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Off the Record: Tampa Chase Chara? NHLPA Wants 82 | NYHN+

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NHL free agents, Zdeno Chara, Dale Tallon

News around the NHL and locally New York Islanders news has been grinding down to a halt lately as we all await to see the election results and if the world ends by Wednesday. Welcome to the first National Hockey Now version of Off the Record, which is a national column appearing on all National Hockey Now sites from San Jose to Boston and all points in between. We will focus on behind-the-scenes league chatter on the NHL free agents, trade gossip, and anything else insiders are willing to share.

Of course, the league-wide stalemate’s main reason is a flattened salary cap and the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 NHL regular season. Last week, one insider shared his belief that pensive owners will begin spending when fans are cleared to return. However, while big-name NHL free agents are still looking for work and NHL trade talk has slowed down, there’s still plenty of chatter, and that’s what you’ll find here in another edition of NHN Off The Record!

Could the Champs Chase Chara?

Could the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning put a knife into the Boston Bruins’ heart and add Zdeno Chara to an already stacked left side of their blue line? An NHL source has told Boston Hockey Now that current league chatter says Boston and their captain since the 2006-07 season, have been unable to find common ground on a new contract.

More specifically, the sides can’t agree on Chara’s would-be role next season. Boston and Chara have a mutual understanding that Chara will continue to explore opportunities like other NHL free agents. There has been some recent chatter amongst NHL sources that one of the teams that could jump into the fray is none other than the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

“I know it sounds crazy because of the cap problems they have in Tampa, but if they can move someone out, I’m hearing they will reach out to Chara if they haven’t already,” a second NHL source said recently.

The Lightning currently has $2.8 million in cap space per Puckpedia.com. They still need to sign key restricted free agent forward Anthony Cirelli, and RFA defensemen Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev. Counting Sergachev, the Lightning currently have four left-shot defensemen on their blue line, so there would be a logjam there if they added another in Chara. However, it’s maybe the worst kept secret on the trade chatter wire that Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois has been trying to move defenseman Braydon Coburn and the final year of his two-year contract that carries a $1.7 million. 

“Chara’s not going to cost much, and he can just fall into his role there and have a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup than he would in Boston,” that same source above pointed out. “If the Bruins keep dilly-dallying around here, they’re going to lose their captain, and I’m telling you, Tampa will be in on him if they can move some cap space.”

Can the Arizona Coyotes Get on the Right Track?

The Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t the only team looking to shed salary via trade. Counting the Leafs, nine teams currently have zero cap space. Surprisingly, one of those teams is the Arizona Coyotes. They already failed to facilitate a trade that would’ve sent captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks or the Bruins and are mired in the swamp of the Mitchell Miller debacle.

New Coyotes GM Billy Armstrong would love nothing more than to create some positive news to distract from the Mitchell Miller mess (he had nothing to do with), and word amongst some in the league is that he may be looking to his old boss in St. Louis for help.

The St. Louis Blues are another team with zero cap space, and GM Doug Armstrong still needs to sign restricted free agent Vince Dunn. Given their cap issues, the Armstrong duo would have to get creative, but it’s worth watching.

Would the Columbus Blue Jackets or Nashville Coyotes, two teams who cleared major cap space to make a big splash in the NHL free agents pond, but have thus far failed. Would either be interested in absorbing the two seasons at $8 million per left on Phil Kessel’s contract? They’re obviously both targeting UFA winger Mike Hoffman but if that didn’t happen, would one try to revive Kessel?

We will have to check how good the hot dogs are in Columbus and Nashville.

Why Haven’t the Pittsburgh Penguins Hired Dale Tallon?

Pittsburgh Hockey Now recently reported that former Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon could be joining Jim Rutherford’s Hockey Operations staff once Tallon was cleared of racial allegations stemming from the NHL bubble in Toronto. Tallon was cleared last week, so what’s the holdup? Tallon would be a breath of fresh air in what some around the NHL are saying has become a rather dysfunctional Penguins front office.

The worst that could happen if Rutherford brought in Tallon is that he could bring some fresh, objective eyes for Rutherford and head coach Mike Sullivan. However, an off the record chat turned up the belief that other teams have called Tallon, too.

Just speculating, but the Buffalo Sabres currently have a nearly vacant front office and a need for more hockey people.

Boston Bruins D Carlo Says PA Eyeing 82 Games

In an exclusive interview with Boston Hockey Now, Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo told yours truly and Joe Haggerty that the NHLPA is still eyeing an 82-game 2021 NHL regular season and that January 1. With all due respect to Carlo, the PA, and the NHL, there is no way that the NHL will get an 82-game season unless they start in the next month. Don’t forget that the league’s broadcast partner, in the States, NBC, has the Summer Olympics from Tokyo next summer. They will want the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be over at least a few days before the July 23 Opening Ceremonies should the Olympics actually occur.

The real reason both the NHL and NHLPA are still publicly pushing for 82 games is that the NHL is already not so quietly looking into ways to pro-rate salaries should there be a shortened season. There is nowhere in the collective bargaining agreement they signed with the players last July that allows the league to prorate the salaries, so there’s a solid chance this could lead to some unwanted labor strife, a postponement, or even more.

Neither side wants that and realizes that 82 games are likely the only way to avoid a labor stoppage on top of the pandemic issues. 

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.

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Off The Record: NHL Agents At Boiling Point, NHL Return Stalled | NYHN+

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Are we getting to a point where a potential NHL Return To Play and the New York Islanders 2020-21 season is in serious jeopardy because of labor issues and the second wave of COVID-19, which is raging around the world?

“Talks are at a standstill. It’s really quiet,” a prominent NHL agent told “Off the Record” on Monday.

While there is still a good deal of hope for an NHL Return, the owners’ latest request to alter the collective bargaining agreement, which was signed just five months ago, left the players fuming and their agents wondering when is enough with the “constant concessions” players have made since the 2004-05 lockout?

In other words, the NHL’s offer may have re-opened old wounds. Some are beginning to ask: Would some NHL owners and even the league be OK with canceling the 2020-21 NHL season?

That and more in the latest National Hockey Now ‘Off The Record‘:

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Off The Record: COVID Affect On NHL Season, Big Names Could Hit NHL Trade Market | NYHN+

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What happens to the 2020-21 NHL season if there’s a national lockdown in the United States after President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn into office on January 20?

Just as it has the airwaves and press clippings, the potential 2020-21 NHL season start date and format has been the topic du jour amongst ‘NHL Professionals’ (players, coaches, scouts, management, agents) since our last edition of ‘Off The Record’

There’s also been some trade and free agent chatter but more speculation as teams, players and agents await the fate of the 2020-21 NHL season while the second wave of COVID hammers North America worse than the first and the transition of the United States Presidency remains on hold. Could the NHL Trade Market heat up once we have a date?

Warning: The first three OTR tidbits this week are not going to cheer you up but the reality is that not just at the rink but in North American life in general, the news is not bright. 

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Off The Record: Dallas Stars Circle Back On Haula, CBJ and Hoffman Match?| NYHN+

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In terms of the NHL Trade market and unrestricted free agent signings, it remains quiet but thanks to injuries, we may also see the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets sign some key unrestricted free agents. 

The restricted free agent market has been more active. Some players like New York Rangers forwards Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux as well as Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar avoided arbitration with their respective teams. Other RFA’s like Detroit Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha re-upped long-term. That appears to be the trend for now as an array of cap-strapped teams continue to just take care of their own young talent and wait for the UFA and NHL Trade markets to open up.

“I honestly don’t see that happening until we at least have a tentative start date for the season and teams know the potential calendar they’re dealing with to sort things out,” an NHL executive told Off The Record recently.

Another NHL source with direct knowledge of the planning for the 2021 season believes the players aren’t going to agree to anything before January 15.

“I think it’s February. I don’t think any player is going to vote to do training camp over the [Christmas and New Year] holidays. It might be January 15, but I think it’s more likely somewhere [in early] February.”

Until then, there’s still going to be plenty of chatter amongst NHL league and team executives, scouts, coaches, players, and agents. This is where you can find out what the chatter’s all about. Welcome to another edition of National Hockey Now’s ‘Off The Record’!

This content is for NYHN+ subscribers only. Join us for only $3.49 per month, or get a yearly subscription for $29.99!
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Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.
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