According to the Winnipeg Free Press (should the Great Paywall of Winnipeg make itself known, here are alternative summaries from ProHockeyTalk, The Score and TSN), Andrew Ladd is willing to put the kibosh on contract negotiations if an agreement isn't reached by the regular season's commencement. The Jets captain said as much in response to a question from Gary Lawless, citing the distraction it may cause as reason enough to hit the pause button. Lawless' assessment sounds both terrifying and dead-on: "This is Andrew Ladd sending a message, saying he’s had enough. For Ladd to say this aloud, he has to be angry and disappointed. It constitutes a threat: sign me now or prepare for the unknown."
The article goes on to speculate that while there has been agreement on a six year term, battlelines have been drawn on dollars. If numbers of $5.833 million vs. $6.5 million are correct, the two camps seem to have reached "so near and yet so far" territory. For an extension which many, myself included, thought inevitable, this rather public negotiating moment is more than a little concerning. It also serves to put the ball firmly in Winnipeg's court, seeing as how the Jets have far more to lose than Ladd should he walk as a UFA next year. Unless the Winnipeg Jets win Lord Stanley's Mug in 2016, allowing the status quo to run its course is an extremely undesirable outcome. Should no agreement be reached in the near-future, and Ladd's camp freeze contract talks, what was already an uncomfortable situation will be made a fair degree worse.
Can you feel it coming? The icy cold of poor asset management.
And now, your afternoon news.
All Central Division, All The Time
For a player who went undrafted and has skated in a grand total of 18 NHL regular season games, Trevor van Riemsdyk is an awfully important piece of the Blackhawks' d-corps. Having Trevor Daley on your second pairing will do that. (Chicago Sun-Times)
The immortal Mark Lazerus (see what I did there?) answers mailbag questions on training camp surprises, the opening day lineup and losing one's fandom while still loving the game. In my opinion, that Chicago Blackhawks lineup still looks like a contender. Also, regarding the first topic, Kyle Baun has apparently had quite the impressive camp. (Chicago Sun-Times)
And that impressive showing at camp was enough to give the hockey world a bit of a shocker, as Marko Dano was among eight players reassigned to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. Considering many folks, including yours truly, had Dano penciled in as a top-six winger, this move comes straight out of left field. (Blackhawks.NHL)
The only #Blackhawks forwards on two-way contracts were Dano, Panarin and Teravainen. Baun's strong camp made one expendable for now.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 2, 2015
Marko Dano being demoted to the AHL after a monster NHL debut last year with Columbus is a bit shocking.— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) October 2, 2015
"Book 'em, Dano!" "'Book what, coach?'" "Bus tickets to Rockford."— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) October 2, 2015
Wonder is Marko Dano is Saad about being cut?— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) October 2, 2015
Just when I thought I was out of Chicago Blackhawks news, they pull me back in. As tweeted by Elliotte Friedman, Bryan Bickell has been placed on waivers. The full fallout of this move has yet to be known; it may be an attempt to see if anyone will pick Bickell up for free, and doesn't guarantee he'll be demoted. Until then, it's not personal, Bryan. It's strictly business. (CSN Chicago)
If not claimed, Bickell in the AHL would of course only provide $950,000 in cap space, the rest ($3.05M) would hit the cap as buried salary.— General Fanager (@generalfanager) October 2, 2015
The Colorado Avalanche sure aren't being shy about burying dollars in the AHL in favour of trying to ice the best team possible. Between Patrick Bordeleau, Zach Redmond, Marc-Andre Cliche and Maxim Noreau, that's $3.075 million in one-way money set to play for the
Lake Erie Monsters San Antonio Rampage. I'm beginning to wonder if we may have all underestimated the Avs going into 2015-16 (then I remember Patrick Roy is head coach, and all is well again). (Denver Post)
Curtis McKenzie will probably be the one to round out the Dallas Stars' forward corps, but Mattias Janmark, Remi Elie and Radek Faksa are doing their best to make it a difficult decision. There's a certain buzz surrounding Janmark in particular, who seems to have made quite the impression on Jason Spezza: "He’s got hockey sense. That’s the first thing for me that jumps out. He knows where to go; you can tell he has played pro. He’s not a kid where he is feeling his way around". (Dallas Morning News and Inside Edge)
In a poll of 14 NHL general managers, coaches and goalie coaches, Kari Lehtonen ranked fourth from the bottom, ahead of only Ryan Miller, Robin Lehner and Cam Ward. Not exactly elite company, but I suppose that's why they brought in Antti 'Lackluster' Niemi, who is still not a Scottish goalkeeper. (Dallas Morning News)
Spurred by injuries, the Minnesota Wild took a peek at the waiver wire and claimed Chris Porter, whose existence seems partially defined by his friendship with Zach Parise. He seems like a competent option to hold the fourth line fort until Justin Fontaine, Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder heal up. (StarTribune)
As training camp winds down, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette is looking to experiment with possible regular season line combinations. And on that note, the second line saw Calle Jarnkrok playing on Mike Fisher's right wing. While an intriguing and intelligent player, it would be a surprise to see Jarnkrok break into the Perds' top-six, though the resulting third line of Arvidsson-Hodgson-Smith could be sneaky good. (The Tennessean)
In your shocking information of the day, the Central Division is rather tough. The St. Louis Blues are both well aware of this, and have a healthy respect for it heading into 2015-16. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Having said that, the Blues are still figuring out exactly what lineup they want to take into the Central Division meatgrinder. Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko have made things interesting on the blueline, while the Scotts Upshall and Gomez continue to hang around as wily veterans do. (ProHockeyTalk)
It's no secret Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko have blown the Blues away this pre-season. Could mean both stick around this season.— Randall Ritchey (@randallritchey) September 30, 2015
Scottie Upshall, in my mind, has earned a roster spot. Excellent speed, solid oh the PK, and he's received a lot of praise from the coaches.— Randall Ritchey (@randallritchey) October 2, 2015
Come and read an article about the financial need for Winnipeg's youth movement. As Paul Friesen says, "The low end of the roster has to free up cash for the top end". Letting Michael Frolik go in favour of rookies garners a mention. Drew Stafford, Mark Stuart, Chris Thorburn and their combined $8.175 million against the cap do not. (Winnipeg Sun)
In other news, that line of Petan-Scheifele-Ehlers sure was a lot of fun, wasn't it? If the kids are going to be on the NHL roster, I personally find it far more appealing than the Stafford-Scheifele-Wheeler alternative. Worry over a lack of both minutes and opportunities is partially why I would like to see Petan et al with the Manitoba Moose. Skating alongside Scheifele on a regular basis would go a long way to alleviating that concern. (Winnipeg Sun and Winnipeg Free Press)
Not insignificant goalie news coming out of Manitoba Moose training camp, as David Leggio has been released from his PTO. If that's that, I suppose this leaves Jussi Olkinuora riding the pine behind Hellebuyck, assuming the plan is to give both Hellebuyck and Comrie starting goaltender duties in the AHL and ECHL respectively. (Global News)
If you missed the quietly slick goal by Tyler Myers to close out last night's game, give the video below a watch. It's a beauty:
A Few Scattered Others
Luke Fox takes a look at six candidates who might provide Calder Trophy competition for Connor McDavid, and yes, Nik Ehlers is one of them. Also on the list is Artemi Panarin, whose prospects look a fair bit brighter now that Marko Dano has been reassigned to Rockford to start the season. (Sportsnet)
In relatively unsurprising news, Stephen Weiss reportedly turned down multiple PTO offers this fall. One wonders if he's at peace with this possibly being the end of his NHL career. (The Score)
Calgary Flames forward Michael Frolik has been a frequent linemate of rookie sensation Sam Bennett, in part because head coach Bob Hartley "believes Frolik can be an on-ice mentor for Bennett.". In other news, "Frolik ranked among the top three performers in fitness testing to open Calgary's main camp. He's been a standout in the pre-season with a team-leading four points (two goals, two assists) and a team-high 14 shots in three games." Sounds like the Flames will be happy to have him around during their youth movement. (TSN)
With Raphael Diaz on waivers, Dylan McIlrath has emerged victorious in his battle to be a New York Rangers defenceman:
Dylan McIlrath officially a Ranger. Happy for the young man. Raphael Diaz on waivers #NYR— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 2, 2015
Sticking with the New York Rangers, Rick Nash believes that their window to win it all has yet to close. They may be in the Eastern Conference's upper echelon, but the Broadway Blueshirts hardly seem leaps and bounds ahead of Tampa Bay, Washington, Pittsburgh, etc. (NHL)
The bar has lowered significantly for 24-year-old Jared Cowen, going from "future top-pairing defenceman" in 2011-12 to "please don't screw up too much while skating 12 to 15 minutes a night beside Mark Borowiecki" in 2015-16. The projected Ottawa Senators' d-corps of Methot-Karlsson, Wiercioch-Ceci, and Cowen-Borowiecki (plus Chris Wideman) actually doesn't look too wretched, though it suffers greatly if Erik Karlsson is anything but excellent. (TSN)
And finally, Auston Matthews continues to impress over in Switzerland. Could the NHL please rig the draft lottery to guarantee an Arizona Coyotes first overall selection? Because this whole story is going to be ridiculously miserable if the Desert Dogs go about being Awful for Auston, only to miss out on the Scottsdale native. (ProHockeyTalk)
Zurich coach Marc Crawford on Auston Matthews: "He's been phenomenal. You would be hard-pressed to come to our game and not notice him."— Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) October 1, 2015
Thanks for reading! Be sure to share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below. Also, check out Episode 1 of the AIH 20416 podcast if you haven't yet and are so inclined. We're now on iTunes, and Stitcher as well!