Just before the clock the stuck 5:00 on the West Coast signaling the beginning of the weekend, Sharks GM Doug Wilson had a couple of signings to announce to the media. The team re-signed 24-year-old depth forward Benn Ferriero to a 1-year deal worth $605,000. He followed it up with news that he’d also added veteran journeyman Ben Guite who will either add depth to the NHL club or leadership to their AHL affiliate in Worcester. Guite’s contract is a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $525,000 with San Jose and $105,000 with Worcester (terms per CapGeek.com).
The deal came the same week as news of a two-year contract extension for 25-year-old netminder Thomas Greiss. People may remember Greiss as the goaltender who was penciled in as Antero Niittymaki’s back-up last year before the team acquired Antti Niemi. He was loaned to the Swedish Elite League as there was no room for him on the active roster—but the team still thinks highly enough of the German goaltender to lock him up for a couple more years.
The Sharks have certainly shuffled their line-up around during the offseason. Danny Heatley’s no longer around to eat 18 minutes per night, Martin Havlat will be depended upon to stay healthy for 82 games, Michal Handzus will help with the penalty kill, and Andrew Desjardins will presumably be a full-time NHLer next season. Even after Ferriero’s deal, they still only have 11 forwards under contract for next season (No offense, but we’re assuming Guite will see more time in Worcester than in San Jose). They can still re-sign unrestricted free agent Kyle Wellwood for another tour of duty or find an outsider to fill the void. Regardless, GM Doug Wilson still has a little more work to do before his roster is complete.
The free agent pool is much shallower than it was one week ago, but there are still decent role players available for teams looking to fill out their line-ups. As Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press points out, veterans like John Madden, Mike Grier, and Brendan Morrison are all still available for a team willing to extend an offer. Doug Wilson will have to decide if he wants to re-sign the familiar Wellwood, give a prospect or two a chance in training camp, or if he wants to dip into free agency once again. Whoever is signed, they won’t be expected to win games for San Jose—they’ll just be depended upon to not lose any games Western Conference contender.
The last time Anton Rodin got into the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup, he sat on the bench the entire game.
Today, the Canucks announced that the 26-year-old winger has re-aggravated the same knee injury he suffered a year ago while playing in Sweden, and now he needs to rest.
“Our Canucks medical team and Anton have determined it is in his best interest to undergo a period of rest, followed by rehab, until his knee strength and function return,” said GM Jim Benning in a release. “Anton will undergo an MRI and orthopedic consult this week.”
In the same release, Benning confirmed that Rodin fell on his knee Jan. 6 against the Flames at Rogers Arena. It was the very next night in Calgary that he didn’t play a single shift, as the Canucks only had five healthy defensemen and were forced to dress 13 forwards.
“Rodin wasn’t 100 percent and once it gets past 10 minutes, it’s hard to get him in and once you do, it’s not fair to play him,” explained head coach Willie Desjardins, per The Province.
It’s a disappointing turn of events for Rodin, who waited a long time to make his NHL debut. He’s only been able to skate in three games for the Canucks, and his ice time was limited in all three.
Rodin started the season on injured reserve after re-aggravating his knee in the preseason.
Related: Anton Rodin is looking to make the leap
Having already lost Kris Letang to a knee injury and Brian Dumoulin to a broken jaw, the Pens received more tough news in the health department on Tuesday — in the form of veteran forward Matt Cullen.
Cullen was hurt after taking a shot to the foot in last night’s wild 8-7 win over Washington and will miss the next 3-4 weeks, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan announced.
Cullen, 40, is one of the NHL’s oldest skaters but has been remarkably durable since joining Pittsburgh. In fact, he hasn’t missed a single game — he played in all 82 last season, then all 24 en route to the Stanley Cup, and is one of just seven Penguins to appear in all 43 games this year.
The cagey vet has been steady in terms of production as well. He has eight goals and 17 points thus far, which had him on pace to match last year’s impressive effort (16 goals, 32 points).
It’s a tough break for the Pens, but there is a silver lining. Shortly after announcing Cullen’s injury, Sullivan said Dumoulin would travel for an upcoming road swing through Montreal and Carolina.
Expect a more composed Jamie Benn when the Dallas Stars take on the Rangers tonight in New York.
At the very least, don’t expect another stick-breaking rampage like we saw yesterday in Buffalo.
“I have to do a better job with body language and my play on the ice,” Benn said, per the Dallas Morning News.
He also said of his recent play, “I wish I could say how I really feel, but it’s probably not good for TV.”
The Stars’ captain is understandably frustrated. His team is four points back of a wild-card spot, and his production, with 10 goals in 41 games, is down significantly compared to last season when he finished with 40 goals in 82 games and his team won the Central Division.
Tonight, it doesn’t get any easier. The Stars will take on a Rangers team that will have Mika Zibenajad in their lineup for the first time since Nov. 20. Meanwhile, the rest of the Blueshirts have had two days to recuperate after their 5-4 loss in Montreal on Saturday.
It’s estimated the Stars will need to go around 21-11-5 in their remaining 37 games to make the playoffs. So regardless of their frustrations, they’d best get on a roll soon. A better performance from their captain would be a good start.
With P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Petter Granberg all out with their respective injuries, the Nashville Predators are a little thin on the blueline.
So on Tuesday, they set about adding some depth.
Brad Hunt, the 28-year-old offensive defenseman, has been claimed off waivers from St. Louis, per TSN. Hunt has spent most of this year with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Chicago but, in limited time with the big club, has shown pretty well.
The Bemidji State product has five points in nine games for the Blues, while averaging 13:36 TOI per night. He was widely praised for his passing ability, and how quickly he helped the Blues transition from defense to offense.
“[Hunt] just moves the puck,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcok said earlier this year, per the Post-Dispatch. “He gets himself out of trouble, he gets the team out of trouble. He’s a smart player.”
That offensive output is what Hunt’s known for — a consistently productive AHLer, Hunt recently made his fourth career All-Star Game on the strength of 29 points in 23 games for the Wolves.