James O'Brien

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three

Busy Devils hand Stempniak a PTO

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New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero sure is getting a lot done on “Hump Day.”

Not long after the team announced a contract for Jiri Tlusty and tryout for Tyler Kennedy, the Devils also shared news that winger Lee Stepmniak is getting a professional tryout contract.

This comes as some surprise, as much of the scuttlebutt pointed to Stempniak trying to land a spot with the Boston Bruins.

Of course, he could still end up in a Bruins uniform to start the 2015-16 season, depending upon how things work out.

The Devils may opt against giving him a full deal (or leave too much money on the table), opening the door for the Bruins or another NHL team to acquire Stempniak.

The 32-year-old’s numbers have taken a slight dip lately, but to be fair, he’s been bouncing around the NHL quite a bit the past two seasons. Perhaps he can gain some stability by playing well during this month?

Kings release (interesting) statement on Voynov

Slava Voynov

The Los Angeles Kings released a rather interesting statement regarding Slava Voynov mere moments after the player’s agent shared news that he was self-departing to Russia.

Read the full release below, but here are a few interesting points if you’d rather just get the meat-and-potatoes:

  • The Kings claim that they “decided he would longer play for the team” sometime during his “period of detention.”
  • Los Angeles says they made Sept. 17 (the start of training camp) a deadline to “reach this outcome.”
  • Voynov’s decision to self-depart took away the need for the Kings to terminate his contract, according to the release.
  • They finish up by saying “The Kings organization will not tolerate domestic violence.”

Here is the full text:

On July 2, Slava Voynov entered a plea of no contest to domestic violence. Since that development, Mr. Voynov has been in the custody of the Seal Beach Detention Center and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During this period of detention, the Los Angeles Kings decided he would no longer play for the team. The method by which we would ensure this outcome was something we carefully considered and we established a deadline of September 17 – the beginning of our 2015-16 training camp – to reach this outcome. Recently it became evident to us that our conclusion to this process would be to terminate Mr. Voynov’s Standard Player’s Contract. However, Mr. Voynov’s announcement today of his intention to leave the United States and return to Russia makes the termination unnecessary.

As we have publicly stated since Mr. Voynov’s arrest last year, the Kings organization will not tolerate domestic violence. As part of that commitment, we will soon announce a series of new Conduct Awareness Training Initiatives that reflect the values and principles central to our franchise.

When news surfaced about Voynov’s decision, there was speculation that by self-departing, he may eventually be able to return to North America, possibly to resume an NHL career.

Is this the Kings’ way of saying that they wouldn’t employ Voynov if he returned in the future?

Voynov will leave Kings, return to Russia

Slava Voynov

By going with the option to “self-depart,” Slava Voynov is leaving the Los Angeles Kings and heading back to Russia.

Voynov released a statement via his agent, Rolland Hedges, sharing the stunning (yet perhaps foreseeable?) decision:

“Earlier today, I notified the National Hockey League, National Hockey League Players’ Association and the Los Angeles Kings of my decision to immediately begin the formal process of returning to Russia with my family. I sincerely apologize to those in and around the game of hockey who have been affected by my situation, and I also wish the players of the LA Kings success in the future.”

The OC Register’s Rich Hammond reports that this decision may allow Voynov to return to North America at some point in the future:

Also, Hammond notes that this isn’t quite a done deal, although the process is likely to be completed.

As far as Voynov’s money goes, it appears that the Kings are free of that burden:

As Puck Daddy reports, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirms that there will be “no cap charge” for the Kings.

Update: The Kings released a statement regarding Voynov, which you can read more about here.

Also, Hammond explains that Voynov is going to self-depart, not self-deport:

Stastny more ‘at ease’ in second Blues season

St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild - Game Four

For years, critics believed that Paul Stastny wasn’t worth the money in Colorado.

Even he would probably admit that he didn’t produce on the level of a $7 million player in his first year with the Blues, either.

Stastny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he second-guessed his decision to sign with St. Louis during some of the lower moments of last season, but he’s far more “at ease” heading into 2015-16.

“When I’m at my best, I’m loose, I’m smiling,” Stastny said. “That’s who I am and I don’t want to change that. Not everything is going to go smoothly, but I’ve got to learn to deal with it better and I’m more prepared for that.”

Let’s face it, keeping players “loose” and “smiling” isn’t one of head coach Ken Hitchcock’s many strengths. Still, when you sign a big deal like Stastny did, people are going to expect results.

Different linemate situations and opportunities could help him generate more points, and there’s at least one thing going for him next season: Vladimir Tarasenko replaces him as the Blues’ most expensive player.

Hey, sometimes you have to reach for reasons to loosen up.

Devils sign Tlusty, give Kennedy PTO

Calgary Flames v Winnipeg Jets

As training camps approach, Jiri Tlusty stood out as “the guy who wouldn’t accept a PTO.” Perhaps it makes sense, then, that he made a deal with the (New Jersey) Devils?

The team announced that they signed the 27-year-old to a one-year, one-way contract on Wednesday.

New Jersey didn’t reveal financial details, but multiple sources including the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti report that it’s worth $800K.

No doubt about it, that’s a bargain.

That wasn’t the only interesting move the Devils made heading into camp, either, as they also handed Tyler Kennedy a professional tryout contract today.

It’s an interesting situation, as one must ask: is Tlusty (pictured) much more deserving of a guaranteed deal than Kennedy, or even more deserving at all? Perhaps it simply comes down to Tlusty saying “full contract or bust,” while perhaps Kennedy was a little more malleable?

One would guess that Kennedy, 29, would get a reasonable shot at making the Devils. If anyone knows how capable he can be as a depth forward, it would be GM Ray Shero, who watched him skate alongside Jordan Staal for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Neither Tlusty nor Kennedy should be seen as the difference-makers who would push the Devils to contender status, yet they may very well make New Jersey a little peskier.