Cam Tucker

Getty

Canucks sign Vanek to one-year, $2M deal

10 Comments

The Canucks were busy when the free agent market opened July 1, and apparently they weren’t done there, signing another unrestricted free agent forward on the first day of September.

Thomas Vanek is now a member of the Canucks.

On Friday, the team announced a one-year contract for Vanek, worth $2 million.

“Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we’re excited to add his offence and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards,” said general manager Jim Benning.

“His skill and ability to contribute on the scoresheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year, and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game.”

Now 33 years old, Vanek scored 17 goals and 48 points last season, as he split his time between Detroit and Florida. That total would’ve put him third on the 2016-17 Canucks in points. Vancouver has struggled mightily to score goals over the past two seasons and fell near the bottom of the overall standings.

Once a dominant scorer in the NHL, Vanek’s numbers aren’t what they used to be, but he should still be able to offer something offensively to his new team, which finished 29th in the league last season in goals-for per game.

This deal leaves the Canucks with about $5.375 million in available cap space, with 22-year-old restricted free agent center Bo Horvat still unsigned and due for a raise after progressing as the team’s most productive player during what was a dreadful 2016-17 season for the organization.

Of course, it adds another winger to the roster — Vancouver now has 16 forwards under contract on the roster, per CapFriendly — with youngsters like Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin looking to crack the NHL club for the upcoming season.

Blue Jackets sign Wennberg to six-year deal, reportedly worth $4.9M AAV

Getty

Alexander Wennberg has a new contract — just weeks before the start of training camp.

The Blue Jackets announced on Friday that they had signed the 22-year-old center to a six-year contract. The team didn’t disclose financial details, but according to Darren Dreger of TSN, the new deal has an annual average value of $4.9 million.

It’s obviously a sizable raise from the money he made in his entry-level contract, but it’s still reasonable for a center that has improved his offensive totals in each of his first three NHL seasons, including a 13-goal and 59-point campaign in 2016-17, and is part of a core group of young players on a Columbus roster looking to build off a franchise-recording breaking season.

“We are excited to have signed Alexander to a long-term contract through the 2022-23 season, ” said general manager Jarmo Kekalainen in a statement.

“He has shown steady improvement throughout his young NHL career and is coming off a very good 2016-17 campaign. At just 22-years-old, he has tremendous opportunity to become an integral player for our organization for years to come.”

The Blue Jackets still have to get restricted free agent winger Josh Anderson under contract, and they have about $7.98 million in available cap space, according to CapFriendly.

Datsyuk believes ‘recharge started’ after Red Wings miss playoffs

Getty Images
11 Comments

The Red Wings’ streak of playoff appearances came to an end this spring. Twenty-five straight years, Detroit’s NHL club qualified for the post-season, but their entry into the Stanley Cup tournament had featured especially early exits in four of those last five years.

The Red Wings had gone from a Stanley Cup contender — with a championship and back-to-back appearances in the final in 2008 and 2009 — to a team on the decline.

Sure, the streak endured a little longer, but the Red Wings posed hardly a threat to contend for a championship toward its end.

Not making the playoffs? That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Red Wings, according to one of their former great forwards Pavel Datsyuk, who now plays in the KHL.

“In most recent seasons, there was constant talk: will Detroit make or miss the playoffs,” Datsyuk told Sport-Express, per Sportsnet. “Can Detroit win the Cup did not seem to be of interest to anybody. Everybody talked only about making the playoffs.

“So, it’s very good the Red Wings missed the playoffs. The recharge started. … Now everything will change, there will be no such pressure and they will be to see the ultimate goal. In reality you need to fight for the Cup and not just to make the playoffs.”

Last season’s fall out of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference has resulted in plenty of talk about a Red Wings rebuild — an idea general manager Ken Holland initially seemed hesitant about. But he’s also aware that the team’s future success will depend on some of their young prospects taking a step and challenging for roster spots for the upcoming season.

Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov — had standout performances during the Calder Cup playoffs while playing with Red Wings’ farm team in Grand Rapids.

“To me, rebuild means eight to 10 years, and there are teams that have made the playoffs one year in 10 while rebuilding,” Holland told MLive midway through last season. “I don’t know of anyone that wants to sign up for that program. We’re trying to win every year. What’s winning? Winning is making the playoffs and you’re in the top half of the league.”

Related:

Poll: Is it time for the Red Wings to go through a full rebuild?

Calder Cup win, bounty of picks show pluses of Red Wings rebuild

‘I don’t know where all this talk comes from’ — Flames GM addresses Jagr, Iginla rumors

AP
4 Comments

One of the more fascinating topics of discussion this summer has been the immediate future of future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.

He’s 45 years old. Despite his age, he has still been productive. He remains incredibly popular with hockey fans. He’s still without a contract.

There has been plenty of talk and speculation that perhaps he’d be a fit with the Calgary Flames, and that they may have interest in Jagr.

With another key addition on the blue line earlier in the off-season, the Flames appear to be on the rise in the Western Conference and in need of another right winger. Add former Flames captain Jarome Iginla to recent rumors, too.

In an interview with Eric Francis of Postmedia, Flames general manager Brad Treliving addressed the Iginla-Jagr talk, initially downplaying it as rumor. But, based on his comments, he didn’t completely shut the door on the possibility of Calgary adding another player for training camp this month.

From the Calgary Herald:

“I don’t know where all this talk comes from — we certainly never made a statement saying we’re looking at so-and-so,” said Treliving, addressing the summertime street talk for the first time.

“Both are Hall of Famers. Nobody has done more as a player in Calgary than Jarome Iginla. You can’t help but respect them. But this notion we’ve been in contract talks with them is rumour and I’m not going to comment on them.”

“Are we going to go to camp with the group we have? Good chance. Are we poking around at a few things and could there be additions before camp? Yes.

“Is that a guarantee? No.

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything significant on the horizon, but we look at everything every day.”

Right now, however, the priority is to get restricted free agent forward Sam Bennett under contract. The Flames currently have about $7.16 million in cap space to work with, according to CapFriendly.

Last season, Bennett’s overall production dipped to 13 goals and 26 points in 81 games after he scored 18 goals and 36 points in 77 games during his first full NHL campaign.

Under Pressure: Jonathan Marchessault

Getty
1 Comment

This post is part of Golden Knights Day on PHT…

Score 30 goals in a season and people around the NHL quickly take notice.

With heightened expectations following a breakout 2016-17 campaign, Jonathan Marchessault will go into this season as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, having been one of the surprise players left unprotected for June’s expansion draft. He also has one year remaining on his bargain of a contract before he’s eligible for unrestricted free agency.

On a team beset by injuries to key players last season, the undrafted Marchessault — who also stands 5-foot-9 tall and 174 pounds — became a bright spot for the Florida Panthers, who entered the year with high expectations but fell short of the playoffs.

The Panthers made Marchessault available for the Golden Knights, who didn’t pass up the opportunity to land the scoring center. That Florida made him available in the first place was certainly a hit to his self esteem, Marchessault later admitted.

“I don’t know [why I wasn’t protected]. I was surprised also,” Marchessault said this summer, per Sportsnet.

“I tried to give everything I had last year. Everyone was asking me if I’m going to get protected or not. My answer was, ‘I gave everything I had. I have no regrets.”

With 30 goals and 51 points for Florida last season, the now 26-year-old Marchessault provided tremendous value, playing on a two-year contract with a salary and cap hit of only $750,000. Another productive season and he should be able to cash in with a sizable raise. Whether that’s with the Golden Knights or another team via the open market will be determined at a later point in time.

There are the obvious candidates for a Vegas ‘Under Pressure’ post: James Neal is among them. He has nine consecutive seasons in which he has scored at least 20 goals, reaching the 40-goal plateau once and scoring 31 in 2015-16. This Vegas roster will need a player like Neal to produce. He comes with a $5 million cap hit as he enters the final year of his contract before being eligible for unrestricted free agency. Marc-Andre Fleury, by virtue of being a goalie with three Stanley Cup rings and the likely starter for this historical season in Vegas, is another.

Marchessault right now doesn’t make nearly the same amount of money as those two players, though that could eventually change. With a 30-goal season, the surprise of being left unprotected in the expansion draft, and entering a contract year while playing in the league’s newest market, there is going to be added pressure on him to see if he can replicate — or at least come close to replicating — that same production.

“That’s my goal, I want to go there and improve every year,” Marchessault told NHL.com. “I just want to help my team win every night. Now it’s up to me to respond.”