell apart in the playoffs. I use MacGyver analogy. I used to watch MacGyver. He always found a solution. When you’ve got cap issues there’s two courses of action you can follow. You can do nothing or you can use a little bit of chicken wire and chewing gum and cobble together a solution, and that’s what Kenny has done. He’s used small chips, short term deals, small deals. I loved Turris coming in in the three hole. He’s taken the small amount of cap room he had and maximized it.” read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

2021 Winter Classic And All-Star Weekend Have Been Postponed

(10/22/2020)

NEW YORK (Oct. 22, 2020) -- The National Hockey League today announced the postponements of the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. The 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, featuring the Minnesota Wild facing the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021. The Florida Panthers were to host the 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., originally scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2021. Both events have been postponed due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus. The League intends to return to both Minnesota and Florida for these signature events in the near future. “Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer. “Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended. We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.” Today's announcement does not impact the joint declaration by the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association on Oct. 6 that we are targeting on or around Jan. 1 as the start date for the upcoming NHL season.

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Four Players On The Toronto Maple Leafs Account For Half Of The Salary Cap

(10/22/2020)

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star, ...given that Tavares and hard-negotiating colleagues Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will combine to earn about 50 per cent of the $81.5-million salary cap next season, the top-heavy roster has created a problematic imbalance in Leafland. The imbalance, for now, is financial. Time will tell if it gets personal. While the Leafs have spent the off-season attempting to address various weaknesses — adding to their depth on defence while addressing the lack of “grit and work ethic” acknowledged by team president Brendan Shanahan at last season’s end — they’ve also created the potential for a dressing-room divide. At the top of the food chain is a few star players who, if they don’t perform superbly, can be easily framed as greedy hogs who’ve commandeered the trough. Meanwhile, there’s a larger group of modestly paid but still important players who can make the case — as Mikheyev already has — that they have, unlike their highest-paid brethren, sacrificed for the cause. Count among that cadre veteran grit provider Wayne Simmonds, who signed on for a modest $1.5 million; Joe Thornton, the 41-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer in waiting who signed for the veteran minimum of $700,000; and Jason Spezza, another $700,000 lifer. Thornton and Spezza aren’t the only potentially key contributors who’ve jumped at the chance to play for the Leafs even though they will earn $1 million or less next season. The list also includes Zach Bogosian, Jimmy Vesey and KHL defenceman Mikko Lehtonen. Marner, a year after engaging in the hardest of hardball negotiations with the club that brought him a six-year deal worth an annual $10.893 million, sounded more than slightly tone deaf this week when he lauded the willingness of so many of the new arrivals to join the Leafs for relatively humble wages. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Bubble Effects

(10/21/2020)

from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News, ...The client had begun his off-season program. Prentiss was putting him through the paces like it was any summer between seasons. Suddenly, the client stopped. “I just can’t get my head into this,” the client said. He had to walk away, mid-workout. His heart, body and mind weren’t in it. It was the bubble hangover. The client played for a team that made the NHL post-season tournament. He’d spent weeks and months training after the March-12 shutdown in hopes of peaking physically in time for the bubble. He trained inside the bubble. He played a rigorous schedule that commonly included three games in four nights and regular back-to-backs. Now he was embarking on an off-season workout plan with no confident understanding of whether the NHL would meet its planned return date of Jan. 1. And something just switched off. After a pattern of training, waiting, training, playing and training, then back to training…he wasn’t ready. Prentiss and his staff paused the program. The NHL just completed the first “bubble season” in its history. Doing so required unprecedented preparation for the athletes who competed inside. Once there, they endured unusual physical and mental strain during the tournament. Now that the athletes have left the bubble, they need a different timeline of recovery and workout-plan customization than in any other off-season. What has the experience been like from a training perspective for NHLers before, during and after the bubble? more