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The Nation Notebook: Let The Madness Begin

The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

Silly season is about to begin. The Flames and Jets reportedly have interest in the Rangers’ Antti Raanta. Teams have until 5 p.m. ET to ask a player with a NMC to waive for the upcoming expansion draft. There’s too many rumours surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks potentially moving a core player.

It begins…

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators last night to win their second Stanley Cup in a row. For fans of the 29 teams not involved, the fun begins. It’s now the offseason, and it isn’t just any regular one at that. There’s an expansion draft coming up in just over a week, and leading up to it we’re going to see a flurry of moves to an extent we haven’t seen in years.

Raantavailable

Dallas and Carolina already have their new goalies signed long-term, but Calgary and Winnipeg could use some help. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks says both teams are interested in the Rangers’ goalie, but New York management either hasn’t committed to dealing him or received an offer that would make it worth their while.

Raanta might be the next great backup-turned-starter. The Canes are hoping that’s Scott Darling, and it still might be, but Raanta could follow former Rangers’ backup Cam Talbot’s path and become a full-fledged starter next season.

Raanta only has a career high 29 games played in a season, but carries a .917 save percentage across the four seasons he’s been in the NHL. At 28, he’s at the age where he could potentially provide several seasons of strong play in an increased role, which could be useful for a team like Winnipeg, who hasn’t received the most reliable goaltending. Calgary managed to make the playoffs last season with Chad Johnson getting hot and Brian Elliott rebounding after a tough start, but then imploded again in the playoffs. They could use a younger option in net with both Elliott and Johnson over 31-years-old.

NMC Monday

Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts column states that teams have until Monday to ask players to waive their no-move clauses for the expansion draft.

Teams like Ottawa and Anaheim need to know if Dion Phaneuf or Kevin Bieksa would potentially waive and make their expansion plans much easier. However, Friedman brought up Keith Yandle as an interesting name he heard could be asked. That might be a risky decision as Vegas could probably flip him fairly easily, even with that big contract.

Knowing how things get leaked, we should hear whether some big names have decided to yield the power they negotiated in their contracts or trust that their contracts are bad enough to ward off a Vegas claim

Flat Cap

This week’s Nation Notebook is heavy on Larry Brooks material. Brooks says the players association is expected to decline the escalator trigger, which would see the cap remain around roughly the same $73-million ceiling. Brooks notes this isn’t entirely on the NHLPA. The NHL hasn’t done much to generate any revenue for the past season, which seems kinda insane with the World Cup of Hockey and Vegas expansion team entering the league.

A flat cap means different things for different teams. Shedding unwanted salary would become even more difficult. Some teams will use this to stranglehold cap-strapped teams into relinquishing a good player they can’t afford, while this year’s free agents might get the short end of the stick. Player movement is the best part of the offseason, so the NHL should pray it doesn’t lead to a quiet summer.

Something Brewing in Chicago?

There’s been a lot of talk around the Blackhawks and it started with this tweet from Chicago radio host, Jay Zawaski, saying a core player from Chicago might be moved soon.

Zawaski followed up saying he’s been told through multiple sources that a core player is likely being traded soon, the player isn’t Jonathan Toews, and the move will be more of a salary dump that would weaken the team short-term. Of course, the logical connection here is someone might be taking the remaining seven years of Brent Seabrook’s giant contract from the Blackhawks. Seabrook is a useful player, but 6.875m is a lot especially when the Hawks’ defender is already 32-years-old.

The Chicago Sun-Times’  Mark Lazerus followed this up with a series of tweets stating that the Blackhawks most likely need to move more than Markus Kruger, who everyone figures is already headed to Vegas, but neither Artem Anisimov nor Brent Seabrook, the most obvious suspects to be moved, have been asked to waive their no-trade clauses. Lazerus notes that he doesn’t have any concrete information yet, but he’s heard Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marian Hossa brought up in speculation around the league.

Hjalmarsson is a core guy with a limited-NMC and would draw huge interest from any team in need of defense. Hjalmarsson has two years left a $4.1-million, could net Chicago some nice prospects and draft picks, and would be much easier to move than a Seabrook or Hossa.

There seems to be too much smoke around Chicago for nothing to happen. With news that the cap might be flat, a huge move might be on the horizon and every fan should hope their team’s general manager is bombarding Chicago with offers for Niklas Hjalmarsson, should he actually be available.

  • everton fc

    Would Niklas Hjalmarsson be a good fit here? Cap-hit’s 4mill/season thru 2018-19. The Hawks are so screwed w/Hossa and Seabrook’s contracts. Anisimov’s a decent player, but his cap-hit (4.5mill thru 2020-21) is also a lot for a team to stomach, but he’s only 29 and has consistently put up Backlund-like #s. They should be able to move him.

    • Kevin

      At 30 years old, Hjalmarsson probably doesn’t fit the Leafs long term plan. He would be great short term, but unless the Hawks are selling low, the assets would be better spent on a younger D that would be under team control for a longer time.

  • Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winning the cup two years in a row is no small feat.
    Now the real fun begins for teams trying to get better. Expansion draft, draft, and free agency. The next four weeks should be fun.

  • ace of spadez

    It’s a real shame that teams like the Hawks who have drafted well keep having to lose players because the cap wont move. An God knows the Oilers will be in the same situation very soon. Therefor i’d like to make a suggestion; Every team should be allowed to have one player’s salary not count against the cap. This player would have to be a player drafted by the team and once you determine which player’s salary you would exclude from cap it would be for the duration of the contract. In other words in the Hawks case, let’s say they chose Toews, they cant decide in 3 years they want to replace him as the excluded player as long as he is a member of the Hawks.
    And again the chosen player has to be drafted not aquired in a trade or through free agency.
    As is in today’s NHL teams are being punished for drafting well.