It seemed only yesterday that Kris Versteeg was on the verge of signing with the Edmonton Oilers.
But apparently it was not to be, as the 30-year-old winger will reportedly join the Calgary Flames instead. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Versteeg will ink a one-year deal, with a cap hit “likely” under $1 million. (Update: $950,000.)
Versteeg split last season between Carolina and Los Angeles, finishing with 15 goals and 23 assists in 77 regular-season games. He was traded to the Hurricanes last September after winning the 2015 Stanley Cup with Chicago, his second championship as a member of the Blackhawks.
As an unrestricted free agent, Versteeg last month agreed to a professional tryout with the Oilers. He had one goal in four preseason games.
The Flames have also signed defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. It’s a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000 for the 31-year-old who came to Calgary on a PTO.
New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is dealing with back spasms and is uncertain to play in Thursday’s regular-season opener against the Islanders at MSG.
Klein has missed the last two days of practice due to the spasms. His injury comes amid speculation that the club may be looking to trade Dylan McIlrath, who like Klein is a right-shot d-man.
With Klein’s status up in the air, head coach Alain Vigneault does not expect any roster moves for now. The Rangers are currently carrying eight defensemen, including Klein.
Also today came word that veteran winger Nathan Gerbe would not be reporting to the AHL. Gerbe’s one-year contract, signed on July 1, will reportedly be terminated by mutual agreement and he will play in Switzerland this season.
Gerbe was placed on waivers last week.
Mike Condon is off to Pittsburgh. The Penguins have claimed the 26-year-old goalie off waivers from Montreal, a direct result of Matt Murray being sidelined with a broken hand.
Condon went 21-25-6 for the Habs last season, with a .903 save percentage. Thrust into a starting role due to Carey Price‘s injury, Condon battled hard and had a few memorable moments, including a victory over the Bruins in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium. But it was a lot to ask of a rookie, and ultimately the job was too big.
It remains to be seen how long Condon will last in Pittsburgh. Murray will be back shortly, so Condon’s stay may only be temporary. He’s a pending UFA with a cap hit of $575,000, which can be buried entirely in the minors if need be. Then again, with Murray a pending RFA who will be looking for a good-sized raise, there has been speculation that the Pens may look to trade Marc-Andre Fleury.
Price’s backup in Montreal this season will be Al Montoya.
The Minnesota Wild are hoping that Teemu Pulkkinen‘s AHL stats mean something. They’ve claimed the 24-year-old winger off waivers from Detroit.
Pulkkinen has twice scored more than 30 goals in a single AHL season. His big right-handed shot helped him to 31 in 2013-14 and then 34 in 2014-15 for Grand Rapids.
But for whatever reason (some have suggested his skating is an issue), his minor-league success has yet to translate into big NHL numbers. In 70 games with the Red Wings, he has 11 goals and nine assists.
In Minnesota, Pulkkinen will join a team that bought out right winger Thomas Vanek this past offseason. If Pulkkinen plays well, he could push for a spot in the top six. But again, he still has a lot to prove.
The Wild’s leading goal-scorer in 2015-16 was Zach Parise, who had 25. Charlie Coyle, their top right-winger, had 21 goals.
Another contract down for Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay. The Lightning announced today that Nikita Kucherov has signed a three-year deal worth an average of $4.766 million per season.
Kucherov scored 30 goals with 36 assists last season, good for a team-high 66 points. The 23-year-old winger will still be a restricted free agent when his contract expires in 2019.
The Lightning’s cap situation is why Kucherov was only signed to a bridge deal. Assuming his production remains high, he’ll be looking for a significant raise in his next contract negotiation.
But that’s a problem for another day in Tampa Bay. For now, Yzerman has to be happy after first getting his captain, Steven Stamkos, to re-sign, and then being able to keep Kucherov without making a trade.
The next big decision for Yzerman? What to do with pending UFA goalie Ben Bishop — keep him for a playoff run, or trade him before the deadline?
The answer to that question could be largely determined by the play of 22-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy. If Yzerman feels the youngster is ready to carry the mail in the postseason, Bishop could be dealt. If not, Bishop will stay, even if he walks away for nothing next summer.
It is unlikely that the Lightning will be able to re-sign Bishop, as their pending RFAs include Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat.
Related: Ben Bishop thinks he was close to being traded to Flames