After the Vancouver Canucks came to a new contract agreement with Kevin Bieksa yesterday to keep him in Vancouver for five years and $23 million, the question shifted to what will happen with Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff was set to cash in in a similar way to Bieksa and with negotiations going poorly in Vancouver, the Canucks have opted to give another team the chance to sign him instead.
Vancouver traded Ehrhoff’s rights to the New York Islanders for a 2012 fourth round draft pick. The Islanders making this move is a bold one to try and improve their blue line in the worst way. After all, they’d just recently dealt Bruno Gervais to Tampa Bay and were lacking another definitive presence on the back line.
Even though the Islanders had a spate of injuries last season, they’re set to come back this year with Mark Streit, Mike Mottau, and Mark Eaton into the lineup. Landing Ehrhoff’s rights gives them a chance to exclusively negotiate with the German defenseman until July 1.
If they’re able to get Ehrhoff signed to a long term deal, he’ll give them another power play threat along the blue line. Ehrhoff isn’t exactly known for his defensive abilities, but the Islanders have a host of players that can keep an eye on that part of the game on defense. Not having a guy with a solid scoring touch from their defense hurt them last season and Ehrhoff would be an instant improvement to their defensive corps.
If the Isles can’t sign him, they lose out on the draft pick and Ehrhoff hits an open market that’s likely eager to heap cash upon him. With many teams having a need on defense, Ehrhoff and his offensive skill set are going to get a lot of attention. While the Isles are one of those teams, there could be a more attractive situation out there for Ehrhoff to explore come July 1. We’ll find out soon enough which way he wants to go.
New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.
Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.
There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.
A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.
Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.
After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.
Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.
In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.
The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.
Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.
Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.
The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.
Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.
Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.
Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.
Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.
Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.
That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.
Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire chairman of KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, reportedly believes there’s a “good chance” that Pavel Datsyuk will be playing for his team next season.
But according to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, there’s only been an offer from SKA. Nothing has been signed yet. There could still be offers from other KHL teams for his client to consider.
And at any rate, Milstein insisted once again that Datysuk won’t be making any decisions until he speaks with the Detroit Red Wings in mid-June, after the 37-year-old returns from a family vacation.
Milstein passed along that update to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, plus a few other Wings reporters.
Related: Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options’