Well, so much for Jannik Hansen becoming the first NHL player to enter salary arbitration during this off-season. Nick Kypreos reports that the Vancouver Canucks reached a three-year agreement with the versatile forward. Update: Chris Johnston reports that the deal is worth $4.05 million overall, with Hansen being paid $1.6 million in 2011-12, $1.35 million in 12-13 and $1.1 million in 13-14. That works out to a $1.35 million cap hit, which is a nice bargain for such a useful player.
With their last pending free agent out of the way, this has been a solid summer for the Canucks. They managed to keep most of the core from their Stanley Cup runner-up together, aside from Christian Ehrhoff signing a pricey long-term deal with the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks fans probably hope to see what is left of their cap space devoted to a top six forward, but it’s possible that the team’s roster might be set. (At least for a little while.)
Hansen is a high-effort forward who was especially useful in defensive situations in 2010-11 (on average, 2:24 of his 14:42 minutes per game came on the penalty kill during the regular season). That being said, he provides at least a bit of pop on the offensive end, having scored a career-high 29 points last season. Hansen had a +13 rating in the regular season and a +7 mark in the playoffs, in which he scored a solid nine points in 25 postseason contests.
He might not be an elite player, but Hansen is one of those guys who plays some of those tougher minutes that opens up better opportunities for the Sedin twins and other scorers to succeed. If the money is reasonable like reports indicate, then this is another happy compromise to avoid arbitration.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.