Sports

Trade: Senators send Dion Phaneuf to Kings

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Dion Phaneuf‘s contract isn’t pretty, but after seeing it move twice in trades already, you can’t say that it’s impossible to trade.

The Ottawa Senators proved that after the Toronto Maple Leafs before them,* sending the defenseman and (most) of his enormous contract to the Los Angeles Kings in a startling deal that might really kick off the looming trade deadline.

* – Not to mention the Calgary Flames, although that was on a previous deal.

Update:The Kings made the trade official. GM Rob Blake had this to say about Phaneuf:

“Dion brings to our club a great deal of experience and leadership. He also plays with a physical edge which complements our line-up well. Nate has a good reputation of being a high-energy player on the ice. Both guys are also high character guys,” Blake said.

TSN’s Darren Dreger was the first to report the terms with others reporting the same, while the deal hasn’t been confirmed by the teams yet:

Kings get: Phaneuf (at that 25-percent discount) and Nate Thompson. This means Phaneuf will carry a $5.25 million cap hit for L.A. through 2020-21.

Senators receive:Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore.

Why?

The Senators’ perspective is simple: they save money. While Gaborik carries a $4.875 million cap hit through 2020-21, his actual salary really plummets starting next season. Shore’s contract expires while Thompson is owed $1.65M in 2018-19.

It’s pretty easy to see the Senators’ side of this, especially when you consider their budgetary concerns.

The Kings’ perspective is a little more surprising, at least since still-fairly-new GM Rob Blake seemed to be changing some of the organization’s habits. Going for a big name with a big contract feels a lot like some of the hit-or-miss moves from former GM Dean Lombardi’s latter years, like trading for Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla. (Not to mention Vincent Lecavalier.)

Looking at Phaneuf’s stats from a variety of perspectives, you generally get “middling” if you’re optimistic and “flat-out bad” the deeper you dig. Via this handy tool from CJ Turtoro using Corey Sznajder’s data, you can see that Phaneuf doesn’t really compare all that favorably to Derek Forbort, a Kings defenseman they’d likely hope to upgrade on:

Perhaps the Kings believe that Phaneuf can turn things around with a change of scenery?

The Kings are battling for a playoff spot, and with an aging core, they’re clearly trying to make the most of this sometimes-promising season. Acquiring Phaneuf is quite a gamble, though.

Side note: Both teams lost their games on Tuesday. The Senators fell 6-3 to the Penguins while the Hurricanes handed the Kings a 7-3 drubbing.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

The New Jersey Devils already weren’t fans of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, considering how unhappy they were about a hit on Kyle Palmieri (with Travis Zajac surprisingly dolling out justice in a fight).

That bitterness may only climb after Tuesday, as Taylor Hall has yet to return after an enormous hit by Gudas. The check was delivered while Hall was in the process of scoring a goal, his 22nd of the season. Gudas actually scored a goal of his own in this game, his second of 2017-18.

Gudas was not penalized for the check; do you think that hit deserves special attention from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety?

We’ll have to wait and see if Hall comes back to this game. The Flyers entered the third period with a 4-3 lead, so it’s possible that their winning streak may continue while the Devils’ struggles might persist.

Update: While it’s important to remember that sometimes players briefly return to games only to miss time later, this is a great early sign for a Devils team that is already dealing with Cory Schneider‘s absence.

Not only did Taylor Hall return, he ended up scoring another goal in this game, helping the Devils pull off a 5-4 shootout win. Wow.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

SEATTLE (AP) A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press the group looking to bring professional hockey to the city of Seattle has formally filed its expansion application with the National Hockey League.

The person spoke to the AP on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because the league was not commenting on the situation. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also tweeted that Oak View Group had submitted the filing with the NHL.

The Oak View Group and its prospective NHL ownership group, led by billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer, submitted the expansion application and $10 million filing fee. The expansion application has been expected for weeks and is the next step in Seattle’s ongoing hope of bringing an NHL franchise to the largest market in the United States without a professional winter sports franchise.

If Seattle is successful in its expansion bid, the new franchise would bring the league to an even 32 teams with 16 in each conference. A new team would also yield a hefty expansion fee – in the neighborhood of $650 million.

AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow contributed to this report.

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Philadelphia Flyers fans might be getting used to the bittersweet mix of good and bad news during this season, so today brought that familiar taste.

The good news is that they entered Tuesday’s game on a four-game winning streak, with about as comfortable a hold on a playoff spot as they’ve enjoyed in years. They’re even moving on up PHT’s Power Rankings.

If a competitive Metropolitan Division wasn’t already enough to introduce a “Yeah, but …” element, a key injury will do the trick: the Flyers announced bad news that starting goalie Brian Elliott is expected to miss five-to-six weeks after undergoing “core muscle” surgery. Depending upon how things go, such a timetable excludes the veteran netminder from either a significant chunk or the remainder of the regular season, which ends on April 7.

Let’s mix the good and bad news a bit more: at least this announcement came before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

The question is, then: should the Flyers pay a price to add another goalie option or stick with a combination that appears to be Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon?

Management kept things vague, especially since there are plenty of goalies on expiring contracts:

Interesting. In the latest edition of “31 Thoughts,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes that the Flyers have had some talks with the Buffalo Sabres.

There are any number of interesting Sabres the Flyers could be acquiring about, including a physical and talented forward in Evander Kane. That said, pending RFA goalie Robin Lehner‘s $4 million cap hit expires after 2018-19, and he’s the type who checks boxes of being intimidating much like GM Ron Hextall was, and most importantly, sneaky-capable (a .918 save percentage during his Buffalo years). The sneaky-capable part fits with Hextall’s goalie M.O., from Elliott to finding value in a reclamation project with Steve Mason.

The Flyers could aim for plenty of other options, including Petr Mrazek, who’s in a similar situation to Lehner.

On the other hand, Neuvirth is an experienced goalie, so Hextall might just opt to stay put.

While Neuvirth’s 7-7-2 record is underwhelming so far in 2017-18, it sure seems like he’s been capable so far, producing a nice .917 save percentage in 18 appearances. So far in his days with Philly, we’ve seen the best of Neuvirth (.924 save percentage in 2015-16) and the worst (.891 in 2016-17). That downside might give Hextall some pause, especially if the asking rate for a goalie isn’t too steep.

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(For even more from the Flyers’ perspective, check out this post from Jordan Hall of NBC Sports Philadelphia.)

Rather than worrying about Neuvirth, the Flyers might want better insurance than Alex Lyon can provide. The 25-year-old only has three middling NHL games under his belt so far, and his AHL stats won’t blow you away.

This injury presents Hextall with a tough call: do you gamble a bit by sending assets away for another goalie, or do you cross your fingers that they can make it work until Elliott returns?

For all we know, that decision might just make or break Philly’s (currently promising) bid to make the playoffs.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Slava Voynov is at the Olympics despite his conviction for domestic abuse. In a way, he is at the Olympics because of it.

The Russian defenseman remains indefinitely suspended from the National Hockey League over a 2014 incident that got him sentenced to 90 days in jail on a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse.

Were he still in the league, he’d have to watch on TV as the Olympics hosts its first tournament without NHL players since 1994. Since he is no longer an NHL player, he is eligible and his experience as a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Los Angeles Kings makes him crucial to the roster of ”Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

”I know that he’s a good player and obviously he deserves to be here,” teammate Mikhail Grigorenko said after practice Tuesday. ”He’s one of our leaders on defense, so I’m not surprised he’s here. The around-hockey stuff, there’s people that decide that.”

Voynov’s conviction for assaulting his wife, Marta Varlamova, after a Halloween party didn’t stop him getting an invite to the Pyeongchang Games from the International Olympic Committee, which set strict criteria to bar Russians linked to a state-backed doping program. However, it didn’t rule out those with criminal convictions for other matters.

”We have been reassured by the Russian National Olympic Committee (suspended) that ‘no court or other official decision has been ever rendered which would prevent Mr. Voynov from competing in international competitions and enjoying his athlete’s rights on an equal footing with other athletes,”’ the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press. ”They have stressed that, ‘The court decision taken in the United States of America with regard to Mr. Voynov has been completely executed.”’

Authorities in Los Angeles said Voynov choked and hit his wife and pushed her into a TV in their Redondo Beach bedroom after an argument that began at a party attended by other Kings players. His wife required eight stitches to close up a cut over her eye. Voynov pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge, avoiding trial on a felony count.

The NHL did not allow Voynov to play for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey in September 2016 because he was suspended. It was unclear whether Voynov would have been legally able to enter Canada based on the terms of his conviction in the United States.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said it doesn’t have the power to exclude Voynov from international competitions.

”The IIHF does not have rules similar to the NHL that would provide it or the president the power to render Voynov ineligible for non-hockey related violations that did not occur in IIHF competitions,” spokesman Adam Steiss told the AP. ”We would have respected the NHL’s suspension if he was currently playing in the NHL.”

Since leaving the United States, Voynov has played in the Kontinental Hockey League for SKA St. Petersburg, which receives substantial funding from Russian state gas company Gazprom. He rarely speaks in public and did not speak with media in South Korea this week despite repeated requests to team officials.

Russia opens the tournament Wednesday against Slovakia, with Voynov expected to play a key role at his second Olympics, and his teammates have expressed support for him.

Former Vancouver Canucks forward Sergei Shirokov said at practice: ”Slava Voynov is a good defenseman, really good player, and it’s good.”

More AP Olympics: https://wintergames.ap.org

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