Will Jere Lehtinen return next season?

Lehts.jpgJere Lehtinen’s long, underrated career is coming to a close. The
Finnish right winger who exemplified defensive hockey for so long will
be 37 next season, and is currently playing on a one-year, $2.5 million
contract ($1.5 million base, $1 million in bonuses).

He’s had to
deal with injuries the past few seasons as his once reliable body has
started to break down, but there’s no question he still has the
leadership and skill needed to help teach a young team that defense is
just as important as offense.

If you’ve seen the Stars this
season, then you know that’s a lesson they need pounded into them.

Stars
coach Marc Crawford, for one, is hopeful that Lehtinen decides to come
back next season. From
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:


“I
think
Jere is still a very, very good player,” Crawford said. “The
guys who are smart players, who are hustling players, you don’t lose
those abilities. He has skating and instincts, and that just makes
him such a crucial player for us.

“He’s
terrific for teaching, he’s terrific to put on a line with young
players. We could actually use a few more players like him.”

It’s
not just a matter of whether Lehtinen wants to return; it’s also
whether general manager Joe Nieuwendyk sees him as a needed asset next
season and what he’s willing to pay. If $1.5 million was the contract
this season, then I’m guessing we’d see Nieuwendyk offer nothing more
than $1 million; after all, Lehtinen has just 3 goals this season and is
far from the 30+ goal scorer he was just a few years back.

Lehtinen
has played his entire career in Dallas, and I’m certainhe wants to join
Mike Modano as finishing it with the Stars as well. Just don’t expect
any decisions to be made anytime soon.

“We’ll talk in the
summer, but I can tell you that I am a big fan of Jere Lehtinen,”
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk
said. “When he’s in the game, I think we’re a better team.”

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    Report: Blue Jackets on the verge of signing Sam Gagner

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on before a face off against the New York Rangers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    It sounds like Sam Gagner may determine his destination for 2016-17 in the near future.

    The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets are close to signing Gagner to a one-year, one-way deal. Such an agreement might not be made official until Monday, according to Portzline.

    After a bumpy season with the Philadelphia Flyers in which he spent some time in the AHL, Gagner must especially appreciate the one-way nature of his next contract.

    The Blue Jackets aren’t the only team interested in the 26-year-old, as his name was also connected to the Vancouver Canucks:

    It looks like the still-quite-young scorer will get a clean slate after bouncing around and being defined by a bloated contract originally signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

    (Remember when he broke one of Wayne Gretzky’s records?)

    Gagner’s presence could make life easier for the likes of Boone Jenner:

    It’s conceivable that Gagner could enjoy a nice rebound season if used in a specialized, protected role. The Blue Jackets may very well be the right fit.

    … And on the other hand, the deficits in Gagner’s all-around game could at least provide some John Tortorella rage and entertainment.

    Everyone wins.

    Former Sabres forward Jochen Hecht calls it a career

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01:  Jochen Hecht #55 of the Buffalo Sabres against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 1, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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    The Mannheim Eagles announced that German forward Jochen Hecht is retiring from hockey.

    (It’s OK to be a little bewildered that he was still playing, just don’t be too mean about it.)

    Hecht played 833 regular season games and 59 playoff contests at the NHL level, making his greatest mark as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

    His last bit of NHL action came in 2012-13, when he scored 14 points in 47 games for Buffalo.

    Since then, he wrapped up his career with the Mannheim Eagles, a team he’s sporadically played for since 1994-95.

    Honestly, it’s weird to see Hecht in any sweater not related to German’s national teams, the Eagles or Sabres, even though the Blues actually drafted him:

    Then again, he could also look odd in a certain Sabres sweater.

    Apparently he got the NHL 16 Hockey Ultimate Card treatment:

    Plenty of Sabres fans and reporters fondly remember Hecht, so here’s to a nice career.

    Yes, it’s really happening: Vegas NHL team installs ice for first time

    vegasice2
    via Vegas is Hockey
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    Sometimes you just need a reminder that a remarkable thing actually is happening.

    Saturday presented the latest evidence that the NHL coming to Las Vegas isn’t just a collective fever dream, as the still-nameless franchise noted that they’ve begun the process to install ice at T-Mobile Arena for the first time.

    It’s not the prettiest picture, but it means a lot:

    While setting up the first sheet of ice is a physical sign that things are coming together, the front office side will dictate the sort of team that eventually plays on it.

    For more insight into that process, Puck Daddy takes a look at Murray Craven, who appears to be a key part of bringing things together … even if it’s difficult to nail down a specific title.

    Presenting: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hockey bobbleheads

    cannotunsee
    via Milwaukee Admirals
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    From the Department of Sights You Can’t Un-see: the Milwaukee Admirals are going to unleash hockey-playing bobbleheads for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “this fall.”

    The Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate continues the fine tradition of headline-grabbing and all-around-odd promotions from the league.

    /Pours one out for the Bakersfield Condors and their Seinfeld “puffy” shirts.

    Feast your eyes on the rather disturbing duo:

    (The replies to that tweet aren’t too weird yet, but it would probably be wise to stay away nonetheless.)

    Naturally, there are other bobblehead options available for the two Presidential front-runners, with the Trump ones being especially entertaining.