Voynov suspended until midseason after arbitrator upholds NHL’s decision

Arbitrator Shyam Das has upheld NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's decision to suspend former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for the equivalent of one NHL season, the league announced Thursday.

Voynov was suspended in April for unacceptable off-ice conduct and filed an appeal shortly thereafter. Das credited Voynov with already serving 41 games, meaning the ban will remain in effect until halfway through of the 2019-20 regular season.

A statement from the NHL reads:

We have reviewed arbitrator Das' opinion in the NHLPA's appeal of Vyacheslav Voynov's suspension for domestic assault, which upheld the commissioner's imposition of a one-season (one-year) suspension for Voynov's off-ice conduct in October 2014. In his decision, arbitrator Das confirmed that there was substantial evidence to support each of the commissioner's material factual findings as well as the quantum of discipline imposed. Arbitrator Das described his decision to grant Mr. Voynov some "credit for time served" for a portion of the 2018-19 season as being due to various "highly unusual facts and circumstances (which) were not contemplated by the drafters of (the CBA) and do not easily fit into its procedures." While we do not believe Mr. Voynov was entitled to any "credit" for time missed during 2018-19 season, we accept arbitrator Das' conclusion that the precise factual context here was unusual - including the fact Voynov has not played in the NHL since October 2014, and that he did not play professional hockey at all during the 2018-19 season.

Taken in its totality, we are satisfied that arbitrator Das' decision supports our strongly held views that the conduct engaged in by Mr. Voynov in this case was completely unacceptable and worthy of significant league-imposed discipline. The decision also confirms and reaffirms the commissioner's broad authority under the CBA and applicable league rules to establish - and to enforce - appropriate standards of conduct for individuals involved in the National Hockey League.

Voynov was arrested in 2014 and convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse after police reported he punched, kicked, and choked his wife. He was sentenced to 90 days in prison and his contract was terminated by the Kings.

The 29-year-old went on to play three seasons in the KHL and represented the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 Olympics. Voynov suited up in 190 NHL games with the Kings and won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.

While the Kings still own Voynov's rights, they announced he will not return to the organization.

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Report: Penguins, Wild discussing Kessel deal

The Minnesota Wild have a trade proposal on the table that's centered on Pittsburgh Penguins sniper Phil Kessel, sources told The Athletic's Josh Yohe.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has said publicly he's willing to shake up his roster, while Kessel's name has frequently been mentioned in rumors.

Kessel helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, but the team was swept out of the first round by the New York Islanders this postseason.

The 31-year-old has three years remaining on his current eight-year deal and carries an annual cap hit of $8 million.

In terms of what the Penguins can expect in exchange, it's believed that talented winger Jason Zucker would be part of the trade, reports Yohe. The 27-year-old's speed would fit the Penguins' run-and-gun style and he's hit the 20-goal mark in four of the past five seasons.

The two sides also apparently discussed Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson and Wild forward Victor Rask, both of whom are signed to long-term deals.

Kessel - a Madison, Wis., native - played one season with the University of Minnesota in 2005-06 before turning pro.

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Wild name Modano executive advisor

The Minnesota Wild have hired Hall of Fame forward Mike Modano as their executive advisor, the team announced Thursday. He'll begin his new role Sept. 1.

Modano will work directly with Wild president Matt Majka and owner Craig Leipold on initiatives related to the team's sales, community relations efforts, and corporate partnerships in the club's newly created position.

"I am very thankful for this opportunity and excited to work with Craig and Matt to help support a number of Minnesota Wild business initiatives," Modano said. "I have always felt a special relationship with this community and look forward to reconnecting with all the wonderful fans in the State of Hockey as a member of the Wild organization."

Modano compiled 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 career NHL games during 21 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise and the Detroit Red Wings.

The 48-year-old won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

The hire marks Modano's second stint in a front-office position, as he previously served as an executive advisor and alternate governor with the Stars from 2013-15.

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Canada avoids quarterfinal upset with wild OT win over Switzerland

Mark Stone scored the overtime winner on Thursday to eliminate Switzerland and launch Canada into the World Championship semifinals.

The Canadians barely survived regulation, however, and needed a dramatic last-second scramble to force the extra frame.

With Canada down 2-1 late in the third period, Damon Severson fired a point shot that trickled over the goal line to tie the game with 0.4 seconds on the clock.

Stone's game-winner was his second tally of the contest and seventh of the tournament, moving him into a tie with Anthony Mantha - who did not play against Switzerland due to his one-game suspension - for the team lead.

Pierre-Luc Dubois had a pair of assists in the win, and Dante Fabbro, Shea Theodore, and Stone added helpers of their own. Matt Murray turned aside 22 shots to record his fourth win for Canada.

Sven Andrighetto opened the scoring for Switzerland with the lone first-period tally and Nico Hischier potted his fourth goal of the tournament.

Canada has now won seven straight contests heading into the semifinals.

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Islanders sign Nelson to 6-year deal reportedly worth $36 million

The New York Islanders and forward Brock Nelson have agreed to a six-year contract extension.

The deal carries an annual average value of $6 million, according to Arthur Staple of The Athletic.

The 27-year-old Nelson is coming off a career-high 53-point season. He played an integral top-six role for a surprise Islanders team that finished second in the Metropolitan Division and then contributed four goals - including two game-winners - in eight playoff contests.

After being selected by the Islanders with the 30th overall pick in the 2010 draft, the 6-foot-3 center has racked up 241 points in 480 career games.

Nelson was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

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Sharks squandered best Cup chance, but the window isn’t completely shut

Could it be the end of an era in San Jose?

The Sharks were bounced from the Western Conference Final in six games by the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, marking a disappointing finish for a team that undoubtedly had a Stanley Cup-or-bust mentality.

This was supposed to be San Jose's year. With the beloved Joe Thornton on his last legs vying for his first Stanley Cup, the acquisition of pending UFA Erik Karlsson, a handful of youngsters playing out their entry-level deals, and a supremely skilled lineup in its prime, it seemed at times like the Sharks were a team of destiny.

From a pure talent perspective, this was arguably the best Sharks roster ever assembled. Yes, even better than the 117-point Presidents' Trophy-winning squad in 2008-09, or the team that lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

But after falling short of the ultimate goal, it's possible the roster could undergo a dramatic transformation this offseason, leaving in the dust the organization's best chance at a Stanley Cup.

Who's coming back?

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

The Sharks are projected to enter the offseason with $24.7 million in cap space, but they have a bevy of both unrestricted and restricted free agents in need of new contracts:

Player Pos. Age Expiry status Previous cap hit
Joe Pavelski F 34 UFA $6M
Joe Thornton F 39 UFA $5M
Gustav Nyquist F 29 UFA $4.75M
Joonas Donskoi F 27 UFA $1.9M
Micheal Haley F 33 UFA $825K
Timo Meier F 22 RFA $894K
Kevin Labanc F 23 RFA $718K
Dylan Gambrell F 22 RFA $925K
Erik Karlsson D 28 UFA $6.5M
Tim Heed D 28 UFA $650K
Joakim Ryan D 25 RFA $650K

Nearly every player on this list - with the exception of Thornton and Micheal Haley - will be due for a raise this summer. It's possible Thornton, who's had multiple knee surgeries over the past few years, will retire. That would leave a hole down the middle of San Jose's lineup, and an even bigger void in the dressing room.

Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc will be in line for the team's most significant salary increases. Both youngsters enjoyed breakout seasons, and it's possible they'll combine for an annual cap hit close to $10 million, putting a dent in San Jose's spending flexibility.

Then there's Karlsson, who was one of the NHL's best bargains at $6.5 million a year. After a nagging groin injury cost him a chunk of the regular season and ultimately ended his postseason prematurely, there are questions about his health moving forward. But on the open market, he could still command Drew Doughty-like money in the neighborhood of $11 million per season; there'd likely be more than one team willing to open the vault for the two-time Norris Trophy winner.

Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi are likely bets to be gone as cap casualties, and retaining both Karlsson and Joe Pavelski - who should be seeking a modest raise after a 38-goal campaign - seems improbable.

Never underestimate Doug Wilson, though. The Sharks general manager is as savvy and shrewd as they come, and he has a history of getting core players to stay in the Bay Area. But if he's able to retain both Karlsson and Pavelski while also locking up Meier and Labanc, it'll be some of his most impressive work yet.

Even if Thornton and Pavelski are both back in teal next season, it's hard to imagine they'll be as effective with another year of mileage on their bodies. Fellow members of the veteran nucleus - Logan Couture (30), Brent Burns (34), and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (32) - have yet to show signs of slowing down, but the clock is ticking.

Down but not out

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It's difficult to envision the Sharks being as deep and talented in 2019-20 as they were this season. That's just the nature of a salary-cap league. To completely dismiss San Jose, however, would be an erroneous oversight.

Cause for optimism stems from three of the team's brightest young forwards in Meier, Labanc, and 25-year-old Tomas Hertl, all of whom have been exposed to top-notch professionalism within the Sharks organization. If Thornton and Pavelski leave, players like Couture, Burns, and (possibly) Karlsson will take on greater leadership roles. Even the oft-maligned Evander Kane has shown signs of growth since joining the Sharks and could be looked to as a leader going forward. Eventually, the torch will be passed to Hertl, Meier, and Labanc.

Wilson and the rest of the Sharks' front office have established a winning culture, as San Jose has missed the playoffs just once in the 15 seasons since his hiring. If any GM is equipped to re-tool on the fly, it's Wilson.

There's a case to be made that the Western Conference Final is a completely different series with a healthy Karlsson. Regardless, though, this season will still be viewed as a squandered opportunity for a franchise seeking its first Stanley Cup. It's the toughest trophy to win for a reason.

But if we learned anything from the Washington Capitals' repeated playoff failures prior to their first Stanley Cup win, it's that writing off one of the NHL's most consistent organizations because of a missed opportunity is a big mistake. The Sharks will be back, they just may not have the same familiar bite.

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Canada’s Anthony Mantha suspended 1 game for head check

Anthony Mantha has been suspended for Canada's quarterfinal matchup with Switzerland for a check to the head of Colin White during Tuesday's game against the United States, the IIHF announced Wednesday.

Mantha is tied for the tournament lead with seven goals and paces Canada with 12 points.

Canada finished atop Group A, earning a quarterfinal matchup with Group B's No. 4 seed. However, Switzerland has often been a thorn in Canada's side on the international stage: The Swiss upset the defending gold medalists at the 2006 Winter Olympics, took Canada to a shootout at the 2010 Olympics, and most recently, gave the Canadians a run for their money at the 2019 world juniors before ultimately losing 3-2 in round-robin action.

Mantha scored a career-high 25 goals in 67 games for the Detroit Red Wings this past season.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!