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July 6 (The Sports Xchange) - The Washington Capitals re-signed center Evgeny Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million contract, the team announced Monday. Kuznetsov, 23, had 11 goals and 26 assists in 80 games with Washington last season. He ranked eighth among NHL rookies in assists and ninth in points. - - The Boston Bruins signed forward Jimmy Hayes to a three-year contract through the 2017-18 season. The deal is worth $6.9 million ($2.3 million salary cap hit), the team announced. - - The Toronto Maple Leafs signed free agent forward Shawn Matthias to a one-year contract. ...
The Summer of 2015 will be remembered as the Summer of the Offer Sheet Threat, which in turn made it the Summer of the RFA Long-Term Deal, as evidenced by the trade-and-sign journeys of Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad.  Does that mean that the bridge contract – short-term, lower cap hit than if the contract gobbled up unrestricted years – is on the wane? As James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail wrote on Monday: “The landscape is shifting rapidly in the favour of players such as Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), Derek Stepan (the Rangers) and Braden Holtby (Washington), who can all make a case they deserve to be paid like stars.” True, but there are some stragglers. We saw Nazem Kadri sign a $4.1 million deal for one year from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, and on Monday the Washington Capitals signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to a 2-year, $6-million deal. From the Caps: Kuznetsov, 23, earned 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 80 games with Washington last season, marking the most points a Capitals rookie has registered in a season since John Carlson (37) in 2010-11. The 6’2”, 204-pound center also became the 13th rookie in franchise history to earn 25 assists in a season. Kuznetsov registered five multi-point games last season and scored on four consecutive shootout attempts in 2014-15, matching the longest streak in the NHL. He led all Capitals rookies in goals (11), assists (26), points (37) and games played (80) and ranked eighth among NHL rookies in assists (26) and ninth in points (37). Kuznetsov was selected by Washington in the first round, 26th overall, in the 2010 NHL Draft. It was expected that the Capitals would go with a 2-to-3-year deal with Kuznetsov, which works out well for both sides. It gives the Capitals cap flexibility that it needs, and it gives Kuznetsov a chance to really break the bank when he blossoms into the offensive star his rookie season promised. Because how many guys can do this in a playoff game?  

Posted by Yardbarker: Toronto Maple Leafs on July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized with No Comments

The best Toronto Maple Leafs moment since 1967. (Photo via QMI Agency) Check Out Hockey Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with TheHockeyGuys Podcast on BlogTalkRadio Hunter and Chris start the show off by talking about several signings around the National Hockey League, including Ryan O’Reilly, Joel Ward, Nazem Kadri, and Shawn Matthias. The co-hosts are then joined by David Singer (@Singer), founder of Hockey Fights, to talk about how he launched the website, his views on fighting in the game, and his upcoming project “Ice Guardians”. The post The Hockey Guys Podcast: Episode 53 — David Singer of Hockey Fights appeared first on The Hockey Guys.
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Posted by Yardbarker: Toronto Maple Leafs on July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized with No Comments

July 1st marked the first day of free agency for the 2015 NHL off season and it produced some fireworks. Before grading the Maple Leafs’ free agency moves, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a franchise altering move. On July 1st, 2015, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded their best player, Phil Kessel, to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In exchange the Leafs received Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling in addition to a first and third round pick in 2016. Along with Kessel the Leafs sent Tim Erixon, former first round bust Tyler Biggs and a 2016 second round pick to the Penguins. The Leafs also agreed to retain 1.25 million of Kessel’s salary. Breaking Down The Trade View image | Phil Kessel is an elite scorer. In the past three NHL seasons only 8 players have accumulated the same or more points than Phil Kessel. This puts Phil Kessel into some pretty elite company in today’s NHL, so let’s look at the Leafs’ return for their once prolific right winger. Kasperi Kapanen is very yo
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) Friday afternoon, while everyone was getting good and prepared for the Independence Day weekend, the Sabres snuck in a contract that surprised the hell out of the hockey world, and seems to have even led to many a derisive chuckle from the peanut gallery. “Seven years and $7.5 million for Ryan O'Reilly? Seems like a whole lot.” It is, in point of fact, the largest contract ever given to a Buffalo Sabre, and it therefore seems at least a little bold — especially because, in three years' time, Jack Eichel is going to get a much, much bigger one — to give that kind of money to a guy who is perceived as having never in his life played first-line minutes. But in terms of how he was used by Patrick Roy, something over which he has no control, his minutes are often more difficult than those of, say, Matt Duchene, who gets the benefit of much easier zone starts but only slightly harder competition. And over the last four seasons, the total amount of 5-on-5 ice time separating them every night is 17 seconds, in O'Reilly's favor. So just to get that out of the way: O'Reilly played slightly harder minutes against roughly comparable competition to Clear No. 1 Center Matt Duchene Who Is Great. What's more, there is and has been this odd perception that O'Reilly is somehow not an effective producer, despite the fact that he has more points per 60 minutes (1.83) over the last four seasons than guys like Ryan Johansen (1.71), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1.69), Paul Stastny (1.66), and so on. He's also in the same neighborhood as Nicklas Backstrom (1.86) and Joe Pavelski (1.87), etc. That's not a huge number — it's tied for 43rd among centers over that span — but it's better than most people give him credit for. On the other hand, he's one of only 20 centers in the league to clear 0.7 points per game overall and 250 games played since 2011-12. The rest of his company is pretty good , though. Tavares, Backstrom, Getzlaf, Seguin, Toews, Thornton, Sedin, Kopitar, Eric Staal, Pavelski, Couture, Ribeiro, Krejci, Duchene, Bergeron, Stepan, Nugent-Hopkins, Jeff Carter. Elite company, that. And wouldn't you know it: The average 2015-16 cap hit for the other 19 guys on this list is about $6.5 million, though a lot of those guys are on deals that were signed at least two years ago, when the cap was lower, or are older and therefore not going to get as much money. That number also doesn't include that coming deal for Derek Stepan, whose contract will at least be close to O'Reilly's if it doesn't exceed it.  Anze Kopitar, for example, would likely make well north of his current $6.8 million cap if he hit the market this summer, despite the fact that he is four years older than O'Reilly. People would give him O'Reilly money happily, and feel they got a discount. And while Kopitar is better, he's also had a better supporting cast, and a coach who actually knows how to run a hockey team successfully over the long haul. In addition, though, O'Reilly has, over the last four seasons, actually been among the best producers on the power play in the entire league. Among all forwards , his 4.96 points per 60 minutes of power play time is 29th in the league. Almost everyone ahead of him is an elite forward in this league (Seguin, Stamkos, Hall, both Sedins, Kessel, Kane, etc.). But even still, the problem with O'Reilly, who has 90 goals 246 points in 427 career games, is that if you're looking at just his point production you are doing him a disservice. (That's right, folks, it's time for a look at O'Reilly's underlying numbers!!!!) He is, in fact, elite-level valuable in terms of his ability to drive possession numbers for his team, which is admittedly terrible at this sort of thing. All those middling stats about scoring at 5-on-5 become world-class when you talk about possession. Among all forwards, the improvement Colorado has seen in its possession numbers — which, you have to keep in mind, tend to be dreadful — when O'Reilly is on the ice is 35th in the league. The improvement from about 46 percent to 50.3 percent is a big, big jump. It's like going from a garbage team like this past season's Toronto club to a very middling one like Minnesota. In addition to all that, O'Reilly is also an clear No. 1 faceoff man among heavily-used centers, placing 26th in the league at 5-on-5 over four seasons, which has a certain amount of value — though not as much as people will generally believe — to a club that got murdered at the dot last season; Buffalo's 44.9 percent on draws was 30th in the league and not particularly close to the teams that tied for 28th and 29th (the Rangers and Canucks at 46.7 percent). But, if you're not convinced O'Reilly is worth that kind of money, you're not going to be convinced by the good but not great scoring lines, strong possession numbers, top-level faceoff stats, and so on. The fact is, most of that data says he's probably not worth $7.5 million. You have to keep in mind that, while he played with good forwards a lot of the time, the defense behind him was typically underwhelming at best.
July 5 (The Sports Xchange) - The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract Sunday. Tambellini, 31, has skated in 242 career NHL games over six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks, recording 27 goals and 63 points. The Calgary, Alberta, native played his last NHL season with the Canucks during the 2010-11 campaign. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Tambellini played in 30 games with Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss-A League in 2014-15. ...

Posted by Yardbarker: Toronto Maple Leafs on July 5, 2015 in Uncategorized with No Comments

TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Maple Leafs signed forward Nazem Kadri to a one-year contract extension on Sunday. The 24-year-old Kadri finished fourth among Maple Leaf players in scoring last season with 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 73 regular-season games. Kadri has appeared in 250 NHL games - all with Toronto - and has 152 points (64 goals, 88 assists). Kadri was selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2009 draft.

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