In one fell swoop, it appears that the Vancouver Canucks are both improving their third and fourth line depth while also tapping out of the hunt to re-sign defenseman Willie Mitchell. Reports early this morning, including a confirmation of sorts from Sportsnet’s Darren Millard, indicate that the Canucks will sign free agent forward Raffi Torres to a one-year $1 million contract.
Adding Torres gives the Canucks an instantly usable player on their third line on the left wing and a guy that will fit into coach Alain Vigneault’s system immediately. Torres is a tenacious checker and a guy that tends to rub everyone the wrong way while finding ways to put the puck in the net. He’s the precise sort of player the Canucks enjoy. Torres finished last year in Buffalo after being traded by the Blue Jackets and both his and the Sabres seasons ended with a thud.
The effect this has on the Canucks budget-wise is that this now puts the Canucks nearly $4 million over the salary cap. They’ve been rumored to be moving defenseman Kevin Bieksa who is making $3.75 million this season, but if they were hoping that Bieksa alone would clear enough salary to bring aboard Mitchell, they’ll be mistaken. Getting rid of Bieksa and his contract would put the Canucks about $91,000 under the cap. Unless the Canucks are getting some kind of miracle deal from Willie Mitchell, it seems highly unlikely they’ll be bringing him back.
As it is, opportunities with San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington are still out there for Mitchell and with Vancouver making the move to get Torres, it’s possible that they know that Mitchell isn’t coming back already.
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