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Will NHL players accept owners' offer?


Will NHL players accept owners' offer?

Let’s start with the truth.

NHL players will not come running back from the four corners of the hockey world to accept the 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue that was proposed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday in Toronto.

That said, there is a much better chance today of the NHL salvaging a season than at any point in the past four months. Bettman’s 50-50 split across the board is far better than the 47 percent proposed by the owners on Sept. 12.

But it’s still a far cry from the 57 percent taken in by the players under the expired CBA and would require players to have significant money placed in escrow accounts.

Bettman said his proposal would not require immediate salary rollbacks. While that may be true, it likely would require players to place at least 6.5 percent of their salaries in escrow accounts, much like they have in previous years.

That is something many players, including Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, have said they would not accept. Ovechkin has nine years and $88 million remaining on his contract with the Caps and is reportedly making $6 million playing in Russia this season.

Ovechkin has repeatedly stated he would consider staying in the KHL the entire season if it meant accepting a significant paycut to play in the NHL. Other players, including former Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar, have echoed those sentiments.

So, while Tuesday’s proposal by the owners was a significant one, it only serves as a kickstart to more meaningful negotiations that are sure to heat up in the next eight to nine days.

It is important to emphasize that while Bettman called Tuesday’s proposal the NHL’s “best offer,” he did not call it the league’s “final offer.” It’s also worth noting that Don Fehr called the proposal “an excellent starting point” that he hopes will lead to more significant negotiations.

Here are a few more things to know about the league’s proposal: it is for at least six years; it carries a five-year maximum length on player contracts; it moves the age for unrestricted free agency from seven years of NHL service or 27 years of age to eight years of service or 28 years of age; and it keeps entry-level contracts at three years.

The players are likely to agree on all of those points. But their next move might be going with a less dramatic decline in revenue sharing – say beginning at 54 percent and ending at a 50-50 split in Year 5 or 6.

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Samsonov gives glowing review of first experience with Caps

Samsonov gives glowing review of first experience with Caps

Caps prospect Ilya Samsonov got his first taste of Caps hockey in July as he attended development camp. Though communication was a challenge considering he doesn't speak English, it sounds as if Samsonov enjoyed his time in Washington.

"I had the most positive impressions," Samsonov said in an interview with Sports Express as translated by a native speaker. "It was interesting to see how they work overseas."

Samsonov's hockey career has been spent playing in Russia in both the KHL and MHL, the Minor Hockey League, making development camp his first taste of North American hockey. He played well and also seemed to enjoy the time he spent learning from head coach Barry Trotz.

"[Trotz] is a great coach, great guy, always positive, gives great advice," Samsonov said of the Caps' bench boss.


But don't take that to mean he will be suiting up for a game at the Verizon Center any time soon.

The 19-year-old goalie remains under contract with his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, for another two years. Samsonov has no intention of breaking that contract, but he did say both teams remain in contact.

"Capitals are not going to do anything without talking to Metallurg first," Samsonov said. "Everyone is in touch, we are working with the goaltending coach from Metallurg and his colleague from the Caps, Mitch Korn. We have not talked about the future yet, I am planning on finishing my contract with Metallurg."

While it may be some time before Samsonov signs with the Caps, Samsonov is already preparing for life in the NHL and is learning English. Though he said the process is "a work in progress" he will soon get some help form Trotz's son, Tyson, who teaches English in Russia.

"All summer we were at various training camps, but now I am going back to Magnitogorsk and will start learning the language," Samsonov said.

The Caps would no doubt love to avoid another situation like they had with Evgeny Kuznetsov who re-signed with this KHL team for two years in 2012 thus delaying his arrival in Washington. It's good then to hear that Samsonov enjoyed his brief stay and remains in contact with his fellow countrymen who are already on the team.

Said Samsonov, "All Russian Caps players seem to enjoy their life in D.C."

MORE CAPITALS: Caps assistant misses out on head coaching job in Colorado

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2016-17 Season preview: New York Rangers

2016-17 Season preview: New York Rangers

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: New York Rangers

How they did last season: 46-27-9 (101 points), 3rd in the Metropolitan, 4th in the Eastern Conference. Lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins in an incredibly one-sided affair.

Notable acquisitions: LW Nathan Gerbe; RW Michael Grabner; C Mika Zibanejad; D Nick Holden; C Brandon Pirri; LW Jimmy Vesey; RW Josh Jooris

Notable departures: C Eric Staal; LW Viktor Stalberg; D Keith Yandle; C Derick Brassard

When they will play the Caps: Oct. 22 in Washington; Feb. 19 in New York; Feb. 28 in New York; April 5 in Washington


Analysis: Several years of mortgaging the future finally seemed to catch up with the Rangers last season. It took the Pittsburgh Penguins just five games to dispatch New York in what was one of the least competitive series of the entire playoffs. A team that had begun the year with Stanley Cup aspirations was eliminated in the first round by a team that started its third-string goalie in the first two games of the series.

That series showed the Rangers were clearly no longer among the top teams in the conference. There was also no real hope of the future generation taking over in New York as the Rangers had not selected in the first round of the draft since 2012.

Think about that. Four straight years with no first-round draft picks and New York had virtually nothing to show for it.

Usually that kind of strategy leads to a long and painful rebuild, but thanks to some very shrewd moves by general manager Jeff Gorton, the future suddenly looks bright again in the Big Apple.

The Rangers’ shift in philosophy was clear when the team traded center Derick Brassard for the 23-year-old Mika Zibanejad. Brassard may arguably be the better player right now, but he is five years older and already in his prime. Zibanejad recorded 51 points last season and is only getting better.

In addition, New York also added college free agent Jimmy Vesey. While we should temper our expectations — the buzz surrounding his free agency greatly inflated what people seem to believe he can do in his rookie season — his signing adds another young weapon to a suddenly stacked offensive lineup.

In fact, with the signings of Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Brandon Pirri in addition to Zibanejad and Vesey, the Rangers may now have too many weapons on offense and may have to ship one or two players out before the season starts.

And oh yeah, they still have the king between the pipes.

At 34, age is starting to become a concern for Henrik Lundqvist. Last season was not his best as he registered his a goals against average of 2.48, the worst of his career. But that had more to do with the team as Lundqvist still managed a good save percentage of .920. The Rangers must improve improve defensively and in terms of possession in order to help their netminder this season.

Season prediction: It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of team the Rangers will be because I don’t think they’re done dealing just yet. There are too many bodies on offense and too many concerns on defense for the Rangers not to make a move.
Lundqvist is still very good, but he’s not the brick wall he used to be and Dan Girardi looks like a shell of his former self. Many did not expect Girardi to be back for this season, but as of now he’s still there.

The Rangers had a tremendous offseason, but many of the moves they made were with an eye on the future and not the present. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but this is a preview for the 2016-17 season and in that sense it doesn’t look like the moves they made will catapult them back into serious contention. New York will have to worry more about fighting off the Islanders and Hurricanes for third place in the division than they will the Caps and Penguins for first place.



Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes
— Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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Holtby says Price should start for Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Holtby says Price should start for Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Team Canada's roster for the World Cup of Hockey features an incredible trio of goalies with Braden Holtby, Carey Price and Corey Crawford.

Any coach would have trouble picking one of those three goalies to start, but Holtby has an idea who he would go with and it's not who you think.

"All of us want to play, but if Carey's healthy, there's no reason to not go with him," Holtby told Katie Brown of NHL.com. "He has all the experience internationally and the smart choice obviously would be that. I'm going to go there and play hard, [do] what I do, support the team in any way possible, whether it's playing or supporting another guy."


Holtby has a very strong case to start for Team Canada. Price was limited to only 12 games last season due to an MCL sprain and hasn't played in a game since Nov. 25.  Holtby, meanwhile, is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top netminder. No one has been better over the past year.

And yet, it sounds like he would be just fine sitting on the bench behind Price and so probably would many Caps fans.

Holtby has been an absolute work horse the past two seasons playing in 139 regular season games and 25 playoff games in the past two years. Fatigue has to be something head coach Barry Trotz has to be thinking about this season with the World Cup tournament set to take place jsut before the season starts.

Perhaps seeing Holtby sit on the bench wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Caps.