Sami Salo

Sami Salo faced a long, painful road to that two-goal Game 4 performance

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Considering how improbable it was for the Vancouver Canucks to score three 5-on-3 goals in a two minute span, perhaps it only makes sense that the last two of those goals came from such an improbable source.

There were more than a few times this season when many people though Sami Salo’s 13-year NHL career was over. Salo himself pondered retirement during the painful recovery process from a ruptured Achilles tendon. In many ways, Salo has been the Wile E. Coyote of hockey players, stumbling through injuries that have been random, painful and … yes, a bit comical (see: testicle, ruptured left).

As rough and fast a sport as hockey is, Salo has been one of those guys who just cannot catch a break, unless it’s in the more literal “broken bone” sense. Just take a look at how Salo suffered that ruptured Achilles tendon last summer, as he told Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca.

“It’s a routine we have. We play every Thursday floor ball (in Finland), a very popular sport in Scandinavia. All the guys from all over Europe. I got a D-to D-pass, took a hard sprint, and just flew face first. Nobody was even close. I just fell down. The Achilles had ruptured. Somebody said it sounded like a shotgun.

“Went to the private clinic, where the doctor said it was most likely completely torn.”

It’s easy to treat Salo like a walking, hard-shooting punchline. Yet after you hear more about his resiliency in the face of a demoralizing and painful injury, it’s also easy to root for the Finnish blueliner.

“It is like climbing Mount Everest,” he said. “Very small steps from Day 1 after the surgery, all the way up to the time in December when I started skating. You didn’t see any progress on a daily basis, even sometimes on a weekly basis.

“When it actually happened it wasn’t painful at all. It was just a weird feeling.”

Then again, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Salo remains borderline unflappable. He fashioned an outstanding NHL career for himself despite long odds. A 13-year career isn’t half-bad for the 239th overall pick of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft and two power-play goals in one game isn’t too shabby for a guy who wasn’t far from retirement, either.

Perhaps the biggest question might be: would he injure himself while lifting the Stanley Cup? We might just get the chance to find out.

Former Flyers goalie Heeter signs with Detroit’s AHL team

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The Red Wings added some goalie depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with journeyman Cal Heeter.

Heeter, 27, broke in with the Flyers organization a while back and made his big-league debut in ’13-14, appearing in one game.

Since then, he’s bounced around the ECHL, AHL (with the Toronto Marlies) and, last season, split his time between Hamburg of the German League and Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL.

By itself, this signing isn’t especially noteworthy, as Heeter projects to be an American League mainstay next year.

But the contract is kind of interesting when looking and the big-picture goalie situation in Detroit. The Wings now have Heeter, Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau, Eddie Pasquale and Jake Paterson all under contract for next season, which is an awful lot of goalies.

With that in mind, remember that Howard’s name has been in trade talks for quite some time.

 

Ex-NHLers Bellemore, Collins sign with KHL’s Chinese club

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HC Kunlun Red Star, the Beijing-based expansion team that will begin playing in the KHL next season, has added a pair of former NHLers.

Sean Collins, who appeared in a pair of games for the Capitals last season, and Brett Bellemore, a veteran of over 100 contests with the Carolina Hurricanes, have agreed to join the club, per Russian news outlet R-Sport.

Bellemore, 28, was originally drafted by the ‘Canes in 2007 and spent most of his professional career with the organization. He signed on with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence last year, and appeared in 56 games.

Collins, 27, broke in with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Caps last season. He spent the majority of the year in AHL Hershey and fared well — 16 goals and 39 points in 75 games — and scored three times in the playoffs, helping the Bears advance to the Calder Cup final.

 

Report: Journeyman Santorelli signs in Swiss League

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 02:  Mike Santorelli #25 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at Honda Center on March 2, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Veteran forward Mike Santorelli, who’s appeared in over 400 NHL contests over the last eight years, is headed overseas.

Per multiple reports (see here and here), Santorelli has signed with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League. The 30-year-old spent last season with the Ducks, scoring nine goals and 18 points in 70 games but didn’t dress for any of the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

Santorelli broke into the NHL with Nashville but enjoyed his best years with Florida and Vancouver. He was a former 20-goal scorer with the Panthers and enjoyed a successful stint with his hometown Canucks in ’13-14, scoring 28 points in 49 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

Santorelli is the second veteran forward to sign in the Swiss League recently. Over the weekend, fellow journeyman Kris Versteeg agreed to join SC Bern.

Jackets sign d-man Harrington, acquired in Rychel trade

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14:  Scott Harrington #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 14, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Upon trading Kerby Rychel to Toronto at the draft for Scott Harrington, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Harrington was “a guy we’ve watched for a while,” and a “steady, smart [and] good defender.”

Which makes today’s move none too surprising.

On Monday, Kekalainen announced Harrington signed a one-year, two-way deal (financial terms weren’t disclosed). The contract comes after Harrington split last season between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies, appearing in 15 NHL contests.

While Kekalainen was high on Harrington, the most noteworthy thing about the acquisition is it ended a long-running saga with Rychel, the 19th overall pick in 2013. There were repeated rumblings that Rychel wanted out of town, and felt stifled by Columbus’ reluctance to make him a full-time NHLer.

For a while, Kekalainen stood firm in the face of the reports, once openly wondering where they came from. But in the end, the decision was made to part ways with the 21-year-old, the son of ex-NHLer Warren Rychel.

As for Harrington, he should compete for a spot on the Columbus blueline next season. Right now he projects to be the No. 7 or 8 guy, assuming that super prospect Zach Werenski is primed for a full-time gig in the NHL, firmly entrenched in the Blue Jackets’ top six.

In other news from Columbus today, the club has also agreed to terms with AHL forward Alex Broadhurst.

One of the pieces acquired in last summer’s Brandon Saad blockbuster, Broadhurst was a key contributor to AHL Lake Erie’s Calder Cup championship this past spring, finishing second on the club in playoff assists.