2010 NHL Free Agency: Senators make depth signings, add David Hale and Francis Lessard

davidhale.jpgThe Ottawa Senators made two small depth signings today, inking defenseman David Hale and forward Francis Lessard to one-year, two-way contracts according to TSN. Financial details were not disclosed, but with most two-way deals, the money amounts were probably very low.

Hale was once a product of the New Jersey Devils system and though he’s stuck at the NHL level during his career, his results have been unremarkable. Take a look at TSN’s write-up on the marginal defenseman.

Hale spent last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, collecting four assists in 39 games. Over his six-year NHL career with the Devils, Flames, Coyotes and Bolts, the Colorado Springs native has tallied three times with 24 points in 302 contests.

Lessard might be even less of an impact guy, though. He hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2005-06 season with the Atlanta Thrashers. He played 61 games with the San Antonio Rampage last season, putting up four points and a substantial 289 penalty minutes. Here’s a little more from TSN.

His last appearance in the NHL came with Atlanta in 2005-06, a six-game stint where he did not record a point. The former 1997 draft pick of Carolina played in 91 games from 2001-06 with the Thrashers, picking up a goal and four points with 268 penalty minutes.

So let it be known that Lessard won’t be playing in the NHL for his scoring ability. It’s obvious that he’s a bruiser/enforcer, one of the most replaceable roles in the league even if players such as Derek Boogaard are being paid more than a million and a half dollars per season to play the part.

Both players might not amount to more than drops in the bucket for the Ottawa Senators, although Hale could soak up minutes like an “innings eating” pitcher while the team could turn to Lessard if they need a little muscle.

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    Replacing Beauchemin with Bieksa hasn’t worked out so great for Anaheim

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    Are the Anaheim Ducks missing Francois Beauchemin more than they thought they might?

    It’s a question we’ve been hearing more and more lately, as the Ducks’ goal-scoring woes of October have been replaced by defensive issues in November.

    Anaheim is 3-4-2 in its last nine games. The Ducks have allowed 27 goals in regulation during that stretch — that’s three per game on average — plus two more in a pair of overtime losses.

    In a related story, per the O.C. Register, here’s what coach Bruce Boudreau said the other day about offseason acquisition Kevin Bieksa:

    “He’s a veteran guy that has to fight his way out of this. We count on him to not make mistakes. We will go as far as guys like him take us.”

    Bieksa, 34, is minus-7 in his last four games combined. True, he’s forced to play a lot of hard minutes against good players. But then, that’s exactly what he was brought in to do. The Ducks even gave him a two-year, $8 million extension, locking him up through 2017-18.

    Now consider what Boudreau said during last year’s playoff run, about the guy Bieksa was brought in to replace:

    “He’s the voice. Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there.”

    And Beauchemin was more than just a talker. He led the Ducks in ice time. He had nine assists in 16 playoff games. Bottom line: he was a big part of a team that fell one win shy of making the Stanley Cup Final.

    Beauchemin, of course, signed a three-year deal with Colorado on July 1, for a cap hit of $4.5 million. So far, he’s been as advertised for the Avs. The 35-year-old has two goals and 10 assists. He gets the most ice time on the team, an average of 23:33.

    Looking back, Anaheim GM Bob Murray never did want to lose Beauchemin. The Ducks just weren’t prepared to offer what the Avs did.

    “Beauch’ has been a pretty good warrior for us,” Murray said in June. “He has a one-time chance for free agency and maybe somebody will give him $5 million.… I couldn’t do that.”

    One has to wonder now if Murray wishes he’d found a way.

    The Ducks host the Blackhawks tonight on NBCSN.

    Devils sign veteran Kennedy to one-year, $600K deal

    Tyler Kennedy, Lee Stempniak
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    A second forward has converted a PTO with New Jersey into a shiny new contract.

    Tyler Kennedy, who’s on his second professional tryout with the club, has agreed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level, the Devils announced on Friday.

    Kennedy, 29, first caught on with the Devils in the preseason, only to be released in early October. He then rejoined the club on a second PTO in mid-November, and earned himself a deal from GM Ray Shero (previously, the two were together in the Pittsburgh organization).

    A former 20-goal scorer with the Pens, Kennedy fell on hard times last year. It began in San Jose — where he never fit in Todd McLellan’s plans — and ended on Long Island, where he sat for over half of the Isles’ opening-round playoff loss to the Caps.

    As for where he’ll fit in the Devils lineup?

    Kennedy said he’s ready to play tonight — the Devils take on Montreal — and it’s possible Stefan Matteau could be scratched, allowing Kennedy to stpe into a bottom-six forward role.

    As for how the Devils will free a roster spot — Jiri Tlusty remains on IR with a shoulder issue, while David Schlemko could be away from the club for a bit, as his wife is due to give birth.

    Rangers park Boyle, Stalberg in press box for Thanksgiving Showdown

    Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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    I’m not going to make the “it really is Black Friday for Dan Boyle and Viktor Stalberg” joke, but had to recognize it as a semi-viable lede.

    So that’s out of the way.

    Now, onto the business at hand — per the New York Daily News, Boyle and Stalberg will be scratched today when the Rangers take on the Bruins in the annual Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET, NBC). Dylan McIlrath will draw in on defense for Boyle, while Emerson Etem will take Stalberg’s spot up front.

    It’s not really surprising Alain Vigneault made some lineup changes.

    The Blueshirts’ last outing was arguably their worst of the season — a 5-1 home loss to the Canadiens, a game in which Boyle finished minus-2 and Stalberg played the least among all Rangers skaters, with just 11:20 TOI.

    More: Dan Boyle isn’t thrilled with all these healthy scratches

    What’s more, McIlrath hasn’t played in nearly two weeks (Nov. 15, versus Toronto). It’s been even longer for Etem — he’s been out of the lineup since a win over the Blues on Nov. 12.

    Related: Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

    Goal-starved Flyers recall AHL Phantoms leading scorer Cousins

    Nazem Kadri

    Desperate for offense, Philly made a fairly noteworthy move on Friday — Nick Cousins has been brought up from the minors.

    Cousins, 22, has been a solid scorer at the AHL level in each of the last two seasons. He led Lehigh Valley with 56 points in 64 games in ’14-15 and, this year, has 18 through 15 — putting him in a tie for seventh in league scoring.

    The former OHL Sault Ste. Marie standout does have some NHL experience, having played 11 games for the Flyers last season. He averaged just under nine minutes per game over that span, and failed to register a point.

    Looking ahead, Cousins could make his season debut today, when Philly hosts the Preds. Right now it’s unclear where he’d fit in the lineup.

    To make room for Cousins on the roster, the Flyers sent Taylor Leier down to the Phantoms.