Every offseason, the Buffalo Sabres seem desperate to address a glaring need at defense.
While they always manage to snag at least one piece from another team, though, the area they seem particularly adept at snagging players from is up front. And while Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane didn’t quite work out as the team had hoped, they’ll cross their fingers that the addition of a former Carolina Hurricanes offensive mainstay will be the piece that finally pushes them where they need to go.
It was announced on Thursday that Jeff Skinner had been dealt to the Sabres, who used their never-ending wealth of draft selections to snag the forward from Carolina for a 2019 second round pick, a 2020 third round pick, a 2020 sixth round pick, and prospect Cliff Pu. [Sporting News]
Rumor has it that Skinner had hoped to go somewhere close to home, which is Toronto suburb Markham.
Still, it’s surprising that Buffalo managed to get him for so little - which is less of a knock against Pu and more of a surprise that other northeast teams weren’t able to get something done. Buffalo is the closest team to Toronto if the Leafs felt they couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) the move, but Ottawa and Detroit are both just a few hours away by car, as well. If someone was willing to offer more, Carolina maybe should have seen if they could swing it.
Of course, the deal isn’t an easy one, given that Skinner has spent his whole career in Carolina. Here’s what he had to say about that. [ABC 11]
For Carolina, things have been relatively quiet, although not altogether silent, in the last week.
The Patrik Nemeth deal was finally taken care of, with the blue liner coming back for one year and $2.5 million. [Mile High Hockey]
The team also received confirmation that Nikolai Kovalenko will remain overseas within the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl system, inking a three-year extension with the club. So far, he’s skated predominantly with their MHL junior club, but expect that to change by the time his deal has wrapped up. [MHH]
The Avalanche faithful also got some exciting news this week, when three of the team’s prospects were ranked in the Top 50 for the league via The Athletic’s Corey Pronman. [MHH]
Outside of the Skinner trade, it’s been an incredibly slow week - but Nemeth wasn’t the only RFA to ink an extension, and his $2.5 million cap hit was far from the most shocking thing fans saw.
In Ottawa, the team that can’t seem to get their misfiring train wreck back on the tracks once again made headlines with their new deal for forward Mark Stone, who inked a one year - yes, you read that correctly - extension worth $7.35 million.
Unsurprisingly, Stone is 26-years old; his one-year deal will get him through to UFA status, and then he’s free to run as far and as fast as he can from Ontario’s capital if that’s what he so wishes. [The Hockey News]
It’s entirely possible, of course, that Stone will work to negotiate a better extension with the Senators now that he has all the bargaining power, potentially getting a nice big bump on that $7.35 million in order to stick around and not run as fast as his legs can carry him.
If he isn’t interested in another deal, though, that’s disastrous for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson was reportedly offered an extension on July 1st, which reports suggest he promptly turned down. That means their captain and oft-leading scorer is headed out of town on July 1st of next year; to make matters worse, fellow top scorer Mike Hoffman just got dealt in-division (in a roundabout way) thanks to off-ice issues between his fiancée and Karlsson’s wife, which involve a protection order against online harassment and abuse. Add in that their 2019 first-round selection - which can’t be anything but a top-10 pick at this point, really - belongs to Colorado no matter what, and things aren’t looking too bright.
But hey! At least they locked Cody Ceci up for $4.3 million for next season, too. [Sportsnet]
Those deals are bad for a myriad of reasons, but the Capitals deserve some chatter of their own for this six-year Tom Wilson deal. [Yahoo Sports]
The maximum allowable fine under the current CBA is $15k. That means that Tom Wilson can now afford 2068 of those bad boys over the next 6 years while still breaking even.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) July 28, 2018
There were a few other deals tossed in here and there, but honestly, I think we got the ones that matter, amirite?
Finally, I’ll wrap things up by sharing what Anders Nilsson said during his incredibly candid interview for Aftonbladet this past week.
Nilsson did a video and longform interview with the Swedish-language sports site to talk about homophobia in hockey, and how to truly be a good ally for communities that need more support.
It’s pretty hard not to support someone who’s this honest about things.
“It is said [statistically] that there should be 3-4 on each team who are homosexuals,” he told Aftonbladet. “But no, definitely not.”
“They have stopped when they were children,” he theorized. “They have not dared to continue playing.”
His parting words in the video, though, couldn’t have been more supportive. “I belong in hockey, you belong in hockey. Get dressed, come out.” For some young player who’s scared of what his teammates will say, even before they know how he feels, the amount of support and validation Nilsson provided could be a life changer - literally.
If you have the time, read the entire interview (you just have to tap that google translate button in your browser to do so, unless you’re one of our Swedish-language fans - in which case, enjoy!). If you don’t, here’s a summary, and why what he said is so important. [InGoalMedia]