1. Don’t assume if he clears waivers that he'll be assigned to the AHL. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays put in Chicago with the big club for the time being.
2. I think the Blackhawks had a few reasons for this move, not just one. They spoke with a number of teams since last season ended, especially at the draft in late June, about a Bickell trade, but obviously not to all 29 teams. So, putting him on waivers perhaps will spark a conversation with a team that Chicago hasn’t spoken with yet.
3. There might be a team that has some interest in Bickell but not enough to claim him outright on waivers and pick up the two years left on his deal, which sees him make $4.5 million at a $4 million cap hit. However, maybe there’s a team willing to move a player back in return to help alleviate the cost.
4. Even if a trade doesn’t materialize, and no teams claim him off waivers, there’s also perhaps the hope for Chicago that just being placed on waivers is a wake-up call for Bickell, who has disappointed the past two years. Maybe it provides a spark to the player. It has certainly done that for players in the past.
The Blackhawks surprised some by demoting Marko Dano. Not sure why it’s so shocking. He’s just 20. Remember that young winger Teuvo Teravainen wasn’t called up last season until January. The reality is that Dano could get recalled next week, next month or in three months, who knows, but he’ll be back up this season. It’s about developing players. Why is it when Detroit sends a 20-year-old back down, the Wings get credit for being patient in their development, but other teams can’t do the same thing? Let’s give the team with three Stanley Cups in six years a little more credit than that.
Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd told Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press on Thursday that if his extension is not done by opening night, he might shelve talks. I suspect that given he’s the captain of a Canadian team with lots of media coverage, Ladd probably feels it would be a distraction to continue talks throughout the season. There has been progress. Term had been the issue for the longest time in this negotiation but both sides have settled on being willing to do six years in length. The problem is, both sides remain apart on dollars.
There were further negotiations this week between the Kings and Pat Brisson, Anze Kopitar's agent. I still don’t sense anything is close yet on an extension, but the dialogue remains healthy and positive. Kopitar would like to get it done before the puck drops next week for the regular season and while talks should resume again next week, it seems like this negotiation might need a bit more time. We shall see.
Some of the Toronto Maple Leafs' younger players have been the stars of preseason, namely William Nylander and Connor Brown at the top of that list, but I would be shocked to see any of those kids start the season in the NHL. I think the plan is to send them all down to start the season in the AHL, where they can further develop and excel in a more positive environment.
You might have noticed the fight earlier this week between the Anaheim Ducks' Josh Manson (son of former NHLer Dave) and the Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic. Of note, the fight was allowed to continue despite Manson losing his helmet. Last season if that happened, linesmen were quick to jump in and stop the fight. I spoke with NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom the day after the fight and he said it remains the mantra but it also depends on if the linesmen in question feel they have a safe window to intervene. Manson and Lucic were slugging it out pretty good, so perhaps it was deemed unsafe to jump in. Mind you there seemed to be a bit of a gap to do so. Something to keep an eye on again this season.
Speaking of defenseman Manson, he’s really making it difficult on Ducks management. The 24-year-old played well last season when called upon in 28 games with the Ducks. But he began camp not really penciled in for the top six. We’ll see how it all fits come opening night but I think he’s got a real good shot at making the team as the No. 6 or No. 7 guy.
Apparently captain controversies follow Todd McLellan around. We’re joking of course, but a year after being with the San Jose Sharks, where Joe Thornton was stripped of the "C," now there’s a quandary about the captaincy in McLellan’s new home with the Edmonton Oilers. Andrew Ference is the captain, he’s a good guy, too, but he’s a diminishing talent as a player and there are nights when he’ll be scratched. That’s a tough thing to have your captain in that spot. The problem though is that if you decide to name, let’s say, Taylor Hall the new captain, what happens in about two years when the franchise, Connor McDavid, is ready to be captain? Are you really going to rip the "C" off Hall? My solution: Either do like the Montreal Canadiens did last season and just go with assistants and no captain; or leave the "C" on Ference and when he doesn’t play, no one else gets the "C," just have assistants on those nights.