James O'Brien

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Matt Tennyson #80 of the San Jose Sharks skates during a game at Staples Center on October 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Hurricanes add defensive depth by signing Tennyson

The Carolina Hurricanes added some blueline depth on Sunday by signing defenseman Matt Tennyson to a one-year, two-way deal.

Refreshingly, the Canes provided his contract details: Tennyson gets paid a rate of $675K at the NHL level and $275K when in the AHL.

The 26-year-old played in 29 games this past season after appearing in 27 in 2014-15. Tennyson saw a significant ice time drop when he did suit up for Peter DeBoer, so it seems like he fell out of favor with the San Jose Sharks.

The Hurricanes rightly consider him a depth addition.

“Matt gives us added depth on the blueline, as a right-shot defenseman who has proven he can play at the NHL level,” GM Ron Francis said.

Chances are, he’ll bounce between the AHL and NHL just like he did with the Sharks.

Blue Jackets GM spins Columbus’ lack of a ‘first-line center’

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 23:  Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen meets with the media following the NHL General managers Meetings at the Bellagio Las Vegas on June 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One of the themes of this off-season has been the desperate rush for young, high-end defensemen. Many teams are practically tripping over their own feet to add one.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are different.

In acquiring Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, a big part of their future is set.

On the other hand, the Blue Jackets lost a key component in Johansen: a true No. 1 center.

The Blue Jackets look like they’re heading into the 2016-17 season with the following pivots: Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson. GM Jarmo Kekalainen did his best to put a positive spin on the situation to the Columbus Dispatch.

“People might say that we don’t have a first-line center,” Kekalainen said. “But I think we have real solid, 200-foot centers.”

The spiciest bit came in Kekalainen asking Karlsson “Do you want to be a fourth-line center your whole life?”

(You should totally steal that line to annoy a friend or loved one when things really drag during the dog days of the hockey summer.)

One has to wonder how much heat Kekalainen is feeling right now.

Jones has a promising future, so much so that we may look at the Blue Jackets as the winner of that trade. Even so, the Blue Jackets are an awfully expensive team to lack a No. 1 center, a virtual prerequisite for Cup contention.

How far can you go with a “Grind it out” mentality? The Blue Jackets are about to find out, as that seems to be their identity, thanks in part to the makeup of some of their most prominent centers.

Report: Bruins are ‘kicking the tires’ on a Kris Russell deal

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 19:  Kris Russell #4 of the Calgary Flames looks on beforoe a face off against the New Jersey Devils on January 19,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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With Loui Eriksson gone, David Backes in the mix and the potential for even more changes via trades, the Boston Bruins are already primed to look very different in 2016-17.

Will they go the extra mile to improve their blueline, though?

There’s no denying their hunger for a “transitional defenseman” on top of those tweaks down the middle, and CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Bruins are “kicking the tires” on a possible deal with Kris Russell.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney addressed being unable to find the “right fit for those players at this point in time” during a press conference on Friday, so maybe the “right fit” isn’t so far away?

In discussing bringing back John-Michael Liles, Sweeney ticked some of the boxes that would also be in favor of Russell: the “sort of guys that are able to defend and be hard but also having guys that can transition, get up and down the ice, get back on pucks and move pucks.”

There’s no denying that Russell has his strengths and weaknesses, but you could probably sell Sweeney on his credentials in those areas.

(See more about the pros and cons of Russell in this UFA of the Day post.)

Speaking of selling, the bidding war might end up being a lot for the Bruins and other teams to stomach.

This post breaks down the variety of reports and rumors, with a $5 million cap hit being a possible price tag.

Yikes.

If Russell draws a contract that meets or exceeds those rumors, it would be difficult to call the team who lands him a “winner.”

The Bruins appear to be involved in that auction, at least to some extent.

Doan isn’t budging and Coyotes aren’t budging, but he wants to stay

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 12:  Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes is awarded the first star of the game following the NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Gila River Arena on February 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 4-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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How close are Shane Doan and the Arizona Coyotes to a deal, really?

The messages are mixed, even when you’re basing your judgments on Doan alone.

Craig Morgan provides an interesting update on the negotiations for 98.7 FM Arizona Sports, starting off with the positives: Doan believes the two sides are close enough that he’s “not worrying about other teams.”

His agent seems to contradict the notion that the two sides are close, however, and it sounds like the haggling isn’t over.

“I feel the market that is set for me is different from what they think the market is and that’s really the extent of it,” Doan said. “They’re not budging and I’m not budging, but nobody’s mad at each other. We just have a different view. They’re saying ‘you’re a 40-year old player. There’s not really a market for you.’ I’m saying, ‘I led the team in goal scoring. There is a market for that.'”

Hmm.

On one hand, it’s easy to understand why the long-tenured Jets-Coyotes fixture would want to stick with the only team he’s known for decades.

On the other, wouldn’t those other teams provide a gauge for the market value that the two sides can’t seem to agree upon? It sounds like he might have had some offers to sort through during the Friday Frenzy:

To be more specific, Doan said he received 12 offers with three being “substantial.”

You would think that the two sides could meet somewhere in the middle and find a compromise. Still, you never know when “We’re not mad at each other” will turn into “Yeah, we’re mad at each other.”

Reimer is ‘excited to learn from’ Luongo in Florida

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Goaltender James Reimer #34 of the San Jose Sharks drinks from a gatorade bottle in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Blues during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Aaron Ekblad will not be a free agent for a long time. That alone made this free-agency day for the Florida Panthers an overwhelming success.

The Panthers have locked up their star 20-year-old defenseman for eight additional years, the sides formally completing the work Friday on what will be a $60 million extension that keeps him in Florida through the 2024-25 season. The deal was announced on the first day of the NHL’s free-agent signing period, though Ekblad was still under contract to Florida for the coming season.

“I don’t think it’s any secret,” Panthers general manager Tom Rowe said. “He’s a guy we want in the fold for a long time to come.”

Ekblad was an All-Star in each of his first two years with Florida, and now clearly becomes a face of a franchise that believes it is getting closer to finally hoisting the Stanley Cup.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Ekblad wrote on Instagram as he posed in a Florida jersey.

He was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft and already is Florida’s franchise leader with eight career game-winning goals.

“An exceptionally skilled, intelligent and mature young player that is a difference maker for our team both on and off the ice,” Rowe said.

The Panthers won the Atlantic Division last year, reaching the playoffs for just the second time in 15 seasons. The ownership group led by Vincent Viola has made no secret that it is driven by winning a championship, and Florida is starting to look like a real potential contender.

“He bought the team to win a Stanley Cup and the players that we’ve got here all want to win a Stanley Cup,” Rowe said. “We felt what we did today gives us a better chance of doing that.”

There were other moves, including the signing of goaltender James Reimer to a five-year, $17 million deal to share the workload with starter Roberto Luongo.

Reimer has spent six seasons in the NHL, mostly with Toronto. He also appeared in nine games – eight regular-season, one playoff – with Stanley Cup finalist San Jose this past season.

Reimer came to South Florida to see the Panthers’ facilities Friday and was quickly convinced he was making the right decision.

“We’ve got a great team and great management and ownership, they’re passionate about winning,” Reimer said. “As a player, that’s the organization you want to be a part of.”

Luongo is still one of the best in the NHL, but the Panthers have been mindful of not overusing their 37-year-old goalie. He’s sat out roughly one of every four Florida regular-season games in each of the last two years and had offseason hip surgery. The Panthers made a trade for former Colorado backup Reto Berra late last month. If Luongo isn’t ready for opening night, Berra would begin as Reimer’s backup.

“We really targeted Reimer as a guy we see long term,” Rowe said.

So Reimer’s role will hardly be a limited one, and he’s looking forward to being with Luongo.

“He’s a heck of a goalie, he’s an elite goalie and I think his personality is known across the league,” Reimer said. “He’s just a great guy. For me, I’m excited to learn from him.”

Reimer’s arrival means Al Montoya‘s time as Luongo’s backup is over, and longtime Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell is gone as well, as was expected, particularly after the team landed Keith Yandle late last month. Campbell is going back to the Chicago Blackhawks for next season.

Florida also added a pair of forwards Friday, signing Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault to two-year contracts.

Sceviour had 11 goals and 12 assists with Dallas last season, then added five more points for the Stars in 11 playoff games. Marchessault had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season.

Rowe coached against Sceviour in the AHL and sees him as a third-line option right away for Florida.

“It’s a young league and the game’s getting faster every year and we felt the guys we picked up today, it gave us more skill and definitely gave us some quicker guys at that third-line position,” Rowe said. “It gives (coach Gerard Gallant) some options, more options than we had last year.”