The Florida Panthers will enter the shortened season with Dmitry Kulikov after he inked a two-year contract, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.
Kulikov spent the lockout playing for the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and he remained in Russia even after the work stoppage ended.
Talks looked bleak on Tuesday when Panthers assistant GM Mike Santos admitted that he hadn’t been in contact with Kulikov’s agent in 48 hours.
After being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Russian-born defenseman has already cemented himself as a critical part of the Florida Panthers. He had 28 points and averaged 21:51 minutes per contest in 58 games last season. He’s also become a big part of Florida’s efforts with the man advantage, which was one of its key strengths last season.
Retaining Kulikov’s services was especially important for Florida after Jason Garrison signed with the Vancouver Canucks over the summer.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted that the deal is still not finalized as Florida wants Kulikov to submit to a full medical.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.