James O'Brien

Gregory Campbell

Columbus character: Blue Jackets ink Gregory Campbell

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The Columbus Blue Jackets confirmed that they signed Gregory Campbell to a two-year deal today.

They didn’t provide the financial terms, but Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that it’s worth $3 million overall (so a $1.5 million cap hit each season).

Hockey fans, writers and executives sometimes obsess about “character” – just watch some TV analysts discuss the Phil Kessel trade to soak in such talk to your heart’s content – and Campbell is generally regarded as a heart-and-soul guy.

If you’re even somewhat aware of Campbell, you likely remember him fighting through broken leg during a shift during the 2013 playoffs, as you can witness in this memorable clip:

He’s not going to light up the scoreboard (six goals and 12 points in 70 games with the Boston Bruins in 2014-15), but Campbell brings hustle and grit – not to mention hits – to the table.

He also fits the general theme of the Blue Jackets team as a relentless bunch. Back in March 2014, Ryan Johansen made a positive comparison between Columbus’ roster and “rats,” and Campbell would likely add another layer of greasy resilience to that group.

Campbell, 31, isn’t going to be a make-or-break type presence, yet he might be the kind of grinding force who could conceivably wear down other teams if the Blue Jackets are dangerous in 2015-16.

Report: Brassard should be ready for training camp after wrist surgery

Derick Brassard
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New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard underwent wrist surgery last week, leaving him with a four-to-six week window of recovery, according to sources including The Bergen Record.

That rehab estimate would indicate that the 27-year-old will be recovered by the time training camp kicks off sometime in September.

It’s unclear how long Brassard’s wrist was bothering him, but either way, he was quite productive last season.

During the regular season, he set new career-highs in goals (19), assists (41) and points (60). His postseason totals were also new high marks, as he managed 16 points in 19 contests.

As the Bergen Record notes, Brassard is one of quite a few Rangers who weren’t 100 percent during the final stretch.

It just gives a full picture of the Rangers’ medical issues during the postseason. Captain Ryan McDonagh was playing on a broken right foot, Dan Girardi underwent a bursa excision on his ankle and Marc Staal had a bone chip removed from his ankle. Plus, Keith Yandle continued playing after suffering a shoulder sprain in the first round.

The Rangers likely expect Brassard to match or exceed last season’s numbers, so it’s a positive that he probably won’t deal with lingering issues. That said, setbacks can happen; if so, it will be noted at PHT this summer.

Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder

Zac Rinaldo, Andy McElman
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The Boston Bruins continued their baffling offseason by adding some brute force, sending their 2017 third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for rough winger Zac Rinaldo.

Fans of the Bruins’ “big, bad” side may like this move, as Rinaldo certainly throws his body (and fists) around. Others probably aren’t so happy, as it continues a trend of puzzling moves by new Bruins GM Don Sweeney (while Flyers GM Ron Hextall looks more and more like a maestro).

Of course, the beauty of the trade is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, as some will cringe and others will shrug their shoulders at a far-off third-rounder being the price.

Rinaldo, 25, carries both a salary and a cap hit of $850K in 2015-16 and 2016-17, so even detractors shouldn’t be too concerned about the financial impact (if nothing else). He obviously brings grit and hustle to the table, so again, there are likely to be some proponents of the move.

Rinaldo scored six points and generated 102 PIM in 58 games last season. During his NHL career, he has 24 points and 572 PIM in 223 regular season contests.

What’s next for Mike Richards and the Kings?

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers
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The Los Angeles Kings’ decision to terminate – rather than buy out – Mike Richards’ contract is startling. It’s also a lot to wrap your head around, even without knowing how Richards allegedly “breached” his contract.

The situation generated a lot of interesting observations and speculation on Twitter, so consider this post an early look at what might happen next.

Considering the lack of specifics at hand, let’s focus more on the hockey implications rather than pondering legalities in too much depth.

Los Angeles’ cap situation

Richards’ $5.75 million cap hit is a huge concern, and one wonders about the sort of loopholes that might be exposed here. TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston report that the Kings may operate as if the cap restriction has been lifted:

Simon Feenix brings up an interesting question on Twitter, too: what about the Kings’ attempts to trade Richards? Could that get into a fuzzy area, too?

Richards is a free agent, though a grievance may come

Obviously, the 30-year-old forward is likely to file a grievance through the NHLPA, though McKenzie rightly notes that it would be tough to get a resolution before free agency kicks off on Wednesday:

Richards can sign a free agent deal elsewhere, yet this situation is far from over. It might not go well for him in the long run, though.

Precedent-setting?

There have been some interesting questions surfacing regarding how this situation may set a precedent or two – maybe an ugly one, too – for future buyout and cap situations.

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Time will tell on a number of these issues, whether we find out the particulars of the contract breach or not. Regardless, hockey fans might have their eyes on the screen if Richards plays against the Kings in 2015-16.

Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’

Los Angeles Kings v Calgary Flames
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Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi isn’t shy about making some big gambles, but the franchise still raised some eyebrows regarding Mike Richards’ contract.

Instead of announcing a buyout as expected, the team terminated his contract, as this statement reveals:

“The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team’s right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for a material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”

Obviously, they’re not sharing any additional information, yet it implies that they’re attempting to circumvent the hefty buyout fee involved with getting rid of Richards.

We’ll see if additional details emerge, yet it’s especially interesting considering the loyalty-leaning comments from Lombardi regarding why he kept Richards in the first place.

And here we were, thinking that the most interesting part of this situation would involve Richards as a free agent …

For more on the fallout and salary cap implications, click here.