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News and Notes: Weekend Round-up

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Signing bonuses, CBA and more Melnyk drama

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend has been all about the start of training camp, as teams around the league ramping up their rosters and finally get to signing their RFAs; except the Ottawa Senators of course.

  • With training camp well under way, the trimming of the roster begins. The Sens released 11 players today back to their junior teams as well as to the Belleville Senators. Players cut include goalie Mads Sogaard, defenseman Michael Brodzinski and from the forwards group Adam Capannelli. None were expected to stay very long with the big club. The camp roster is now down to 52 players (five goaltenders, 16 defencemen and 31 forwards).
  • While the Mitch Marner saga is finally over, the more notable RFA signings for Sens fans were Boston Bruins’s Charlie McAvoy and Philadelphia FlyersIvan Provorov. I say notable because those deals provide a potential benchmark for what Chabot’s extension would look like. Whether Chabot inks an extension in the next few days or waits until next summer, he will most likely be worth more than either player. The main issue seemingly facing the Sens isn’t the actual term but the always controversial topic of signing bonuses. McAvoy’s contract includes $3 million in signing bonuses, while Provorov’s contract includes $12 million in total. Eugene Melnyk has been clear on his position with signing bonuses and if he remains stubborn on that stand, the Chabot situation may get very messy.
  • Speaking of our favourite Euge, he is being sued, again. This time he managed to get himself in trouble with Mohegan Sun casino, where he is accused of failing to pay off a $900k debt with bank drafts that were refused. At this point, it is comical the amount of legal and financial distress Melnyk is getting involved in. While this dispute has been going on for 2.5 years, Melnyk’s representatives insist the issue will be quickly resolved. My biggest question: will the NHL intervene at all when it comes to Melnyk’s leadership and league representation? They must be worried about their brand with all these scandals; they obviously can’t force a sale but can they somehow squeeze him out?
  • Today is a big day when it comes to the CBA negotiation. While a decision from the NHLPA regarding opting out was expected on Sunday, it was delayed due to a clause in the agreement that gave them the extra day since the decision day fell on a weekend. The NHL has already declined it’s right to opt out of the current CBA agreement and have been awaiting the NHLPA decision. With the way the signing bonuses have been handed down and the fear of another lockout, I suspect the NHLPA will want to continue the remaining three years of the agreement. Of course, it will be interesting to see if they can settle some outstanding issues such as player safety, Olympics participation and the never-ending escrow discussions.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov has seen his reputation damaged after being suspended for 4 years from international competitions for substance abuse. The NHL has also decided to take action by suspending him three games. Yes, three games for suspected cocaine use. While I’m still on the stance that it would be better to address the root of the problem and get Kuznetsov help if needed, the fact that the NHL thought a 3-game suspension was in any way a suitable punishment is a bit laughable. It may have been better to not do anything at all. It seems the NHL disciplinary system is as efficient on off ice issues as it is with on ice issues.