Columbus holds the fourth pick in the NHL draft and there is all kinds of speculation around the Stanley Cup final that the Blue Jackets are under pressure to make the playoffs and may not have the time or inclination to wait for yet another player to develop. Don’t be surprised if Brian Burke makes an attempt to deal Tomas Kaberle and more to Columbus to try and get an early pick … I guess size matters: The Maple Leafs don’t lead the NHL in any category other than size of front office …
The draft itself comes smack dab in the middle of the NHL’s two-week buyout window leading up to July 1 free agency. During Chiarelli’s four years on Causeway St., he has bought out the likes of Peter Schaefer , Glen Murray , and Patrick Eaves (a procedure crafted around the Aaron Ward trade to Carolina and the UFA acquisition of Derek Morris ).
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The Penguins got good news when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap is expected to rise by about $2 million from its current $56.8 million. There had been concern about a possible precipitous drop in the cap for 2010-11 because of the sour economy.
Another priority for Shero among potential free agents is winger Matt Cooke , who combines strong physical play with some skill. Shero said at 32 and coming off a strong season in which he matched his career high with 15 goals, Cooke might have to makes some choices between staying with a contending club where he is comfortable or pursuing a large, long-term contract for family security.
The most interesting news to come out of Gary Bettman’s press conference on Friday afternoon in Chicago – other than that second Winter Classic headed the Caps way – was that the NHL salary cap could rise as much as $2 million or more next season. The final numbers won’t be calculated until all revenue for the 2009-10 season is accounted for after the Stanley Cup finals end. And Bettman admitted the rise is due in part to the strength of the Canadian dollar. But whatever the cause, the Caps would have a little bit of breathing room in their quest to sign their four remaining restricted free agents, two centers and a sixth defenseman. The salary cap was $56.8 million in 2009-10.