Trade talk; ads on NHL uniforms
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has certainly fielded phone calls from a number of parties who are interested in Jonathan Drouin. Beyond that, the only thing we can say for certain is that Yzerman has yet to receive an offer to his liking. That might mean there’s a disconnect between his valuation of the skilled winger and what others are willing to offer in return. Or it might mean that he’s decided to use this time as a cooling off period in an effort to mend fences with the kid. That wouldn]t be the worst idea. Yzerman understands that Drouin’s value is at rock bottom, so selling him now wouldn’t exactly maximize the return on a player he drafted third in 2013. And given that investment, he may have decided that this relationship still has room for growth ... on his terms, of course. Drouin may yet be moved, but no one should be surprised if he’s still a member of the Lightning as of March 1.
• Speaking of the Feb. 29 trade deadline, it’s looking more likely that Arizona will move pending UFA Mikkel Boedker. The versatile 26-year-old winger is on pace to set new career highs with 13 goals and 37 points through 56 games and he brings the sort of skill, speed and reliable two-way game that would make him a valuable addition to a contender. Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Nashville, Chicago and the New York Rangers could use the help up front, although the Hawks are a little tight against the cap to make something work without a little salary help. Seems like Boedker be a nice fit alongside Jonathan Toews, though.
• Now that Ryan McDonagh (concussion) is back in the lineup, the Rangers are free to pursue their options with Keith Yandle. While the pending UFA would likely earn a sizable return as one of the premier defensemen on the market, there]s a growing sense that GM Jeff Gorton will hold on to the veteran and take his chances come July 1. Can’t blame him if that’s the way he decides to play it. As much as it would hurt to lose Yandle for nothing after coughing up Anthony Duclair and a first rounder to acquire him from the Coyotes, the reason the Rangers made that trade still holds. This is a win-now team, and Yandle helps them do that more than anyone they’d pick up in a deadline deal.
• The worst ad ever for CCM: The sight of Connor McDavid’s stick shattering just as he was about to bury the go-ahead goal on Tuesday night against the Ducks. The game was tied at two in the third period when McDavid took a feed to the left of Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen, but instead of finishing an easy chance into a gaping cage, he was left staring at the remains of another failed twig.
The Ducks eventually put three on the board in the frame and won, 5–3, so there’s no telling whether a goal there would have changed the outcome of the game. But it is fair to say that yet another scoring opportunity was nullified by failed technology. You have to wonder how many more times this has to happen before the manufacturers get serious about producing pro model sticks with real longevity ... or if the business model of break one/buy another is simply too lucrative for them to give up.
• If the NHL was waiting on another league to take the lead with placing advertisements on game jerseys, the NBA has obliged them.
The concept was brought up for discussion at the last weekend’s NBA Board of Governor's meeting, and the majority of owners reportedly were in favor. Under the NBA proposal, teams would be able to sell space for one corporate logo on their uniforms beginning with the 2017-18 season. Each team would keep 50% of the proceeds with the remainder placed into a revenue-sharing pot to be distributed equally as a way of addressing market disparities.
The NBA gave a preview of how this might work with the Kia logo that adorned the left shoulder of its All-Star Game jerseys. While this wasn’t the sainted garb of the Celtics or Lakers being sullied, the response from fans and media was surprisingly muted, suggesting there may be less blowback to the concept than has been speculated in the past.
It’s worth noting that the implementation of this proposal would coincide with the league’s new apparel deal with Nike. The NHL has a new deal of its own with Adidas that kicks off in 2017-18.
There’s still plenty of work to be done on the NBA proposal, especially as it pertains to conflicting advertising interests, but it appears that it could go to a final vote in April. You can be sure the Lords of the Boards will be watching this unfold with great interest.
The numbers game
• At 41-10-4 (86 points), the NHL-leading Capitals continued the best start in franchise history, their 41 victories are only four fewer than their total from last season, when they finished 45-26-11.
• Shayne Gostisbehere of the Flyers is now the first NHL defenseman to have a 13-game points streak since Brian Leetch went on a 14-game run with the Rangers from Oct. 30 to Dec. 1, 1996. Gostisbehere is also the first Flyer to score at least a point in 13 consecutive games since Eric Lindros hit the score sheet in 18 straight from Jan. 7 to Feb. 18, 1999.
• Seven teams are separated by only seven points in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.
• Will Vancouver's Willie Desjardins become the NHL’s next ex-coach?
• Ugly if true: The NHL roughly knows how many former players will develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.
• The great Mike Heika reveals what the Dallas Stars can learn from Happy Gilmore. I hope it has something to do with alligators.
• It’s not that Ryan Johansen hasn’t played well, but the trade to acquire the big center hasn’t exactly worked the way the Predators had hoped.
• It might have been a loss, but it was still a major moment in women’s hockey.
• Smelling salts, taxi cabs and Diet Cokes: Getting to know new Minnesota Wild coach John Torchetti.