2010 NHL Free Agency: Thrashers sign frequent hitter Freddy Meyer to a two-way contract

freddymeyerhit.jpgThe Atlanta Thrashers signed defenseman Freddy Meyer to a one-year, two-way deal that will pay him $500K if he remains in the NHL and $105K if he stays in the minors, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here is a little bit of background information on the small-but-feisty defenseman via Ben Wright of the Thrashers’ official team blog Blueland Blog.

The 29-year-old Boston University product signed as a free agent with the Flyers in 2003-04 and spent some time in the AHL before putting up the best numbers of his career in Philly as a rookie in 2005-06 when he scored six goals and added 21 assists. In 266 NHL games Meyer has 19 goals and 71 points, with 11 goals and 39 of those points coming in his 178 games as an Islander.

In 64 games last season Meyer averaged 16:46 of ice time with 1:51 of it being on the penalty kill. At 5’10″ he isn’t huge but he’s a solid 192 lbs and likes to hit. Despite being limited to 64 games last season he led New York in hits with 178. That would put him second on last year’s Thrashers team behind Zach Bogosian and his 196 hits (next up was Schubert with 150).

USA Today’s Kevin Allen says that Meyer will fight for the team’s sixth defenseman spot while Wright points out that Meyer will have to compete for playing time against Boris Valabik, Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers and other depth players for the team’s lower defensive ranks.

Wright points out the fact that Meyer has missed a considerable amount of time thanks to abdominal, groin and back injuries; he missed 41 games in the 08-09 season because of groin injuries and played in 64 of 82 games in 09-10.

Meyer might not be a perfect player – his size keeps him from being a menacing presence despite his penchant for hits and he isn’t a world-beater offensively – but it seems like a decent depth move for the Thrashers. The jury’s out on whether or not new GM Rick Dudley’s muscle-oriented methods will work, but the madness is far more entertaining than the middling efforts of GM-turned-team-president Don Waddell.

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    McPhee says Golden Knights ‘accomplished a lot of things’ in first draft

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    No team was busier at the NHL draft this weekend than the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

    Armed with 13 draft picks thanks to their dealings in the expansion draft, the Golden Knights began the process of building the real future of their team. It started on Friday night when they kept all three of their first-round selections and used them to select a pair of centers along with a puck-moving defenseman. They continued the process on Saturday with the remainder of their picks.

    A quick look at the selections indicates McPhee tried to begin by building his roster down the middle by selecting six centers, two defensemen and a pair of goalies.

    “We accomplished a lot of things in this draft,” McPhee said, via Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We got some skill, we got some size and we got some goaltending.”

    Their entire draft haul ended up as follows

    1 (6) — Cody Glass, center

    1 (13) — Nick Suzuki, center

    1 (15) — Erik Brannstrom, defense

    2 (34) — Nicolas Hague, defense

    2 (31) — Jake Leschyshyn, center

    3 (65) — Jonas Rondbjerg, right wing

    4 (96) — Maksim Zhukov, goalie

    5 (127) — Lucas Elvenes, center/right wing

    5 (142) — Jonathan Dugan, left wing

    6 (158) — Nick Campoli, center

    6 (161) — Jiri Patera, goalie

    7 (189) — Ben Jones, center

    Along with those picks, they also traded one of their second-round picks (No. 45 overall) to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for prospect Keegan Kolesar, a 6-2, 223-point forward that is ready to make the jump to pro hockey after averaging a point-per-game the past two seasons in the Western Hockey League.

    Size did seem to be a common trend with their picks as eight of their selections were listed as 6′ or taller, including Hague, a 6-5, 207-pound defenseman.

    While the inaugural Golden Knights roster will be made up primarily of players taken in the expansion draft this past week, most of them will not be with the team for more than a year or two as the organization begins to take shape.

    Some of them probably will not even begin the season on the team as McPhee continues to wheel and deal.

    This weekend is where the real building of the organization started.

    Treliving: Flames paid price in Hamonic deal, but ‘you can never have enough top d-men’

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    Two years ago, Brad Treliving acquired Dougie Hamilton at the draft. On Saturday, he picked up Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders.

    Those are two moves that have significantly helped the Flames build a formidable top-four defense in the Western Conference, and it’s already been suggested it could be in the conversation with Nashville’s group that includes Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm.

    Yes, the Flames paid a price — first and second-round picks in next year’s NHL Draft and a second-round pick in either the 2019 or 2020 NHL Draft.

    But after making the playoffs this season and then making a recent trade with Arizona to acquire goalie Mike Smith, the Flames seem to feel they’re in their window to win now. Today’s move further solidifies that notion.

    “You’ve got to give to get,” said Treliving, the Flames general manager, of the Hamonic deal. “You hate paying the price. But we looked at a lot of things: We looked at the makeup of our team, where he fits. He’s a right shot. We think he fits in real good with our team.

    “I like the looks of our top-four. He moves pucks. He’s a character kid. He’s got some bite to him.”

    The Flames now have their top four defensemen locked into contracts through at least 2020, which was one of the important factors in acquiring Hamonic, according to Treliving. Mark Giordano, who turns 34 in October, is signed through 2022 and Hamilton is signed through 2021.

    Treliving lauded the puck-moving ability of Giordano, Hamilton and T.J. Brodie — who combined for 31 goals and 125 points, led by Hamilton’s 13-goal, 50-point campaign. But, he said, the move to acquire Hamonic brings added toughness and versatility into the group.

    “He checks a lot of boxes for us,” he said. “I think you build up through the middle. This, to me, solidifies our defense. I like our center ice position. There’s depth there and we’ll keep tweaking at it, but I like the looks of that defense.”

    As a result of injuries, Hamonic played in only 49 games last season.

    With the way Hamonic plays, Treliving admitted there may be greater risk for injury, but the Flames don’t have any concerns about that heading into next season.

    The Flames also have some young, up-and-coming defensemen in their system, most notably 20-year-old prospect Oliver Kylington, who fell to 60th overall in 2015, even though there was talk he could be a first-round pick.

    “I think we’ve got some young kids coming. It allows them to progress and develop at their own timeline,” said Treliving. “But you can never have enough defensemen. You can never have enough top defensemen.”

    Snow open to trading picks, prospects to improve roster now

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    CHICAGO — Garth Snow may not be done dealing.

    After trading defenseman Travis Hamonic to Calgary, the New York Islanders’ general manager said the return from the Flames could be used as “currency” to bolster the roster.

    The Isles received a first-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2018, plus other considerations, for Hamonic.

    “I don’t envision anything happening here in the next two days, though that could always change,” said Snow. “We feel we have a good hockey team. We have a team that’s built for now and for the future. I mean, you look at our prospects and the draft picks, we also have the ability to use some of those assets to bring in a player that can improve our club in the near term.”

    Snow has reportedly had his eye on Colorado forward Matt Duchene, but so far has been unable to make a deal with the Avalanche.

    As for trading Hamonic, Snow said it was made more palatable by the “great depth” the Isles have got on the back end.

    That said, it was a tough, emotional decision.

    “I think the world of him, on and off the ice,” Snow said of Hamonic. “Just a first-class player and first-class person.”

    Snow would not divulge if the move was related to Hamonic’s trade request from 2015.

    “I think he’s in a good place to play for his family, and the Islanders got a solid return,” said Snow. “I think it’s a win-win for both teams.”

    Report: Rangers to hire Lindy Ruff as an assistant coach

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    More coaching news on Saturday.

    Lindy Ruff’s time with the Dallas Stars ended in April following a disappointing regular season, but it appears he’s found another coaching gig in the NHL.

    It is, however, a different role than what he’s been used to for the past 20 years.

    Per Larry Brooks of the New York Post, a deal has not been done yet, however, Ruff will join the Rangers as an assistant coach on Alain Vigneault’s staff. He’ll reportedly replace Jeff Beukeboom and will be in charge of New York’s defense.

    Ruff certainly brings experience, with 1,165 games coached in the NHL. He’s been a head coach since 1997 when he joined the Buffalo Sabres, and hasn’t been an assistant since a four-year tenure with the Florida Panthers from 1993 to 1997.

    The Rangers’ defense has undergone notable changes this offseason, with Dan Girardi getting bought out of his six-year, $33 million contract. With about $20 million now in cap space, New York may not be done making moves to their blue line this offseason.

    The Rangers made a blockbuster trade with the Coyotes on Friday, sending Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Coyotes in exchange for the seventh overall pick and 21-year-old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.