While the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense needs some serious help in its own right, Dwayne Roloson’s 2011-12 implosion showed how glaring the Bolts’ hole is in net.* GM Steve Yzerman doesn’t exactly seem enthralled by the free agent market, either … at least in North America. Renaud Lavoie reports that the team signed Riku Helenius to a two-year deal today.
Lavoie reports that the two-year deal begins as a two-way contract in 2012-13 and then becomes a one-way one in 2013-14. He’ll register a $600K cap hit when he’s at the NHL level, with a $550K salary in 12-13 and $650K in 13-14.
This isn’t the first time the Lightning franchise and Helenius have been connected. They selected him with the 15th pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, so it’s likely he’s been on the Bolts’ radar for some time. Judging by the one-way nature of the second season, it’s obvious that the Lightning plan for him to at least be a backup within the life of the contract.
Yzerman might have even bigger hopes, though.
* – Seeing Mike Smith enjoy a borderline-Vezina campaign with Phoenix reinforced both ideas, by the way.
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.