Pittsburgh Magazine — a prominent lifestyle magazine covering the Pittsburgh metropolitan area — recently caught up with Penguins winger James Neal, he of the recently-inked six-year, $30 million deal.
In an lengthy Q&A, the magazine got Neal’s take on a variety of subjects: Twitter wars with Evgeni Malkin, grueling workouts with Gary Roberts, Tyler Kennedy’s heavy breathing and why Pascal Dupuis is his favorite teammate to make fun of.
There was also some investigation into Neal’s, ahem, relationship with a certain Penguins defenseman:
Q: You came over via trade in the middle of the last season, which is always a difficult thing. Who did you bond with right off the bat?
A: Paul Martin. We lived together before I got my house. He’s a great guy—goes about his business and doesn’t say a word about it. We drive to the rink every day together and go out to dinner a lot. I mean, he’s not my girlfriend or anything. [Laughs]
Q: Paul seems to get a lot of unfair criticism from Pens fans. Is it frustrating to read that stuff?
A: It is frustrating. They give him such a hard time. Paulie goes out and does an unbelievable job every night. He does all the little things as a hockey player. Maybe he doesn’t score much, but you have to think about what he does in his own end, how good of a stick he has and how hard he is to play against. If you really know hockey, you’ll understand how smart and how skilled he is.
So, to recap: Neal and Martin used to live together, drive to work together and usually eat dinner together. Neal also praises “Paulie” for doing the little things and having a good stick.
The L.A. Kings have brought back pending restricted free agent forward Andy Andreoff.
The Kings announced Saturday that they have re-signed Andreoff to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $677,500.
He appeared in only 36 games last season, spending time on injured reserve, adding two assists. The previous year, however, he played in 60 games for L.A., scoring eight goals with 10 points.
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Andreoff is known more for his physical style and checking abilities than offensive production, with 146 penalty minutes combined over the last two seasons.
CHICAGO — His stats jump right off the page.
On a Kingston Frontenacs squad that really struggled to score, Jason Robertson had 42 goals as a 17-year-old. Nobody else on his team had more than 26 goals.
For that reason, the Dallas Stars are hoping they got a steal in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft. Robertson, a winger, went 39th overall Saturday at United Center. A lot of scouts had him pegged as a first-rounder.
So why didn’t he go earlier?
Probably his skating.
“Everyone needs to work on stuff,” Robertson said. “Obviously, for me, I need to work on that. It’s something I’m always going to keep working on.”
But skating didn’t stop Robertson (6-2, 192) from shooting up the prospect rankings in 2016-17. At the midpoint of the season, NHL Central Scouting had him as the 34th-best North American skater. By season’s end, he was 14th.
“I think a lot of it came from confidence,” he said. “I gained more confidence in my game, my skating, my shot. Once I did that in the second half of the year, I really took off.”
He sure did, with 30 of his 42 goals coming in the final 40 games of the regular season. He then added five goals and 13 assists in 11 playoff games.
Robertson was born in Los Angeles, where his dad and grandpa were Kings season-ticket holders. He started playing hockey in L.A., then moved to Detroit when he was 10.
It’s been rumored for days that Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic might be on the move.
And now it’s happened.
Per Sportsnet, the Isles have dealt Hamonic to Calgary. It’s the second significant move of the draft weekend from GM Garth Snow who, on Thursday, acquired Jordan Eberle from Edmonton in exchange for Ryan Strome.
Hamonic, 26, is coming off a difficult campaign in which injuries limited him to just 49 games. That said, he’s still a well-regarded blueliner that will make Calgary’s defense one of the deepest in the league.
There, he’ll play alongside Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie, putting the Flames in the conversation with Nashville for the best top-four in the NHL.
Hamonic had made waves during the ’15-16 campaign, when it was learned he’d requested a trade from the Islanders due to a family issue. That request had since been rescinded.
It’s worth mentioning that Hamonic has one of the more club-friendly deals in the league. He has three years left on a seven-year, $27 million deal, one that carries a $3.857M average annual cap hit. For a top-four defenseman that can log big minutes and post solid possession metrics, that’s a pretty low price to pay.
No word yet on what the return is for New York. The Isles selected a pair of defensemen — Robin Salo and Benjamin Mirageas — with their second- and third-round picks on Saturday morning.
UPDATE: Looks as though the Isles are only getting picks in return.
If Calgary misses the playoffs on 2019, the Isles get the pick that year. That condition stems from an earlier one in which Arizona would get the Flames’ second-rounder in 2019 if the Flames make the playoffs.
Got all that?
There’s widespread speculation Snow isn’t done dealing. The bounty of draft picks acquired could be utilized in a future trade, which would be the likely direction for a club that’s in “win-now” mode.
Winnipeg has retained some of its defensive depth, re-signing Ben Chiarot to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.
It’s a $1.4 million average annual cap hit for the 26-year-old, and a nice pay bump from the $850,000 he was making on his previous deal.
Chiarot had a nice campaign in ’16-17, scoring a career-high 12 points while appearing in 59 games. The season ended on a down note, however, as he suffered an upper-body injury in mid-March and was shut down for the year.
Looking ahead, Chiarot will likely continue to serve in a depth role for the Jets. The club is bringing back nearly all of the same defensemen it had last year, and it’s expected youngster Josh Morrissey will take on an even bigger role.