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.
Official update: Here’s the release from the Coyotes on the re-signing.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos tweets the real contract details.
Lee Stempniak new 2 year deal with PHO breaks down like this. 2010-11- $1.5M. 2011-12 – $2.3M. Cap hit of 1.9M
That’s a bit juicier than what was first reported.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.