The Chicago Blackhawks seemed like they were headed into an offseason full of questions after winning the 2013 Stanley Cup, yet they’re being proactive enough that most of them could be answered before July 5.
GM Stan Bowman settled one of the bigger remaining conundrums on Wednesday, signing young defenseman Nick Leddy to a two-year contract. (This post will be updated with the financial terms when they’re available.)
Leddy, 22, is already off to a promising start in his young career. He’s played in every Blackhawks game the past two seasons.
There were some bumps in the road in 2013, however.
He saw almost a five-minute drop in regular season ice time, as he went from averaging 22:05 minutes per night in 2011-12 to 17:25 this season. That 17:25 average went down in the playoffs, too, as he logged just 14:21 per evening.
That might come down to playing less than 10 minutes per night in the last three games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, leaving some to wonder if he was losing favor with head coach Joel Quenneville.
Still, the general feeling is that the blueliner has a bright future, which is why Chicago retained him today.
Settling Leddy’s contract along with Bryan Bickell’s big deal (after trading Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland) leaves only depth player decisions on Bowman’s plate … unless, of course, the team decides to add an impact free agent or two.
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.
It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.
Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)
The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, where Bailey will reportedly make his NHL debut.
To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.
Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”
Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.
Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.
Here’s what Konopka tweeted:
And what did Yeo think about that?
“I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”
Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.
Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.
You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.
Laurent Brossoit is getting another crack at the NHL.
On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they demoted Anders Nilsson — who, earlier this year, was carrying the starting gig in Edmonton — and recalled Brossoit from AHL Bakersfield.
Brossoit, 22, is an interesting story. Taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (164th overall), he’s really made strides over the last year. He made his big-league debut at the end of last season and performed extremely well, making 49 saves on 51 shots in a loss to San Jose.
This year, Brossoit was named an AHL All-Star. He’s posted a 14-8-3 record for the Condors thus far, with a 2.70 GAA and .921 save percentage.
As for Nilsson, his demotion comes after losing the starting gig to Cam Talbot. Nilsson has also struggled to find the good form shown in November, when he made 10 starts and posted a .915 save percentage.
In his last outing, the lanky Swede allowed three goals on 10 shots in an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Isles.