A spokesman for Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz refused to say Wednesday if the pharmacy magnate will put up more money to rescue a new arena project for his NHL team.
John Karvellas also poured cold water on a suggestion for a higher ticket tax on games and other events to close a $55-million gap in funding for the rink.
“That’s tantamount to us putting up more money,” Karvellas told reporters after city councillors voted to again delay a final decision on the funding. “Whatever the ticket tax is, the more it goes up, it will impact the underlying ticket price for the event.”
“Would you put forward more money?” a reporter asked Karvellas. ”I’m not going to answer that,” he replied.
“Are you considering it?” the reporter persisted. ”As I say, I’m not going to answer that question.”
Karvellas said he’s still confident the project will go ahead. The plan would see the rink completed by 2016. It’s hoped it will be a catalyst for downtown revitalization, leading to new restaurants, shops, and office buildings.
Reigning champion Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks have been named finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s best goalie, the league announced Wednesday.
Lundqvist tied for the NHL lead in wins (24-16-3) and had a 2.05 goals-against average (seventh best in league) and a .926 save percentage (fifth best) during the regular season. This is the fifth time he’s been named a Vezina finalist, having finished first in 2012 and third from 2006-08.
Bobrovsky, a first-time finalist for the award, went 21-11-6 during the regular season, with a 2.00 GAA (sixth best in the league), a .932 save percentage (second best) and four shutouts.
Niemi was tied for the NHL lead in starts (43) and saw more ice time than any other goalie (2,580 minutes, 46 seconds). A first-time Vezina finalist, he ranked third in shots faced (1,220) and saves (1,127) and had a 2.16 GAA, a .924 save percentage and four shutouts.
Voting for the Vezina was done by all 30 general managers at the end of the regular season. The winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.
- ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun suggests Keith Ballard of the Vancouver Canucks is a prime candidate for one of two compliance buyouts this summer. Ballard is due $4.2 million annually through the next two season. “Lebrun says “T
he defense is set, which is either a good thing if you like this group or a bad thing if you’re a Canucks fan who wants change. But Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis and Alexander Edler all have contracts that run at least through 2015-16. Unless they trade some of these big contracts, that’s the Canucks’ core blue line for a while.”
- Look for forward to be a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets again next season. According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets “appear interested” in inking another deal with unrestricted free agent-to-be Cody Bass. And the feeling seems mutual. In the meanwhile, the 26-year-old is finally healthy and helping the Springfield Falcons progress through the AHL postseason.
- Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports that the overall sentiment from those close to the hockey club suggests Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis might soon show head coach Alain Vigneault the door. Assuming Gillis doesn’t get the boot first. ”The jobs of head coach Alain Vigneault and his staff are most certainly on the line and general manager Mike Gillis is going to face some uncomfortable questions from ownership over the team’s second straight playoff collapse.”
Bolstering his corps of bottom-six forwards is thought to be on Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish‘s off-season to-do list. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal suggests two current members of the Chicago Blackhawks, or a member of the Minnesota Wild, may fit the bill.
“MacTavish wants to rebuild his bottom six, with presumably bigger and feistier role players, but they also have to have to some offensive pop. The Oilers could be looking at guys like Cal Clutterbuck, Viktor Stalberg or Bryan Bickell, either in a trade or by signing them as free agents.”
Chicago’s Stalberg and Bickell are poised to be available as unrestricted free agents this July. Clutterbuck is due to become a restricted free agent for the Wild.
Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadians and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild are this year’s finalists for the Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the defenseman that shows the “greatest all-round ability” at the position, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the regular season.
It is the first time each finalist has been among the final three in Norris consideration and the field is absent traditional presences like 2009 winner Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, who finished as runner-up in each of the past two seasons.
The Vancouver Canucks are likely facing an offseason of on-ice personnel changes. Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province suggests defenseman Alexander Edler could be one of several Vancouver players on the trade block.
“Trading Alex Edler to a team like Philadelphia, for instance, a squad desperate for help on the back end to help them get back into the mix in the East. They have some outstanding frontline offensive talent they might be persuaded to part with for a player like Edler — who, upon hearing a different coach’s voice giving different directions, might develop into that great defenceman he looked like he could become in the Stanley Cup playoffs two years ago.”
Signed through until 2019, Edler earns an average-annual salary of $5 million. The 27-year-old Swede was a disappointment this regular season, notching only 22 points in 45 games.
The interim label has been removed from the head coaching title of Ron Rolston. Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier announced Tuesday morning that Rolston has been named the club’s head coach, assuming the role he has held on an interim basis since February 20, when he he was brought in to replace the fired Lindy Ruff.
Rolston, the 16th coach in club history, was 15-11-5 in his 31-game run as the interim head coach. Despite showing some tangible improvement in the second half of the season, the Sabres still missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing in 12th place in the eastern Conference, seven points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.
Prior to joining the Sabres in February, he was the coach of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. In his two seasons as coach of the Americans, Rolston compiled a 63-44-17 regular-season record.
Before joining the Americans in 2011, Rolston spent seven seasons as head coach with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, where he became the first coach in American hockey history to lead the United States Under-18 team to three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011) at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship.
Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has been suspended for two games for charging Anaheim Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman during Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Detroit on Saturday, May 4, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 15:11 of the second period. Abdelkader was assessed a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.
Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader will have a telephone disciplinary hearing with the NHL at 4pm et this afternoon about his game-misconduct for charging on Toni Lydman from Saturday, according to Bob McKenzie on Twitter.
Abdelkader was assessed a major penalty for charging and given a game misconduct with 4:49 left in the second period. Lydman was helped off the ice and did not return to the game. Abdelkader cannot be suspended for more than five games.
“From what I gather, the league has done a pretty good job with these things, and I’m not going to say anything,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “Mr. Shanahan can look at it.”
It seems the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t willing to be too patient. With the fifth-overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Hurricanes are reportedly hoping to snag a player capable of making an instant impact per the Raleigh News & Observer. Assuming wisely that defenseman Seth Jones won’t be available, other options may include center Elias Lindholm and center Aleksander Barkov. Or, even though he’s signed to play in the KHL for another two seasons, winger Valeri Nichushkin.
“If might affect his ranking but it might be OK with some NHL teams,” Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes director of amateur scouting, said. “Some might be willing to wait or decide to negotiate with the (Russian) federation.”
If the Hurricanes are willing to take that risk, ESPN Insider and NHL Scout Grant Sonier suggests Nichushkin 6-foot-4, 200 pounds could be an ideal fit in Carolina.