Brad Richardson

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.

Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.

Hemsky finds his groove on third line

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 11: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center on April 11, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
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When the Dallas Stars inked Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal, the hope was that he would be a valuable secondary scorer and help round out their top-six. Things haven’t gone as predicted, but Hemsky has emerged as a significant player for Dallas lately.

Hemsky is now playing on the third line with Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel and he’s gone on to record 15 points in his last 16 regular season games as well as another four points in seven playoff contests.

“We had hard conversations about how I felt the game needed to be played, where I felt his game needed to go,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “Did it always go his way? No. But from his defensive responsibilities to really buying into shooting the puck a little bit more, I think he’s been a real good asset for us this year.”

The Morning News goes into much more detail about Hemsky and his resurgence, but taking a step back from that, having a third line that’s both impactful without the puck and capable of chipping in offensively is important, especially as we get deeper into the playoffs. There’s no question that the Stars have big time players on their roster, but that’s obviously not all you need in the playoffs.

A lot of the time when talking about the Stars’ areas of concern, their defense and goaltending come up and understandably so given that Dallas allowed more goals in the regular season than any other team that made the playoffs. But the value of a strong bottom-six shouldn’t be understated and perhaps Hemsky’s recent resurgence will play a role in the Stars having that going for them throughout the playoffs.

Dallas has taken a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in the second round and has an opportunity to build on that in Game 2 this afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET).

NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

Maatta
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Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

You can see that hit below:

“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.

‘I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,’ Jets GM Cheveldayoff gets lucky with draft lottery

Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of Winnipeg Jets, speaks to members of the media after winning the second selection of the NHL hockey draft lottery in Toronto, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
The Canadian Press via AP
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The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the draft lottery, but an argument can be made that the luckiest team last night was the Winnipeg Jets.

After all, Toronto had the best odds to get the top pick, but Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second in the draft order.

“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Sun. “I was doing my scrum at the end (of the show) with the media that was here, I said at one point, ‘Moving from six to two…’ and I had to catch myself and go through the mental notes in my head that it had just really happened.”

It’s likely, though not guaranteed, that the Maple Leafs will take Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Assuming that’s the case, moving up to the second overall pick means that Winnipeg will have the option of choosing one of the two promising Finnish forwards available: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi.

That’s potentially a big break for Winnipeg, especially after this campaign where the Jets went from making the playoffs for the first time since relocating to posting a 35-39-8 record. Through five campaigns in Winnipeg, the Jets have missed the playoffs four times.

The last time this franchise drafted this high was back when the then Atlanta Thrashers took Kari Lehtonen with the second overall pick in 2002. That was the final year in a string of four straight drafts where the Thrashers always had the first or second selection. The previous three years they took Patrik Stefan (1999), Dany Heatley (2000), and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001).

Related: Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’