Lennart Petrell

Oilers sign Petrell to one-year extension

Lennart Petrell might not be the UFA winger Oilers fans were hoping Steve Tambellini would retain this offseason. Regardless, he’s the first.

Today, the Oilers announced they’ve agreed to terms with the 28-year-old Finnish winger on a one-year extension. Petrell played in 60 games last season (4G-5A-9PTS) — his first in the NHL — this after spending eight years with HIFK in the SM-liiga (Finland’s top league.)

Financial terms of the deal were not released, but it’s unlikely Petrell’s going to earn much more than the $900,000 he made last season — though only $680,000 of that went against Edmonton’s cap. The rest was in performance bonuses.

As mentioned above, the Petrell signing overshadows a bigger, looming issue with another key Oilers UFA — Ryan Smyth.

The 36-year-old will become unrestricted on July 1 and has made no bones about wanting to keep playing in Edmonton until the end of his career. The hangup, it seems, is on the dollar amount (Smyth made $6.25 million annually on his last deal) and length of term.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?