We’ve discussed a handful of deals that were made in the “last minute” before salary arbitration, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Blue Jackets and Anton Stralman’s contract might have taken that seriously. Apparently the two sides met an hour before the 9 a.m. deadline and agreed on a one-year, $1.9 million deal just a few minutes before the hearing was about to begin.
As we’ve noted before, salary arbitration often hurts both sides: one party might “win” more than the other but bitterness can be developed, especially if the team really turns the screws on its player. It’s almost like going to divorce court with your seemingly happy spouse.
There were some worries that an unpleasant arbitration award would force the Blue Jackets to allow Stralman to walk – and therefore mess up their already shaky powerplay point situation – so Columbus can breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, the team signed Stralman to a low-risk one-year deal that will give him the opportunity to improve his market value for next summer.
Somewhat amazingly, Stralman will only be the fifth-highest paid defenseman in Columbus. He’s behind red afro enthusiast Mike Commodore ($3.75 million per year), Rostislav “Rusty” Klesla ($2.975), Fedor Tyutin ($2.84) and Jan Hejda ($2).
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson says that he “likes his group” of seven defensemen but is exploring trade options to improve the talent level. Let’s hope so, because to be honest, the Blue Jackets’ roster looks pretty thin when you compare it to the other teams in the Central division. That being said, things would be just a bit less positive without Stralman in the mix, so good on both parties for getting a deal done.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA