James O'Brien

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators

Four Flames accept qualifying offers, including Shore


The Calgary Flames announced that four players accepted qualifying offers on Wednesday: Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino, Drew Shore and Bryce van Brabant.

General Fanager lists the contract details as such (all one-year contracts): Arnold takes in $824,500, Agostino receives $735K, Van Brabant lands $874,125 and Shore gets $850,500, at least at the NHL level.

Shore (pictured) carries the most robust top-level resume. The 24-year-old has appeared in 78 regular season games during his NHL career, including 11 with the Flames in 2014-15, generating three points. He also played in one Flames playoff contest.

Agostino, 23, has played in eight NHL games, all with Calgary in 2013-14. Arnold and Van Brabant are also 23 and have received a cup of coffee at the NHL level.

Kesler says Ducks letdowns are ‘not going to happen again’

Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks - Game Seven

Anaheim Ducks management stepped up to the plate in handing Ryan Kesler a hefty six-year, $41.25 million contract extension. Now it’s up to Kesler & Co. to prove that it’s all worth it.

The 30-year-old told the team website that he believes the Ducks “have all the pieces, we just need to put them together.” Kesler also said that falling short of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final ultimately serves as a valuable learning experience for the team.

At what point do you need to put those lessons together for an even deeper playoff run, though? Kesler looked back at the Ducks’ inability to put the Chicago Blackhawks away, including a 5-2 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final:

“We needed a killer instinct in Game 6. We didn’t have it,” Kesler said. “There are two ways we can go about it: We can sulk about it or we can learn from it. I’m gonna make sure, just like all the other leaders on this team, that we learn from this and we learn not to let it happen again. That’s our job as leaders on this team. That’s not gonna happen again, I’ll tell you that.”

One cannot help but wonder how wide open the window really is for the Ducks, actually.

Wrong side of 30

Look, the West remains brutal, particularly with the ascension of Anaheim’s old nemesis, the Dallas Stars.

Still, this may just be the Ducks’ best chance to go all the way. The Blackhawks suffered some significant losses during this summer, and many others seemed to idle or even get worse. On paper, Anaheim might just be the favorite in its conference.

Beyond that, the team’s big names aren’t getting any younger, and the days of having a glut of cap space might be fleeting.

As of this writing, Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are all 30 years old. According to many, that’s roughly the age where big scorers start to see diminishing returns.

Costly contracts coming

The Ducks will also see a squeeze in contracts, particularly if they don’t get some other extensions done early (like they did with Kesler).

They still have some haggling to do with Carl Hagelin* and Jakob Silfverberg before the 2015-16 season begins. Gearing up for 2016-17 may prove costly, too, as their three goalies (Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, Anton Khudobin) and significant young defensemen Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres and Hampus Lindholm will all need new contracts.

Even with the bright side of Khudobin being the only UFA in mind, the Ducks seem rapidly shift from being a contender with a startling salary cap cushion to another championship hopeful with little room to breathe.


Kesler can shrug off the pressure to win all he wants, but with that big new deal, he’ll shoulder a lot of the blame if the Ducks fall short once more.

* – Sorry, had to do it.

Is Oduya indeed ‘the missing piece’ for the Stars?

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

The Dallas Stars continued to make waves by signing Johnny Oduya, and from the sound of things, GM Jim Nill is convinced that they now have the makings of a winner.

And not just “winners of the offseason.”

Nill goes as far as to call the 33-year-old the “missing piece” of the Stars’ defense: a steady hand, puck-mover and fitness fanatic who could be a good influence for the many young blueliners in Dallas:

Indeed, on paper, the Stars look awfully scary.

They’ve added Patrick Sharp to an offensive mix that includes Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Nill didn’t flinch in spending on goaltending, as the Antti Niemi – Kari Lehtonen combo costs a whopping $10.4 million. Now their blueline adds some experience to a group that’s heavier on potential.

Of course, there’s another reason Nill believes that the picture is near-complete: Dallas doesn’t have much money left.

With Oduya’s (quite reasonable) $3.75 million cap hit in mind, the Stars only have about $2.3 million in space remaining, according to General Fanager. For a team that plays in a somewhat erratic hockey market and missed the playoffs entirely in 2014-15, the pressure is on.

At least Oduya is used to big-time pressure though, right?

Habs lock down Tinordi with one-year, two-way contract

Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens signed defenseman Jarred Tinordi to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday. The financial terms have not been disclosed.

At this point, the Habs only have one pressing concern remaining: re-signing RFA Alex Galchenyuk. Naturally, much like the New York Rangers with Derek Stepan, getting Galchenyuk under contract will be more challenging than signing the likes of Tinordi and Michael Bournival.

Tinordi, 23, managed to play in 13 regular season games last season, generating two assists. He didn’t receive any reps in the playoffs, but he does have some postseason experience, as he played in five playoff games in 2013.

It’s likely that the young blueliner – drafted 22nd overall in 2010 – will need to battle for playing time. It won’t be easy, yet he has at least one ace up his sleeve:

Kings ink Andy Andreoff for two years, $1.175M

Nashville Predators v Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings signed funny-named forward Andy Andreoff to a two-year contract on Wednesday.

LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen reports that it’s worth $1.175 million overall, or $587,500 per season. There isn’t any word from Rosen or the Kings regarding whether the deal is one-way or two-way.

Andreoff appeared in 18 regular season games with Los Angeles in 2014-15, collecting two goals and one assist for three points while receiving 8:34 minutes of ice time per contest.

The 24-year-old also generating 10 points in 11 games at the AHL level with the Manchester Monarchs. He may provide a little extra grit for the Kings here and there, as he produced 133 PIM in 2013-14 and 111 in 2012-13 with Manchester.

Andreoff was a third-round pick (80th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.