James O'Brien

2010 NHL Draft Portraits

Kings sign five RFAs, including Shore and Weal

3 Comments

The Los Angeles Kings announced the signings of five restricted free agents on Thursday: Nick Shore (to a two-year deal), Jordan Weal (one), Andrew Crescenzi (one), Nic Dowd (one) and Vincent LoVerde (two).

Shore and Weal (pictured) are the two players to watch most closely.

Shore, 23, brings decent size to the table and already managed seven points in 34 regular season games last season. He’s “currently penciled in as the third-line center for the Kings” next season, according to Mayor’s Manor.

Shore can also be sent down to the AHL via waivers, which is worth considering if he suffers from a slow start or a rough season in general. Mayor’s Manor points out that Weal, also 23, would need to pass through waivers.

Weal was the MVP of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs after tying for the league lead with 22 postseason points. He’ll likely get a strong chance to earn a depth spot with Los Angeles in 2015-16.

Crescenzi, 22, is a big forward acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2014. Dowd, 25, put up solid AHL numbers during the Manchester Monarchs’ playoff run. LoVerde, 26, is an undrafted free agent with plenty of AHL experience.

Flyers re-sign Del Zotto, reportedly for two years, $7.75M

Michael Del Zotto
28 Comments

The Philadelphia Flyers signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a multi-year contract on Thursday.

The team didn’t provide details, but the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac reports that it’s a two-year, $7.75 million contract. (The Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno backs him up.) To save you the math, that’s a $3.875 million cap hit, more or less taking up the Flyers’ remaining space.

It’s quite the reclamation story for the 25-year-old defenseman. Philly essentially grabbed Del Zotto off of the scrap heap last summer, giving him a $1.3 million “prove it” deal in 2014-15.

If nothing else, he proved that he can continue to generate impressive offense, as he generated 32 points in 64 games (exactly a point for every two contests).

Of course, the rub with “MDZ” is that his defensive game can be lacking, as those calling him “Del-Zaster” will attest. Flyers fans likely felt more comfortable with the occasional lapse when he was relatively cheap, but what about now that he’s being more richly rewarded?

The Flyers avoided arbitration with Del Zotto, by the way.

Mike Ribeiro settles sexual assault civil lawsuit

Mike Ribeiro
61 Comments

Mike Ribeiro and his wife settled their sexual assault civil lawsuit with their former nanny for an undisclosed amount on Wednesday, as the Nashville Post’s J.R. Lind reports.

The terms of the settlement (which was made out-of-court) were undisclosed, but Ribeiro’s attorney Brian Lauten released the following statement to the Nashville Post:

“This civil matter has been amicably resolved without incurring further time-consuming and potentially costly litigation,” Lauten said. “I am unable to discuss any of the elements of this confidential resolution. Mike looks forward to continuing to play hockey at a high level and looks forward to aggressively pursuing a Stanley Cup alongside his teammates. The Ribeiro family will not have any further comments on this matter.”

The Predators also are aware of the settlement, as the Nashville Post notes:

“The organization understands Mike Ribeiro has resolved his civil case. We are pleased that Mike and his family can focus on their future and we will have no further comment.”

The Predators organization decided to re-sign Ribeiro, 35, to a two-year, $7 million contract even as this lawsuit remained in civil court. When negotiations were taking place, GM David Poile described Ribeiro as “a good teammate and a productive player” along with someone who, alongside his wife, has been “excellent in the community.”

Re-signing Ribeiro rubs some fans (both of the Predators and hockey as a whole) the wrong way. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski provided this advice to those who were angered by Nashville’s decision to bring Ribeiro back in June:

This story has gotten national attention, and there’s been national media pressure on Poile. That’s fine. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter unless Predators fans decide it matters.

All politics are local. If you’re a woman that loves the Preds but this re-signing turns your stomach, don’t be silent. If you’re a guy that loves the Preds but can’t support someone like Ribeiro, let your voice be heard. Because right now, the Predators clearly believe that the past doesn’t factor in the present, that Ribeiro is just another rehabbed player and that you think a No. 1 center trumps a player facing this type of civil case.

However you might feel about the situation, the bottom line is that the case is now settled – legally speaking – and Ribeiro is under contract with the Predators for the next two seasons.

Are we there yet? Pondering Edmonton’s defense

Barclay Goodrow, Justin Schultz
18 Comments

If nothing else, the Edmonton Oilers seem willing to pay to improve their defense. Did they do enough to finally see some actual results, though?

In a way, Justin Schultz symbolizes the team as a whole: expensive, hyped-up and disappointing.

His possession stats have been disastrous at times. At a glance, his offensive numbers look reasonable enough, yet he’s really been given every opportunity to produce even more. The 25-year-old’s even been a healthy scratch on a defense that’s been downright terrible at times.

The Oilers haven’t done themselves any favors by pronouncing his potential to be Norris-level and boxing themselves into a corner with bloated contracts, including Wednesday’s one-year, $3.9 million deal. All in all, it’s been an ugly start to his NHL career.

Still, a lot of people believe that he still has a chance to be a difference-maker … in a good way, that is.

Long story short, the jury’s out regarding Schultz’s potential, but what about Edmonton’s defense as a whole? PHT’s Jason Brough took a quick stab at what the Oilers’ blueline might look at, while Mike Halford also threw Griffin Reinhart’s name in the hat:

There are a few things that stand out while pondering potential pairings:

  • Most obviously, that’s a pretty expensive group, especially considering the middling (at best) results. War on Ice pegs their 2015-16 defense spending at $22.92 million, and that’s assuming Darnell Nurse isn’t in the mix.
  • It’s highly mercenary. As much as the narrative revolves around the Oilers being built off of high draft picks, it’s remarkable just how many of their defensemen have come from free agency (especially if you count Schultz) and trades. There isn’t much “homegrown” talent involved.
  • Improvement is indeed feasible. Andej Sekera is a possession darling, while Mark Fayne came in with some solid credentials last summer. Nurse could very well be a gem, as his draft status would indicate. People continue to await Schultz’s growth. Maybe most importantly, Todd McLellan is arguably the most qualified coach the Oilers have employed in a long time.

Of course, it remains to be seen if “improved” means much, as there was a significant gap between the Oilers and the NHL’s defensive elite. Schultz remains a microcosm once more, as both the player and the group are absolutely at the “put up or shut up” juncture heading into 2015-16.

PHT Morning Skate: Where Leafs rank among sports’ most valuable teams

Mitchell Marner
14 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Toronto Maple Leafs placed 37th on Forbes’ list of the 50 (technically 51) most valuable sports franchises at $1.3 billion. The Buds are the only NHL team to make the list. (Forbes)

Learn about Mike Gillis’ new gig: as a professor. (The Hockey News)

Ten things you may or may not know about Johnny Oduya. (Dallas Morning News)

This one’s a little old, but interesting: how much room does Brandon Saad have for improvement? (The Cannon)

Debating Ron Hextall’s Hall of Fame credentials. (ESPN)

Want a grim outlook for Ryan Kesler in Anaheim? This one might take the cake.

OMG, hockey emojis! (H/T to Sportsnet)