Ethan Moreau looks back at his time with Oilers, hopes to play until he’s 40

When word surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings were on the verge of signing banged-up winger Ethan Moreau to a one-year, $600K contract, the reactions ranged from mildly supportive to a shoulder shrug to stunned criticism.

Aside from the most blindly supportive members of the Kings’ front office and equally optimistic fans, it’s likely that Moreau is the only person who expects the move to be a slam dunk. Jonathan Willis points out the most obvious problem – though not necessarily the only issue – that comes with signing the soon-to-be 36 year old winger: his lack of health. He missed huge chunks of three of the last five seasons with wear-and-tear related injuries, with 186 games lost to various ailments during that five-year span.

It’s tough not to think of the Kings’ run of bad luck with injuries in the previous decade or so as a caveat while discussing their seemingly bright future. You may remember that semi-solid Los Angeles teams were derailed by injuries in many cases as the team saw players such as Pavol Demitra, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison fall apart due to health issues.

The current Los Angeles roster features some obvious injury risks with Moreau, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams in the mix – especially since the latter two could play very important roles as scoring wingers. Even Anze Kopitar went down with a nasty ankle injury last season.

Many of us cannot help but second-guess the Kings’ decision to sign Moreau, but the team brought in the rugged former captain of the Edmonton Oilers with the hopes that he’ll provide veteran leadership. (It’s also likely that they’ll ask him to do the hockey equivalent of “Charlie work” such as spending time on the penalty kill and grinding out fourth line minutes.)

The biggest line on his resume is almost certainly his connection to the Oilers’ Cinderella run to just one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2006 (which happened to be the last time Moreau made a postseason appearance). He reflected on that run with Mayor’s Manor, calling it both the highest and lowest point of his career.

“Going to the Finals was probably the high and the low point,” he said, when speaking of his time playing in Edmonton. “We were one game away from winning a Stanley Cup. Then, losing was probably the low point because you come so close to realizing a dream that doesn’t happen – you’re left with a very, very empty feeling – which is motivation to get back there with this team and to win it. That’s the only thing that will kind of make that feeling go away.”

One cannot help but wonder if Moreau wonders if his career will go away before that feeling will dissipate. He told Mayor’s Manor that he hopes to play until he’s 40, but to do so, he’ll need to surprise onlookers who are far from convinced that he can turn around his health and all-around play. Willis points out some discouraging defensive numbers that indicate that Moreau’s time in the NHL is about to run out, but we’ll have to wait and see if this low-risk move by the Kings turns out to be an irritating (if small) waste of money or a nice bargain.

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins