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Prepare For The Summer

from Ken Warren of Senators Extra at the Ottawa Citizen,

If there was ever any doubt, it’s again clear the NHL doesn’t really have an off-season. Once Boston and Chicago wrap up the season, the off-ice fireworks will begin. Buyouts begin 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is presented. The entry draft goes June 30. Free agency arrives July 5. Expect trades.

The level of intrigue is higher this year, given that the league’s biggest spenders need to dump salaries to get under the $63 million salary cap.

With that in mind, let’s look at the buzz around the Ottawa Senators and the rest of the hockey world.

1-NEAL AND NEIL IN OTTAWA?: Welcome to the financial squeeze play for Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero. Kris Letang is in line for an annual salary of $6 million-$7 million when he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2013-14 season. Yet on a team where Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury all own lucrative long-term deals – and with Pascal Dupuis (this year) and Chris Kunitz (next year) waiting in the UFA wings – how can it be done?

If the Penguins don’t re-sign Letang, they’ll trade him. If they sign Letang, something else has to give.

Senators GM Bryan Murray should be one of many calling about Neal, the 26-year-old who has five years and $25 million remaining on his deal. The Senators bargaining chips in a possible trade include young prospects Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel and Shane Prince.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink



James Neal is a steal at 5 million a year.  He is not going anywhere.  Even if the penguins sign Letang to a long term deal, it will not be at the expense of James Neal.  Most likely it will mean they do not re-sign Dupuis and Cooke.  Shero is smart enough to know that this is a one year special season coming up with the lower cap.  After this year, the cap will be back up and climbing each season again.  You don’t get rid of your quality younger players because of one bad cap year.  The older players like Cooke, Dupuis, Iggy, Morrow, Murray…. those are the guys who you end up losing.  As for filling out the roster, it just means you bring up a couple younger guys maybe a little sooner that you thought.  Guys like Harrington, Doumlin, Despres, Bortuzzo, and Bennett will be given the opportunity to prove themselves.  Bennett has already proven he belongs in a top 6 role, most likely on Geno’s wing.  Despres will be a regular next season, and possibly Bortuzzo as well.  Eaton is probably resigned for a couple years at 1 million a year as insurance.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/13 at 11:01 AM ET


oops, also meant to add.  People in the media need to remember that Letang is signed for next season at 3.5 million.  The cap will most certainly go up after next season, which will make everyone who is going nuts about how much money Letang is going to make calm down again.  Letang has his defensive issues, but he is among the top 5-10 in the league right now and very young.  He should be re-signed by Shero this summer.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/13 at 11:05 AM ET


@HockeytownOverhaul—yea, the guy is one of my favorites.  He is big, can hit, and shoot the puck.  Not a typical power forward type, but does have a very rare combination of size and skill.  Plus, he has something very special going with Geno.  They both play very well together.

Its kind of funny.  Everywhere I am reading has the penguins giving away their players for nothing this summer.  The cap this year is going to be tight, but the players in question (Geno and Letang) are both signed at their last contract’s rate for the upcoming season.  Shero is smart enough to not blow things up this summer. 

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/13 at 11:25 AM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I don’t understand this whole thing either, really.  Before the Penguins re-signed Malkin, there was all this discussion about how the Penguins might have to trade him.  None of it makes any sense.  While not all GMs are all that smart, some are, and Shero is one of them.  He knows how to manage the cap and isn’t going to give away players.  He’ll figure something out. 

The same thing happened earlier this year with Anaheim.  Everyone kept going on and on about how the Ducks would have to choose between Perry and Getzlaf, despite the fact that if you ever took a look at their cap situation and roster it was clear that they could sign both players to good deals.

The press just needs something to talk about and speculate about.  It makes for an interesting read and gets folks excited even if the possibilities are incredibly remote.

Posted by Ajax19 on 06/20/13 at 11:31 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

good Lord I just have no words for how incredibly stupid this moron is ? Neal is a Steal @ 5M & has great chemistry with Gino & Letang will be traded because he has a Large ego & wants the money & deserves it BUT it won’t be in Pgh.. if a Turd Like Streit @ 35 gets 5+ M & Gonchar who is on fumes gets a 2 yr. deal for 5M what does Letang think he is worth ??

By the way do 98% of Canadian Columnists try to see how Moronic they can be ??

Posted by Evilpens on 06/20/13 at 11:46 AM ET


I do agree that there is a good chance Letang is dealt this summer; but, I think that would be the wrong decision.  The cap will go back up.  There is no reason to balk at the idea of paying Letang top end money.  Guys like Letang should be used as the core of your defense to build around.  Just like the Kings have Doughty, the blackhawks have Keith, the predators have Weber, Minny has Suter, the wings had Lidstrom.  You don’t get rid of those guys because their cap hit may be too high. 

The pens are poised to keep Letang because of the young talent they have in their system.  They can bring up some of these younger defensive prospects with lower cap hits during their first 2-3 years in the league to offset the higher cost Letang demands.  Then if one of those prospects turns out to be something similar to Letang, you are in a situation where you can make a deal for more assets.  The pens are not there yet though.  They need a year to see where their prospects are developmentally.  And the best part….. that year will only cost the pens 3.5 for Letang’s services.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/13 at 12:07 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Kings have Doughty, the blackhawks have Keith, the predators have Weber, Minny has Suter, the wings had Lidstrom.

Sorry Letang is not even close those D Men & it is again because while he is a Wonderfully talented Player he is a Dumb as a Box of Rocks hockeysense wise , Martin is a better PP QB than he is.

& then there are the non stop Brain farts

Posted by Evilpens on 06/20/13 at 12:20 PM ET


Sorry Letang is not even close those D Men

Based on what?  Goals?  Assists?  +/-?  He makes some dumb plays, but all of those players mentioned have as well.  He most certainly belongs in that category of defensemen.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/13 at 12:29 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

No he doesn’t If you could trade Letang for those D Men would you do it ? In a Heartbeat Letang doesn’t just make “Dumb Plays” he is a Turnover machine

Posted by Evilpens on 06/20/13 at 12:34 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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