The Ducks have placed defenseman Simon Despres on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The move is actually pretty significant for the Ducks given their current situation.
For one, it’s not great news for Despres’s potential return. He’s officially sidelined with an upper-body injury, but it appears to be head-related again. Despres more than half of last season with a concussion and if that’s the case again, that’s unfortunate for the 25-year-old.
Moving Despres to LTIR gives the Ducks some potential for wiggle room. That’s huge because they still haven’t re-signed defenseman Hampus Lindholm. The team currently has only $569,364 in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. That’s clearly not enough to get Lindholm under contract.
How much will it cost to do so? Sunday on Sportsnet’s “Headlines” segment, Elliotte Friedman confirmed the previously reported gap still exists. Anaheim wants Lindholm below the $5.4 million that Buffalo gave Rasmus Ristolainen. Lindholm’s camp wants to be above that mark. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos added that many GMs are a bit upset with Florida for the huge extension they gave to Aaron Ekblad, which set a high-water mark that GMs wish wasn’t there, especially since Florida’s income tax situation should have given the Panthers more room to tamp down that final AAV.
Where does that leave Anaheim? It leaves them without Despres and Lindholm right now. Even adding Despres’s $3.7 million cap hit to what they have available now doesn’t make enough room for even the low end of Lindholm’s next contract should come in around. And it’s not as simple as adding those two numbers together either. Anaheim likely remains in a position where they need to make a roster move to bring Lindholm back into the fold.
Mike Smith Injury Update
The Coyotes have updated the status of starting goaltender Mike Smith. While the team says his injury is “not severe,” they’re listing him as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
Smith has returned to Arizona and will be re-evaluated when the rest of the team returns from their current east coast swing. That trip ends with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
NHL Considering Outdoor Games Outside of NHL Cities
With outdoor games firmly entrenched as a fixture of NHL seasons, many cities have now hosted one of the outdoor events. With that in mind and a desire to not repeat cities, the NHL is exploring outdoor game options in cities without NHL teams, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
An option on the table is a West Point game with the New York Rangers. “One of the things they’re considering for next season is putting a game at West Point, if they can get the stadium issue worked out there,” Friedman said. “The Rangers would play, but they wouldn’t be the home team.” You’d have to think that the Florida Panthers are the other team in that match with their many connections to West Point.
Another option being explored is Notre Dame, which would almost certainly involve the Chicago Blackhawks based on how Chicago is basically in an outdoor game every year. The NHL may also be looking at international options, which poses interesting scenarios as the league continues to try and grow the World Cup brand.
For any cynics still taking a dump on outdoor games, don’t expect them to go away. Cities and teams want them. There’s still prestige, fan-building and profits to be had for the home teams, even if they aren’t the major television event they once were.
What Will L.A. Do in Net Now?
As reported yesterday, Los Angeles goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was injured at practice on Saturday. That means the team’s AHL tandem of Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell are now their NHL tandem.
In Saturday’s “Headlines” segment on Sportsnet, Friedman noted that the Kings are going to give Budaj a shot. They’ve been looking at some replacement options around the league and want to first see how Budaj handles the job. Friedman says that Kings have looked at trade scenarios involving Steve Mason, Ondrej Pavelec, Reto Berra and Mike Condon. He also wonders if they’re considering Jonathan Bernier as a replacement option.
For now, they stick with Budaj and Campbell, but it’s a tough way to start the year if the Kings can’t start getting some tallies in the win column.
Two Players Hit Waivers
Early Sunday the Colorado Avalanche placed Ben Smith on waivers and the Ottawa Senators placed Phil Varone on waivers.
Smith has hopped teams with surprising frequency in recent seasons, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Avalanche since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Varone split last season between the Senators and Buffalo Sabres. The Senators acquired him in a package from Buffalo that included Jason Akeson (now playing in the KHL), Jerome Leduc and a conditional draft pick. In return, Buffalo acquired forwards Alex Guptill, Eric O’Dell and Cole Schneider, as well as defenseman Michael Sdao.
The Trouba Ask
Also surfacing during Saturday’s “Headlines” segment on Sportsnet was an update on the Jacob Trouba situation. Friedman says that discussion continues between Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and other league GMs, but that the ask of a left-handed defenseman of similar quality to Trouba has not changed.
Amanda Kessel Removed From National Team
USA Hockey announced Sunday that Amanda Kessel will no longer be joining Team USA for the 2016 Four Nations Cup as previously announced. She is out with a lower-body injury that was first brought to the attention of fans when she missed last weekend’s game with the New York Riveters.
Kessel will be replaced by Amanda Pelkey of the NWHL’s Boston Pride. Kessel would have been the first player actively on the New York Riveters to lace up for the national team.
“It’s unfortunate that [Kessel] was injured and is unable to participate but we have full confidence in Amanda [Pelkey] and know that she can contribute to the national team as she has at recent events,” said Reagan Carey, general manager of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “I’m pleased that we’ve built a strong player pool that is deep with talented players who can readily step in at the highest level without lessening our chances for success. We’ll continue to monitor Kessel’s progress and evaluate her status for upcoming camps and events.”
Pelkey was on the 2016 national team that eeked out a gold medal in overtime against Team Canada in Kamloops, B.C.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.