– The Oilers have drafted Red Deer Rebels’ F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. RNH is a brilliant playmaker with an uncanny ability to see the ice. In 2010-11, he finished the season tied for 3rd overall in league scoring with 31 goals, 75 assists and 106 points. Due to his small frame, he’ll need to build up his strength, as that appears to be his biggest weakness. He’s a gritty player though, and often crashes the net in traffic. He’s also a dangerous defensive player, and is often compared to as Pavel Datsyuk. RNH could make the Oilers out of training camp. If he plays a full season, expect a 50-60 point campaign.
F Gabriel Landeskog was selected with the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Avs. Landeskog is a solid, well-rounded player who can both pass and score. Right now, he appears to be the most NHL-ready of all the players, and has drawn comparisons to Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards.
The Winnipeg Jets selected F Mark Scheifele with the 7th overall pick in the draft. It was a surprise pick, as Scheifele was ranked 18th in the final International Scouting Service rankings. At the IIHF U18 World Championships this past year, he led Canada in goals with six in seven games. His first season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts was also solid, as he recorded 75 points in 65 games.
– The Oilers have acquired F Ryan Smyth from the Kings for F Gilbert Brule and a 4th-round pick. Smyth is entering the final year of his contract, which comes at a cap hit of $6.25M, but the actual cost is only $4.5M. Smyth scored 23 goals and 47 points in 82 games last season.
– The Sharks have acquired D Brent Burns and a 2012 2nd-round pick for F Devin Setoguchi, F Charlie Coyle and a the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft. Burns recorded 17 goals and 46 points in 80 games with the Wild in 2010-11. He has one year left on his contract.
– The Maple Leafs have acquired D John-Michael Liles from the Avalanche for a 2012 2nd-round pick, courtesy of the Bruins as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade. Liles scored six goals and 40 assists in 76 games. Liles has one year remaining on his contract at $4.5 million, with a cap hit at $4.2 million.
– The Blackhawks have traded D Brian Campbell to the Panthers for F Rostislav Olesz. Campbell has a massive $7.140M annual cap hit. Florida actually needs the salary just to meet the 2011-12 cap floor. He’ll become their new powerplay quarterback. Olesz has tremendous offensive ability but has been either inconsistent or injured throughout his career.
– The Lightning have re-signed D Eric Brewer to a 4-year/$16M deal. It should be a solid deal, but the Bolts need to keep an eye on their salary cap.
– The Capitals have acquired F Troy Brouwer from the Blackhawks for the 26th overall pick. Brouwer had 36 points and a team-leading 261 hits in 79 games last season. They’ll have to sign him to a new contract as he is scheduled to become an RFA this summer.
– Flames’ D Robyn Regehr has agreed to waive his NTC to go to the Sabres. The deal is believed to involve F Ales Kotalik. Stay tuned.
– The agent for F Jaromir Jagr said that the Czech star will be playing in the NHL next season. Jagr has played the last three seasons in the KHL and his agent, Petr Svoboda, says that Jagr is not using the NHL to get a better contract in the KHL. “He’s a guy that loves hockey like no one else. He’s trying to make the best decision for everyone involved. His goal is to come back to the NHL. He’s 39 but he has a lot of hockey left and his conditioning is impeccable. He’s up for the challenge.” He cannot sign with any NHL team until July 1 because of the CBA. Stay tuned.
– Twins’ 1B Justin Morneau (neck) is scheduled to undergo surgery next week and is expected to miss 6 weeks. Morneau has been dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck for most of the season. He should return somewhere around mid-August.
– The Phillies have placed RHP Roy Oswalt (lower back tightness) on the 15-day DL. Oswalt will miss at least his next two starts while the Phils try and figure out what’s wrong. Oswalt acknowledged that the chronic ailment could end his career at some point. Oswalt said he has continued pitching despite the discomfort because “I don’t want to be labeled a quitter.” Additionally, he realized during Thursday’s game that he “was not helping the team. I’m kind of a liability more than anything.” He isn’t sure whether another cortisone injection will help, but also suggested that he would get fixed whatever needs fixing. With an MRI coming Monday, Oswalt will have time to consider his options before learning the results. Until then, it sounds like every conceivable scenario is on the table. Stay tuned.
– Yankees’ SS Derek Jeter’s (calf) potential return on June 29 is in serious doubt, as he has not yet taken batting practice, fielded balls, or run. GM Brian Cashman said, ”He is still feeling the calf. He is doing nothing but long-toss. He is getting better but not in position to do anything yet.” The Yankees will not rush Jeter back, so it will be difficult to gauge how long he’ll remain sidelined until he starts testing his calf.
– According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels is in Japan scouting RHP Yu Darvish. The 24-year-old is 8-2 with a 1.39 ERA with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters this season. He could create a major bidding war among MLB teams this offseason.
– According to Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com, the Nationals will name Davey Johnson as their new manager. Johnson will manage the team for the rest of this season and next season, subject to league approval. He currently works for the organization as a special adviser.
– The Eagles are now targeting an impact player or two rather than draft picks in exchange for QB Kevin Kolb, according to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. Sal’s scoop backs a recent Yahoo Sports’ report that the Eagles will aggressively pursue veteran players to help them reach the Super Bowl this year. It also explains the increased speculation that the Cardinals could part with CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a Kolb trade. Stay tuned.
– NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora confirms a Nashville Tennessean report that Titans’ RB Chris Johnson will not report to training camp without a lucrative new contract. Set to earn just $800K this year, Johnson has no interest in another “band-aid” deal and has his sights set much higher than the $5M per year extension signed by Chiefs’ RB Jamaal Charles last season. Johnson is prepared for a “much more prolonged holdout” this year, along the lines of Jets’ CB Darrelle Revis’ absence from camp last summer. Stay tuned.
– Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is no longer confident that RB Reggie Bush will remain with the Saints for the 2011 season. Bush’s salary cap figure stands at $16M. The Saints won’t pay that, so he’ll likely become a free agent, and GM Mickey Loomis will have 25 of them to address this summer. Although coach Sean Payton “definitely” wants Bush back, Duncan believes Loomis’ hands will be tied due to the salary cap. Bush is likely to land elsewhere.
– Free agent WR Braylon Edwards was involved in a minor car accident in Michigan early Friday morning, but was not seriously injured. Edwards lost control of his Audi around 3:40 a.m., drove onto the grass and struck a pylon, according to police. Edwards was not ticketed or arrested and police said alcohol did not appear to be a factor. The former University of Michigan star was arrested in September in New York on drunken driving charges.
– The Raptors have reached a buyout agreement with Lietuvos for No. 5 pick F Jonas Valanciunas, who will come to the NBA in 2012-13. Valanciunas wasn’t likely to play this season anyway. Many teams were worried about Valanciunas’ buyout, but it was resolved in less than 24 hours.
– Wolves’ GM David Kahn said Thursday that “F Michael Beasley will be on the team next year,” despite the Wolves drafting a similar player in F Derrick Williams. The team will have a logjam at the 3-4 positions next season. Beasley will likely be shopped.
– Pistons’ president Joe Dumars said that the Pistons view G Brandon Knight as a point guard and will put the ball in his hands. At 6’3″, the Pistons believe they can play him and 6’5″ G Rodney Stuckey together in the backcourt. G Ben Gordon returns as a sixth man, and G Richard Hamilton becomes trade bait. Knight shot 37% from 3-point range at Kentucky last season.