Tuesday’s signings and re-signings: Kings keep Richardson, Penguins sign two players

Today’s depth signings might not blow you away, but at least there’s one more arbitration hearing you can cross off the schedule after today’s small-time deals. Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis all got into the act today and there’s even a former 50-goal scorer in the mix as well.

Los Angeles re-signs Brad Richardson; Two years, $2.35 million

Brad Richardson’s semi-breakout year last season has earned him a sweet new two-year deal with the Kings and he’ll have the room needed to grow next season. Richardson had seven goals and 12 assists in 68 games with L.A. last season but did his part in the playoffs to bust out and get noticed. In the Kings’ six playoff games, Richardson had two goals and three assists and asserted himself well against the Sharks. The Kings are hoping that confident play Richardson had in that series returns for full time duty next season and can give their third and fourth lines a boost. Richardson was due to head to arbitration with the Kings, but with his new deal, they’ll stay out of the courtroom.

Pittsburgh re-signs Dustin Jeffrey for two years, signs enforcer Steve MacIntyre for one year, two-way deal

Dustin Jeffrey took advantage of the time he saw last year while the Pens dealt with countless injuries to their forward units. In 25 games, Jeffrey scored seven goals and added 12 assists and showed some skills that could see him end up on one of the Penguins top two lines next season. As a player who came up in the Pens system, he’s an ideal guy to keep around especially on a two-way deal in his first year. Making $575,000 per year makes him an even better fit.

Steve MacIntyre will help the Penguins fill the hole left by Eric Godard signing in Dallas earlier today. MacIntyre is a vicious fighter and doesn’t offer much skill aside from that. With his deal being a two-way deal, the Pens can call him up and send him down at will. In 34 games last year, MacIntyre had one assist and 93 penalty minutes.

Colorado re-signs T.J. Galiardi and signs Patrick Rissmiller to one-year deals

T.J. Galiardi broke out as a legit two-way player two years ago in Colorado scoring 15 goals and 24 assists while also playing a solid defensive game. Last season, he was injured. Often. In 35 games he had seven goals and eight assists for the Avalanche and Colorado opted to keep him around for one more year. If he stays healthy, he’ll help the Avs get their act together once again.

Patrick Rissmiller, on the other hand, will be the first guy called up from Lake Erie of the AHL and be a depth contributor when called upon. He’s spent the last few seasons in the AHL with Hartford, Rochester, and Chicago. Last season he played in nine games with the Florida Panthers and had one assist.

Florida signs defenseman Tyson Strachan; One year, two-way deal $750,000/$150,000

Tyson Strachan adds a tough, physical defenseman to the Panthers coffers and a guy that’s not afraid to drop the gloves if need be. Last year with St. Louis, Strachan had one assist and 39 penalty minutes in 29 games. With the Panthers needing to add more depth to their blue line, Strachan gives them a younger guy to grow in either Florida or San Antonio in the AHL. With what Florida’s got going on with their roster, expect Strachan to start the year in the AHL and get the call in case of injury.

St. Louis signs forward Jonathan Cheechoo; One year, two-way deal

It’s been just five years since Jonathan Cheechoo scored 56 goals with the San Jose Sharks, but ever since then, his career has fallen on hard times. He was sent to Ottawa as part of the Dany Heatley trade in 2009 and ever since 2007-2008 he’s struggled to find his goal scoring touch that brought him to such great heights in  2005-2006.

Last season he scored 18 goals for the AHL Worcester Sharks after being let go by the Senators and while he’s destined for Peoria in the AHL with the Blues, if everything breaks in a lucky way for both Cheechoo and the Blues he could help their offense. Don’t hold your breath on that though.

Sharks director of player development Larry Robinson won’t return next season

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Larry Robinson will not be back with the San Jose Sharks next season.

A team spokesman confirmed Thursday that Robinson’s contract expires in the summer and that he will not return. Robinson had been with the Sharks for the five seasons, first as an associate coach for two years and then as director of player development the past three.

The Hall of Fame defenseman joined the Sharks in 2012 after coaching the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils. He won the Stanley Cup as New Jersey’s head coach in 2000.

Robinson won the Cup six times as a player with the Montreal Canadiens. After mixed results as a head coach, he was considered one of the top assistants in the NHL. He will be 66 next week.

The Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Final last season.

PHT Morning Skate: 12 teams will reportedly alter their uniforms next season

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–Adidas will become the official outfitter of the NHL in 2017-18, which means that some teams will make some tweaks to their current jersey. 12 teams are reportedly going to make some type of alteration to their uniform. The Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Avalanche, Blue Jackets, Stars, Oilers, Panthers, Wild, Predators, Devils and Senators are the teams making changes. (Sportsnet)

–NBA hall-of-famer Charles Barkley was working the Cavaliers-Celtics game in Boston last night, but even he admitted that he’d rather be watching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. (The Score)

–The Anaheim Ducks went on a nice run to the third round of the playoffs, but for them to take another step forward, they’ll need someone other than Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler to make more of an impact, per beat reporter Eric Stephens. (OC Register)

–Not many Oilers fans were happy with the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson swap, but Larsson’s play this season some fans forget about Hall, according to the Edmonton Journal’s Bruce McCurdy. He writes: “One surprise was how well the Oilers scored with Larsson on the ice, the best of any defenceman on the team and behind only the first line forwards. That went a long way to explaining his splendid +21 on the season, this after his +15 the previous campaign with a weak Devils club was largely achieved through stingy defensive outcomes.” (Edmonton Journal)

Chris Kunitz scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in double overtime to send the Pens to their second straight Stanley Cup Final. Check out the highlights from Game 7 by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Here’s a pretty interesting stat via PHT’s Adam Gretz regarding Pittsburgh’s playoff success in the Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr era vs. the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin era:

–It’s been a tough year for Craig Anderson and his wife Nicholle, but she Tweeted a nice message after the Senators dropped Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final:

Chris Kunitz found the fountain of youth in Game 7

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PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz has put together an impressive and often times overlooked resume during his 13 years in the NHL. He has been a top-line player on three Stanley Cup winning teams, he has an Olympic Gold Medal, and before Thursday’s Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators had scored 275 goals (regular season and playoffs) in the NHL.

By any objective measure that is a fantastic career.

During the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime win on Thursday to send them back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second year in a row, he played what was perhaps the biggest — and best — game of his career.

It could not have come at a better time for the Penguins.

Or at a more unexpected one.

Kunitz played a role in all three Penguins’ goals, scoring two of them, including the overtime winner, and providing the key screen on Justin Schultz‘s third period power play goal. As if that was not enough, he also recorded an assist on that Schultz goal.

He was, to say the least, a force and the single biggest contributor in the Penguins’ win. Even if he downplayed his overtime winner as simply being the result of a little bit of luck.

“I was just trying to get into a soft spot,” said Kunitz. “The puck fluttered off my stick a little, I don’t know if it touched [Jean-Gabriel Pageau] or kept going right in, but it looked like there was a good screen on the goalie, it looked like he maybe fell down, it just found its way into the net. Sometimes you just get lucky when you put one on net.”

Lucky or not, Kunitz was the unexpected hero in Game 7 and it came on a night where he seemed to rediscover his game.

Kunitz playing such an essential role in a big playoff win wouldn’t have been that big of a shock four or five years ago.

He has been a core player since arriving in Pittsburgh during the 2008-09 season and spent years skating on the top line alongside Sidney Crosby.  That presence on Crosby’s wing almost did more to hurt his reputation because there was always that belief he was simply a product of skating alongside the best player in the world. But he has always been more than that. He has been a legitimately good top-six winger that had also found success even when away from Crosby.

But on Thursday it was a taste of the old days with Crosby setting up the overtime winner.

“[Sheary] did a really good job bringing it up the wall and walking the blue like, and I think Sid was coming right off the bench,” said Kunitz. “When he drives it deep everyone gets scared and you can find that soft area because obviously Sid has great vision, and he put it right there. I just found a way to put it on net and got lucky.”

What makes his performance such a stunner this season, and in this game, is that it came at a time when his best days were clearly in the past and he had gone from being a top-line, core player, to being more of a bottom-six role player.

At the age of 37 that had to be expected. He was still able to do enough to be a useful contributor, but the consistent impact on the scoresheet wasn’t always there. Entering Game 7 on Thursday night he had yet to score a goal and had recorded just a pair of assists in his first 13 playoff games. Along with that postseason scoring drought he only scored nine goals during the regular season and had not found the back of the net since Feb. 16, a stretch of 78 days.

Then there he is playing the role of hero in what was, to this point, the Penguins’ biggest game of the season.

“He played his best game of the playoffs when it matters the most,” said Penguins forward Carl Hagelin. “That’s the type of guy he is and that’s the reason he has three Stanley Cup rings already. He’s just one of those guys you love having on your team.”

This is pretty much what Game 7’s in the Stanley Cup playoffs are all about. Anything can happen when a series and a season all comes down to one game.

It only takes one shot, one bounce, one play, one call or one huge performance from an unexpected player to totally re-write history.

In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago it was Bryan Rust, representing the next wave and younger generation of the Penguins, playing the role of hero with his two goal-game.

This year, it was one of their long-time core players rediscovering his past glory for one night.

2017 Stanley Cup Final schedule: Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Pittsburgh Penguins might celebrate their hard-fought tonight, but they’d probably be wise to rest up. It won’t be long before they’ll face the well-rested Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

That first contest will take place on Monday, May 29. The Penguins ended their series on Thursday (or, maybe Friday if you’re being a stickler) while the Predators get a week of rest after dispatching the Ducks this past Monday (May 22).

NBC and NBCSN will have you covered for what should be a fast and fascinating series with a whole lot of gold/yellow going around. Game 1 will be on NBC, Games 2 and 3 will air on NBCSN and then the remaining contests will take place on NBC.

Here’s the schedule in list form, as that may be easier to follow:

2017 STANLEY CUP FINAL SCHEDULE
Subject to Change/All Times ET

Game Date Time (ET) Pittsburgh vs. Nashville Networks
Game 1 Monday, May 29 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 2 Wednesday, May 31 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 3 Saturday, June 3 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 4 Monday, June 5 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 5* Thursday, June 8 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 6* Sunday, June 11 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Game 7* Wednesday, June 14 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
* If necessary