The final two restricted free agents left in the pool are now signed. The Dallas Stars announced the signings of forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to two-year contracts. Neal will make $5.75 million over the next two years while Niskanen will make $3 million. Neal’s cap hit comes to $2.875 million while Niskanen’s is a nice, neat $1.5 million per year.
With these signings, the Stars’ roster is set for training camp which opens tomorrow in Prince Edward Island, Canada. With everyone being squared away and no holdouts to occur during training camp we’re all left to wonder just one thing now: What in the world did we get all worked up about in the first place? Everyone who was having “issues” getting signed all got into camp on time. At the moment, no one is grumbling about their pay and everything will go back to normal as far as playing time and lines go.
For the Stars, Neal represents their hopes for the future as he’s a big scoring winger whereas Niskanen is coming off a rough season last year but still more than young enough to improve his game. Neal scored 27 goals last season, good for second on the team. His 55 points ranked him third on the Stars in scoring. Niskanen had three goals and 12 assists last season, a decided drop off after his 2008-2009 season that saw him earn six goals and 29 assists.
Both players are 23 years-old so getting them under contract for the next two years to avoid the restricted free agency dance for a little while is helpful. While the Stars might struggle in a very difficult Pacific Division this year, this will be a big year for both Neal and Niskanen’s development.
Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.
Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.
The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.
Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.
Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.
It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.