As expected, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and IIHF President Rene Fasel this week in Stockholm, Sweden, the site of the NHL Global Series, to discuss another international hockey event: the Olympics. Although the next Winter Olympic Games are not until 2022, there needs to be a decision on participation in Beijing, China sooner rather than later, especially as that decision is tied into collective bargaining between the league and players’ association. However, Sportsnet’s Emily Sadler relays that Bettman told the collected media yesterday in Stockholm that he had “no news to report” on an Olympic resolution, and the NHL’s stance on participation remains pessimistic:
We had another meeting. We’ve had many, many meetings, and there is no news to report… I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the subject, but I think going to the Olympics is a challenge for us. I know the players love representing their countries, I know that the players like going, I know that the players that don’t go like having a break in the middle of the season. But from our standpoint, we have found going to the Olympics to be incredibly disruptive… I think it has some pretty material downsides in terms of what happens to our season.
- Tobias Lindberg is ready to get his 2019-20 season started. After seemingly holding out hope for a contract in North America, Lindberg has finally opted to return home to Sweden. Timra IK of the SHL has announced a one-year deal with Lindberg, who adds another stop to a lengthy list of teams he has played for in his young career. The 24-year-old forward is most well-known by NHL fans not for his short stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but for his tendency to be traded. A fourth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2014, Lindberg was dealt to Toronto in the Dion Phaneuf deadline deal of 2016. He spent a season with the Leafs organization before being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights early in 2017-18, who flipped him to the Pittsburgh Penguins later that season. The Penguins sent him back to Ottawa in December of last year, who in turn gave him back to Vegas at the deadline. In total, the capable AHLer has been involved in five NHL trades compared to just six NHL games and it could be good for his development to find some stability in Timra, at least for one year.
- A blockbuster trade in the KHL this week featured two former NHLers. Defenseman Igor Ozhiganov, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs just last year, was dealt by Ak Bars Kazan to SKA St. Petersburg in exchange for forward Viktor Tikhonov, who has spent multiple seasons in North America with the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Roman Rukavishnikov will also move to Kazan. Both teams currently lead their respective divisions with Ak Bars sharing the top record in the KHL, making this a rare swap between top contenders. Tikhonov had been buried under the tremendous forward depth of SKA and should be able to play a larger role with his new club. Tikhonov, who recorded six points in 50 games between the ‘Hawks and ‘Yotes in 2015-16, is no longer a dynamic offensive talent, but plays a well-rounded game and can provide leadership and experience to a Kazan club that hopes to make a deep playoff run this year. Rukavishnikov, a physical stay-at-home defender, will also help to make up for the loss of Ozhiganov. Meanwhile, SKA lands one of the top blue liners in the KHL. Ozhiganov had eight points through 19 gamed with Ak Bars, which would put him on pace for a career high in scoring, especially with the firepower of St. Petersburg at his disposal now. Ozhiganov recorded seven points in 53 games with Toronto last season and looked like a player who could have found employment in the NHL again this summer had he wanted to stay.