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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    Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

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    BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

    Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

    There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

    It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

    Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

    Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

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    Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

    The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

    It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

    Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

    Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

    Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
    Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

    Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

    The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

    “Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

    Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

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    In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.

    Video: This Kane-to-Panarin goal is all sorts of ridiculous

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    When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).

    It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.

    Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.

    One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.

    But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.

    (Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)

    ‘Old Time Hockey’ video game takes a bit of an early beating from reviewers

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    From the sound of things, “Old Time Hockey” is a video game with a lot of heart, but maybe not the skills to make it to the big time.

    While “NHL 17” is pumped out by publishing giant EA Sports, this title is very much an independent labor of love by a company called V7 Entertainment. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy provided a great interview with the developers here. It’s worth noting that the game reminds one of 8-bit titles in another way: lacking an NHL license, these teams are instead fictional. This isn’t necessarily a drawback as much as it provides the title with its own unique “flavor.”

    It’s hard not to get behind a scrappy development, especially in an age where sports video game options are so scarce. Some leagues barely see any licensed games any longer (see: the MLB, which feels woefully misrepresented these days), and the arcade-style that “Blades of Steel” and other old-school games popularized is even tougher to come by.

    Combine these factors with an aesthetic inspired by “Slap Shot” and “Old Time Hockey” seems like it could really scratch an itch … except, it sounds like the puck missed the net.

    So far, reviews are pretty mixed for the title, which is currently on PC and Playstation 4 (with planned releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).

    While there are a few good reviews here and there, the general reception is of disappointment.

    A Sporting News review states that “the promising premise falls apart quickly.” Game Informer slams a “slew-footed story mode.” PC Gamer notes that, with EA not releasing an NHL game on that platform since 2008, there was a need here … but it wasn’t met.

    Does that mean there’s no fun to be had? Not necessarily, but it’s a bummer that the game might be off the mark, especially since V7 Entertainment seems to have its heart in the right place.

    Then again, maybe those who want that “NHL 94” fix merely need to dig a little. As this Vice article points out, there’s still an active community playing the sort of game that scratches the itch that “Old Time Hockey” – perhaps – can’t quite reach.