Author: Jason Brough

Jake Virtanen

Virtanen has sights set on making Canucks


The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Jake Virtanen has high expectations for next season.

“My goal is to make the team,” the 18-year-old said this week at Vancouver’s prospects camp, per the Times Colonist.

Virtanen is a big winger the Canucks are hoping can turn into an elite power forward.

If that description sounds familiar, it’s because the Canucks just traded away Zack Kassian, a big winger they’d hoped would turn into an elite power forward.

Canucks GM Jim Benning has said of Virtanen: “He knows how to hit. He likes to hit.” Which is something that was never said of Kassian during his time in Vancouver. In fact, some felt Kassian was miscast, that he’s really a finesse player, not a wrecking ball.

Virtanen concedes his defensive game remains a work in progress.

“A 200-foot game is what I have to work on,” he said.

And yes, they said that about Kassian, too.

Related: Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

Avs add Farrish to coaching staff

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators

The Colorado Avalanche have hired Dave Farrish to be an assistant coach on Patrick Roy’s staff.

“Dave brings a wealth of experience and hockey knowledge to our organization,” said Roy in a release. “He is the ideal candidate to complement our coaching staff and we look forward to working together to make our team as competitive as we can.”

Farrish was last an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs. He was fired in May of 2014, at the same time Randy Carlyle was given a two-year extension.

It was reported in May that the Avs were interested in hiring Farrish.

Big money: Tarasenko signs eight-year, $60 million extension with Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko

The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, $60 million contract.

With a cap hit of $7.5 million, the deal makes Tarasenko the highest-paid player on the Blues.

One of the league’s top young stars, the 23-year-old had 37 goals in 2014-15, fewer than only four others in the NHL. He added six more goals in six playoff games.

The Blues drafted Tarasenko 16th overall in 2010.

As far as recent comparables go, it’s not easy to come up with many, given Tarasenko was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level deal. Brandon Saad just signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Columbus, but his production pales next to Tarasenko’s.

Elite scoring wingers-wise, Phil Kessel is on an eight-year deal with an $8 million cap hit (shared now by both the Leafs and Penguins), while Corey Perry is also on an eight-year deal, with an $8.625 million cap hit.

Kessel, 27, and Perry, 30, each have a longer track record, but Tarasenko is considerably younger. And, of course, Kessel and Perry signed those deals as pending unrestricted free agents, which gave them more leverage in negotiations.

Canes sign Zach Boychuk to one-year, two-way deal

Zach Boychuk

The Carolina Hurricanes are keeping a familiar face in the fold. The club announced today that it has comes to terms with forward Zach Boychuk on a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL.

“This will be Zach’s eighth season in our organization,” said GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a reliable depth forward who we know is capable of contributing offensively at either level.”

The ‘Canes drafted Boychuk 14th overall in 2008. The 25-year-old split last season between AHL Charlotte and Carolina. In 31 games with the ‘Canes, he had three goals and three assists.

Report: Boedker takes one-year deal with Coyotes, avoids arbitration

Mikkel Boedker

The Arizona Coyotes and forward Mikkel Boedker have come to terms on a one-year deal, according to Craig Morgan of FOX Sports Arizona.

The deal is reportedly worth $3.75 million, a good raise over the $2.8 million he made last year.

Boedker, who recently filed for salary arbitration, was a restricted free agent. The 25-year-old Dane had 14 goals and 14 assists in 45 games in 2014-15. The player and club had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an extension prior to the start of the season. In April, the two sides were still in an “arm wrestle” over terms.

“There’s been a lot of changes with the Coyotes and a lot gone on,” Boedker’s agent, Jarrett Bousquet, told azcentral over the weekend. “Our talks have been going on for a long time and right or wrong, it’s nobody’s fault. That’s why you get an arbitrator. When people disagree on something, it’s not a bad thing. We can continue to work toward a one-year deal.”

Of note, Boedker will be an unrestricted free agent when his new contract expires next summer.

Related: Coyotes confirm Boedker had spleen removed after Jets game