Simon Gagne's reaction to being traded

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simongagne6.jpgBeing traded is one of the most difficult things for any professional athlete to deal with when it happens. In the case of Simon Gagne, it was a bit more difficult and emotionally draining considering he had a no-trade clause. While the Flyers did their due diligence in being up front and proper with goal-scoring left wing, it doesn’t make the process any less difficult. For Gagne it was made a bit more difficult because the Flyers were the only team he’s played for during his NHL career. Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reflects on Gagne’s Flyers career, why he was special for everyone in the organization and how difficult the process leading up to the trade was difficult for him.

For the past several weeks, Gagne has kept to himself, even avoiding teammates, amid intense speculation that he would be traded to rid the Flyers of his $5.25 million salary and clear some cap space for next fall.
 
Some of his closest friends said he wouldn’t talk about the rumors because it bothered him that much.
 
Though he had a no-traded clause, Gagne agreed to waive his clause over the July 4 holiday weekend for certain teams, the Los Angeles Kings being one of them.
 
Gagne later denied waiving his no-trade during a television interview for RDS in Canada. What wasn’t said was he had agreed in advance to “certain” teams, according to multiple sources.

It’s difficult, without a doubt, when all that you’ve ever known is now, by design or by circumstance, being changed. In this case, it was circumstance. Gagne made more money than the Flyers could sustain after they signed Russian returnee Nikolai Zherdev. As John Boruk from CSN Philly says, Zherdev’s signing was the writing on the wall that it was time for Gagne to move on and his thought process into where he wanted to go next.

Ironically, he didn’t want to be with a team in a similar situation the Flyers had put themselves for a couple of reasons. Primarily, he is not looking at this as a one-year rental. That may or may not be the situation in Tampa Bay, but he wanted to know that there would be plenty of cap room to sign a multi-year contract past this upcoming season.  

Surprisingly, the Detroit Red Wings had expressed interest and wanted to add Gagne, but with less than $4 million in cap space, the idea of joining one of the most successful franchises in hockey didn’t seem too appealing. The same can be said for his hometown Montreal Canadiens.  

Ironically, it was conversations with former Red Wing and Tampa GM Steve Yzerman sold him on the idea that he could become part of the Lightning’s rebuilding process, and Gagne feels they are a playoff team that will only get better.

A lot of people feel that things work out for a reason, and certainly the combination of the Flyers decisions and Gagne’s resolve lead to this end game for both sides. The Flyers are in a bit of an ugly spot through all this. If Zherdev doesn’t work out well, fans will go ape that the team signed him and essentially gave away Simon Gagne for nothing (no offense to Matt Walker).

It’ll be made even worse if Gagne has a huge year with the Lightning playing along side Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis on a revamped French Connection line in Tampa Bay. One way or another, someone in Philadelphia is getting booed. Whether it’s someone on the ice or GM Paul Holmgren watching from the team suite remains to be seen.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.

Report: Dwight King could be KHL-bound

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Dwight King, the burly forward that won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, may be on his way to Russia.

Per News 1130 in Vancouver, King is set to sign in the KHL after failing to land a contract this summer. The 28-year-old finished last season in Montreal after spending the first seven years of his NHL career in Los Angeles.

For a time, King was an effective skater for L.A. He posted a career-high 15 goals and 30 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and followed that up with a 13-goal, 26-point effort the year following. He also had a nice showing during the Kings’ 2014 Cup run, finishing with 11 points in 26 games.

King’s biggest issue is his skating ability. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he was never the fleetest of foot, but had been working on his speed this offseason.

More, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

King is still looking for work after finishing the season in Montreal. There are a few Western Conference teams poking around.

“I’m just looking for an opportunity at this point. I’m going to be on the ice more this year, doing a little more skills and skating. Any bit of improvement I can find.”

King is going to try a couple new teachers, then decide which route to take. One also works with former teammate (and new Golden Knight) Brayden McNabb. King is quite the physical specimen, but will take a new approach. He regularly played at 230–231 pounds, but is going to go to 225–226. And he believes the Western Conference is better for him.

News 1130 reported that Vancouver had shown “mild interest” in King, who just wrapped a three-year $5.85 million deal with a $1.95M cap hit.

King appeared in 17 games for the Habs after being picked up at the deadline last season, scoring once. He went pointless in six playoff games.

McLellan excited about addition of ‘utility player’ Strome

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To hear Todd McLellan explain it, Ryan Strome could be wearing many hats next season.

That’s what the Oilers head coach said on Wednesday of the former Isles forward, acquired earlier this summer in the Jordan Eberle trade. McLellan expressed excitement over Strome’s ability to play both center and wing.

“He (Strome) is a utility player,” McLellan said, per the Sun. “He has the ability to play center and has in the past. He’s been able to win faceoffs and he’s comfortable on the wing. We have the luxury of moving players around, and as the fans here know, we like to do that.”

That last sentence is clearly a reference to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl has flipped back and forth between playing as Edmonton’s No. 2 center and as a winger on the top line alongside Connor McDavid. The talented German’s had success at both, which is why Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is still unsure if Draisaitl is a center or a winger.

More: Strome pumped at prospect of playing with Draisaitl, McDavid

As for Strome, he certainly gives Edmonton some flexibility — on the ice, and on the books.

With a $2.5 million cap hit (compared to Eberle’s $6M), he’s provided Chiarelli with more cap space to get the Draisaitl contract done. And there’s also the potential for him to be a real bargain. Remember, Strome is only two years removed from a sophomore campaign in which he scored 17 goals and 50 points in 81 contests. His subsequent two years with the Isles were a disappointment, but the talent is still there.

The wildcard in all this is the fact that Strome’s heading into a contract year. He’ll be a restricted free agent next July, so the ’17-18 campaign will go a long way in determining his value… and, potentially, his future in Edmonton.