As reports tend to go, this one seems to be as close to a sure thing as we’ve seen this summer. It appears that free agent winger Lee Stempniak is going to rre-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes for two years. While no actual details are readily available until the contract is officially announced by the Coyotes later today, it appears the deal will be worth $1.75 million per season.
The Coyotes are hoping that the Lee Stempniak they saw in the regular season after acquiring him from the Toronto Maple Leafs is more like the player they’ll see game in and game out rather than the disappointment he was in the playoffs. During the regular season with Phoenix, Stempniak potted 14 goals in 18 games and finished the regular season with 18 points for the desert dogs. For the full season, Stempniak had 28 goals and 20 assists. Yes, Stempniak had as many goals in 18 games with Phoenix as he had in 62 with the Maple Leafs. Yes, Maple Leafs fans are a bit chapped about this.
In the playoffs, however, Stempniak was virtually invisible adding only two assists in seven games as the Coyotes lost to the Red Wings in the first round. With such a seemingly nice deal for Phoenix, they’re hedging their bets on whether or not Stempniak can be the over-the-top scorer he was for them rather than the inconsistent player he was with Toronto. The cap hit of $1.75 million over the two years is a pay cut for Stempniak as he had a cap hit of $2.5 million the last three years with the deal he signed with Toronto. Whether he can stay consistent or not will help determine if the Coyotes can make up for the loss of Matt Lombardi to free agency.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.