Don’t put Sam Gagner on the list of locked-out NHLers disappointed with their time playing abroad.
The Edmonton forward has been plying his trade with Klagenfurter of the Austrian League during the work stoppage, and recently told the Edmonton Sun he’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was a good opportunity for me to play and develop as a player,” Gagner explained. “It’s a league with a really high pace, so it forces me to really move my legs and I think that’s a really good thing for me going forward.”
The 23-year-old is currently on hiatus from Klagenfurter — he was part of Team Canada’s Spengler Cup-winning side — and it’s unclear if he’ll return to Austria, or head back to North America to wait for the start of the NHL season.
Either way, Gagner’s time in the EBEL (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga) has been a positive.
He racked up 10G-8A-18PTS in 19 games and also reunited with former Oilers teammate Andrew Cogliano, now with the Anaheim Ducks.
Cogliano also relished his time in Austria, albeit in a different manner than Gagner.
The Ducks forward joined Klagenfurter last month and described the experience as a reality check, citing long bus rides, small crowds and questionable officiating that made him appreciative of what he has in the NHL.
“It really does humble you,” he told the Toronto Star. “I know when I go back I won’t be taking much for granted. I can see myself playing even harder now [with the Ducks] and make sure I’m fighting for my job every game because we have it really good back home.
“We do things in the NHL that guys here wouldn’t even imagine.”
Brian Boyle spent almost three full years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at last March’s trade deadline.
The veteran center liked his stint in Tampa so much that he’s willing to go back there when he becomes a free agent in less than week.
“We love Tampa,” said Boyle, per the Tampa Bay Times. “If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that’s definitely a huge option for us. That’s something that I’ve kind of always thought about. I haven’t closed the door on anything.”
Boyle enjoyed quite a bit of success with the Bolts. During his time there, he scored at least 13 goals in each of his three seasons, which isn’t bad considering he was more of a bottom-six player when he was there.
It’s unclear if the Bolts would be willing to take him back at this point, but a big factor will likely be his contract demands.
“(Tampa) is a great place to be, great place to start a family. And, honestly, we’ll see what they say. You want to be wanted. That’s the other part.”
The Lightning have just over $23 million in cap space right now. That seems like a good amount, but they still have to sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr. It’s also pretty clear that they’re in the market for a top four defenseman, and that won’t come cheap. As of right now, they only have three blue liners on one-way contracts.
The 32-year-old is coming off a contract that paid him $2 million per season. He should be able to fetch a higher number if he hits the open market.
The Carolina Hurricanes have reportedly taken care of some business on Monday morning, as they’ve re-signed forward Derek Ryan to a one-year deal worth $1.425 million, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
Update: The Hurricanes have confirmed the news.
The 30-year-old had 11 goals and 29 points in 67 games during his first full NHL season.
Ryan’s journey to the NHL is a great story.
He played three full seasons of junior hockey with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs (2004-2007) before joining the University of Alberta hockey program for four years (2007-2011). Once he completed his Canadian University hockey eligibility, Ryan went on to play three seasons of pro hockey in the Austrian League and one year over in Sweden. He came back to North America for the 2015-16 season, where he played 70 games with AHL Charlotte and six games with the ‘Canes.
Ryan was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
“I feel a little out of place,” Ryan told NHL.com during the 2017 NHL Awards. “A couple of years ago, I was battling my way through the European leagues and all of a sudden here I am at the NHL Awards and just kind of taking it all in.”
–USA Today looks at six teams that have some work to do before the free-agent market opens on July 1st. The Coyotes are gonna need to find a new coach, Vegas will have to keep tweaking their roster and the New York Rangers still need that puck-moving defenseman. (USA Today)
–The Dallas Stars have been searching for a number one defenseman for a few years now. You have to believe they were excited to land Miro Heiskanen third overall on Friday. The Dallas Morning News shares five things you need to know about their new top prospect. Yea, he wasn’t even both when Dallas won the Stanley Cup in 1999. (Dallas Morning News)
–Does your team need a center? NHL.com compiled a list of the top free-agent centers that are scheduled to hit the open market on Saturday. If clubs are looking for size down the middle, they could do worse than Joe Thornton or Martin Hanzal. (NHL.com)
–If you’re a fan of great hair, you’ll enjoy this. The Score looks at the top 5 “flows” from the NHL Draft. Nico Hischier wasn’t only the top pick in the entry draft, he also found himself on the top of this list, too. (The Score)
–2017 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns went to Disney World with his family during the off-season, and many of the children thought he was a pirate (I can’t really blame them). “I actually signed a couple of autographs in kids’ books because they thought I was a pirate. And I actually signed them.” (Sports Illustrated)
–Penguins forward Ryan Reaves didn’t believe the rumblings about him being traded on Friday night. His response was classic:
The interview process for draft prospects must be a real beating. Then again, it’s also an opportunity for hopefuls to push back.
In the case of two smaller prospects, it meant providing some swagger in their answers, possibly impressing their new teams. If nothing else, Kailer Yamamoto and Michael DiPietro generated some refreshingly confident quotes.
One would assume that the Edmonton Oilers picked Yamamoto with the 22nd choice for more than just a great answer alone … but still.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek related a similar story about DiPietro, who the Vancouver Canucks nabbed with the 64th pick.
Funny story: When one team at the NHL told him “We don’t think you can play in the NHL with our team, you’re too small” at the combine, he fired back with “well, I guess you have a problem with winning, then.” How do you not like that?
If nothing else, those two aren’t shy.
As a bonus story, check out the bumpy path Will Reilly – aka the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2017 NHL Draft – took to being chosen last overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy. From the sound of things, there are worse feelings than going 217th.
The 2017 NHL Draft may have been “pumped down” from a hype perspective, yet it sounds like many of these prospects at least bring some moxie to the table.