James O'Brien

IHOCKEY-WORLD-CZE-SWE

Pens sign Swedish League veteran Niclas Andersen

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The Pittsburgh Penguins’ potential new-look defense could include a seasoned veteran blueliner … who’s never played a game in the NHL.

They signed Niclas Andersen, long of the Swedish Hockey League, to a one-year contract on Monday. It’s considered an entry-level deal for the 27-year-old.

Andersen enjoyed a nice season for Byrnas in Sweden, generating 22 points in 54 games (easily his best point output). Andersen also got his feet wet in the KHL, going through 2012-13 and 2013-14 with Cherepovets Severstal.

While financial details weren’t available, the Penguins could save a lot of money on a younger defense in 2015-16, as it appears they’ll allow both Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff to walk. It’s unclear where exactly Andersen fits into the mix.

Amusingly, he could probably fool people if he swapped jerseys with another Penguins defenseman:

He may also continue a light trend in which the Pens are adding a little extra European flair:

Video: NHL 16’s trailer features mascots, coach speeches

mascotsnhl16
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You may understandably be unaware with the 2015 Stanley Cup Final heading into its final stretch, but video games are also in the spotlight this week with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or “E3”).

With the exception of a few indie games, EA Sports’ NHL series is basically the only hockey show in town. After the polarizing release of NHL 15, the next title NHL 16 has some work to do. Perhaps this trailer will turn a few heads?

Polygon caught up with the development team, and one big aspect seems to be receiving more attention: passing.

Until this point, EA’s NHL games have forced skaters into a glide as they receive a pass. Players will now be able to receive a pass while accelerating or turning. New puck pickups are designed to lead to smoother transitions to the player’s next move.

That doesn’t sound like a revolutionary change, but those disappointed with the most recent release will probably be glad to see all the returning features in NHL 16. See a full list here.

Now, if they’d just add icon passing and Be a Mascot mode …

Report: Barroway to shift from majority owner to ‘lesser role’ with Coyotes (Updated)

Mikkel Boedker, Andrew Barroway
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Andrew Barroway is selling some of his shares of the Arizona Coyotes to IceArizona, taking a lesser role after serving ever so briefly as the team’s majority owner, according to Fox Sports Arizona.

That report indicates that Barroway isn’t stepping away altogether, as he’s still expected to hold more shares than any individual (he merely won’t maintain a controlling interest). This marks a short run for him as majority owner, as he had 51 percent of the team’s shares beginning on Dec. 31, 2014.

Fox Sports Arizona explains some of the reasoning behind the anticipated change:

A philosophical difference in the financial direction of the team has led IceArizona to buy back some of Barroway’s shares. The process has been in the works since the end of last season and should be completed soon, perhaps as soon as this week. Barroway is expected to own more shares than any other member and retain his title as governor, but he will not have controlling interest.

It’s unclear how this may affect the franchise’s considerable rift with the City of Glendale, not to mention plenty of other factors. On the bright side, the alteration isn’t expected to cause any (additional?) problems regarding the team’s free-agent budget this summer.

All that said, it seems like yet another bump in a road that has been ravaged with potholes for many years.

Update:

Coyotes confirm it:

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, “Do not be surprised if Gary Drummond, a current co-owner and director, becomes a major voice in the organization.”

Stars add Reese to goalie coaching mix, sign Jokipakka

St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars really struggled in net (and in preventing goals in general last season), but they took further measures to improve in that area on Monday.

In an interesting twist, the Stars hired Jeff Reese as goalie coach as expected, yet they’re not parting ways with Mike Valley. Instead, Valley will work under the title director of goaltending development.

ESPN’s Craig Custance was impressed by the Stars’ creativity there:

The only “salary cap” for coaching is a team’s own budget, after all, so why not add more keen minds on that subject?

Of course, improving on defense would also make life easier for the Stars’ goalies, and they also kept a young defenseman in the fold. Amusingly named blueliner Jyrki Jokipakka received a two-year contract today. Jokipakka (pictured) played 51 games with the Stars last season, collecting 10 assists and a -2 rating. He also managed five points in 19 games at the AHL level. It seems like he might show more potential than his draft status (195th overall in 2011) may have initially indicated.

Stars GM Jim Nill still has some work to do to ensure that the Stars’ defense starts to catch up with its blistering offense, yet this counts as a step or two in the right direction.

 

Antoine, again: Blackhawks take 2-1 lead over Bolts (Video)

Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teravainen
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All Antoine Vermette does is score big goals, at least during these playoffs.

Coming into Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, two of his three postseason goals were game-winners. He provided the go-head goal so far tonight, although Kris Versteeg deserves most of the credit for creating havoc and that rebound opportunity:

To some, it hasn’t been that great of a contract year for Vermette. Traditional types might label him “clutch” and give him big money anyway, though.