Here are some smaller moves as teams gear up for the start of the free agent spending spree on July 1:
- This already floated around (along with the confirmation of Jarret Stoll’s contract), but the Los Angeles Kings indeed decided to bring back depth forward Colin Fraser. The marginal player – two Stanley Cup rings or not – gets a two-year deal, which is probably about as much as he can ask for. (GM Dean Lombardi had to bring him back after that whole Bernie Madoff thing, anyway, right?)
- The Minnesota Wild sent Marek Zidlicky to New Jersey for quite the Noah’s Ark/grab bag (depending on your views of the players involved) of assets last season. One of those guys was Stephane Veilleux, whom the Wild re-signed for one year today.
Here are a few of the more interesting players who received qualifying offers, with plenty of help from our pals at Rotoworld.
- The Florida Panthers wisely qualified Kris Versteeg. Being that Dale Tallon was involved, you’re free to make any fax machine-related jokes at this time. They also handed one to Dmitry Kulikov, who had a good year that was limited from being quietly great because of injuries. I wouldn’t blame either player – Versteeg especially – if they decide to ask for more money, even if it’s with the Panthers.
- It’s unlikely that “The Norwegian Hobbit Wizard” will be back with the New York Rangers anyway, but the team qualified him anyway just in case. It would certainly be sad to wave goodbye to that wonderful nickname, those fantastic shootout skills and … well, that’s about it. The team also qualified Anton Stralman, who’s more likely to make a difference on the ice but far less likely to delight us with an amusing nickname.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.