Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier looks to put ugly past behind him

atlanta_thrashers_2000.gifTo call Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier’s last year turbulent would be being nice. The former Devils prospect spent the better part of the last year looking to get past being labeled as a reckless and careless player after a vicious elbow he laid on Mikael Tam during a QMJHL game last season, one that saw him get suspended indefinitely by the league as well as brought up on criminal assault charges.

After being shipped off to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, Cormier is looking to redeem his image and his career with the Thrashers and so far in rookie camp it appears he’s done just that and is gunning for a spot on the roster with the Thrashers this year as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution finds out.

General manager Rick Dudley called Cormier “one of the most mature kids I’ve seen at his age, physically and mentally.” Team officials went so far as to say that once Cormier was included in trade talks for Ilya Kovalchuk, the deal was promptly struck with New Jersey. The Thrashers sent their franchise player to the Devils for Niclas Bergors, Johnny Oduya, Cormier and a first-round draft pick in February.

“He was as big as any part of that trade,” Dudley said.

Such homage would seemingly place plenty of weight on the 20-year-old center. Following rookie camp, which ends Thursday, Cormier will take part in the Thrashers’ training camp, where he will essentially be trying to jump straight from junior hockey to the NHL.

“I don’t think there is a lot of pressure on me,” Cormier said. “Maybe there is, but I don’t put any pressure on my shoulders. I don’t worry about that. I can’t control what the organization is going to do with me this year. I just control what I can do. That’s work hard on the ice, help my teammates, be a good leader.”

Cormier was a second-round pick of the Devils in 2008 and he’s a player that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello liked quite a bit. Seeing Cormier grow up the way he apparently has and harness his game for good could help make the Kovalchuk trade look even more helpful to Atlanta.

Having Cormier become a major contributor to the Thrashers potential success along with Niclas Bergfors would be just the boost the franchise and GM Rick Dudley could use. The Thrashers struggles since joining the league are certainly not a secret but if Cormier’s reclamation can spur the Thrashers to rise from obscurity and help fans forget former GM Don Waddell’s shortcomings, it’ll turn Atlanta into a reclamation story of their own.

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    New addition Thompson thinks Senators are ‘ready to win’

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    Even after reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016-17 there is still probably some skepticism as to how good the Ottawa Senators will be this upcoming season and whether or not they can repeat that success.

    They didn’t do much to add to that roster over the summer outside of the addition of gritty forward Nate Thompson on a two-year contract from the Anaheim Ducks.

    Thompson is excited about the opportunity to join the Senators and believes the success of the team last season was not a fluke.

    “This team now is ready to win,” he told Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun this past week. “I don’t think this was a Cinderella team, it was the real deal. They have a pretty good window to win games and hopefully do something even more special.”

    It’s going to probably be a little more difficult this season given some of the improvements that have been made by teams around them (Tampa Bay and Toronto should be better than they were a year ago; Montreal and Boston will still be fierce contenders as well) and the fact the Senators themselves might see a bit of a regression in the standings if their overall play doesn’t change much. Keep in mind, for all of the success they had in the playoffs this was still a team that gave up more goals than it scored during the regular season. That is not typically a recipe for long-term success.

    Thompson, who will turn 33 at the start of the season, will be relied on primarily to fill a bottom-six role and perhaps help in the faceoff circle. He is coming off of a 2016-17 season in Anaheim that saw him be limited to just 30 games, scoring one goal and adding one assist before recording six points (two goals, four assists) in the playoffs for the Ducks on their run to the Western Conference Finals. He spent the past three seasons playing for the Ducks and also has experience playing for Senators coach Guy Boucher during their time together in Tampa Bay.

    Preds GM Poile still has work to do, with Johansen in need of a deal

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    David Poile got some work done Saturday.

    The Nashville Predators re-signed Viktor Arvidsson on the day the two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled. The new deal? Seven years at a total of $29.75 million — an annual average value of $4.25 million for a player that just scored 31 goals while playing on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.

    The Predators made a run at the Stanley Cup last month, doing so with great goaltending from Pekka Rinne, a top-four group of defensemen that you can argue sets the standard around the league and a talented group of forwards — a number of them with age on their side.

    They didn’t win it all, but Poile was recognized for his work by claiming General Manager of the Year.

    This is likely among the reasons why.

    Roman Josi still has three years left on his deal, while Mattias Ekholm, who was a valuable and reliable top-four d-man playing alongside P.K. Subban, has five years remaining on his deal.

    With the Arvidsson contract completed, the priority is now to get Johansen — a restricted free agent — signed. At age 24, he’s Nashville’s No. 1 center coming off a 61-point season, which completed his three-year, $12 million deal.

    He was also in the midst of a terrific playoff performance before he suffered a thigh injury and postseason-ending surgery. He’s in line for a significant raise from the $4 million AAV he made on his last contract.

    The Predators have about $14.5 million remaining in cap space, per CapFriendly.

    Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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    The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

    Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

    Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

    A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

    Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

    While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

    “We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

    Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

    One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

    Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

    Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

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    Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

    Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

    The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

    From The Tennessean:

    Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

    Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

    Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

    Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

    Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.