2010 NHL free agency: Detroit, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus and Pittsburgh fill depth needs

The march through free agency continues and today saw a host of depth signings and re-signings by teams to help build up their reserves for a shot at the Cup next season. We’ll sum them up for you quickly.

Detroit re-signs Patrick Eaves, one year $750,000

Eaves did well for Detroit in limited duty on the fourth line and bringing him back at a reduced rate is good for the team, cap-wise. With the Wings not being ones to make overly drastic changes, it makes sense. Eaves is a solid fourth-line producer and seemed to have chemistry when working with Drew Miller and Darren Helm.

Florida signs Nathan Paetsch, re-signs Jason Garrison

Retaining a young defenseman in Garrison who may pan out as fifth or sixth defenseman was a nice move to keep the good things going they started with him last year as a rookie. In 39 games with the Panthers, Garrison scored 2 goals and had nine assists. and had a plus/minus of +5. The signing of Paetsch shows that the Panthers are making sure to keep the blueline depth solid should first-round pick Erik Gudbranson not be quite ready to jump to the NHL. Paetsch has spent time with the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets in his NHL career.

Ottawa signs forward Corey Locke to a two-year, two-way deal

You might not be too familiar with Corey Locke, but if you’re a fan of Canadian juniors you probably are and you’re excited that this is a homecoming of sorts. Locke, a former member of the Ottawa 67’s, spent most of last year with the Rangers AHL team in Hartford and did well scoring 31 goals and adding 54 assists. With an inexpensive two-way deal, Locke could find himself riding the shuttle between the AHL and Ottawa but he’ll get a fair shot to start with the Senators during training camp.

Pittsburgh signs defenseman Andrew Hutchinson

Hutchinson is the classic depth defenseman, a guy with great talent in the AHL and able to spot-start in the NHL when needed. Hutchinson spent last year with the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate in Austin, Texas and helped lead the Stars to the Calder Cup Finals. Should the Pens run into some really hard times with injuries, Hutchinson can fill in admirably.

Columbus signs goaltender David LeNeveu

Not all players go to Europe to never be heard from again. LeNeveu returns to North America after playing last year in Austria. He’ll be headed to AHL Springfield to play alongside prospect goaltender Gustav Wesslau and show him the ropes. LeNeveu was a standout goaltender at Cornell University and spent time in the past with the Phoenix Coyotes

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    Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

    His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

    As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    “He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

    Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

    At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

    He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

    Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

    Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

    Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

    But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

    “I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

    “I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

    Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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    The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

    After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

    The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

    Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

    But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

    As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

    After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

    Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

    Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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    San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

    In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

    The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

    The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.