Teddy Purcell

Teddy Purcell and Lauri Korpikoski avoid arbitration, both sign two-year deals

Today was supposed to be the kick-off of the dreaded salary arbitration process, but only one of the cases actually made it. The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration by signing Teddy Purcell to a two-year contract while the Phoenix Coyotes reached a settlement with Lauri Korpikoski that resulted in a two-year deal.

Nick Kypreos reports that Purcell’s two-year deal will register a $4.725 million total while Korpikoski will cost $3.6 million overall. That amounts to a $1.8 million annual cap hit for Korpikoski and a cap hit of more than than $2.36 million* for Purcell. It’s unclear if Korpikosi’s “settlement” was actually an agreement that happened before the hearing or if that’s the ruling itself.

Purcell gets the biggest upgrade, but it’s pretty difficult to argue with that raise. The Lightning winger had a breakthrough 2010-11 season with 51 points, but he really made a name for himself during the playoffs. Purcell scored 17 points in 18 games, earning himself the 12th highest total of the 2011 postseason and ranking him third overall among Lightning players.

As I discussed in this post, the heartening thing about Purcell is that while he put up much better numbers that his previous years, he didn’t have a wildly improved shooting percentage. He scored at an 8.7 percent rate for 17 goals in the regular season and connected on 13 percent of his shots for six goals in the playoffs. The postseason rate my be a little high, but the general takeaway is that he has a great chance to maintain his momentum. That’s especially true because he’ll probably get some chances in the top six with Simon Gagne and Sean Bergenheim gone via free agency.

source: Getty ImagesKorpikoski hasn’t really broken out on a mainstream level like Purcell, but he also had a breakthrough contract year. He earned career-highs across the board with 19 goals, 21 assists and 40 points, a +17 rating and 15:31 of ice time per game. Those numbers made him the fifth-highest scoring Coyotes player.

One could argue that he didn’t get the same amount of cash as Purcell because his playoff success has been lacking, though. He scored one assist and had a lousy -6 rating in four games against Detroit in 2011 and scored one goal with a -4 rating during the Coyotes’ seven game series against the Red Wings in 2010. Korpikoski will probably need to put more than 103 shots on net to score around 19 goals again in 2011-12; his 18.4 percent shooting percentage probably isn’t sustainable during another season.

Both Purcell and Korpikoski carry the worry that they were one-hit wonders during the 2010-11 season, but each look like they might play a solid role with their respective teams. Their cap hits are reasonable and the two-year terms represent nice compromises for each side. Consider these two deals “wins” for everyone, especially the Lightning and Coyotes.

*$2.3625 million, if you want to be exact.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”