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.

Contenders should keep an eye on Jaroslav Halak

Getty
1 Comment

Here’s a gut reaction regarding the 2017-18 season: there aren’t a ton of teams with unclear goalie situations, at least as far as who their top guy is.

Clear number ones

The Frederik AndersenJohn Gibson battle ended last summer. Promising backups like Cam Talbot, Scott Darling, and Antti Raanta got their shots or will be getting their chances to be No. 1 guys this year. Marc-Andre Fleury generously accepted becoming the face of the Vegas Golden Knights.

It doesn’t exactly make for a sellers’ market for the few teams who might want to part ways with goalies.

Petr Mrazek‘s mess with the Detroit Red Wings is the most pressing example, and considering the fact that he’s only 25, acquiring him could be a boon for another team, at least in a scenario (injuries and/or poor play) would call for such an acquisition.

What if the Red Wings would ask for too much? What if a team would, instead, like to monitor a diamond in the rough for the summer of 2018?

Halak could still be very viable

Jaroslav Halak should be on plenty of radars, especially if he gets his wish for a fresh start with the New York Islanders in 2017-18, as NHL.com’s Brian Compton reports.

“Obviously, last season was kind of a strange season, not only for me but for a lot of guys,” Halak said. “Now it’s a fresh start for everybody. But ultimately, it’s going to come down to our start too. Last season, we all know we had a bad start. We just need to make sure that we pick up points at the beginning of the season because that hurt us at the end.”

The Islanders have incentive to give Halak a chance, whether it would be to pump up his trade value or if Thomas Greiss struggles/gets hurt.

It would also be foolish to worry too much about Halak’s time in the AHL, especially considering how well he played for the Islanders late last season. Check out his split stats in March and April; Halak gave the Isles at least some hope to make an unlikely playoff push.

At 32, Halak doesn’t boast the same dreamy potential of Mrazek, yet he’s only a year older than Greiss.

The price could be right

With a nice .917 career save percentage and some playoff heroics in his past, Halak is the sort of goalie a team could call upon if their top guy falters or gets hurt. If a move were to happen around the trade deadline, his $4.5 million cap hit would be less of a problem.

On the other hand, if a team needed Halak earlier, the Islanders could conceivably retain some of his salary, especially if it allowed them to add a piece that might improve their team in other areas (and maybe help keep John Tavares happy?).

The goalie market could be interesting in the summer of 2018 if Mrazek and even Craig Anderson join the UFA ranks. Halak stands as a sneaky-interesting prospect then, but possibly sooner, for a team that might want to spend less (in assets via a trade or in actual money in free agency).

Predators tab Roman Josi as new captain, call him ‘our Roger Federer’

Getty
3 Comments

The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.

Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:

As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.

If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.

Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.

At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.

That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.

Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.

Awful injury news for Blues’ Bouwmeester, Sanford

Getty
6 Comments

Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.

As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.

The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.

Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.

Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.

It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.

This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.

You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these:

Senators’ prospect Colin White out 6-8 weeks with broken wrist

Getty
Leave a comment

Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.

The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.

The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.

That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.

“I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.