Cam Tucker

Getty

Shero remains hopeful, but admits signing Kerfoot is beyond his control

7 Comments

Alex Kerfoot is just over a month away from potentially hitting unrestricted free agency.

But New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero still seems hopeful they can get a deal done with the 22-year-old center before that day comes.

After completing his senior year at Harvard, with 16 goals and 45 points in 36 games to earn a Hobey Baker Award nomination, the Devils’ draft pick is eligible for free agency on Aug. 15, at which point he’d be able to sign with any NHL team of his choosing.

He’s already been linked to the Vancouver Canucks — a team that has added depth up the middle for next season with a couple of their free agent signings.

Kerfoot is from West Vancouver and played his junior hockey for the nearby Coquitlam Express in the BCHL. He posted 69 points in 51 games with the Express in 2011-12 and was subsequently drafted in the fifth round by the Devils a few months later.

Last summer, former Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey — originally drafted by Nashville before his negotiating rights were traded to Buffalo — eventually made it onto the open market and then signed with the New York Rangers.

“It’s the same thing with Alex. Get through the Draft, get though free agency, see how we look, see how other teams look,” Shero told NJ.com.

“They have until August 15 to do that and that’s what the CBA grants them. I hope Alex signs with us. He knows that, would love to have him. I think what we’re doing, he’d fit in the way he’d play. The speed he brings, the hockey sense, would love to have him. But I don’t control that, he does.”

The Devils have been able to bolster their offensive attack this summer, with the selection of Nico Hischier first overall and the acquisition of Marcus Johansson from Washington.

There had been speculation that Ilya Kovalchuk would return to the NHL. But on Sunday, his one-year contract extension with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL was made official.

Minny re-signs tough guy Kurtis Gabriel

AP
4 Comments

The Minnesota Wild have re-signed forward Kurtis Gabriel to a one-year, two-way contract, per Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

According to CapFriendly, the new deal has a $715,000 cap hit at the NHL level.

The Wild selected Gabriel in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. He’s played in 16 NHL games for Minnesota since then, registering one point.

At 6-foot-3 tall and 220 pounds, Gabriel is known more for the physical elements of the game, posting a career high 137 penalty minutes during the 2015-16 American Hockey League season.

Last season, Gabriel was directly involved in a brawl during a game between the Iowa Wild and Chicago Wolves that eventually spilled out into the hallway at Allstate Arena.

While he got the worst of the off-ice altercation with the Wolves’ Vince Dunn, those actions landed Gabriel a six-game suspension.

He’s also been involved in some heavyweight fights at the NHL level, too.

Leafs’ 2017 first-round pick Liljegren may return to Sweden next season

Getty
2 Comments

Timothy Liljegren has made it known, according to NHL.com, that he believes he needs one more year of development before taking a realistic run at cracking the Maple Leafs roster.

Where he plays next season, he also admitted, still remains to be seen.

The Maple Leafs selected Liljegren, the Swedish defenseman, with the 17th overall selection last month.

He played 19 games for Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League, with one goal and five points. Returning to Sweden and Rogle BK appears to be the most likely option at this point.

From the Toronto Star:

The Niagara Ice Dogs own Liljegren’s major junior rights, but his agent has already said he won’t play there. It sounds like he’ll play in Europe, specifically Sweden, where he has one more year left on his contract with Rogle BK, but sometimes other arrangements can be made.

“He has a valid contract for one more year in the SHL (Swedish Hockey League),” said Liljegren’s agent, Peter Wallen. “The Leafs have not offered him a contract. I think they want to see what he’s like in development camp and go from there.

“If they like what they see, maybe they will make an offer.”

For Liljegren to play somewhere other than Rogle this season, the Leafs would have to secure his release through the agreements the NHL has with the Swedish federation and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Known for his skating ability, the start of Liljegren’s 2016-17 season was disrupted by a bout with mononucleosis, which certainly didn’t help his draft stock early on.

“We all have setbacks, but this has been the biggest one in my career,” he said prior to the draft, per Sportsnet. “I still think I handled it well and kept calm in spite of what happened…I know I was high on the draft rankings before the season started, but I had to reconsider my expectations after a serious illness like that.”

He fell dramatically in TSN’s final draft rankings and ended up going to the Maple Leafs just beyond the midway point of the first round — a fact Toronto seems just fine with.

“When he fell that far, it was a no-brainer,” Leafs assistant general manager Mark Hunter told Sportsnet.

Report: Tatar says arbitration contract ‘would probably be my last season in Detroit’

Getty
24 Comments

Tomas Tatar was among 30 players to file for arbitration earlier this week.

Although there is still time to get a new deal done before his scheduled arbitration date on July 20, he has reportedly indicated that next season could be his last in Detroit if the two sides go through with the hearing and Tatar signs the one-year contract as a result.

Tatar is 26 years old, and a restricted free agent following a three-year deal that paid him $2.75 million annually.

“Detroit offered me a contract, and even with a few options — for a year, or four or five. We’re still talking about the length, and of course, the financial amount of the contract,” Tatar has told CSA.sk, per the Detroit News. “However, we aren’t going anywhere, and there’s been time enough.”

“Arbitration is the last option, I have to sign off, it’s just a mandatory contract. Unless I agree with Detroit, I’ll go to the court (salary arbitration), where they’ll give me a year’s contract. That would probably be my last season in Detroit. We’ll see in a few days or weeks before it all comes together.”

Tatar has four full NHL seasons under his belt — all with Detroit — and he’s been a consistent scorer and point producer during that time, reaching at least the 20-goal mark in each of his last three campaigns. He was on the verge of a 30-goal season two years ago.

It’s already been reported that Tatar is looking for a contract with term and to be paid in the area of $5 million annually.

Per MLive.com, Tatar had offseason shoulder surgery and may not be ready for the beginning of training camp. However, according to the same report, general manager Ken Holland expects Tatar to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Ilya Kovalchuk signs one-year deal to remain in KHL

Getty
7 Comments

Ilya Kovalchuk will remain in the KHL — at least for one more year.

This follows reports earlier this week that the scoring forward was going to return to Russia for the upcoming season.

The KHL announced Sunday that Kovalchuk will stay with St. Petersburg SKA for the 2017-18 season, following several weeks of speculation that he could return to the NHL.

St. Petersburg SKA has since announced that it is a one-year deal. That in itself is significant because Kovalchuk could still return to the NHL for the 2018-19 season, and he would do so as an unrestricted free agent at the age of 35. That would allow him to sign with any NHL club he desires.

Kovalchuk, now 34 years old, has played the last four seasons with St. Petersburg. He scored 32 goals and 78 points in 60 games last season. That’s impressive production for a player at his age, and it would be interesting to see how NHL general managers react if Kovalchuk has another productive year and then indicates he wants to return to North America.

Participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics is also likely a factor in Kovalchuk staying in the KHL.

The NHL has already made it clear its players will not be taking part in PyeongChang. The Russian Hockey Federation, on the other hand, has made it clear they want its players to play in the KHL in order to prepare for the Olympics, per the Associated Press.

Related:

Did the Devils drop the ball in not trading Kovalchuk?

Report: Rangers, Jackets, Leafs are on Kovalchuk’s wish list