2010 NHL Free Agency: Penguins sign Chris Conner to one-year, $550K deal

Chris Conner.jpgThe Pittsburgh Penguins signed forward Chris Conner to a two-way, one-year contract that would pay him $550K at the NHL level, the team reports.

At a scrawny 5-8, Conner will have to struggle to find his way into the team’s reputation. Still, he’s been pretty solid in spot duty with the big club. The team provided a little more detail on his limited career so far.

Conner, 26, has played in 79 career NHL games since entering the league in 2006, posting nine goals and 24 points.

Conner, who originally signed with the Penguins on July 5, 2009, scored two goals and three points in eight games with Pittsburgh this past season, and appeared in one postseason contest. He scored two goals, one being the game-winner, in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory at New York against the Rangers Jan. 25 just hours after being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 5-foot-8, 180-pound forward completed his first season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2009-10, ranking second on the team in points (56) and assists (37), while chipping in 19 goals in just 59 contests. Two days before helping Pittsburgh defeat the Rangers the speedy winger tied a WBS franchise record with five points (2G-3A) in a 6-3 victory at Syracuse Jan. 23. Conner tied for the team lead with four points (2G-2A) in four postseason games.

The Westland, Michigan native spent three-plus seasons with Dallas after signing with the Stars in the summer of 2006. In 71 games with the Stars, Conner recorded seven goals and 21 points.

The team’s cap space is pretty limited at this point, as they’d have around $1.5 million for two depth spots, at least when Conner is at the NHL level. The Penguins are among the many teams that now seem close to having their rosters close to complete.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: