Prior to Gary Bettman’s official league announcement on the news sure to come Monday, it has been revealed by AP’s Steve Whyno that Washington will host Toronto at an outdoor game next season. The affair will take place on March 3, 2018 at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The contest will be the first outdoor affair held at a venue utilized by a branch of the armed forces. Considering the large amount of folks in the greater D.C. area with government employment ties, and the dear respect for veterans around the country, such an arrangement makes a great deal of sense for the National Hockey League. Whether outdoor games are becoming a novelty or not, opportunities such as these are almost certain bets to make money for the league. The Capitals and Maple Leafs are certainly not historic rivals, but both undoubtedly draw revenue.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Stars’ Jim Nill is serious about moving the #3 pick. If they decide to do so, he says their focus will assuredly be on acquiring a dynamic defender. The Ducks’ dire injury situation likely takes them out of such discussions temporarily, which leaves Columbus and Minnesota as the most likely trade partners. 30 year-old Jack Johnson is entering the final year of his contract, and 23 year-old Ryan Murray will need to re-negotiate after 2017-18. Murray is obviously more enticing, and the fit is certainly there for a deal’s foundation. However, if neither intrigues the Stars, David Savard could be a target – if GM Jarmo Kekalainen is willing to add. His $4.25 MM salary is reasonable and he is still a young defender with room to improve. It’s difficult to see the Jackets moving on from either Zach Werenski or Seth Jones (so recently acquired). The Wild would likely need to move the dynamic Mathew Dumba or stalwart Jonas Brodin, neither of which seems particularly likely. Marco Scandella simply isn’t going to get the job done, and something substantial would need to be added to Jared Spurgeon for Dallas to accept. Of course, it’s always possible a dark horse team enters the discussions if they really like a player at that drafting position.
- Speaking of Kekalainen, Friedman also secured some interesting soundbytes from Columbus’ astute manager. He confidently stated that he “expect(s) zero problems (with the cap) next year.” Considering how close the team is to the ceiling, and RFA center Alex Wennberg needing a new contract, there isn’t a ton of room to maneuver. It does seem like a trade could be on the horizon. Offensive flair is their most glaring need at the moment, and they will not be the only team on the hunt for a marquee scorer. There is help on the way from Grade A prospects Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand, both of whom look physically ready to successfully enter the league next season. Bjorkstrand in particular will be under additional pressure to perform, as this will be the final year as his Entry-Level Contract. The ability of Columbus to draft and develop consistently well has placed them in the enviable position of all-around depth as they look towards future transactions.