This weekend, James van Riemsdyk knows where he’s playing hockey — in Minnesota, for the Defending The Blue Line charity game.
Beyond that? He’s not 100 percent sure.
It does appear, however, that SM-liiga club Tappara is in the running for van Riemsdyk’s services. That’s what the 23-year-old told the Toronto Star on Wednesday, saying his agent has been in talks with the Finnish side.
“I’m think it would be a pretty cool experience,” he said of the chance to play overseas. “I was able to play in Europe seven or eight times in my time with the U.S. developmental program.
“We’re still working out details on stuff and (seeing) what happens here. When it gets to that bridge, we’ll cross it.”
Tappara recently agreed to terms with former Minnesota Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster, an unrestricted free agent that failed to latch on with an NHL club prior to the lockout.
The Finnish team also employs ex-NHLer Ville Nieminen, who spent time with the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues over his seven-year career.
If he does sign with Tappara, van Riemsdyk will become the fifth Leaf to sign overseas during the lockout, joining Clarke MacArthur (Germany), Cody Franson (Sweden), Mikhail Grabovski (KHL) and Nikolai Kulemin (KHL).
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.