The Toronto Maple Leafs crossed off the last item of their free agent to-do list by signing their last remaining restricted free agent Spencer Abbott on Tuesday. The team didn’t divulge details about the deal beyond the fact that it’s a one-year contract.
Abbott, 26, faces a tough challenge if he hopes to make the Leafs next season. Cap Geek lists 15 forwards under contract and that doesn’t even include 2014 first-rounder William Nylander, who has a solid chance of sticking with the big club in 2014-15.
Abbott played in one NHL game last season while making a nice impact at the AHL level, scoring 69 points in 64 regular season games and 11 in 11 postseason contests for the Toronto Marlies. While waiver concerns have the potential to complicate things, those numbers indicate that Abbott could be a nice option if injuries strike (assuming he doesn’t make the NHL jump outright, of course).
At 5-foot-9 and 170 lbs., Abbott is likely used to overcoming doubters. Even so, this stands as a tough test.
U.S. Hockey icon Bob Suter died from a heart attack at age 57 in Madison, Wisc. on Tuesday.
Suter was a defenseman for the “Miracle on Ice” team that won gold for the United States in 1980. He also won an NCAA title with the University of Wisconsin in 1977. He’s the father of Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter.
Ryan told ESPN that he’d bring Bob Suter’s gold medal to school frequently, even forgetting it one day. His father was humble enough about that accomplishment that Ryan never watched the “Miracle on Ice” as a child:
“Because my dad’s a humble guy, he doesn’t talk about it,” Ryan Suter said back in 2009. “I still, to this day, haven’t seen the game. He said he lent out his game tapes and the people never returned them or they were stolen or something.
“I haven’t seen it. I just hear about it through other people. I didn’t really realize it until probably seeing the HBO special on it and realizing how significant it was.”
Fellow “Miracle on Ice” legend Mike Eruzione shared his condolences.
The Wild released this statement:
We are very saddened by today’s news that Minnesota Wild Scout Bob Suter suddenly passed away. The Wild organization sends its condolences to the entire Suter family during this difficult time. Not only was Bob a great hockey ambassador, he was a terrific person off the ice who will be greatly missed by all of us.
This sad news surfaced very recently, yet testimonials are already pouring in about his impact on the game in America. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle points out that Suter had a big impact on Phil Kessel and his family, along with that obvious influence on his son:
Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi tweeted this great photo of Suter basking in that gold-medal glory:
(Main post image via the University of Wisconsin.)
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop admitted to the team website on Monday that his surgically repaired wrist isn’t quite 100 percent just yet.
The towering 27-year-old netminder indicated that the injury rehab isn’t really hampering his ability to get good practice reps in, which isn’t surprising considering the fact that it isn’t a lower-body issue.
It’s understandable that the Bolts might want Bishop to play meaningful games as soon as possible, yet it might be wise to take a cautious approach here, whether that means being careful in training camp or even the early part of the 2014-15 season.
While the Lightning were exposed badly without Bishop in being swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2014 postseason, the team enjoys superior options this time around. Disappointing goalie Anders Lindback is out of town in favor of veteran Evgeni Nabokov while Andrei Vasilevskiy stands as the potential other netminder of the future in Tampa Bay (with Kristers Gudlevskis possessing potential, as well).
The Lightning are hoping they have more than just options, too. Nabokov told the Lightning website that he hasn’t personally seen this kind of goalie depth since his early days with the San Jose Sharks.
“I think the talent is tremendous,” Nabokov said. “The only time I remember that I can compare that to was in San Jose when we had (Vesa) Toskala, (Miikka) Kiprusoff, (Johan) Hedberg and myself … But, now it’s a new generation, and everybody’s bigger and stronger.”
The Lightning’s future seems promising and Nabokov provides useful insurance, yet it still seems likely that the team’s goaltending hinges on Bishop proving his fantastic 2013-14 season was more than just a one-time thing. Coming in healthy would certainly increase those odds.
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 Hockey News’ Rory Boylen believes that Martin Brodeur should retire. (Post to Post)
Fifteen things to know about NHL 15, which is out in North America today. (Sportsnet)
The owners who failed the Atlanta Thrashers seem to be failing the Atlanta Hawks, too. (Grantland)
Alex Ovechkin shares his take on the unsettling political situation between Russia and Ukraine. (ESPN)
The Edmonton Oilers defense might fall victim to faulty play by their wingers. (The Score)
Plenty of funny stuff from Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds making an appearance at the NHL Store on Monday, but it’s unlikely anything will top this:
Hey, Henrik Lundqvist can’t cook. See, he’s not per…forget it. (ESPN)
Patrick Kane swindled journalists into thinking he knew his Corsi rating:
… While Sidney Crosby didn’t bother:
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby admits that he was close to getting offseason surgery on his wrist, but he’s glad that he opted against it and has now essentially put the injury behind him.
“Yeah, I feel good,” Crosby said. “I feel really good. The wrist isn’t even something I think about, to be honest with you.”
He did provide some interesting extra details about how that injury happened and admitted that it did impact his play in the postseason, though he didn’t want to lean on that too much.
Crosby said that he suffered the injury thanks to a hit by St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves during a March 23 game. Hockey Buzz’s Ryan Wilson tracked down the specific hit:
Crosby kept playing in that contest, which also went poorly for Evgeni Malkin:
Malkin’s foot injury sidelined him until the 2014 playoffs. In case you’re wondering, Crosby scored three goals (plus 16 assists) in the 22 combined playoff and regular season games following that game against the Blues, making a case for the 27-year-old being limited (but not totally stopped) by the issue.
Healing up that wrist wasn’t the only concern from this offseason, as the Penguins revamped their front office and a false arrest report surfaced about Crosby. Crosby essentially shrugged the situation off, as he told the team website.
“It’s not the first time something’s been said that’s not true, and it won’t be the last,” Crosby said. “There’s nothing you can really do about it.”
Crosby can control how he plays on the ice, however, and it sounds like he’ll be healthy enough to make the most of that.