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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    PHT’s second-round playoff predictions, featuring the red-hot Random Thing Picker

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    It was a tough first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for many of the so-called experts of the world.

    Upsets included the Predators over the Blackhawks and the Blues over the Wild. The Rangers over the Canadiens was a quasi-upset, too.

    Here at PHT, it was a mixed bag. Mike Halford and Cam Tucker each went an impressive 6-2. And so too did the Random Thing Picker, which as its name suggests, picks random things. (And picks them rather well, apparently.)

    Of note, the Random Thing Picker and James O’Brien were the only ones to pick the Preds over the ‘Hawks. So congratulations to both robotic lifeforms on that bit of soothsaying.

    Rounding out the rest of the first-round results, Adam Gretz and Joey Alfieri went 4-4, while at 3-5, O’Brien and yours truly couldn’t even crack .500. (Stupid Jake Allen.)

    On to the second round!

    Washington versus Pittsburgh (Stream Capitals-Penguins)

    Brough: Capitals in 7
    Halford: Penguins in 6
    O’Brien: Capitals in 7
    Gretz: Capitals in 7
    Tucker: Capitals in 6
    Alfieri: Capitals in 7
    Random Thing Picker: Capitals

    New York versus Ottawa (Stream Rangers-Senators)

    Brough: Senators in 6
    Halford: Senators in 7
    O’Brien: Rangers in 7
    Gretz: Rangers in 6
    Tucker: Rangers in 6
    Alfieri: Senators in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Senators

    St. Louis versus Nashville (Stream Blues-Predators)

    Brough: Predators in 6
    Halford: Blues in 7
    O’Brien: Predators in 6
    Gretz: Predators in 6
    Tucker: Predators in 7
    Alfieri: Predators in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Blues

    Anaheim versus Edmonton (Stream Ducks-Oilers)

    Brough: Ducks in 7
    Halford: Ducks in 6
    O’Brien: Ducks in 6
    Gretz: Oilers in 7
    Tucker: Oilers in 6
    Alfieri: Ducks in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Ducks

    Feel free to add your picks below…

    Auston Matthews to skip Worlds

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    Auston Matthews is going to take some time off.

    As such, the 19-year-old star forward won’t be heading overseas to represent the United States in the upcoming World Championship.

    You can hardly blame him. Matthews just finished his rookie season in the NHL, playing all 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus six more in the playoffs.

    Oh, and he also played in the World Cup for Team North America.

    Matthews did participate in last year’s Worlds. He had six goals and three assists in 10 games on the way to a fourth-place finish.

    Related: Gaudreau, Eichel commit to USA Worlds roster

    Blackhawks fire their AHL head coach

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    Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired longtime assistant coach Mike Kitchen.

    Today, it was longtime AHL coach Ted Dent who got the ax.

    Dent has been the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs the past six seasons, and he was an assistant coach for Chicago’s AHL affiliate the previous five seasons.

    “The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization,” GM Stan Bowman said. “He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best.”

    The IceHogs missed the playoffs this season, finishing last in the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 25-39-12.

    Related: A furious Bowman addressed the Blackhawks’ postseason failure

    Report: Canucks close to naming Travis Green head coach

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    The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly set to announce Travis Green as their next head coach.

    According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the announcement will be made in the next couple of days.

    Green, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL including the playoffs, has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons. Under his watch, the Comets have played mostly winning hockey in spite of some rather depleted lineups.

    Ever since Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of the season, Green has been the leading candidate to take over in Vancouver. The only question, really, was whether he’d be a candidate for another NHL head-coaching vacancy, perhaps with the Florida Panthers.

    Assuming no last-minute hiccups, Green will take over a transitioning Canucks team that has finished 28th and 29th overall in its last two seasons, respectively.

    “We’re going to be young,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said. “Young players make mistakes. There’s going to be some growing pains. We need a coach that understands exactly where we are.”

    Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players