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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 6, 2020
Well, that was weird.
When was the last July 1 you, the true hockey fan, didn’t blow off the better part of the afternoon watching TSN, Twitter, or any other trusted source of NHL news?
When was the last time you didn’t spend much of Canada Day glued to the opening of the free agent market?
Don’t ask me. I can’t recall.
Anyway, here’s a guess at what the highlights might have been, had the pandemic not pushed the league’s schedule back months, at least ….
CATCH OF THE DAY
That would be Alex Pietrangelo, the 30-year old captain of the defending Cup champion Blues. In 70 games this season, the big defenceman had a career-high 16 goals to go along with 52 points, which was also just two off his personal best. Pietrangelo, who is solid in all areas of the game, logged an average of 24:11 of ice time this season. His cap hit was $7.5 million and, with Erik Karlsson the top paid D-man in the league at an $11.5 million cap hit, Pietrangelo would have received a raise of approximately $4 mil per year. The Maple Leafs would have wanted to bring him home, but they would have to make a major roster change to free up space. He probably would have ended up in Colorado, where he would push the Avs over the top, or maybe the Devils if he wanted to move East.
MORE BOTTOM LINE
As for other D-men, Torey Krug would have been high on the wish list of many teams if the 29-year old Bruins blue liner didn’t heed the advice of Ray Bourque by staying in Boston. A superb PP quarterback who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, his last deal carried an AAV of $5.25 million and he too would have been given a hike in the $4 million range. The native of Livonia, Mich. grew up cheering for the Red Wings and it’s easy to envision him pulling on the red and white … It didn’t work out as planned in Toronto for 28-year old Tyson Barrie, but as a right handed point man who has produced in the past, he would have been handed a deal somewhere in the $6 million range he made this season … Another right-hander, Sami Vatanen (cap hit: $4.87 million) would have received offers from teams hoping he could play the first injury-free season of his eight-year career … Same goes for Justin Schultz, another producer when not on the shelf coming off a $5.5 million cap hit with Penguins.
DIALING UP OFFENCE
Two subpar seasons removed from his Hart Trophy winning performance, Taylor Hall still has another 39-goal, 93-point season or two in him, or at least that’s what teams would literally bank on. Making big pitches for the 28-year old coming off a $6 million cap hit likely would have been the offensively challenged Blue Jackets and Stars … Defensive shortcomings and any remaining off-ice baggage aside, Mike Hoffman scored 65 goals in 151 games with the Panthers the last two seasons. He would have signed for at least the same $5.187 with a team that has a strong room … A trade to Vancouver rekindled Tyler Toffoli’s offensive game and quite likely the interest in the still 28-year old winger coming off a contact with a cap hit of $4.6 million … In his last three seasons with the Panthers, Evgenii Dadonov has averaged 27 goals. At 31-years old coming off a deal with a $4 million cap hit would have scored a decent raise … The ninth pick of the 2010 entry draft, Mikael Granlund struggled in two seasons with the Preds but also toyed with the 70-point plateau for a couple of years in Minnesota. At 28 and with a $5.75 million cap hit, he would have been given a raise to relocate again.
THE BUCK STOPS HERE
The best of the free agent bunch in goal is 30-year-old Braden Holtby, who was at a $6.1 million cap hit and the Caps are allowing to escape because they have 23-year old Ilya Samsonov waiting in the wings … Robin Lehner (cap hit: $5 million) deserves a No. 1 job. Don’t most Swedes gravitate to Detroit? … If 35-year-old Corey Crawford (cap hit: $5 million), 30-year old Jacob Markstrom (cap hit: $4 million) and 34-year old Thomas Greiss (cap hit: $3.33 million) had gone anywhere, it would have likely been as a backup.
After a season off, does 35-years old Dustin Byfuglien want to resume his career? Not likely, but if he does, teams would be lined up for a reasonably-priced shot at his combination of size, toughness and skill.
ON THIS (July 2) DATE
Exactly 118 years ago, John (Mugsy) McGraw became the manager of the New York Giants MLB team, a job he would hold for the next 31 years. McGraw, who broke into the bigs as a third baseman with the Baltimore Orioles in 1891, then became the team’s player-manager in 1899, died of ureic poisoning three years after getting out of the game at the age of 60. He might very well have been the original baseball “lifer” … Exactly 117 years ago, “Big Ed” Delahanty died at the age of 35. A former MLB batting champ who owned a career average of .346 over 16 years, was found at the bottom of Niagara Falls, after either falling or jumping from the bridge connecting Buffalo to Fort Erie. Earlier in the day he was kicked off a train by the conductor, who said Delahanty was brandishing a straight razor and threatening the lives of passengers after pounding back five whiskies … Happy 56th to former “Bash Brother” Jose Canseco and 41st to “Jumbo” Joe Thornton …
According to Cap Friendly, Ottawa’s local NHL team had a final cap hit in 2019-20 of $74,319,369, which was second-lowest in the NHL. Elliotte Friedman reports that the flat salary cap under a modified CBA, unless changed, is $81.5 million over the next two years and $82.5 million in 2022-23. That big “uh-oh” heard on Canada Day sounded like it came from Kanata … It’s possible Jay Cutler has become more popular as a pet detective than he was as the Bears quarterback. The 580.6 k followers of ifjayhadinstagram seemed relieved to see him solve the mystery of what was killing his chickens. When the trap he set was ignored by the intruder, Cutler spent a night in a tree stand, fending off a storm and wearing night goggles, to discover the culprit was a raccoon. “Chicken heads were ripped off and bodies were left in the chicken yard. Gruesome stuff but the reality of the situation,” Cutler reported to his flock of fans. “Unfortunately I’m sure this raccoon has some family members.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020