Author: Jason Brough


Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins


In a blockbuster deal that’s been rumored for some time now, the Toronto Maple Leafs have traded winger Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The return is a couple of well-regarded prospects, forward Kasperi Kapanen (22nd overall in 2014) and defenseman Scott Harrington (54th overall in 2011), plus a conditional first-round draft pick, a third-round draft pick (previously New Jersey’s) and forward Nick Spaling.

The Leafs also sent the Penguins defenseman Tim Erixon, forward Tyler Biggs and a conditional second-round draft pick.

Much has been said and written about Kessel’s time in Toronto, not all positive. But in Pittsburgh, he’ll be able to skate with two of the best centers in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The 27-year-old played mostly with Tyler Bozak as his center with the Leafs.

Kessel, one of the NHL’s premier scoring wingers, has 247 goals in 668 career NHL games.

The Leafs were reportedly forced to eat $1.25 million of Kessel’s annual salary, leaving the Pens with a $6.75 million cap hit through 2021-22.

Related: Are we seeing the last of Kessel in Toronto?

Coyotes close to signing Richardson, who should help woeful PK

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Six

The Arizona Coyotes are inching ever closer to the salary floor:

Richardson was a valuable bottom-six center during his two seasons with the Canucks. The 30-year-old was one of Vancouver’s top penalty killers. He also added eight goals and 13 assists in 45 games in 2014-15.

Arizona had the second-worst penalty kill in the league last year, so the signing makes sense.

The one caveat is that staying healthy has been a challenge for Richardson, and now the Coyotes have him locked up for three years.

Related: Richardson (ankle) still not 100 percent

Oilers get Sekera for six years, closing in on Letestu

Andrej Sekera

For all the talent they boast up front, and after acquiring Cam Talbot to try and shore up the goaltending, the Edmonton Oilers still needed to address their defense.

They started to do that today by signing veteran blue-liner Andrej Sekera to a long-term deal:

Sekera, 29, split last season between Carolina and Los Angeles. He was traded to the Kings in February, but couldn’t help the then-defending champions into the playoffs.

The Oilers’ defense will continue to change. Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference won’t be around much longer, while young Darnell Nurse will be brought into the fold.

Edmonton is also reportedly close to signing center Mark Letestu.

Avalanche sign veteran d-man Beauchemin for three years

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars

The Colorado Avalanche have signed veteran defenseman François Beauchemin to a three-year deal with a $4.5 million cap hit, according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

Beauchemin, 35, did not re-sign with Anaheim; the Ducks essentially filled his spot by trading for Kevin Bieksa.

In Colorado, the hope will be that Beauchemin can provide a steadying presence on a team that struggled defensively last season.

At 35 years old, Beauchemin is no youngster. However, he still managed to average 22:45 of ice time in 2014-15.

“He’s the voice,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of Beauchemin during the playoffs. “Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there. You can hear him talking all the time.”

Canucks re-sign Weber for one year

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 21: Yannick Weber #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on January 21, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Yannick Weber will re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks for one year and $1.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Vancouver did not tender Weber a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. But the Canucks always wanted to re-sign him; they just didn’t want to go to arbitration with him.

In his season-ending press conference, GM Jim Benning spoke well of the 26-year-old defenseman who scored 11 goals with 10 assists in 2014-15. .

While it once seemed it could be tough for the Canucks to keep Weber, yesterday’s trade of Kevin Bieksa to Anaheim made room.