Steve Downie

Brotherly Shove: Downie signs with Pittsburgh


Oh, this should be good.

Steve Downie, the noted agitator who’s spent three of his seven NHL seasons in Philadelphia, has agreed to join the Flyers’ bitter rival Pittsburgh on a one-year, $1 million deal, per TSN.

Downie, 27, struggled through last season and missed a number of games due to a concussion suffered in a fight with Washington’s Aaron Volpatti. Acquired by Philadelphia from Colorado early in the year, Downie had just three goals and 17 points in 51 games for the Flyers — this after a stellar six-points-in-11-games start with the Avs — and was shut down on Apr. 10, failing to appear in any of Philly’s opening-round playoff games against the Rangers.

When healthy, Downie can be an effective player, something he showed in Tampa Bay during the 2009-10 campaign when he had 22 goals and 46 points in 79 games…along with 208 penalty minutes, third-most in the NHL. That last statistic is telling, though, as a penchant for taking undisciplined penalties dogged Downie in his second go-round with the Flyers.

In Pittsburgh, Downie is likely play in the bottom-six forward group, one that new GM Jim Rutherford has made several additions to since taking the helm from Ray Shero. Nick Spaling was acquired in the James Neal trade, and yesterday the club ainked former Blue Jacket Blake Comeau to a one-year deal as free agency opened.

Rutherford also resigned depth center Marcel Goc, acquired from Florida at last year’s trade deadline.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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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.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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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.