Simon Gagne aims for a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for simongagne6.jpgThere are a lot of reasons why I thought that – while he wasn’t technically a free agent – Simon Gagne was quietly the best forward value on the market this summer. When healthy, Gagne is a speedy winger with at least some defensive conscience who also brings a goal scoring ability to the table. Beyond a $100 million player such as Ilya Kovalchuk and a wallflower with a lower ceiling such as Alex Frolov, there weren’t many players to compare to Gagne on the open market.

But what really set Gagne apart in my mind is the (relative) low-risk nature of his situation. While $5.25 million is far from cheap, he’s in the last year of his deal, so if things don’t work out the Tampa Bay Lightning will only suffer for one season. Compare that to the extraordinary risk the New Jersey Devils are taking with Kovalchuk (and the fact that the Lightning gave up very little to acquire Gagne) and GM Steve Yzerman quite possibly landed one of the coups of the summer.

Of course, most athletes playing a dangerous, high-impact sport would prefer to enjoy the security of a longer deal. Mike Corcoran shares Gagne’s stated goal for the 2010-11 season: to earn a contract extension with the Lightning.

Much was made over some comments made before the start of training camp, when the term “one year” was heard, but there is no doubt what Gagne is hoping for in the long term.

“I didn’t come here to be here one year and move somewhere else after [this year],” Gagne said. “I would love to make things work here with Vinny, and the boys here, the coaching staff, Mr. Yzerman, having a good start, and hopefully finding a way to get an extension. That’s my goal and hopefully that is going to work.”

Gagne is expected to be a huge part of what the team is trying to accomplish this year. He is an integral part of what many believe is one of the best top-six in hockey. The Lightning are hoping that Gagne can stay healthy and return to the player that had back-to-back 40-goal seasons. He has looked good in practice and preseason games, including a three-point night against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks.

With his history of nagging injuries (from less serious ailments such as groin problems to scary stuff like concussions), you cannot blame Tampa Bay if they test the waters for most of – if not all – of the season. The team also will need to re-sign Steven Stamkos this summer and Victor Hedman the next, so Gagne will need to keep his expectations realistic.

Still, Gagne is only 30 years old right now, which means he should still have a few more years were he’s at-or-near his prime. He’s probably gearing up for his last “big” contract before he becomes a cheaper veteran option, so don’t be surprised if the talented winger puts up some nice numbers this season.

He certainly has every incentive to do so.

(H/T to John Fontana of Raw Charge.)

Scroll Down For:

    Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

    Evgeni Malkin
    AP
    Leave a comment

    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.

    McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

    Ryan McDonagh
    Getty
    4 Comments

    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.

    standings

    Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

    Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
    AP
    2 Comments

    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

    Despres, Perron return to Pittsburgh for the first time since being traded to Anaheim

    FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2015, file photo, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres skates before an NHL preseason hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. Despres has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Ducks on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, solidifying his role in Anaheim after joining the club in a trade last season. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
    Associated Press
    5 Comments

    Simon Despres and David Perron will return to Pittsburgh for the first time since they were shipped to Anaheim via trade.

    Monday’s tilt at the Consol Engery Center will be special for both individuals.

    Despres was traded to Anaheim for Ben Lovejoy last March, while Perron was sent to the Ducks earlier this season.

    Both players may have had some good times in Pittsburgh, but in both instances, things didn’t end up the way they had envisioned.

    “I don’t want to talk about that,” Perron said of things not working out in Pittsburgh, per the Post-Gazette. “I made some great relationships. Some really good friends.

    “The only thing, it didn’t work. That’s what what [general manager] Jim Rutherford and I and [head coach] Mike Sullivan talked when the trade happened. I wish it would have been different but that’s the way it goes sometimes. It didn’t click as good as you wanted it to be. I’m happy I got a new start and it’s going well.”

    The 27-year-old played 86 games over two seasons with the Penguins, and he managed to score just 16 goals and 38 points during that span.

    Things have been a lot better for him since the move to Anaheim. Perron has three goals, five assists and a plus-7 rating in his first seven games as a Duck.

    As for Despres, things haven’t been as smooth since his departure from the Penguins.

    The 24-year-old played well in the final month of the season last year, but he missed 42 games in 2015-16 because of a concussion he suffered near the beginning of the season.

    He’s been a welcomed addition to the lineup. Anaheim hasn’t lost since Despres returned to the lineup on Jan. 26.

    “He hasn’t gotten any points but we haven’t lost since he’s been back,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said, via the Post-Gazette. “We missed him for sure. In the playoffs last year, he was as good of a defenseman as we had. Big and strong and played against big opposition and he didn’t tire. The more games he gets, the better he’s going to get.”

    The defenseman spent most of his adult life in the Penguins organization and he admits that’s something he’ll never forget.

    “I guarantee that I’ll be a little bit emotional for the game [tonight],” said Despres. “Spent a lot of years here. A lot of memories and good friends. A lot of friends in Pittsburgh.”