While a possible Wednesday salary arbitration session with Chris Kreider looms ominously for the New York Rangers, they avoided at least one messy confrontation today. The team signed Mats Zuccarello to a one-year, $3.5 million deal according to various sources including the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.
Rangers GM Glen Sather has developed a reputation for occasionally disastrous splashy free agent signings, rampant cigar chewing, and most important in this situation: tough negotiations with his restricted free agents. That seemed to come through in this situation, as Zuccarello will bring home about $1 million less than his reported asking price of $4.5 million.
That’s not a bad deal for a 26-year-old who led a roster full of far-more-expensive players in regular season scoring with 59 points in 2013-14.
(It’s also difficult to put a price on an under-sized player who prompts nicknames like “Frodo from Modo.”)
Brooks reports that the two sides are likely hoping to hammer out a longer-term deal to supplement this single-year commitment, although nothing official can be inked until the calendar turns to 2015.
Again, this is a big relief for a Rangers team that is seeing some serious turnover after giving the Los Angeles Kings a good fight in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Sather’s work is far from done; the Bergen Record reports that a Kreider deal is unlikely to happen today (leaving either a zero-hour deal or an awkward arbitration as the two options) and Derick Brassard’s hearing takes place next Monday.
The Record points out that the Rangers haven’t seen a player go to arbitration since Nikolai Zherdev in 2009 and haven’t accepted an award since Sean Avery’s session back in 2007.
A varied scoring attack was a big reason why the Rangers went so deep into the playoffs, so locking up a significant part of that group is a big win for Sather during a trying summer.
There will be no 0-8 start in Columbus this season.
The Blue Jackets were 3-2 winners against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night to earn their first win of the season thanks to goals from Zach Werenski, Nick Foligno and William Karlsson. The first two of those goals came on the power play as the Blue Jackets were the latest team to feast on Chicago’s dismal penalty killing unit this season. Those two power play goals came on Columbus’ only two power play opportunities of the night.
Right now everybody is scoring against the Blackhawks on the power play.
With the two more goals against on Friday, Chicago’s penalty kill has already given up 11 goals through the first five games of the season, becoming just the 18th team in the past 30 years to do that.
Their early season penalty kill success rate has been so bad that as Daily Herald beat writer John Dietz pointed out on Friday that even if they successfully kill off their next 20 shorthanded opportunities their PK would still only be at 71.8 on the season. The worst penalty kill in the NHL a season ago was 75.5 percent. In other words: That is not ideal.
After falling behind 3-1, the Blackhawks attempted to rally thanks to a goal from Richard Panik (already his fifth of the season) to cut the deficit from one. They pretty much took over the game in the third period and threw everything they could at the Blue Jackets’ net, but Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational and holding down the fort and helping the Jackets get their first win of the season.
It was a costly win for the Blue Jackets in some ways though as they lost defenseman Ryan Murray to an upper body injury in the first period. Injuries have been a problem for him throughout his young career.
As for the Blackhawks, the loss drops them to 2-3-0 on the young season. There are a lot of new faces on this year’s team, and a lot of young players filling out the bottom half of the roster. Early on it has been a struggle for pretty much everybody.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray had to leave his team’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night with an upper body injury, the team announced.
He will not return to the game.
Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, seemed to be injured when his arm was pinned against the boards when trying to finish a check on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the net.
Murray played only 4:38 on Friday night before exiting the game.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Murray played in 81 games for the Blue Jackets a year ago, scoring four goals to go with 21 assists.
He had played in one of the Blue Jackets’ two games this season entering Friday and did not record a point.
After spending the past eight years moving around the NHL, Zach Boychuk is moving overseas.
On Friday it was announced that the 27-year-old forward has signed a contract with HC Sibir of the KHL.
Boychuk was a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008 and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators in his career.
He did not play in the NHL during the 2015-16 season, spending the year split between the Charlotte Checkers and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League.
In 127 NHL games he has scored 12 goals and added 18 assists.
Boychuk was in camp in September with the Arizona Coyotes on a tryout contract but did not make the team.
The Philadelphia Flyers are going to be without forward Dale Weise for the next three games as a result of a suspension handed out by the NHL’s department of player safety on Friday evening.
The league announced that Weise has been suspended due to an illegal check to the head of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer during their game in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Weise was not penalized for the hit.
The incident happened midway through the second period of the Ducks’ 3-2 win, and came just as Holzer was skating with the puck in his own zone.
Here is a look at the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.
Holzer was not injured as a result of the hit.
The Flyers have been hit hard by suspensions so far this season. They played the first three games of the season without forward Brayden Schenn as he served a suspension that carried over from the 2016 playoffs. Defenseman Radko Gudas is still sidelined as he serves a six-game suspension for a hit this preseason.
Weise has yet to record a point in four games for the Flyers this season. He scored 14 goals and added 13 assists a year ago for the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.
This suspension will cost him $39,166.68 in salary.
He will be eligible to return to the Flyers’ lineup on Oct. 27 when they host the Arizona Coyotes. He will miss games against Carolina, Montreal and Buffalo.