Author: Jason Brough

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins

Canucks pick up Bartkowski


Not long after announcing they’d re-signed Yannick Weber, the Vancouver Canucks announced they’d signed d-man Matt Bartkowski (one year, $1.75 million), too.

Bartkowski, 27, played 131 games for the Bruins from 2011-15, scoring no goals with 24 assists. For much of that time, Canucks GM Jim Benning was with the Boston organization, so there’s some familiarity there.

The addition of Bartkowski gives the Canucks six NHL d-men under contract for 2015-16, plus Frank Corrado and Adam Clendening are expected to push for spots on the roster.

Alex Edler — Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis — Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa — Frank Corrado
Matt Bartkowski — Adam Clendening

Related: Canucks have a puzzle to solve on the blue line

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.”