Cam Tucker

Getty

Sabres re-sign Larsson to two-year deal, with AAV of $1.475 million

4 Comments

The Buffalo Sabres have brought back 24-year-old forward Johan Larsson on a two-year contract.

The Sabres announced the deal on Saturday, adding this new contract comes with an average annual value of $1.475 million, as both sides avoid arbitration.

Last season, Larsson scored six goals and 11 points in 36 games for the Sabres. That would’ve put him on pace for his most productive season in the NHL so far.

However, his regular season was cut short at the end of December after surgery to repair elbow and wrist injuries. He suffered the injuries on a clean hit into the boards from Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, ending his campaign.

Thornton ‘bummed’ that Marleau didn’t re-sign in San Jose

Getty
6 Comments

For the first time since November 2005, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau won’t play for the same NHL team.

Marleau, a Shark since the 1997 NHL Draft, signed a three-year deal in Toronto on Sunday, while Thornton signed for one more year in San Jose, with that contract — one year, reportedly worth $8 million — getting announced Sunday, as well.

It was the end of an era for Marleau and the Sharks, who had hoped to bring back their long-time forward.

“I was in constant talks with Patty, texting and calling each other. Obviously I’m bummed that Patty’s not coming back. But I think he’s going to do great in Toronto and I think it’s going to be a good fit,” said Thornton, per CSN Bay Area.

“Patty is going to be a Shark for life, and he’s going to go down as the best Shark of all time. I’m just happy for him and his family. As far as the Sharks are concerned, everybody has got to just pick up the goal scoring a little bit and move on.”

A number of teams had interest in Thornton, including the rival L.A. Kings, according to reports, although the veteran playmaking center couldn’t really put an exact figure to it…

Having celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday, Thornton previously underwent offseason surgery for a knee injury suffered late in the regular season. He told reporters that he’ll begin skating in about two weeks.

“I’m feeling strong,” Thornton said, per the Mercury News. “I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent right now, but I’m pretty darn close. I’m feeling comfortable with the knee.”

After drafting Hischier and acquiring Johansson, ‘it’s an exciting time for the Devils,’ says Shero

AP
4 Comments

Ray Shero pointed out that if the salary cap did not exist, Marcus Johansson would still likely be a member of the Washington Capitals.

But a salary cap does exist in the NHL, and while the ceiling moved up to $75 million for the 2017-18 season, the Capitals were up against it following some of their recent offseason decisions, especially after re-signing Evgeny Kuznetsov to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract on Sunday.

The Capitals, with about $4.65 million available following that signing, needed to clear more space. And so, they made a deal with the Devils, sending Johansson to New Jersey. Going back to Washington: A second-round pick and a third-round pick next year.

Those picks, according to the Capitals, previously belonged to Florida and Toronto, so New Jersey keeps its original selections for those rounds next year.

In Johansson, the Devils get a 26-year-old forward capable of playing both on the wing and center, and one who just posted career highs in goals (24) and points (58). That’s an important addition for New Jersey, which was 28th in the league last year in scoring.

“He really adds to this forward group,” said Shero, the Devils general manager, in a conference call. “That’s what we’re looking to do is get better instantly. We just have to get better and that means more skill, more talent.

“We’re getting there and I think that’s exciting for a guy like Marcus.”

The addition of Taylor Hall last year was a start in the right direction. Defying the odds and getting the No. 1 overall pick, which turned into Nico Hischier, was a lucky development at the lottery, and acquiring a productive, versatile forward from a team against the cap should help in at least starting to turn the Devils’ offensive problems around.

“I think we’re better, more dynamic up front than we have been in a while, obviously,” he said.

They also signed veteran center Brian Boyle yesterday.

“It’s a good day for us and it’s a trade that obviously helps both teams. Washington, with their cap, and then being able to sign a great player like Kuznetsov and certainly a team like ours that’s taken advantage of that in adding a real good young player … in Marcus,” said Shero.

The Devils now have about $20.3 million in cap space, and Shero hasn’t ruled out the possibility of more moves, including with other teams in need of trading away salary to free them up financially. That could mean making an upgrade on defense, as well.

“Just in the last week … I think adding Boyle, Johansson and Nico Hischier — I think it’s an exciting time for the Devils,” said Shero. “We’re open to anything.

“We’ll see where it goes. We have more assets now. The draft picks and cap space are huge assets and we utilized a little bit of both today, but we’re still in good position and would certainly look to get better before the season starts.”

One aspect of the offseason Shero didn’t really have an update for was on Ilya Kovalchuk. It’s been reported that he’s planning a return to the NHL. It’s been reported that he’s talking extension with his KHL team. It’s been reported that the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets are all apparently on his wish list.On the second day of free agency, however, Kovalchuk remains available.

“I’d assume at some point in the next few days, we should have a real good indication of what’s going on or what he’s going to do,” said Shero.

Still, after the events of the last few weeks, Shero had a sense of optimism about the direction of his team.

“We’re in a better position than we were a day ago,” said Shero. “We’re in a better position than we were a week ago.”

Mike Babcock doesn’t seem too worried about Marleau’s age

Getty
10 Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs committed three years to free agent Patrick Marleau on Sunday, signing the now former San Jose Sharks forward.

It’s a pricey deal — worth a total of $18.75 million, most of that geared towards signing bonuses, according to CapFriendly.

It also involves a no-movement clause.

That’s quite a bit for a player about to celebrate his 38th birthday in September. Marleau won’t reach his lofty numbers achieved five, six, seven or eight years ago. Knocking on the door of a 40-goal campaign was the norm back then for Marleau.

But he has remained productive into his late 30s, scoring 27 goals and 46 points this past season.

Toronto’s bench boss Mike Babcock coached Marleau with Team Canada in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. With such emphasis on youth and speed in today’s NHL, signing a soon-to-be 38-year-old forward — especially to a three-year deal — raises eyebrows.

However, Babcock doesn’t seem overly concerned about that deal or Marleau’s age.

Babcock has been put in charge of overseeing the on-ice component of the Maple Leafs rebuild, which, with an impressive group of young and talented players, has taken quite a step forward in the last year. The Maple Leafs have since added veteran players like defenseman Ron Hainsey and center Dominic Moore to their lineup. Marleau is the most noteworthy catch for Toronto over the last day-and-a-half.

From the Canadian Press:

The Leafs are trying to snatch the last bit of good from his Hall of Fame-worthy career while injecting veteran stability and versatility into an lineup that’s mostly populated by youth. The club also has a limited window for making such a move with young stars Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner all still on entry-level contracts.

“We won’t be able to do this in a year or so but we have the room and flexibility to do it (now) and not interrupt the process that we have in place, understanding where our young players are and where they will be,” Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team.

Meanwhile, this marks the end of an era for the Sharks and Marleau.

He played 1,493 regular season games in San Jose, and another 177 in the playoffs. Between regular season and playoffs, Marleau scored 576 goals and 1,202 points with the Sharks.

“Patrick has been a pillar of this franchise since he was drafted as a 17-year-old in 1997, and has become one of the elite players in our team’s history,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson in a statement.

“He owns nearly every offensive record in Sharks history, scored some big goals for our team and helped shape San Jose into a true hockey city. While we were hoping he would choose to return to San Jose, we wish him the absolute best and want to thank Patrick, his wife Christina, and their children Landon, Brody, Jagger and Caleb for their time in San Jose, a place he has called home for nearly two decades.”

It’s official: Sharks re-sign Thornton to one-year deal

Getty
8 Comments

Joe Thornton has officially returned to the San Jose Sharks.

Hours after Patrick Marleau signed with Toronto, ending his time in San Jose, the Sharks announced they had officially re-signed Thornton to a one-year contract, confirming reports from yesterday.

Per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, it’s a one-year deal worth $8 million.

“Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it’s only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson in a statement.

“He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game. He has helped lead this team to new levels and continues to be one of the top two-way centers in the League. His leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise’s success, and we’re excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose.”

The announcement of this deal coincides with Thornton’s 38th birthday. He’s also coming back from knee surgery for an injury suffered late in the regular season.