It appears Gilbert Brule’s long, strange trip through the NHL is about to take another turn.
According to Vancouver’s News1130, the 25-year-old RFA won’t be tendered a qualifying offer from the Phoenix Coyotes, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Player agent Gerry Johansson said he’ll meet with Phoenix GM Don Maloney at this weekend’s draft in the hope of reaching a new deal. Brule’s in the final season of a two-year deal that paid $1.85 million annually, so it’s likely the Coyotes simply weren’t interested in matching that.
Brule’s career has been tumultuous since Columbus took him sixth overall at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He fell out of favor with the Blue Jackets and Oilers before landing with the Coyotes and, in a February interview with the Vancouver Sun, alluded to some off-ice issues that plagued the early parts of his career:
Asked if he suffered from depression, Brule said: “I don’t know what you want to call it. I just wasn’t happy with things. On the ice, hockey is obviously the biggest part of my life. In every aspect, it affects you, especially when you’re not doing well or not doing as well as you think you should.”
Brule said his issues stem from family, but he is keeping those issues private.
In September, before the Oilers’ waived him through the NHL and sent Brule to their minor-league team in Oklahoma City, he told the Edmonton Journal: “The things I’ve had to go through with my family have been very, very tough. I would never wish them on anyone. It has definitely affected me in a very negative way and I wasn’t feeling very good about myself.”
Brule performed well in just under a half season with the Coyotes, scoring 5G-9A-14PTS in 33 regular season games with a plus-7 rating. He also chipped in with a pair of goals during Phoenix’s surprising run to the Western Conference finals.
There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.
“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”
For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.
Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.
If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:
DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan Smith — Alexey Marchenko
It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.
At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.
Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.
The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”
Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.
What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.
The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.
Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.
Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.
Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.
It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.