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.

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.