Author: Greg Wyshynski

Willie Desjardins is Canada Olympic coach, now what about players?

That hope you’ve been keeping alive about the NHL sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympic hockey tournament? It took its last breath on Tuesday morning, as Hockey Canada announced its management staff and the timeline for how Team Canada will be built for the Pyeongchang Games.

Willie Desjardins, last seen getting fired by the Vancouver Canucks, is the head coach for the Canadian men’s national team. Sean Burke, former Canadian Olympic goalie and current Montreal Canadiens scout, is the team’s general manager. Martin Brodeur, whom you may have heard of, is one of the team’s managerial assistants.

[Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr]

Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft are the assistant coaches. In King and Woodcroft, Team Canada has two coaches with a wealth of international experience.

With the NHL on the sidelines for the Olympics, the first thing Hockey Canada needed in a coach was availability. Desjardins was fired in April after going 109-110-27 for a .498 points percentage in three years as Canucks coach. The team made the playoffs with 101 points in his first season, but then the team downshifted into a rebuild, notching just 69 points last season.

Desjardins, 60, was a coach in the WHL for nine years before becoming an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars from 2010-12. He was the head coach of the Texas Stars in the AHL from 2012-14, winning the Calder Cup in his second season before the Canucks hired him. Desjardins was also an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Team in 1998-99, including at the 1999 IIHF World Championship.

“The one thing we can count on that our team will be as prepared as anyone else,” said Burke, setting a somewhat low bar for Team Canada’s coaching staff.

Desjardins was all maple leafs and glowing hearts. “I’ve been able to see our flag go through the rink, and I’ll never forget when I first saw it. To stand on the blue line and hear our anthem. It just gives you chills,” he said. “Canada is a such a great nation, and the Olympics are the biggest sporting event.”

Now we know who will build and coach the team.

So who’s actually going to play for Team Canada?

The process begins on Aug. 6 at the Sochi Hockey Open in Russia, and then continues on Aug. 14 at the Tournament of Nikolai Puchkov in St. Petersburg. Team Canada will play in both, giving team management a chance to see “45 Canadian players, representative of four international teams,” according to Scott Salmond, VP of hockey operations and national men’s teams.

The current Team Canada roster includes former NHL players like forwards Gilbert Brulé, Andrew Ebbett, Rob Klinkhammer, Daniel Paille, Mason Raymond, goalie Justin Peters and Max Talbot, who is a forward but also deserves special mention here because he’s Max Talbot.

“These first two events allow us to continue a player evaluation process that began last season with our Deutschland Cup and Spengler Cup teams,” said Salmond.

There’s another international tournament in November in Zurich, and then one in Helsinki against five of the top hockey nations. The Channel One Cup in Moscow will offer another look in December. That’s five tournaments in seven months.

During the latter part of 2017, Team Canada will evaluate its players on their respective club teams. That includes players in North America – the AHL has said that “teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics” as long as those players aren’t on NHL contracts.

The roster will be selected, and then Team Canada meets for the first time on Feb. 4 in Seoul. The players and coaches will have 10 days to prepare for their Olympic opening game against the Swiss on Feb. 14, 2018.

Look, we all wanted the NHL to play in the Olympics, even though there are no tangible benefits to the NHL because the IOC is unmatched in its avarice. The hockey is amazing, the drama is fantastic and the stakes are never higher for a “best on best” tournament.

But since we can’t have nice things, here’s what we have instead: a fascinating process playing out for Team Canada and Team USA (which will hold their press conference in early August) as they give kids, journeymen and over-the-hill veterans a crack at Olympic glory, just like it used to be before the NHL elbowed into the club.

If we can’t have the best hockey players in the world this time around, let’s relish the underdog spectacle of this team building, which would have made a great 1990s sports comedy plot, with Dennis Farina as Willie Desjardins and probably Jason Priestley as some guy who was playing in the Swiss league.

You know, back when Canada could actually be the underdog in an international tournament ….

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Is Mika Zibanejad worth the five-year investment from Rangers?

The New York Rangers knew what center Mika Zibanejad wanted. Heading into an arbitration hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the 24-year-old was asking for one year at $5.35 million. But the Rangers didn’t want to do that.

No, to get that annual value on that deal, the Rangers wanted Zibanejad locked down for a bit. So before their hearing, the two sides came to an agreement: Zibanejad gets his $5.35 million annually against the cap, and the Rangers get him for the next five years. Huzzah!

Acquired from the Ottawa Senators last year in a deal for Derrick Brassard, Zibanejad had 14 goals and 23 assists in 2016-17 in 56 games. That 0.66 points per game average was the highest in his career. As Brassard did, he meshed well with Mats Zuccarello, scoring 11 EV points with him in over 360 minutes together.

It’s hard to imagine the Rangers were going to win their hearing with him, having submitted a $4.1 million offer. As Larry Brooks notes, this contract is more than fair for a player of Zibanejad’s talents and age:

Mika Zibanejad’s ask for $5.35 million would be pretty well within the parameters of precedent if that number was attached to a four- or five-year deal. Detroit’s Tomas Tatar signed for $5.3 million per for four years while surrendering three seasons of unrestricted free agency. Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson gave up six seasons of unrestricted free agency in signing a seven-year deal worth $5M per while teammate Ondrej Palat surrendered four seasons of unrestricted free agency with his recent five-year contract for $5.3M per. And a year ago, Brayden Schenn signed a four-year deal worth $5.125M per in yielding two seasons of unrestricted free agency.

There was no need to drag this out, no need for any nastiness in an arbitration hearing that Rangers fans were concerned about.

So Zibanejad will make more against the cap than Brassard ($5 million) next season. Those short-term cap savings from last summer have disappeared, replaced by a fairly hefty raise for the young Swede. But that was expected if, in fact, Zibanejad was what the Rangers thought he was: a top line center, with the contract to match.

Kudos to the Rangers on this one. Brassard was a know commodity. Zibanejad had the greater upside.

It was one season, and it was 56 games, but they saw enough of him to know that a five-year commitment at this salary was the best move here. Or, at the very least, they know that any talented center they pair with Zuccarello can post numbers, and Zuc there for at least the next two seasons.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Russian star Danis Zaripov banned two years for doping

Danis Zaripov is one of the most familiar names to Russian hockey fans.

This week, the KHL announced he’s been suspended for two years on a doping violation.

From the KHL:

The anti-doping program in the KHL Championship 2016-17 season was conducted jointly with the IIHF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in accordance with the SportAccord Convention – DFSU (Doping Free Sport Unit), and other international agencies accredited by WADA and concerned with the collection of tests and laboratory analysis of results. A total of 377 tests were conducted during the 2016-17 Championship.

The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

Smith played for the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames from 2009-2014, and joined the KHL last season. He’s banned for a year, eligible to return on Sept. 1, 2018. Konev is banned until Nov. 19, 2017. As for Zaripov, he’s done until May 22, 2019.

Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

He’s played in their pro leagues since 1999, and was a forward for Kazan Ak Bars from 2001-13, including when that team joined the Kontinental Hockey League in 2008 after playing in the Russian Super League. Zaripov, 36, has spent the last four seasons with Magnitogorsk Metallurg. In total, he’s won four KHL Gagarin Cup championships and three world championships for the Russian national team. He was a Russian Olympian in 2010.

Said the KHL, in a statement:

“The Russian Hockey Federation maintains active contacts with KHL clubs regarding the anti-doping regulations. Doctors from the RHF and the national team are in permanent contact with their colleagues from the (KHL) clubs, they exchange medical data via a special web portal, but unfortunately it is impossible to exercise control over everything the players do.

“Zaripov is an outstanding and famous player, who had a splendid career,” the statement said. “The Russian Ice Hockey Federation will never forget his merits and achievements and will extend the necessary support for him.”

This suspension will affect both their KHL careers and their status in any IIHF tournaments.

For Zaripov, that means there won’t be a reunion with his old club. He signed a two-year deal with Ak Bars in the offseason.

Via Russia Today and SovSport, Zaripov said:

“From what I understand, the substance for which I received a two-year ban is not (a performance enhancer) itself,” he said. “But WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] experts for some reason decided that it was covering some stimulants. Or to be exact, it could have covered them. But I have a long career in hockey behind my back, and I can say with 100 percent confidence that I have never consumed anything illegal.”

Incredibly, there might still be a place for Zaripov to play next season: The NHL, which conducts its doping tests independent of WADA. Although one imagines his age, plus this violation, would make signing him radioactive. Expect an appeal of the ban from Zaripov instead.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Jordan Eberle’s wedding was Oilers young guns' joyous reunion

Ah, weddings. A time to celebrate the joining of a happy couple in matrimony. A time to reconnect with old friends. A time to sing loudly and terribly in celebration of an open bar.

The wedding of Jordan Eberle and Lauren Rodych appeared to have all of these elements, which might be bittersweet to see for Edmonton Oilers fans.

Eberle was traded to the New York Islanders in June after 507 games with the franchise. Among his wedding guests: Current Oilers like Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as well as former Oiler and current New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall.

They may not have won a Stanley Cup together. But damn if they can’t belt out “Wagon Wheel” at a wedding:

Name your fav oiler/former oiler slash karaoke party. #becomingmrseberle

A post shared by Dean Van De Walle (@dvandewalle) on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:41pm PDT

Well that was … vocal.

Besides tremendous singing, perhaps the highlight of the night for Taylor Hall?

Playing hockey with McDavid again.

If one considers McDavid snapping shots while Hall defended an invisible net with a guitar as “playing with Connor McDavid.”

Congrats to Jordan and Lauren on the great off-season content.

s/t Sportsnet

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Bad deal for Viktor Arvidsson, great deal for Predators

After the Nashville Predators lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a few things gained clarity.

Like the fact that Nashville was the envy of other hockey towns, with an ever-expanding fan base of catfish-chucking party people (and it’s a great place to live!). But mostly, that their Western Conference championship could be a warning shot across the bow of the NHL, because with a core of players entering — or on the cusp of — their prime years, the Predators are theoretically going to be in the mix with teams like the Edmonton Oilers for several years of Stanley Cup contention.

[Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr]

The challenge for GM David Poile was making shrewd financial moves to ensure that core remained together, not only for another run or two with Pekka Rinne in goal but for the future.

To that end: He now has Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis signed for a combined $20.5 million cap hit through 2019. Which is rather incredible.

He got Josi (2013) and Ellis (2014) inked before the Predators actualized as Stanley Cup contenders. He signed Forsberg to a six-year, $36 million contract in June 2016 – post-Ryan Johansen trade, but two days before the P.K. Subban trade.

Arvidsson is the first key signing since the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and Poile nailed it, from a cap perspective: Seven years and $29.75 million for a paltry $4.25 million cap hit on a 24-year-old player. He made $650,000 against the cap for the last three years.

He’s coming off a 31-goal, 30-assist breakout season over 80 games last year, having gained just 16 points in his previous 62 NHL games. It’s no secret how that explosion happened: He clicked with Forsberg and Johansen, creating a dominant top line for the Predators. He scored 12 of his 19 even-strength goals last season with Johansen as his center.

Which is why this contract is a huge win for Nashville, and potentially a blown chance for Arvidsson.

His ask in the arbitration hearing with the Predators, that preceded the contract settlement, was one year at $4.5 million, according to Elliotte Friedman. Nashville was asking for two years at $2.75 million each.

There’s every reason to believe that he’ll be back on that line next season, and there’s every reason to believe they’ll be great again. Locking into a $4.25 million cap hit for seven years, from a player standpoint, would seem to cost him millions, considering what Arvidsson does and considering his current status in the lineup.

A bridge deal of some sort boosts his baseline price, gives him more time to build a stats case he might not be able to make over just one productive season, and extends out into (more) UFA years the Predators would have to buy up to keep him. All of that adds up to more than $4.25 million annually, a.k.a. “Craig Smith money,” for a guy that just popped 31 goals.

But I guess there’s something laudable about Arvidsson giving away money and taking term with a team that could contend – health and goaltending willing – for the next seven years. And again, give Poile this: He’s got everyone under contract for next season and $14 million in space to get Ryan Johansen and Austin Watson under contract and, maybe, figure out how to replace those James Neal goals.

The only thing that gives you pause if you’re Nashville with this contract is the way Arvidsson has played away from Johansen, but at $4.25 million and term that’s a problem you can correct via trade if it turns out he’s only a product of that line.

(Although it should be noted that Arvidsson had a better Final, post-Johansen, than did Forsberg.)

Hey, maybe if you’re Arvidsson, you take the chance to snag term while the numbers are high, rather than take the gamble that another year with RyJo increases your price tag. But wouldn’t that be an indictment of your own potential?

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Patrick Kane bummed about losing Artemi Panarin


Other than Sidney Crosby, no NHL player has more points over the last four seasons than Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks with 328 in 294 games, with 136 of them goals.

That was thanks in no small part to winger Artemi Panarin, whose immediate chemistry with Kane and center Artem Anisimov established a dominant top line for Chicago and Kane’s two best offensive seasons (in points per game average) in that four-season span.

Panaerin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a deal that brought Brandon Saad back to the Blackhawks. What does Kane think about losing his wingman?

He’s a little bummed.

From Mark Lazarus of the Chicago Sun-Times:

‘‘I’d be lying to you if I was sitting up here saying I wasn’t disappointed when it first went down, no doubt about it,’’ Kane said at the 10th annual Hawks convention at the downtown Hilton. ‘‘Artemi’s a great kid, someone I got along with really well off the ice and had that chemistry with on the ice. It was just fun to play with him every night. I’ll miss him, for sure.’’

As for who might fill that role across from Kane, there are a few candidates. (Saad will play with his old linemate, Jonathan Toews.)

There’s Ryan Hartman, coming off a 19-goal rookie campaign. He only had 76 minutes of ice time with Kane last season. There’s Nick Schmaltz, who played mostly with Jonathan Toews but had five assists in 186 minutes with Kane last season.

There’s rookie Alex DeBrincat, an offensive dynamo, and it’s not like placing a rookie with Kane didn’t work out last time. (Although there’s a slight difference between a 19 year old from the OHL and a 25-year-old veteran of the KHL.)

There’s also 35-year-old Patrick Sharp, who was Kane’s linemate for parts of his first stint in Chicago but is coming off an horrific season (18 points in 48 games).

What does Kane think about his line next season?

‘‘Who knows what’s going to happen?’’ Kane said. ‘‘I could have better chemistry with a guy like Schmaltz or better chemistry with someone like Hartman. And I know I played well with Sharp in the past, too. I’m looking forward to the season and the next challenge.’’

The good news for Chicago is that Kane has been a point-per-game player every season since 2012. He’s not a product of Panarin.

The real question is how much Panarin was a product of Kane, but we suppose that’s for the Blue Jackets to answer.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Can crowdfunding save women’s college hockey?

North Dakota cut its women’s hockey program in March, in one of the saddest and most stunning decisions to rock the sport at the collegiate level.

This was a hockey-mad university. This was a program that, on the day the news hit, was touring potential recruits through campus for next season. The issue, as it always is for sports that aren’t football and basketball, was money – it didn’t matter how many UND alumni played in the Olympics when the school faced a reported $1.3 million budget shortfall.

“When you see a school like North Dakota do what they’ve done, it is scary. But more than that, it’s heartbreaking,” said Katie Million, commissioner of Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where North Dakota played. “I’m just heartbroken for the student athletes that can’t continue their careers there and have to find new homes.”

It was a decision that angered the hockey community, and it was a decision that made the WCHA reconsider its own economic future. It may not always be the apocalyptic elimination of an entire program; it might be budget cutbacks that have a trickle-down effect to the conference as a whole.

With North Dakota out of the picture, the other WCHA schools – Bemidji State, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin – would all have to shoulder a larger financial responsibility. Which is why Million decided the time was right to be proactive, and ask those who are most passionate about women’s hockey to help ensure its stability.

On Thursday, Million and the WCHA announced a crowdfunding initiative through that allows supporters to make tax-deductible donations to the League. RallyMe is a crowdfunding site that’s been utilized by several “fringe” sports for funding, from USA Canoe and Kayak to USA Ultimate.

What makes RallyMe interesting: Donations to the WCHA can target specific areas of need, from hockey scholarships to league operations to purchasing the postseason championship trophy. People know exactly where their money is going.

When Million was named commissioner in Sept. 2016, she was surprised to find out that the WCHA was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “I was baffled that we hadn’t been taking advantage of that status, accepting tax deductible donations,” she said.

So she made it a priority to think outside the box and find ways to accept donations “should we find some passionate fans that would like to support us,” she said. Crowdfunding was the answer.

It’s not that the WCHA was in financial trouble. Million said there weren’t any specific shortfalls that needed immediate attention, outside of a student-athlete post-graduate scholarship that she hopes the RallyMe funding can save.

“It’s really more of an enhancement of what we do,” she said.

But the WCHA crowdfunding is also preemptive in case other situations like the North Dakota implosion happen. Not only does it build a dedicated base of donors who share a passion for the league and its member schools, but it can also help the other member schools with their individual budget concerns.

“Them departing our league helps our cause. We can use the help, instead of potentially seeing programs drop,” said Million.

“I look at it as us being proactive. Everybody’s budgets are tightening. Schools are getting less funding. We have to help however we can so that those finances they’re paying us to run the league can go back into their own programs, their own budgets, so that we have less of a burden on these member schools.”

From the professional leagues through the colleges, women’s hockey continues to fight for financial stability and substantial investment. Million believes that crowdfunding, especially for a not-for-profit league like the WCHA, can provide both.

“I’m a little baffled that other conferences don’t utilize the status,” she said.

If the WCHA succeeds, perhaps they will.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


NHL in 2018 Winter Olympics: Alternate schedule, alternate reality

This is a time of magic. Through our own tenacity and volume, we have the ability to will things into existence.

We can resurrect cancelled television shows. We can force major corporations to apologize for social media faux pas. We literally created a line of dialogue for Samuel L. Jackson to say in “Snakes On A Plane” and, by god, he said it.

So while the NHL has given every indication that it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics – right down to the moment when Gary Bettman announced the 2018 All-Star Game would be in Tampa, and basically said “because we’re not going to the Olympics” – hope is kept alive, because hockey fans who want to see the best best-on-best tournament in existence can will it into existence, right?


There was fuel for those flames this week, when Sports Express in Russia reported that Russian NHL players believe there is “a backup schedule with an Olympic break” that exists; a contingency plan for the NHL that allows them to still participate in the 2018 Olympics even though the 2017-18 schedule has been released.

The report went on to say that the NHL is facing heavy pressure from stars like Sidney Crosby to attend the 2018 Games, which is likely music to Gary Bettman’s ears since much of this is posturing to make the Olympics a huge CBA negotiation point in a few years.

Is there an Alternate Olympic Schedule for the 2017-18 season? I asked a few league sources and got a few “I don’t knows.”

But honestly, that’s besides the point. Nothing has changed with regard to what needs to happen for the NHL to go to South Korea: For the IOC to share its wealth with the NHL, and/or for the NHLPA to cave and extend the CBA through 2025.

And that’s with the assumption that the Olympics are still actually on the table, and there’s plenty of evidence to say they’re not.

“I know that there have been a variety of comments either from Rene Fasel of the International Ice Hockey Federation or from representatives from the Players’ Association suggesting that this was still an open issue. It is not and has not been,” said Bettman in late May.

In the next week, the NHL is going to have boots on the ground in Tampa to start cutting deals for the All-Star Game. That includes a partnership with the organizers of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, for what should be a wild drunken time in January. They’re full speed ahead on that event in ways that would indicate that they’re not expecting to move it to 2019.

We’re also starting to see the beginnings of how these national teams will be built for a non-NHL Olympics.

The AHL this week confirmed to Steve Whyno that “teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.” That’s strictly minor league free agents, and not players on NHL contracts that have been demoted.

Also, for those keeping hope alive: Don’t read too much into the radio silence from USA Hockey on this. Like the fact there hasn’t been an orientation camp announced for the 2018 national team, like there was in August 2013 for the Sochi team. That was only going to be for NHL players; for a non-NHL player team, USA Hockey is going to create a pool of up to 150 players “based on past playing history and upcoming season expectation of Olympic availability.”

They’ll be evaluated based on 2014-18 performances, rather than coming to tryouts or some such. The rosters will be set by early January 2018.

Look, it’s OK if you want to continue to look at NHL Olympic participation through delusion-colored glasses. Most likely it’s because you’re a Canadian who knows that your third string could win gold, or a Swede that knows the Canadians have to beat someone for gold, or an American that … hey wait, we have Matthews and Eichel this time?!

The IOC and NHLPA better get to [expletive] caving so the NHL can roll out that alternate schedule…

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Colton Parayko deal gives Blues incredible value on young star

The St. Louis Blues and 24-year-old defenseman Colton Parayko came to terms on a five-year, $27.5 million contract extension on Thursday, the day of their scheduled arbitration hearing. It carries an average annual value of $5.5 million.

One could easily understand why the Blues would want to avoid that hearing, as trying to dig up negatives on one of the best young defensemen in hockey – and, some feel, the best defenseman in St. Louis – would require a TMZ-level of mudslinging. There’s not much bad to say about him.

In two years, Parayko has 13 goals and 55 assists in 160 games. His time on ice jumped to 21:12 last season, and his numbers didn’t suffer: He had a 51.1 percent Corsi, playing most of his minutes as the better half of a pairing with Joel Edmundson.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the Blues submitted offers of $3.4 million and $3.6 million for each of two years. Parayko wanted one year at $4.85 million. So rather than risking that one-year bridge moving the bar up on a longer-term deal next summer, the Blues closed him at $5.5 million over five years.

One could argue that, after just two seasons, the Blues are already getting incredible value here, let alone three or four years into this deal. He was No. 14 in the NHL last season in individual Corsi per 60 minutes (12.98), ahead of Roman Josi (12.79), right there with Aaron Ekblad (13.19) and in sniffing distance of Erik Karlsson (13.48). (We imagine he smells of hair products and success.)

Parayko, who will be unrestricted when this contract is over, carries the same cap hit next season as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Justin Schultz, Nick Leddy and Jeff Petry. We’d argue he’s demonstrably better than all but the first name on that last. It’s inarguable that he’s younger than all of them.

He’s making slightly more than the contract Hampus Lindholm signed last season with the Anaheim Ducks, carrying a $5,205,556 annual value.

There’s a lot to love here with this deal for the Blues, because there’s a lot to love about Parayko:

Parayko’s top-notch. If I were STL, I wouldn’t even mind paying his full asking price. Seems like a longer term deal would’ve been wise.

— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) July 18, 2017

At the five-year anniversary of the Shea Weber offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s interesting to see a young defenseman opt not to work the system. There would have been a market for him as an RFA, no doubt. Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs probably had a van parked outside his house since May.

But he wasn’t eligible for an offer sheet because he filed for arbitration, and the Blues accepted it. That was one level of commitment from Parayko. Agreeing on a deal that gives the Blues stability and flexibility like this one is another. GM Doug Armstrong has to be thrilled with this. So should St. Louis fans.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


Flyers’ Shea Weber offer sheet fallout, five years later

On July 19, 2012, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators was a restricted free agent. The Philadelphia Flyers were trying to work a trade angle for him, but not getting any traction, despite having the threat of an offer sheet hanging over the Predators.

There was also the clock ticking down to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, and how that might affect the term and dollars on Weber’s big contract — a contract that the Flyers couldn’t negotiate with him on before acquiring his rights.

So rather than continue down this road, the Flyers handed him an offer sheet.

Weber signed it.

And everyone freaked out, five years ago today.

The contract was for 14 years with a value of $110 million. At the time, and at age 26, it made Shea Weber the second-highest paid player in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin, who by 2012 had won the Hart Trophy twice. Weber still hasn’t won a Norris.

The Predators had the decision to match the contract or accept four first-round picks from the Flyers, losing Weber in the process.

Nashville was coming off a 102-point season and a second-round playoff exit, but their holy trinity of star players was fracturing. Defenseman Ryan Suter signed a 13-year contract with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent, leaving behind his defensive partner Weber and goalie Pekka Rinne.

GM David Poile was mega-pissed. Suter told the team he was re-signing back in November 2011. Nashville made a competitive offer to retain him. Suter said it wasn’t about the money, but rather about family, as his wife was a Minnesota native. “The disappointing part is that’s not what we talked about all year long. I think we met Ryan’s desires on every front so today is very, very disappointing,” said Poile.

But since that ship sailed, Poile shifted his target to re-upped Weber, his restricted free-agent captain restricted. “He’s the player we want to build our team around. We want him to be in Nashville for years to come,” said Poile.

One problem: Keeping Suter would have made retaining Weber much easier.

Weber expected the Predators would match any offer sheet he signed. But he also didn’t feel comfortable committing to the team long-term without Suter there. (That was according to Bob McKenzie at the time.)

So Weber’s camp sent out feelers, looking for teams that had the desire to trade for him and the ability to offer sheet him, for leverage. The field included teams like the New York Rangers, who were hot for Weber, and the Vancouver Canucks, whose general manager Mike Gillis said that he wasn’t confident that Weber’s contract wouldn’t be matched.

Why not offer sheet him anyway, like the Flyers? Said Gillis to the Globe & Mail:

“Well.” He paused, took a breath. “I guess that’s one school of thought. To me I’d rather be trying to accomplish things rather than, ‘Okay, throw something up in the air and hope that it sticks.’ “We threw around trade possibilities. We threw around every possible scenario. I spoke to him [Weber] about every possible scenario, and his agent. At the end of the day, I guess Philadelphia was prepared to take that chance.”

They were, and Weber signed an offer sheet that was specifically designed to torpedo any match from the Predators.

The contract paid him $1 million in base salary with a $13 million signing bonus over the first four years; $4 million in salary with an $8 million bonus in years five and six; $6 million in years 7-10; $3 million in year 11; and $1 million in each of the final three years.

(RIP, deep back-sliding contracts.)

If the Predators matched, they would have been on the hook for $27 million for Weber, with $26 million of it guaranteed through a lockout.

As Frank Seravalli wrote:

“To put that in perspective, 16.5 percent of Nashville’s entire franchise net worth ($163M as valuated by Forbes Magazine in 2011) would be paid out in less than a calendar year by the small-market team.”

Barry Petchesky of Deadspin called it “a CBA-Beating Masterpiece.”

The notion that the Predators would match this was, at the time, a long-shot. Nashville fans were left hoping that the threat that they might, or the Flyers’ cap considerations going forward, would net the Predators something more palpable than the four first-round picks. But the Flyers basically had all the leverage on a potential trade.

So the Predators were basically screwed, and the hockey world was Photoshopping Weber into Flyers jerseys.

And then David Poile matched the damn offer sheet.

On July 24, one day before the deadline to match, the Predators announced that Weber’s rights were retained. From the team:

As the organization analyzed the overall situation and worked toward a conclusion, the decision boiled down to three questions:

– Was Shea Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?

– Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?

– Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with “deep pockets?”

The answer to each of the above questions is clearly “yes.” The organization spent the last several days analyzing all aspects of the offer sheet, from economic implications to the impact on the team hockey operations puts on the ice.

So after five years, what can we glean from this historic moment?

The Shea Weber offer sheet will go down as one of the great “WHAT IF?!” moments in NHL history, along with course-changers like the Eric Lindros trade. (The Flyers, apparently, being the League’s biggest fans of “Choose Your Own Adventure.”)

Let’s start off with the obvious: The Predators felt, at the time, that losing Weber would have been a debilitating blow to the franchise.

Losing Suter and Weber in the span of a month would have been humbling; fans, by and large, supported the Predators matching the offer sheet. From Marc Torrence from On The Forecheck:

Is this the most important deal in franchise history? On the surface it would seem so. The Predators have finally taken out the checkbook and signed its best player to a long-term deal that will keep him in Nashville for seemingly the rest of his caerer. Rejoice, Preds fans. The captain isn’t going anywhere.

Let’s continue with the further obvious: There is no P.K. Subban in Nashville if there isn’t a Shea Weber going back to Montreal in that deal. Then again, the Flyers were sniffing around Subban as well over the years – could they have made the Weber-for-Subban trade instead?

As for the aftermath of the deals, there’s obviously no way to tell where the Flyers might have finished with Weber. But for giggles, they selected No. 11, No. 17, No. 7 and No. 18 overall in the next four drafts.

What about life without Weber on the blue line? Said Holmgren after the offer sheet was matched:

“We are perfectly happy with our defense right now. To try and add a guy like Shea Weber, doesn’t really speak to anything other than maybe you are adding one of the best guys in the league.”

That defense featured a recently acquired Luke Schenn, who never became what the Flyers thought they were getting for JVR. It would later include another debacle from Holmgren: The Andrew MacDonald trade, followed by the Andrew MacDonald signing.

Less than a month later, Holmgren was “promoted” to team president and Ron Hextall was hired to sort this all out.

Since 2012, the Flyers have had more coaches (three) than playoff appearances (two). Since 2012, the Predators missed the playoffs in two straight seasons and then made them in three straight, losing in the Stanley Cup Final last season with former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, fired the season after the Weber offer sheet was matched. Another domino that fell.

As for Weber, he might have seemed like a cold, calculated scoundrel at the time. Here was the team captain, chasing the money and trying to work a deal that got him out of playing in the only city he’d ever played in.

It didn’t help matters that his agent Jarrett Bousquet said Weber didn’t want to go through a “rebuilding” process in Nashville and “he’d like to play with the Philadelphia Flyers.”

Weber did damage control after the offer sheet match:

“I love the city of Nashville,” Weber said. “I love my teammates. I love the fans. It’s a very positive thing that the ownership has stepped up and they’re going to be a team that’s going to spend to the cap and brings guys in.

“The team stepped up and showed that they’re going to bend with the best of teams, and now we can focus on the season, and hopefully get some more pieces of the puzzle and build a contending team for a long time.”

It appears they will be, but not with Shea Weber. Because for all of the incredible maneuvering, massaging and masterminding of that offer sheet contract, the single most important aspect of it, in hindsight?

That there was no trade protection for Shea Weber.

And thus, despite the $110-million commitment five years ago, there’s no Shea Weber in Nashville today.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.