Once the Philadelphia Flyers admitted that Claude Giroux’s unlucky accident with Wayne Simmonds resulted in a concussion, there were serious concerns that he’d be out for a long time. If you believe his most optimistic claims, Giroux might come back soon enough to maintain his spot* atop the NHL’s points scoring list.
“I go day-by-day … If it’s the Rangers or even Christmas, I don’t see why to push it. It’s December,” Giroux said. “I’m aware of what could happen if I come back too fast. My reaction could be slower. The coaching staff and [trainer] Jim [McCrossin] are making sure I don’t rush into it.”
The Flyers have an unfortunate recent history of bright futures cut short by hasty returns from concussion issues, most famously in the case of Eric Lindros. Fans of the game want to see Giroux back as soon as possible, but Philly would be wise to take the long view with their 23-year-old star.
* – Giroux is tied with Phil Kessel for the league lead with 39 points despite playing in five fewer games.
Brian Gionta goes from captaining U.S. Olympic team to Boston Bruins
Brian Gionta was hoping to use the 2018 Winter Olympics as an opportunity to showcase his game to NHL teams after not being re-signed by the Buffalo Sabres last season.
On Sunday, the Boston Bruins felt he could help them down the stretch and signed the 39-year-old forward to a contract for the remainder of the season. Gionta will earn a pro-rated $700,000 salary.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been busy. He’s traded for Nick Holden to bolster his blue line, acquired Rick Nash to strengthen his forward group and now added Gionta for some depth up front. “If there is an area we can continue to supplement our group, we will do that,” he said on Saturday.
In order to play in the postseason, Gionta, who’s no stranger to Boston having helped deliver a national title to Boston College in 2001, needed to sign a contract by Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Despite spending all summer as an unrestricted free agent, Gionta still hadn’t shut the door on the NHL. “If the right situation came across, I’d have to think long and hard about it, for sure,” he told me in November.
Gionta went pointless in five games in PyeongChang while captaining the Americans, who were bounced in the quarterfinals by the Czech Republic. He looked very much his 39 years on the big ice, but maybe a return to the NHL could rejuvenate him? He did score 15 goals and recorded 35 points in 82 games with the Buffalo Sabres in 2016-17.
It’s a low-risk move for the Bruins. If it doesn’t work out, Gionta’s not an anchor on their salary cap and they can part ways. If he can contribute, it was worth the lottery ticket for Sweeney.
Trade deadline day could be a snoozefest at this rate.
The trade: Predators acquire Mark Letestu from the Edmonton Oilers for Pontus Aberg. Predators then trade Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Why the Predators are making this trade: Picks are nice. Teams like draft picks. Aberg also hadn’t played in 10 days and his future in the Music City was in doubt. Perhaps the deal is part of a bigger plan for general manager David Poile, who apparently are in the running for Erik Karlsson. (Wouldn’t that be something.)
Or maybe another conspiracy?
Wonder if NSH shipped Aberg to EDM and took the fourth-rounder from CBJ to keep Letestu from WPG.
Why the Oilers are making this trade: Two words: Fire. Sale. The Oilers need to dump pending unrestricted free agents and get something in return. Aberg is the return. He wasn’t a fit on a very strong Predators team but perhaps could offer something to the Oilers going forward. He has one year left on a two-year, $1.3 million deal.
Or maybe not:
Pontus Aberg, the newest Edmonton Oiler, has a -6.34 Rel CF% 5-on-5. The worst among regular Nashville forwards this season.
Why the Blue Jackets are making this trade: The Blue Jackets needed help in their bottom six and get some with veteran center Letestu, who will likely be hungry to perform as he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Letestu knows the area well, having played parts of four season with the Blue Jackets. He has eight goals and 19 points in 60 games this season.
Perhaps some further context as well:
Aberg to Edmonton for Letestu.
Letestu to Columbus for a 4th.
So that means Nashville effectively traded Aberg for a 4th.
By the way, Letestu is building his off season home in Columbus.
Who won this trade: Another one of these even deals, for the most part. Blue Jackets get depth, Predators grab a pick. But what do the Oilers gain in Aberg? He’s a cheap player going forward, but his metrics aren’t great. Maybe a change of scenery will help. Edmonton got something for a pending UFA, so that’s something.
Trade deadline day could be a snoozefest at this rate.
The trade: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens for Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second-round draft pick in 2018. The Canadiens will retain 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in the deal.
Why the Maple Leafs are making this trade: Plekanec slides right into a fourth line center role with the Leafs as an upgrade over Dominic Moore. The 35-year-old’s production might be waning, but he’s still a solid two-way center that can be counted on to be responsible in the defensive zone. He could also move right into the mix on Toronto’s top penalty kill unit. Immediately, he could also help fill the gaps with Auston Matthews out of the lineup due to injury.
With the Canadiens retaining 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in his final season of a two-year, $12 million contract, the Leafs can still stay busy in the trade market without immediate worry about cap woes.
According to CapFriendly, the Leafs still have $3,423,334 worth of cap room to play with.
Why the Canadiens are making this trade: Well, for starters, getting a return for Plekanec, a pending unrestricted free agent, was a must. And they certainly got a nice haul for him. The Canadiens, who look to be entering a time of rebuilding, now have four second-round picks — and nine total — in the 2018 draft after Sunday’s trade. That pick is the primary factor in this trade.
#Habs now have 9 picks in the upcoming 2018 Draft.
Rychel led the Toronto Marlies in scoring last season, but hasn’t been able to crack the Leafs after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rychel was taken 19th overall in the 2013 draft and has 37 NHL games under his belt.
Valiev has 10 NHL games. He’s shown some promise as a depth, safe defenseman.
The second-round pick is a solid rental return but the key piece may be 22-year-old Rinat Valiev, who is knocking on the door to be an NHL regular on defence. A likely third-pairing, reliable two-way defenceman, Valiev was jammed up in TOR with Dermott, Carrick, Borgman, Polak…
Who won the trade? It’s a trade that benefits both sides. The playoff-bound Maple Leafs add depth to the spine of the forward contingent. Also, they get a guy who has quite a bit of playoff experience. Plekanec has played in 87 postseason games, amassing 16 goals and 49 points, including 11 points in 19 games during the 2009-10 season. The Canadiens add another pick to their stable, and get two prospects that will likely get looks before the end of the season.