Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Brandon Sutter Signs Extension with Vancouver

Brandon Sutter, recently traded to the Vancouver Canucks, has signed an extension with his new team, as reported by NHL.com. The contract will reportedly carry an annual average value of $4.375 million through 2020-21. Sutter now becomes the Canuck under contract for the longest future term. Vancouver's General Manager, Jim Benning, has termed Sutter a "playoff player" indicating that he is at his best when the games mean something as quoted at Metro Vancouver.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Voracek Contract Extension with Philadelphia

As reported at philly.com, Jakub Voracek agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $66 millon with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.  The contract carries a cap hit of $8.25 million annually and runs through the 2023-24 NHL season.  The Flyers are right up against the cap now, with under $1 million of space according to spotrac.com.  Voracek and Claude Giroux lead all Flyers in salary for the coming season, both at over $8 million.

Reaction to Voracek's Contract Extension with the Philadelphia Flyers:

Pete Jensen noted via Twitter that Voracek was one of five NHL players with 40+ even-strength points and 30+ power play points last season.

It was noted at Broad Street Hockey, that top-tier wingers don't often hit the open market as unrestricted free agents, so finding a replacement for Voracek, if they did not re-sign him, would have been very difficult.

In a detailed recap of the Voracek extension at csnphilly.com, it was noted that:
 "His 122 assists since the start of the 2012-13 season are the most among NHL wingers."  
If you look at that statistic, and note that Voracek's new contract puts him tied for the tenth highest cap hit in the NHL, it puts things into a bit of perspective.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brandon Sutter Traded to Vancouver Canucks

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Brandon Sutter to the Vancouver Canucks, along with a 2016 third-round draft pick in return for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second-round draft pick in 2016, as reported by Katie Strang at ESPN.com.

Sutter is under contract through 2015-16, at an annual cap hit of $3.3 million.  The pivot, and former number 11 overall draft pick back in 2007, has 185 points in 495 regular season NHL games.  He scored a strong 21 goals in 80 games last season for the Penguins, to go along with a goal and an assist in five of Pittsburgh's playoff games.

Bonino is known primarily for his time with the Anaheim Ducks, where in 2013-14, he notched a very healthy 49 points in 77 regular season games.  He is under contract through 2016-17, at an annual cap hit of $1.9 million.

Clendening, a second round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, and 22 year-old defenseman, has four points in 21 NHL games, spent mostly with Vancouver.  

Top 2015 NHL UFA Forwards Still Available

Although a large amount of unrestricted free agents (UFAs) have already been signed to NHL contracts, there are a host of players who do remain unsigned as UFAs.  Let's take a look at the cream of the crop of those remaining to be signed at the forward position.

Lee Stempniak - The 32 year-old winger has suited up for several different NHL teams since being selected in the fifth round of the NHL draft in 2003.  He was traded in March of 2015 by the New York Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets where he finished up a one-year contract paying him $900K with a much lower cap-hit.  Stempniak can still put the puck in the net and would be a valuable addition on offense for several teams in need of scoring.  If the price is right, look for teams such as the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres to show interest as the start of the 2015 season approaches.

Jiri Tlusty - The 27 year-old forward and former first round draft pick played for both the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets in 2015.  His offensive number show that he had more success while with the Hurricanes, notching 23 points in 52 regular season games.  With a salary and cap-hit of just above $700K for 2014-15, if he's looking for a comparable number, he could wind up as an addition for a team in need of offensive depth without much cap room.

Martin Erat - The 33 year-old left shooting winger was drafted all the way back in 1999 if you can believe it.  An NHL mainstay since 2003, he's bounced around the league a bit, but continues to show a propensity for the net.  With 545 points in 881 regular season NHL games, his production is nothing to sneeze out.  Most recently, with the Arizona Coyotes, Erat had 32 points (9 goals) in 79 regular season games.  The issue here becomes price.  Coming off a contract that generally carried a $4.5 million annual cap hit (barring one season), Erat's contract can be expected to come in at a significantly lower number for interested teams in 2015-16, taking into account age an overall production.

Curtis Glencross - The left-shooting veteran winger finished last season with the Washington Capitals after a trade from Calgary Flames, where he spent seven seasons.  He had seven points in the 18 games with Washington, which is just under his more than half-a-point per game average over his lengthy NHL career.  His cap hit while with the Flames was $2.55 million, and there are several teams who could afford, and need, a veteran producer like Glencross with a relatively affordable contract (if it carries a cap hit near $2 million).

Daniel Briere - The 37 year-old Briere has suited up for several NHL teams since breaking into the league with the Phoenix Coyotes during the 1997-98 season, after being selected in the first round of the 1996 NHL draft.  He signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens beginning in 2013-14, which carried a cap cost of $4 million.  A trade in the summer of 2014 sent Briere to the Avalanche where he notched 12 points in 57 regular season games last season.  Briere's talents could certainly be used by NHL teams looking for a veteran presence with a scoring touch, however, it would need to come at a considerable discount to his previous contract.

Erik Cole - Cole, when healthy, may be the top offensive player on this list.  His career stats show that he has notched 532 points in 892 games.  Most recently, after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in March of 2015, for their push to the playoffs, Cole had put up six points in 11 games, before suffering a spinal contusion which put him out for the remainder of the 2014-15 season, beginning in early April.  He was finishing a contract that carried a $4.5 million per year cap hit.  At 36 years of age, Cole can still produce at a high level when healthy.  

Scottie Upshall - The 31 year-old winger, and former number six overall draft pick, spent the past four seasons with the Florida Panthers, finishing up a $14 million contract.  Upshall can still produce, although he has not average a half-point per game since the 2009-10 season while with the Phoenix Coyotes.  A team with cap room looking for a depth forward will likely give Upshall a shot, but at a steep discount to the $3.5 million cap number his contract carried previously.

Sean Bergenheim - The Finnish winger taken in the first round of the 2002 NHL entry draft will be an offensive asset to a team in need of a goal-scorer this season.  It's somewhat surprising that he has not yet been signed to a contract.  Unless he is looking for a big raise on his salary from his most recently expired contract, he would be coming at a relative bargain benchmarked against the current offensive market.

Mike Santorelli - An under-30 pivot who can score won't sit on the sidelines through the start of the NHL season.  Although his scoring dropped a bit after joining the Nashville Predators in a trade last season, he showed that he can score while with the Toronto Maple Leafs previously, notching 11 goals and 29 points in 57 games.  If he's looking for a contract similar to the one-year deal at $1.5 million he had last season, he'll likely be suiting up with an NHL team before October.

Scott Gomez - "Gomer" is getting older, but at 35 years of age he can still play this game at the highest level.  He returned to his roots last season, joining the team that drafted him in the first round back in 1998, when he won the Calder Trophy as a member of the New Jersey Devils.  With a $550K salary on a one-year deal, suffice it to say that Gomez was a bargain last season.  For a team sorely in need of offensive assistance, he garnered 34 points in 58 games. The guy can play, and just wants to play.  He will.

Who is missing from this list?  Let us know with a comment!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NHL Snap Shots: Byron, Stepan

As reported in the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Flames have signed forward Paul Byron to a one year contract worth a reported $900,000. Byron was having an excellent season offensively with Calgary in 2014-15 before injuries interfered. He will be one of among 18 forwards competing for 14 spots on the Flames. As Wes Gilbertson notes in the article, "With Byron signed Sunday, wrecking-ball winger Micheal Ferland is the Flames' only restricted free agent still in need of a new contract."

With the New York Rangers and Derek Stepan avoiding arbitration and agreeing on a 6-year, $39 million deal, the core of the team that nearly reached the Stanley Cup this past season is largely intact as reported in the New York Post.  The 25 year-old, who is fourth in team seniority as reported by Larry Brooks, has played in five nearly-full seasons since leaving the University of Wisconsin after the 2009-10 season.  Stepan's contract now sits third on the team list of annual cap hits, behind Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trade Recap: 2015 NHL Draft, Who Went Where

The trades came, as expected, around the start of the 2015 NHL entry draft.  The Boston Bruins took the lead making three significant trades to stock up on draft picks.

Boston General Manager Don Sweeney got things started the day before the draft began by trading the negotiating rights to forward Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.  Soderberg was coming off a three-year deal with the Bruins, paying him $1 million in his final season, and was set to become a free agent on July 1.  Soderberg subsequently signed a five-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche at an average annual value of $4.75 million.  His deal with Colorado includes a full no-trade clause for the first two seasons, and a limited no-trade clause for the final three seasons.

Two more trades were made quickly by the Bruins and Sweeney.  First, they traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the number 15, 45 and 52 overall picks in the 2015 NHL draft.  Although Hamilton (who was the number nine overall draft pick in 2011) can become a free agent on July 1, Flames' GM Brad Treliving is confident that they will work out a contract with Hamilton.  With the 15th overall draft pick they received the Flames, the Bruins wound up selecting forward Zachary Senyshyn.

The Bruins then continued to make a splash in the 2015 NHL draft pool by trading scoring forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the number 13 overall draft pick in 2015, goaltender Martin Jones and defenseman Colin Miller.  The Bruins re-loaded on defense with the 13th pick by selecting blueliner Jakub Zboril.

The Buffalo Sabres made waves of their own in the trade market by picking up goaltender Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 21st overall draft pick in 2015.  It was almost inevitable that the Senators would trade a goaltender, and Legwand was necessary to sweeten the pot and pry the first round draft pick from Buffalo.  With that 21st overall draft pick, Ottawa wound up selecting forward Colin White.

If that trade didn't make big enough headlines for the Sabres, their next deal certainly did.  Buffalo traded for forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche by sending forwards J.T. Compher, Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Nikita Zadorov as well as the 31st overall draft pick in 2015 west.  Joe Sakic didn't seem to think that the Avalanche would be able to get to where the numbers were for O'Reilly when he becomes a free agent in 2016.  The Sabres, who are in re-building mode, get a player in O'Reilly who other NHLers admire, and who can help lead their young core and in particular, number two overall draft pick Jack Eichel.

The New York Islanders, who had a dearth of draft picks in 2015, decided to gain some picks by trading defenseman Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 16th and 33rd overall draft picks in 2015.  Reinhart played mostly in the AHL this past season, but proved he can set his teammates up by notching 15 assists in 59 games, to go with 7 goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  So the Oilers shored up the defensive corps for the future, and the Islanders were able to select some young prospects.  With the 16th pick, the Islanders selected centerman Mathew Barzal , who notched 57 points in 44 games for Seattle of the WHL last season.  After adding a playmaker, the Islanders once again moved up on the draft board by flipping the 33rd overall pick as well as their 72nd overall pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 28th overall selection spot.  The Isles used that 28th pick to take forward Anthony Beauvillier who most recently played with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.  The left-shooting winger scored a whopping 42 goals in 67 games last season, which gives the New York Islanders further offensive hope.  Tampa Bay used the 33rd pick they received from New York to take centerman Mitchell Stephens from the OHL.

The New Jersey Devils certainly need to strengthen their offense and many think they did just that by trading for Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 41st overall pick in 2015 and a third-round pick in 2016.  The former 26th overall selection in 2009, Palmieri played in 57 games for Anaheim last season, picking up 29 points, 14 of which were goals.  That goals-scored total would have been good enough for 4th on the Devils last season.

The Ducks would wind up flipping the 41st overall pick they received from the Devils to the New York Rangers along with left-winger Emerson Etem in a trade for left-winger Carl Hagelin, the 59th and 179th overall draft picks.  That 41st pick, which at one point belonged to New Jersey, was used by New York to select forward Ryan Gropp, who was a teammate of Mathew Barzal (the Islanders' selection at 16th overall) Newith Seattle in the WHL.  Gropp is a big player who scored 30 goals in 67 games for Seattle last season.  Hagelin had 35 points in a full sked of 82 games for the Rangers last season, at 26 years-old, and is coming off a two-year deal with a $2.25 million cap cost and is slated to become an RFA on July 1.  The 23 year-old Etem, a native of California, had 10 points in 45 games for Anaheim last season, while also playing in 22 contests for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and notching 21 points.  Etem's cap hit was well under $1 million last season, and he is also slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1 of this year.  With pick number 59, Anaheim selected forward Julius Nattinen from Finland who was a member of his nation's U-18 World Championship squad which won the silver medal.   At pick number 179, Anaheim took goaltender Garrett Metcalf, who most recently played in the USHL.

The Vancouver Canucks, with Ryan Miller as their number one netminder, traded Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for the 66th overall pick in 2015 and a seventh-round pick in 2016.  The 27 year-old lack did play in 41 games for Vancouver last season, with a .921 save percentage and 2.45 GAA.  The net is Miller's now in Vancouver and they obviously wanted to free up some salary space while gaining prospects.  Lack is under contract through 2015-16 at $1.3 million and a $1.15 million cap hit.  The Hurricanes net will now consist of Lack sharing time with starter Cam Ward who is under contract through 2015-16 as well, at a salary of $6.8 million and a cap hit of $6.3 million.  Ward played in a hefty 51 games for Carolina last season, notching a 2.40 GAA and .910 save percentage.  With the 66th selection in the 2015 draft, the Canucks took defenseman Guillaume Briseois who had 24 assists in 68 games for Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL last season.

In a somewhat minor trade, the Dallas Stars sent a seventh-round pick in 2015 to the San Jose Sharks for the negotiating rights to former Stanley Cup winning netminder Antti Niemi.  The Stars have Kari Lehtonen in goal and under contract through 2017-18 at a $5.9 million cap cost.  Lehtonen played in 65 regular-season games each of the past two seasons for Dallas, so maybe Niemi will give him some relief and add to his future durability.  Niemi, who made $4 million last season with a $3.8 million cap hit is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  That seventh-round pick, the 193rd overall was used by the Sharks to select tall goaltender John Kupsky.

A draft day largely filled with goaltender trades continued as the New York Rangers traded their stellar back-up Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers along with a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for draft picks 57, 79 and 184.  The Rangers knew that Talbot's services would be in demand and with all-world netminder Henrik "The King" Lundqvist on their squad, they could afford to part with Talbot for draft picks.  Talbot, who is set to earn $1.45 million in 2015-16, is slated to compete with Ben Scrivens in net for the Oilers this season.  The Rangers, who some thought mortgaged their future by trading away so many draft picks in their recent push to the Cup, have quickly started to re-tool by acquiring draft picks.  New York turned draft pick number 57 into two picks by trading that selection to the Washington Capitals in return for picks 62 and 113.  While the Caps used number 57 to select physical blueliner Jonas Siegenthaler, the Rangers used the first pick in the third round (number 62) to select forward Robin Kovacs out of Sweden.  Kovacs had 17 goals in 52 games in the Sweden-2 league this past season.   With pick 113, the Rangers selected forward Brad Morrison who hails from a family of NHL athletes.  Going back to the second draft pick they received from the Oilers for Talbot, pick number 79 overall, the Rangers took hulking defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy from Russia, who most recently played with Regina in the WHL.  New York would use pick 184 to try and re-load at their backup goaltender position, at least for now, by selecting Adam Huska who most recently tended net for Green Bay of the USHL.

The goalie trades weren't quite done yet.  The Carolina Hurricanes, who you'll recall acquired Eddie Lack earlier, traded Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski.  Khudobin who is under contract through 2015-16 is slated to be counted at $2.25 million against the salary cap for next season.  He played in 34 games for the Hurricanes this past season, spelling Cam Ward.  While that role will now be filled by Eddie Lack, the Hurricanes bolster their blueline with Wisniewski who had eight goals and 26 assists with time spent on both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks last season.

The Edmonton Oilers, who selected phenom Conor McDavid with the number one overall draft pick, continued to remain active in the trade market throughout the draft.  The Oilers sent defenseman Martin Marincin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Brad Ross and the 107th overall draft pick. The Oilers then took that draft pick and along with prospect Travis Ewanyk and traded both to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Eric Gryba. Gryba, who had 12 points in 75 games for Ottawa last season, is set to earn $1.3 million this coming season with a $1.25 million cap hit, after which he will become a free agent. And with pick number 107, Ottawa selected defenseman Christian Wolanin from the USHL.

Although it seemed like the goaltender trades wouldn't stop during the draft, the last goaltender to be traded was Antti Raanta who was sent to the New York Rangers, presumably to fill the void left by trading Cam Talbot, by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Ryan Haggerty.  One of the Finnish crop of quality netminders, Raanta is set to earn $800,000 with a $750,000 cap hit for this coming season, after which he will become a free agent.  Raanta got into 14 regular season games for Chicago this past season, logging 792 minutes and putting up a 1.89 GAA and .936 save percentage.  Haggerty, a native of Connecticut, played in 76 AHL regular season games for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, notching 33 points.  Haggerty is under contract through next season at a cap hit of $925,000 after which he will become a free agent.

With the final official trade of the draft weekend, the Phoenix Coyotes traded center Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in either 2016 or 2017 to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, and if you believe it, the contract of defenseman Chris Pronger.  Gagner, the former number six overall draft pick in 2007, garnered 41 points in 81 regular season games for the Coyotes last season.  The 24 year-old pivot will earn $3.4 million next season with a $3.2 million cap charge, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.  The 30 year-old Grossmann had 14 points in 68 games for the Flyers most recently, and will carry a $3 million cap hit for 2015-16 after which he becomes a UFA.  Chris Pronger's contract carries a ~ $4.9 million cap hit through 2016-17, of which only $525,000 is salary for the next two seasons.  Since the Coyotes were struggling to get to the cap floor, this trade is a win-win for both teams.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ottawa Senators Trade of Lehner: Analysis

The Ottawa Senators have traded forward David Legwand and goaltender Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres in return for the 21st draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, as reported by TSN.  With the Senators having three viable starting goaltenders, a trade of one was almost an inevitability.

Here's how the contracts of the three netminders the Senators had lined up:

  • Robin Lehner - Signed to a three-year contract in 2014, expiring in 2017.  Average annual value of $2.225 million; $1.5 million in 2014-15, $2.025 million for 2015-16 and $3.15 million in 2016-17
  • Craig Anderson -  Signed to a three-year extension in 2014, worth $12.6 million.  He was still under contract for one more year through 2014-15, with the extension kicking in for 2015-16 and going through 2017-18.  He will make $4.75 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17  and then $3.1 million in 2017-18.  
  • Andrew Hammond - Signed to a three-year extension in 2015, worth $4.05 million.  Hammond will be paid $1.35 million per season through 2017-18.  
With three goalies under contract at more than $1 million per season through at least 2016-17, there was very little doubt that one of them would be traded.  General Manager Bryan Murray didn't have much choice with the glut of talent in net, he knew a trade was imminent.  And he also knew he wouldn't be satisifed with what he got in return for one of his netminders.  

In the end, he had to give up not only a netminder, but also a durable forward who put up 27 points last season.  Now, what Murray got in return is nothing to sneeze at.  A first round draft pick in the NHL entry draft is a very valuable commodity. And again, Murray and the Sens did have a glut of goaltending.  

Whether Ottawa management knew that Andrew Hammond would turn into such a formidable goalie can be debated.  The statistics that Hammond put up for the Senators towards the end of the 2014-15 NHL season however, cannot be debated.  The 27 year-old put up a stellar 1.79 goals-against-average to go with a formidable .941 save percentage.  With that performance, and at the comparative salary rate he was going to get, how could Murray not ink him to an extension?

Now what the Senators do with the draft pick they received from Buffalo, the 21st overall selection, will go a long way in determining how good of a trade this turns out to be.  Recall two seasons ago that the New Jersey Devils traded their ninth overall draft pick in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.  While the Devils have not been able to produce on offense as they would like to, Schneider's performance has continued to be strong since the trade.  And Vancouver, while settling a goaltender "controversy" with the trade, also gained a strong prospect in Bo Horvat (25 points in 68 NHL games with Vancouver).  

How this trade is viewed will ultimately be determined by the performance of the player Vancouver selects at number 21 overall, as happens with all player for draft pick trades.  One thing is in very little doubt however:  Murray had to make a goaltender trade.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chris Chelios Assistant Coach for Detroit?

Chris Chelios may be joining the Detroit Red Wings as an assistant coach on Jeff Blashill's staff according to a recent report by The Hockey News. Chelios was very complimentary of the Red Wings new head coach recently. Chelios praised Blashill's "structure and accountability" and that he "knows what makes guys tick". (Jeff Blashill was officially named as the head coach of Detroit recently, as was reported this weekend).

Chelios played much of the latter part of his legendary NHL career with the Red Wings, and is no stranger to the organization.

Leafs to Keep 2015 Third Round Pick

As part of the compensation required when the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Mike Babcock, with permission while still technically under contract with the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs need to provide the Wings a third round draft pick in one of the next three years. The Leafs will be retaining this year's selection according to SportsNet, which means they will forfeit a third rounder in either 2016 or 2017. The Leafs third round selection this year will be number 65 overall as things stand now, the fourth pick in the third round.

Although the Leafs do not yet have a general manager, and were denied permission to speak with New York Rangers' assistant GM Jeff Gorton as reported in the Toronto Star, it seems likely that team president Brendan Shanahan will be comfortable leading Toronto into the July 26 draft, rather than rushing the GM hiring process.

Monday, June 8, 2015

NHL Snap Shots: Sather, Capitals Development Camp, Stevens

There has been consideration given by New York Rangers' General Manager Glen Sather to stepping away from his current role, as reported in the New York Post.  With the Rangers making another strong push towards the Stanley Cup, there may be some external pressure to elevate talent existing within the organization.  As Katie Strang reported in a recent article for ESPN, there have been advances made by other NHL organization towards the current assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton.  In that light, it's entirely possible that Sather could also move into a similar role as Lou Lamoriello recently did with the New Jersey Devils, and allow Gorton to move into the GM role.  In additional Metropolitan Division news:

  • The Washington Capitals will hold their development camp between July 7 and 11 at the team's practice facility in Arlington, as reported at the Washington Post.  The team will most likely not announce which prospects will attend the development camp until after the draft this month, as noted in the Post.  
  • Scott Stevens would like to remain with the New Jersey Devils in some capacity, even though he was not chosen as their next head coach, according to Rich Chere at nj.com.  Stevens was co-coach of the Devils at the end of last season, along with Adam Oates, and with current team president Lou Lamoriello on the bench as well. 

Flames Sign Marcotte

The Calgary Flames have signed undrafted free agent forward Louick Marcotte, as reported by ProHockeyTalk.  The Flames pick up a player here who scored a hefty 76 points in 63 games, 36 of which were goals, with the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL last season.  Marcotte will most likely play initially with the Stockton Heat of the AHL.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Detroit Red Wings to Name Jeff Blashill Coach This Week

Jeff Blashill will officially be named the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings this week as noted at Michigan Live.  The 41 year-old Michigan native has been at the helm of the Red Wings' AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins for the past three seasons, winning the AHL Championship once, and never winning less than 42 games in a regular season.

Blashill had coached briefly as an assistant with the Red Wings under head coach Mike Babcock.  After that brief stint he headed to Grand Rapids to become their head coach for 2012-13.  Most recently, Blashill coached his Grand Rapids Griffins to the conference finals of the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs (the AHL playoffs).  The Griffins would eventually bow out to the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Final Series.

It was noted in a May Detroit News article that if the Red Wings are looking to maintain their "winning culture" they could "scarcely do better" in hiring Jeff Blashill as a head coach.  Blashill made it clear that he desires to be the head coach of the Red Wings as quoted by Sports Illustrated:

"Yes, I want to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings," Blashill told reporters on Thursday. "An ultimate goal of mine was to become an NHL head coach; obviously, within this organization, it's a great organization to be part of."

In an interesting article at Kukla's Korner, Blashill is quoted on his coaching style.  Although he notes that he does not have a prescribed coaching style, he has heard it said that he is "hard but fair", and he is in agreement with that sentiment.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Maple Leafs Sign Two

The Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed defenseman T.J. Brennan to a one-year deal as reported by ProHockeyTalk. The blueliner who was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2007 spent most of last season in the AHL, appearing in six NHL games for the Maple Leafs while notching an assist.

It was also reported that the Maple Leafs inked forward Andreas Johnson to a three-year entry level contract. The 202nd overall selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Johnson played most recently with Frolunda HC in Sweden where he garnered 35 points in 55 games last season.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jeff Petry Signs Six Year Deal with Montreal

The Montréal Canadiens have signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a six-year deal worth $33 million as reported on the Hockey Inside / Out blog. The 27 year-old blueliner was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this year. In 19 games with Montreal this past season, Petry notched 7 points.

Petry's deal with Montreal includes a no trade clause. And it seems like Petry wants to remain with Montreal for quite a long time. As quoted on the team's website, Petry stated after the signing:
“It didn’t take long to see myself being a part of this organization for a long time.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Washington Capitals Sign Forward Mitchell

As reported in the Washington Post, the Washington Capitals have re-signed forward Garrett Mitchell to a two-year deal.  Mitchell was drafted in 2009 by the Capitals and has played with the AHL Hershey Bears for the past four seasons.  He notched eight points in 64 games last season, while accumulating a hefty 121 penalty minutes.  Under the two-way deal, Mitchell will earn $575,000 in 2015-16 if in the NHL, and $105,000 if in the AHL, per the Post report.  

John Hynes, New Jersey Devils Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils will be hiring John Hynes as their new head coach as reported at NJ.com. The New Jersey Devils will reportedly announce Hynes as their head coach at noon on Tuesday. Tom Gulitti notes that Hynes will become the NHL's youngest head coach at 40 years old. It was also reported that the Devils are working out compensation in the form of a draft pick in return for Hynes' services with the penguins. Under the CBA a third round draft pick in one of the next three years will need to be awarded to Pittsburgh.

Originally from Rhode Island, Hynes played hockey collegiately at Boston University. He most recently was the head coach of Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins team where he has had great success. In each of his five seasons at the helm, his team has won more than 40 games.

With the Devils' hiring of Hynes, there is only one more head coach left to be named in this season's coaching carousel. The Detroit Red Wings, who saw longtime head coach Mike Babcock head to Buffalo, are widely expected to name Jeff Blashill, their current AHL affiliate head coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins, as their new NHL head coach.

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Jersey Devils Close to Selecting New Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils are closing in on selecting their new head coach, according to a recent report at nj.com.  Former Tampa Bay Lighting head coach Guy Boucher will not be in the mix according to the report, because the window of time that his current team, SC Bern, had allowed for him to accept an NHL coaching position has closed.  Three coaches mentioned as serious candidates for New Jersey's head coaching position include Nashville Predators' assistant Phil Housley, Washington Capitals' assistant Todd Reirden, and Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins' head coach John Hynes who has worked with New Jersey's GM Ray Shero previously.  

Canadiens Sign Two

The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Gabriel Dumont and defenseman Morgan Ellis, each to one-year contracts, according to a recent press release by the team.

Dumont, a 24 year-old pivot originally selected by the Canadiens in 2009, saw three games of action with the team this past season, while primarily playing for their AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.  With Hamilton, Dumont scored 20 goals with 25 assists in 66 games.  He added a healthy 88 penalty minutes.  According to The Hockey News, Dumont is a good checking forward who can agitate.  He can also score as shown by his most recent season in the AHL.

Ellis, a 23 year-old right shooting defenseman taken in 2010, split the 2014-15 season between the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.  He had 26 points in 39 games for Wheeling, and nine points in 27 games for Hamilton.  Ellis is tabbed as a good all-around defenseman with a "hard accurate point shot", according to Hockey's Future.  

Rangers Trade Walcott to Lightning

The New York Rangers have traded defenseman Daniel Walcott to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft, according to this Rangers' twitter post..  In this rare trade during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers re-acquire the draft pick that they sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the trade where they acquired Martin St. Louis.  The 21 year-old left-shooting blueliner spent most of last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada where he put up 41 points in 54 games.  Walcott was originally drafted 140th overall by the Rangers in 2014.  According to a scouting report at Hockey's Future, Walcott excels at moving the puck as a defenseman.  

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Franzen Working Way Back to Red Wings

Johan Franzen, who suffered a concussion in early 2015, is working his way back from that injury and although there have been setbacks it is hoped that he can return from the injury by the start of training camp, and that is how Detroit Red Wings' General Manager Ken Holland is proceeding.  The big, 35 year-old forward has 5 years remaining on his contract, but if he is not ready by the start of next season, the Red Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and gain some salary cap relief, as noted by writer Ansar Khan.  In additional Red Wings news:

  • The Red Wings will not announce their new head coach until after their AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins complete their run to the Calder Cup, as reported at ESPN.  It's fully expected that the Griffins' current head coach, Jeff Blashill, will become the next head coach of the Red Wings.
  • 2013 first-round draft pick Anthony Mantha will be pressed to continue to work on his game and become an elite NHL player, per a recent article in the Detroit Free Press.  Jeff Blashill noted that with increased consistency and force, Mantha can become a top-tier player:  "I think Anthony has a skill set to be really good at the NHL level," Jeff Blashill told the Free Press. "He needs to change his habit of how he skates every day in games. Because of his elite ability, he could play without moving his feet in juniors. He needs to learn to skate at a more consistent basis, get into puck battles, and when he has puck, skate to attack. If he gets that habit, he will be an elite player."  Mantha notched 33 points in 62 regular season games for the Griffins this past season.  

Sergey Kalinin Signs with New Jersey Devils

Former Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) forward Sergey Kalinin signed an entry level contract with the New Jersey Devils according to the team's official website.  Kalinin spent the past six seasons (he played in one game during the 2009-10 season) playing with Omsk Avangard of the KHL, most recently putting up 25 points in 58 games (watch his first KHL goal here).  The 24 year-old has played in the World Junior Championships (2011) and the World Championships (2014), winning gold each time.

The one-year deal is automatic in the Collective Bargaining Agreement for a 24 year-old entry level contract, as noted by Tom Gulitti at northjersey.com

Columbus Re-Signs Falk

Columbus locked up another defenseman, re-signing Justin Falk to a one-year deal according to NHL.com.  The Blue Jackets acquired Falk is a March trade with the Minnesota Wild, which sent Falk and a fifth-round pick to Columbus in exchange for Jordan Leopold.  Jarmo Kekalainen, GM of Columbus, indicated his pleasure with retaining Falk for the Blue Jackets' defensive corps, as quoted at NHL.com:
"Justin is a good, young defenseman who was a solid addition to our hockey club late last season and we are pleased that he will continue to be a part of our group on the blue line next season," said Kekalainen. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Goloubef Signs Two-Year Extension with Columbus

Defenseman Cody Goloubef has signed a two-year extension to remain with the Columbus Blue Jackets through the 2016-17 season, as reported by Yahoo Sports.  The 25 year-old blueliner was taken 37th overall in the 2008 NHL entry draft by Columbus.  Goloubef spent 36 games with Columbus last season, garnering nine points (all assists).  According to the Columbus Dispatch, the deal is one-way paying Goloubef $700,000 in 2015-16 and $800,000 in 2016-17.  Goloubef made it clear, as quoted in the Dispatch, that he wanted to remain with Columbus.
“I’ve grown with these guys and with this organization,” Goloubef said. “This is where I wanted to be. (Unrestricted free agency) wasn’t something I really wanted to do. I like what we’ve got going on here, and it’s going to be a winning team.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bylsma To Coach Buffalo

One more coaching slot has been filled as the Buffalo Sabres have hired Dan Bylsma as their new head coach according to SportsNet. Bylsma, the former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins has previously led a team to a Stanley Cup and was the 2011 NHL coach of the year. As quoted in the SportsNet article, the hiring was delayed briefly due to arrangements being made for compensation to Pittsburgh:
And his hiring was delayed briefly after the Sabres were required under NHL rules to give up a 2016 third-round draft pick as compensation because Bylsma's contract with Pittsburgh ran through June 2016.

It was thought that the New Jersey Devils might be the front runner for Bylsma's services after GM Ray Shero asked permission to speak with Bylsma earlier in the week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sharks New Head Coach: Pete DeBoer

As reported by Pierre LeBrun at ESPN, the San Jose Sharks are set to announce the hiring of former Florida Panthers' and New Jersey Devils' head coach, Pete DeBoer, as the new head coach of the Sharks. It's reported in the ESPN article that the Sharks will announce DeBoer as their new head coach by the end of this week. DeBoer will fill the shoes previously worn by Todd McLellan, who after a mutual parting of ways with the Sharks' franchise, landed in Edmonton where he will be the new head coach with new GM Peter Chiarelli, for the Oilers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hitchcock and Blues Agree To Extension

Incumbent head coach Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues agreed to a one year contract extension as reported at Pro Hockey Talk. Although it was not a certainty that Hitchcock would return to St. Louis, it cannot be denied that he has great success with the Blues during the regular season. Hitchcock and St. Louis will look to build on that success by carrying it over to the post-season in 2016. As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hitchcock will also bring back his coaching staff for next season.

Monday, May 25, 2015

New Jersey Speaking with Bylsma, Hynes

The New Jersey Devils have asked and been granted permission to speak with both Dan Bylsma, former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach, and John Hynes, coach of the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, as reported by Rich Chere at NJ.com.  Given the Devils recently hired former Penguins General Manager Ray Shero, who worked with Bylsma while both were in Pittsburgh, there is a strong chance that Bylsma becomes the leading candidate to fill the head coach position in New Jersey.  

Leafs Sign Carrick

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Sam Carrick to a one-year deal, as reported in the Toronto Sun.  The 23 year-old pivot saw 16 games of NHL action with the Leafs, while primarily taking a lead role with the Toronto Mariles this past season.  A checking forward who can score, Carrick notched 27 points in 59 games for the Marlies in 2014-15.  While with the big club, he picked up a goal and an assist, registering nine penalty minutes as well.  Carrick was selected 144th overall by the Leafs in the 2010 NHL entry draft.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Andrew Hammond Extended by Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators have signed goaltender Andrew Hammond to a three-year deal according to TSN. The deal is valued at $4.05 million over the three years of the extension. The netminder known as the "Hamburglar" would have been one of the most sought after free agents this summer if he had not re-signed with Ottawa. His spectacular play towards the end of the 2014-15 season helped guide Ottawa into the playoffs. In 24 regular season games, Hammond put up a minuscule 1.79 goals-against-average this past season.

Brodeur Named Assistant GM for St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues have named former New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur as their assistant general manager according to a recent report at NHL.com. It was announced as a three year deal. Brodeur had been advising with the St. Louis Blues after a brief stint as their backup goaltender however he wanted a larger role. As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, part of the interest on Brodeur's part was related to stability in a hockey position, a scenario to which he has been accustomed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Babcock to Coach Toronto

Although it was reported that Mike Babcock was in negotiations with the Buffalo Sabres, he eventually wound up going to the team with the most cachet, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some thought he would stay with his longtime employer, the Detroit Red Wings. The San Jose Sharks were also noted to have filed the requisite paperwork in order to speak with Babcock however they were probably never in close contention for his services. Babcock becomes the 30th head coach in the Toronto Maple Leafs storied history. He will take over a team that many think has underachieved in recent years. After making the playoffs and almost beating the Boston Bruins in seven games two years ago, the maple leaves failed to qualify for the playoffs this past season after a head-coaching change in the middle of the campaign.

Bruins Name Sweeney as GM

The Boston Bruins have named Don Sweeney as their new General Manager according to a press release from the team. Sweeney will be the eighth GM in the Bruins' history according to the release.

Oilers Announce McLellan as Head Coach

As expected, the Edmonton Oilers announced Todd McClellan as their new head coach as reported on TSN. The agreement is a five year deal. The Edmonton Journal has published a good overview of McLellan's NHL a career. It notes that the former San Jose Sharks head coach was the second fastest NHL head coach to reach 300 career regular-season wins trailing only Bruce Boudreau.

The Edmonton Oilers and general manager Peter Chiarelli got the man they wanted for the head coach position as evidenced by this quote at NHL.com:
"Todd was at the top of my list for a number of reasons," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I thought the fit was right with our personnel. I thought the fit was right with the way I manage, and in this business when you want to get a top coach, you have to act quickly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Babcock to Buffalo?

A report has recently surfaced indicating that Mike Babcock has been in contract negotiations with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. The Buffalo Sabres are one of three NHL teams, other than Babcock's current team the Detroit Red Wings, who are in contention for his services including the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is widely expected that Mike Babcock will announce where he will be coaching next year on Wednesday.

Sharks Join Babcock Pursuit

Although it was initially reported that only two NHL teams had filed the necessary paperwork to speak with current Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, it has since come out that the San Jose Sharks have also filed the required paperwork and will be speaking with Mike Babcock in advance of his decision, expected this week on where he will coach next season.

The Sharks head coach position opened after the regular season, when the team and Todd McLellan parted ways. McLellan is expected to be formally announced as the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers this week.

Monday, May 18, 2015

McLellan to Coach Oilers

According to a recent report on TSN, Todd McClellan will be the next head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. There was much speculation about who the next Oiler's head coach would be, including the possibility of Mike Babcock being at the helm. However, the front runner always seem to be Todd McLellan, the former head coach of the San Jose Sharks.

Philadelphia Flyers Name Hakstol as Head Coach

The Philadelphia Flyers have named Dave Hakstol as their new head coach according to NHL.com. Hakstol spent 11 seasons at the helm for North Dakota's collegiate hockey team which has had much success in recent times. According to the article on NHL.com, a move of this type is not very common.
The last coach to go directly from the college ranks to the NHL without any previous NHL experience was Bob Johnson, who was hired by the Calgary Flames from the University of Wisconsin in 1981. Previous to that the Detroit Red Wings had hired Ned Harkness from Cornell University in 1970.

Hakstol will become the Flyers' 19th head coach as reported at philly.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Three Teams Vying for Babcock

It seems that three teams are in contention for the services of coach Mike Babcock, per a recent report on SportsNet. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres have filed papers to speak with Mike Babcock, and it seems that they are the only two teams to do so. So it's down to those two teams and Babcock's most recent employer, the Detroit Red Wings, for the three possible teams that will have Babcock behind the bench in 2015-16.

As reported on NHL.com, Babcock recently spoke with Darren Dreger of TSN, and expects his decision to be made within the week.
"The decision date is going to be moved up," Babcock told Dreger in an interview conducted at the IIHF World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. "I'll bet you by [May] 20, I'm going to know what I'm doing."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Forward Martinsen Signs With Colorado

Forward Andreas Martinsen has signed with the Colorado Avalanche, on a one-year entry level contract as reported in the Denver Post.  Martinsen was most recently playing in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. A native of Norway, the 24 year-old winger had 41 points and 99 penalty minutes in 50 games for Duesseldorf EG this past season.  A relatively big forward at roughly 6' 2'' and 240 lbs., Martinsen will provide some toughness matched with scoring ability if he makes Colorado's NHL team.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Babcock's Decision by May 20?

As reported recently on ProHockeyTalk, Mike Babcock's decision on where he will be coaching next season could come as early as May 20. We noted here a week ago, that Babcock had been given permission by the Detroit Red Wings and GM Ken Holland to speak with other NHL teams about coaching positions. Although Babcock has been given permission and has spoken with other teams, it's been made clear that there is no guarantee that he will be leaving Detroit.

Ducks Sign Kase

The Anaheim Ducks have signed Ondrej Kase to a three year deal according to the team's website. The 205th overall selection in the 2014 NHL entry draft hails from the Czech Republic.

Canucks Sign Subban For 3 Years

The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman Jordan Subban to a three-year deal. The fourth round draft pick of the Canucks in the 2013 NHL entry draft most recently played in the OHL with the Belleville Bulls. This past season he put up a hefty 25 goals in 63 games for the team. Jordan is the brother of Montréal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Canucks Sign Stewart

The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman MacKenze Stewart to an entry level contract according to TSN. The 19 year-old native of Calgary, Alberta played in 66 games for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL last season, notching 11 points. Interestingly, although Stewart was drafted as a defenseman by the Canucks in 2014, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun, the team will look to utilize Stewart as a winger.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Oilers Sign Goaltender Laurikainen

The Edmonton Oilers have signed goaltender Eetu Laurikainen, as confirmed by Ryan Rishaug on Twitter. The 22 year-old goalie hailing from Finland most recently suited up in the SM-liiga.

As for where Laurikainen will fit into the Oilers plans, there is a suggestion that he would start in the AHL with Edmonton's prospect netminder of the same age, Laurent Brossoit.

Wild and Dubnyk Deal Before July 1?

Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with breakout goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently to convey how much the Wild would like to retain Dubnyk's services for the future, according to a report in the Minnesota Star Tribune. And it seems that the Dubnyk wants to remain a member of the Wild:
“I’m not going to go look elsewhere if there is no need to, and obviously that depends on what comes and how those conversations are going,” Dubnyk said.

Dubnyk is currently set to become an unrestricted free agent on July1, but it seems like if the numbers and term are right, he would stay with Minnesota. The 29 year-old netminder has spent time with the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes, before landing with the Wild and having spectacular season. Backstopping Minnesota on their way to the playoffs, Dubnyk put up a very impressive 1.78 GAA and save percentage of .936 in 2014-15.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Peter Regin Signs in KHL

Peter Regin, set to become a Chicago Blackhawks unrestricted free agent, has signed with KHL team Jokerit, according to a recent report. The forward, originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators, most recently played in four NHL games this past season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He spent most of his time this past season with the AHL Rockford Ice Hogs, appearing and 69 games and putting up 41 points.

Svedberg to KHL

The Boston Bruins' backup goaltender this past season, Niklas Svedberg, has signed to play in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev. Backing up Tukka Rask for Boston, Svedberg notched a 2.33 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He was set to become a restricted free agent this summer.

Babcock Meets With Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres and Mike Babcock met on Sunday to discuss their head coach vacancy according to a report by SportsNet. Babcock met with both Sabres' owner Terry Pegula and their general manager Tim Murray. It's expected that Buffalo is just one of a handful of teams that Babcock will meet with over the next few weeks about open coaching positions. Other teams thought to be interested in Babcock's services include the Philadelphia Flyers, the New Jersey Devils, the Edmonton Oilers, the San Jose Sharks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Senators Sign O'Connor

The Ottawa Senators have signed free agent goaltender Matt O'Connor, who recently led his Boston University Terriers to the NCAA title game, eventually won by the Providence College Friars. In 35 games for the Terriers, O'Connor put up a 2.18 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, last season. O'Connor's services were in demand by several NHL teams. He will most likely play for the Senators' AHL affiliate in Binghamton. O'Connor joins a Senators squad of netminders that includes three NHL starters in Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Andrew "The Hamburglar" Hammond. Anderson and Lehner are both under contract for next season, while Hammond is currently slated to become an unrestricted free agent.

Oilers Next Head Coach?

There has been much speculation that the next Edmonton Oilers head coach will be either Mike Babcock or Todd McLellan. It seems that the Oilers are in particular pursuing former San Jose Sharks head coach McLellan, according to a recent report on SportsNet. McLellan has been coaching Team Canada during the recent World Championships, and getting a good look at Oilers' players Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

Mike Babcock has been given permission by the Detroit Red Wings to speak with other NHL teams, and it would not be surprising if the Oilers wanted to chat with him about their head coach position. The question remains however, as several teams are looking to secure a head coach, if the Oilers would want to lock into an expedient agreement with McLellan, before holding full discussions with Babcock.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

NHL Signings: Tootoo, Turgeon

The New Jersey Devils have re-signed forward Jordin Tootoo, at $825,000 for one year as reported on nj.com by Rich Chere. This deal was something that had been worked on prior to the arrival of new GM Ray Shero and the offer was just recently signed by Tootoo. The tough winger began his NHL a career with the Nashville Predators in 2003-04. Last season, he played in 68 games for New Jersey, garnering 15 points and 72 penalty minutes.

Dominic Turgeon, the 63rd overall draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2014, signed a three-year entry level contract with Detroit according to Ansar Khan on mlive.com. The pivot spent the past tour seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, most recently putting up 43 points in 67 games for the team. Dominic is the son of former NHL player Pierre Turgeon.

Rozsival Out For Season

Michal Rozsival, defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, fractured his ankle in the team's game 4 and series ending victory over the Minnesota Wild. He will not return for the remainder of the playoffs this season, as reported on NHL.com. Rozsival's ankle fractured as he was skating backwards defending Thomas Vanek as he rushed into the Chicago zone.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Babcock Speaking To Teams

The Detroit Red Wings have granted permission to head coach Mike Babcock to speak with other NHL teams, as reported on ProHockeyTalk. To speak with Babcock, teams will need to sign a letter of intent that binds them to give the Red Wings a third round draft pick within the next three seasons if they hire Babcock, per a recent article by Ansar Khan. It's expected that the Wings and GM Ken Holland will know within a few weeks whether Babcock will be coaching a new team or remaining with the Red Wings. Babcock has been with Detroit since 2005 and has much success with his squads there. There are a handful of NHL teams looking for a head coach who would no doubt be interested in his services at the relatively low asking price of a third round draft pick.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nashville Notes: Mazanec, Fisher

The Nashville Predators announced on their website that the team has signed 23 year-old netminder Marek Mazanec to a one-year, two way contract. Mazanec would fill an insurance goaltender role for the Predators playing behind one of the best in the league in Pekka Rinne.

Mazanec filled in admirably for Rinne during the 2013-14 season, getting into 25 games for Nashville and putting up a .902 save percentage and 2.80 GAA.

In other Nashville news, GM David Poile has made it clear that re-signing forward Mike Fisher will be a priority for the team, as reported in the Tennessean. According to the report, Poile makes it clear that he wants Fisher back on the Nashville Predators next season:
Mike Fisher, we would love to have him back," Poile said. "He represents so much to our team, both on and off the ice. ... He's a real leader. I truly feel that the best place for Mike is here in Nashville. As long as I'm the manager, he can play as long as he wants."

Fisher, a 34 year-old veteran who has spent the past five seasons with Nashville, continues to produce, most recently putting 39 points up in 59 regular season games.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Islanders Notes: Persson, Matthias?

John Persson, a 2011 draft pick of the New York Islanders, will be playing with Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League, effectively ending his association with the New York Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, as reported by Lighthouse Hockey. Persson, a native of Sweden, played in 10 games with the Islanders at the NHL level in 2013-14, notching a goal. He spent the majority of 2013-14 with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, putting up 16 points in 46 games. In 54 games in 2014-15, purely at the AHL level with Bridgeport, he notched 21 points. In returning home, Persson reportedly signed a two year deal with Farjestad. The 22 year-old forward's entry-level contract with New York expired at the end of this season. John will be joining his brother Johan who also plays in the SEL with Farjestad.

In looking at the Islanders needs for next season, Newsday's Arthur Staple notes that a winger to join John Tavares on the first line as a consistent line mate may be in order, if not a high priority. One forward's name bantered around was Shawn Matthias, who was with the Vancouver Canucks last season, but becomes a UFA on July 1 if not re-signed before then. The 27 year-old forward scored a strong 18 goals in 78 games for Vancouver this past season. Matthias earned $1.75 million for 2014-15, and if the Isles could get him for an annual number not much above that, it would be a win for them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wagner Back With Ducks

Anaheim Ducks center Chris Wagner is back with the team, as reported in the Orange County Register, after suffering an upper body injury in game two of the Ducks first round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Wagner saw nine games of regular season service with Anaheim this year, and put up 28 points in 48 games with the Ducks AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Jersey Hires Shero

The New Jersey Devils have hired former Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero to the same position according to a recent post at ProHockeyTalk. Longtime New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello will remain with the team in the role of President of Hockey Operations. In eight years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ray Shero brought home a Stanley Cup. Next on the list of hires for New Jersey will be a full-time head coach. The Devils were coached by Adam Oates and Scott Stevens for the last piece of their 2014-15 NHL season.

Lou Lamoriello had served as the New Jersey Devils' General Manager since way back in 1987. During his tenure in the GM capacity, Lou guided the Devils to three Stanley Cup Championships (1995, 2000, and 2003).

Both Ray Shero and Lou Lamoriello will consult with the Devils' team owners on major decisions, however, the new permanent head coach will be determined by Shero according to the team's website.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Capitals Recall Schmidt

The Washington Capitals have recalled defenseman Nate Schmidt from their AHL affiliate in Hershey as tweeted by Mike Morreale of NHL.com.

Schmidt had 4 points in 39 games with the Capitals this season and in 19 games with the Hershey Bears he put up 9 points.

The recall move is believed to be largely insurance for an injured Tim Gleason. According to an article in the Washington Post, Schmidt will take warm-ups with the Capitals before game 3 against the Rangers, and if Gleason is deemed healthy enough to play that game, Schmidt will be reassigned to the Bears as they compete in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs against the Hartford Wolfpack.

Sabres' Biggest Need

The Buffalo Sabres' biggest need is a top line right winger according to a recent article in the Buffalo News by John Vogl. Tyler Ennis has shown much improvement, and as Vogl writes, "has shown flashes of brilliance". If he is on the second line, the Sabres become a stronger team.

Looking to unrestricted free agency, All-Star caliber right wingers are scarce. Martin St. Louis may be the most sought after, however, he has made his desire to stay in New York City clear. A trade could be a possibility. The most likely chips Buffalo could include in a package would be related to their high draft slot. Don't expect them to part with their number two overall pick though, which will most likely be spent on Hobey Baker Award winning Jack Eichel.

Giordano Skates With Flames

Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano has been out of the team's lineup since late February when he suffered a torn biceps which required surgery. And although the Flames have overachieved in the absence of their captain, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the NHL playoffs, they certainly could use the on-ice talent of their team leader. There is no specific time table for Giordano's return. there was a positive sign for Calgary in Giordano's skating with the Flames at a recent practice however, as reported by ESPN.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Bourque Recalled by Rangers

As reported in a tweet by New York Daily News writer Pat Leonard, the New York Rangers recalled forward Ryan Bourque for today's playoff game against the Washington Capitals. In 73 games with the AHL Hartford Wolfpack this season, Bourque, a 2009 Rangers draft pick, scored 12 goals and had 20 assists.

Howard: Trade Request Not in Plans

Although rookie netminder Petr Mrazek played phenomenally for the Detroit Red Wings towards the end of their 2014-15 season, eventually ending in a seven game series with the Tampa Bay Lighting, veteran Red Wings' goalie Jimmy Howard has no plans to request a trade in the offseason according to Sports Illustrated. Quite the contrary, Howard plans on competing for the starting position in Detroit's net for 2015-16. Howard was drafted by Detroit in 2003 and has had the lion's share of time in net for the Red Wings since the 2009-10 season.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Canucks Sign Labate

The Vancouver Canucks have signed Joseph Labate according to the team's website. The tall forward who played collegiately for the Wisconsin Badgers, put up 83 points in 150 games for the team. Labate was originally selected by the Canucks with the 101st pick of the 2011 NHL entry draft.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chicago Signs Gustafsson

Erik Gustafsson has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks according to the Second City Hockey blog. Gustafsson has spent the past two seasons playing defense for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. He had 29 points in 55 games last season. The 23 year-old was reportedly signed to an entry level contract.

Panarin to Blackhawks

According to a recent ESPN report, 23 year-old forward Artemi Panarin has signed a two year entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Panarin was a leading point scorer in the KHL and helped his team win the league championship this past season.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NHL Notes: Lindback, Malkin

Anders Lindback, who played in net for the Buffalo Sabres most recently, would like to remain in Buffalo according to a report by ProHockeyTalk.  The netminder, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, posted a .924 save percentage in 16 contests with the Sabres.

If any team has expressed interest in obtaining one of the best players in the world from the Pittsburgh Penguins via trade, that will almost certainly not happen.  As quoted in a recent ESPN article, Penguins' GM Jim Rutherford stated:
"We don’t have any interest in that," Rutherford told ESPN.com when asked about trading Malkin. "Our core players are Sid [Crosby] and Geno, and [Kris] Letang and [Marc-Andre] Fleury and [Patric] Hornqvist. And we feel very strong about that core. But we have to continue to have complementary pieces to those players in order to have a better chance to play into June."
Malkin signed an eight-year contract extension with Pittsburgh in 2013.   

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rangers and Stars Updates

As reported by the New York Post, New York Rangers' defenseman Kevin Klein is ready to play in game one of the second round playoff series. Per Klein:
“I feel in good shape, I’ve been skating a lot, I feel strong, which is a positive,” Klein said. “I feel I can be out there 100 percent, and with the team.”

Klein had been out of the Rangers' lineup for an extended period of time due to an arm injury.

The Dallas Stars have had a few key players undergo hip surgery as reported in the Dallas Morning News recently. Trevor Daly, Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky each had hip surgery, addressing hip pain they experienced during the season. It's expected that all three players will be ready for the start of next season in early October.

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