Rangers to speak with Sean Avery; He says “it will all work out somehow”

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Perhaps it only makes sense that Sean Avery is putting on a serene public face when it comes to being charged with shoving a police officer and embarrassingly calling them “fat little pigs.”

One can imagine that Avery is just used to these self-inflicted gaffes. In a way, it’s nearly reminiscent of Nicholas Cage’s character in “Raising Arizona.” He keeps getting in trouble and showing back up in prison, but seems friendly enough each time he makes his way behind bars.

Of course, the difference is that most of Avery’s foul-ups have been of the trivial, regrettable sound byte variety rather than legal problems. This situation could be a considerably bigger problem than a tasteless “Sloppy seconds” joke or waving his stick in front of Martin Brodeur in a juvenile manner, although one can only speculate how (or “if”) the NHL itself will react to his arrest.

If you ask Avery, it will blow over sooner or later, as he told Helen Kumari of the New York Post.

“I’m all right, I’m good,” a relaxed, smiling Avery, 31, told The Post at his Spanish bungalow in the West Hollywood hills after posting $20,000 bond on the battery charge.

“It’ll all work out at some point,” predicted Avery, whose on- and off-ice antagonism toward opponents and coaches have made him one of the NHL’s most-hated players during his career.

As Joe wrote yesterday, Avery’s court date is set for September 2. He could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of the battery charges. It’s unclear how the league and his team will react to the situation, though.

“We will discuss this matter with Sean, and have no further comment at this time,” said Rangers spokesman John Roscasco.

The meeting will probably be stern and to-the-point, but it’s hard not to imagine a scene in which the hockey equivalent of a high school principal just throws up his hands and says he doesn’t know what to do with Avery.

There’s never a good time for this kind of behavior, but what makes it even more troubling is that this isn’t some young kid having one self-destructive night; Avery is 31 years old. There have been signs that he isn’t an all-around bad guy, but you have to wonder how many chances he has left to keep his fledgling NHL career alive.

Avery is in the final season of that big mistake of a contract the Dallas Stars gave him in 2008. Pests like Avery are often double-edged swords in that they can occasionally take penalties that hurt their own teams, but the key for the good ones – or at least the employable ones – is to bring more “pluses” than “minuses” to the table. Avery has a long way to go to prove that his on and off the ice issues don’t make him one big minus.

Sabres goalie prospect Petersen won’t sign, Botterill ‘disappointed’

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Cal Petersen, the Notre Dame standout drafted by Buffalo four years ago, won’t be signing with the Sabres, new GM Jason Botterill said on Friday.

“I’ve spoken to Cal. At this time I think he’s going to probably move to free agency and we’ll go from there,” Botterill said, per the Buffalo News. “Disappointed, but we’ll move on.”

Petersen, 22, is coming off a great junior year for the Fighting Irish. He went 23-12-5 with a .926 save percentage and 2.22 GAA, helping the club advance to the Frozen Four. Petersen was also named a finalist for this year’s Mike Richter Award, given annually to college hockey’s top goalie.

In April, he was named to the U.S. team at the World Hockey Championships in France and Germany. He was one of three goalies on the squad — along with Connor Hellebuyck and Jimmy Howard — but didn’t appear in any games.

In late May, Petersen announced he was forgoing his senior year at Notre Dame to turn pro, but declined to say which club he would be signing with. Buffalo’s rights to Petersen expire on Aug. 15.

This is a blow to the organization. The Sabres have some major question marks in goal, given presumptive No. 1 Robin Lehner is a restricted free agent and it’s unclear what the ceiling is on recently re-signed Linus Ullmark. What’s more, Buffalo has only drafted two goalies in the last four years — Petersen, and Sweden’s Jonas Johansson (third round, ’14).

 

Oilers to sign Russell to reported four-year, $16 million extension

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When the Edmonton Oilers traded Jordan Eberle over the weekend part of the reasoning was so they could clear salary cap space, presumably to help re-sign veteran defenseman Kris Russell.

On Friday, they completed that series of transactions.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the Oilers will announce a four-year contract for Russell later on Friday that will pay him a total of $16 million.

That comes out to a salary cap hit of $4 million per season. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug adds that the deal could also include a modified no-trade clause.

Russell has become an extremely polarizing player in the NHL over the past few years so this deal is sure to receive equal amounts of praise and criticism depending on what exactly you’re looking for from a defenseman.

He has never been a strong possession player and doesn’t have a lot of offensive ability — two things teams seem to be looking for on their blue lines right now — which leads to criticism from the analytics side of the sport. But because he is one of the NHL’s most fearless shot-blockers and consistently among the league leaders in that category he is loved as an old-school, defensive-defenseman. That ability was a big talking point for much of the 2016-17 season as the Oilers had their best season in more than a decade (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Cam Talbot played a pretty significant role, too).

Another part of the justification for the Eberle trade was the fact the Oilers needed some additional salary cap space because of the need to re-sign both McDavid and Draisaitl to long-term contract extensions.

Eberle on his own was going to account for $6 million in salary cap space this season.

Ryan Strome (the player acquired for Eberle) and Russell will account for $6.5 million.

Are the Oilers better off with Strome and Russell than they would have been had they simply let Russell walk and kept Eberle? That remains to be seen, but obviously the Oilers think they are.

Flyers want to add veteran goalie this weekend

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It’s pretty obvious what sits atop Philly’s shopping list this weekend at the NHL Draft in Chicago:

Goaltending.

“We’re going to look for the best option, and we’ll act on it,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “The option is figuring out the timing and who is available.”

Currently, the Flyers only have two goalies under contract — Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz. The former will be in Philly’s mix next year, but the latter’s situation is more complex. Stolarz is coming off major knee surgery and, at 23, lacks experience at the NHL level. He looked good in a seven-game cameo last season (4-2-1, 2.07 GAA, .928 save percentage), but that’s still a pretty small sample size.

So not surprising to hear the following, from CSN Philly:

Hextall would prefer to get a jump on free agency this weekend by making a deal to obtain a veteran goaltender that has two years or less on his contract and is not looking to break the bank.

Or obtain a UFA’s rights if a deal can be struck.

It looks as though the Flyers have all but moved on from Steve Mason, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction Hextall takes.

He does have some options.

Dallas needs to move on from either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi following the Ben Bishop trade and sign. Former Flames netminder Brian Elliott is available as a UFA, as is Vancouver’s Ryan Miller.

Report: Habs offering pending UFA Radulov a three-year deal

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The Montreal Canadiens and pending unrestricted free agent Alexander Radulov are still working toward a new deal, but it sounds like they’re pretty far apart.

Radulov has reportedly asked the Canadiens for a six-year deal worth $7 million per season, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

On Friday morning, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported that the Canadiens aren’t exactly on the same page as Radulov’s camp.

Per Engels, Marc Bergevin’s longest offer to Radulov has been three years, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to get the job done at this point.

The 30-year-old Russian winger (he’ll turn 31 next week) was one of Montreal’s most consistent forwards in 2016-17. He scored 18 goals an 54 points in 76 games in his first season with the Canadiens.

Even though the Habs were able to land Jonathan Drouin in a trade with the Bolts, they could still use Radulov’s offense going into next season.

During a press conference on Thursday, Bergevin mentioned the possibility of trading Radulov’s rights away before he hits the open market on July 1st.

It sounds like this negotiation will come down to the wire.