The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed winger Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year contract worth a reported $812,500.
Injuries limited Pulkkinen to just 36 games (6G, 6A) in 2015-16. The 24-year-old had shoulder surgery in June and may not be ready for the start of next season.
But the signing of Pulkkinen gives the Wings yet another forward under contract for 2016-17. They already had 15, not including Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale, both of whom are expected to remain on long-term injured reserve.
GM Ken Holland said recently that he might try and turn his surplus of forwards into a defenseman via trade. The key will be if youngsters Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are deemed NHL-ready come training camp.
“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland told the Detroit News. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”
Related: The Ducks have too many defensemen
The Pittsburgh Penguins are bringing back Justin Schultz. They’ve signed the 26-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $1.4 million contract.
Schultz earned $3.9 million last season, so he’s taken a significant pay cut. He was briefly an unrestricted free agent after the Penguins chose not to extend him a qualifying offer in June.
But he’s found a good spot in Pittsburgh, after struggling under the weight of expectations in Edmonton. His new contract reflects a player who can do good things offensively, but still needs to be sheltered defensively.
“Justin’s a guy that, when we acquired him, we thought he could help us play the identity or the type of game that we want to play,” head coach Mike Sullivan said during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run. “He’s a very good puck mover. He has good offensive instincts. He has good mobility. He can really shoot the puck. And so we’ve tried to put him in positions where he can play to those strengths, and he’s done a real good job for us. He doesn’t try to do too much. He plays within himself.”
Schultz played 15 playoff games for the Pens and had four assists.
In Edmonton, he wore No. 4, the same number he wore in junior with the Windsor Spitfires, and all the way back to his days in minor hockey.
But Taylor Hall can’t wear No. 4 for the Devils, because that’s the number Scott Stevens wore, and it’s been retired.
So he’s chosen No. 9, another number with history in New Jersey. It’s the same number former captains Kirk Muller and Zach Parise wore.
“In choosing No. 9, I’m looking for a fresh start,” Hall told the club’s website. “There have been a lot of great players that have worn the No. 9 and I want to add to that list.”
In reality, it doesn’t really matter what number Hall wears, as long as he puts the puck in the net and the team has success. His main motivation is to prove that the Devils made the right move in trading for him, after all those losing years with the Oilers.
For the record, Hall couldn’t have worn No. 9 in Edmonton, because that’s Glenn Anderson’s old number, and the Oilers retired it in 2009.
Related: Hall excited about Henrique reunion in New Jersey
Sabres GM Tim Murray has dangled a tasty carrot for eighth overall draft pick Alexander Nylander. If the 18-year-old puts in the work over the summer, he might be able to earn a spot in the NHL next season.
Per the Buffalo News, Nylander could play in the NHL, the AHL, Europe, or be returned to his junior team in Mississauga.
“If you ask me, ‘Could I see him going back to junior?’ I guess there’s a scenario,” Murray told reporters Tuesday. “If you ask me, ‘Could I see him playing wing with [Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart]?’ I think there’s a scenario. … He’s just high-end talent, high-end skill. He’s going to be a real good NHL player. It’s a matter of time.”
Nylander had 75 points in 57 games for the Steelheads last season. For that, he was named the OHL’s rookie of year. He thinks he can make the jump to the Sabres right away, and promises he’s “going to do everything it takes in the summer to get ready for it.”
Just don’t expect him to be gifted a roster spot. The Sabres have much higher expectations heading into 2016-17. They can’t afford to have youngsters who aren’t ready.
“We think we’re stronger. We’re deeper,” head coach Dan Bylsma told NHL.com recently. “If you’re looking at expectations from within, we should be above 95 points at the end of the season. It took 95 points to get into the playoffs in the East last season.”
In the wake of one of most controversial trades in franchise history, the owner of the Montreal Canadiens is standing behind his general manager.
“Marc Bergevin, he works to make our team better, and I think all of the work he has done this spring to improve our team has been 100 percent supported by me,” Geoff Molson said yesterday, per NHL.com. “And that’s what I pay him for, is to make our team better, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the evolved team on the ice and I think our fans are going to really appreciate the improvements.”
Molson was, of course, talking about the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade with Nashville. The move has not been particularly well-received by the fan base, but the Habs have insisted that they’re better today with Weber.
“He’s won two Olympic gold medals and he’s a guy who, like Carey Price, has a presence that right away brings credibility to your team,” Bergevin told NHL.com. “He’ll be a great complement to our captain, Max Pacioretty, and to our leadership group. Shea’s a big man and he’s hard to play against. If you’re lined up against Shea Weber, nothing’s going to come easy. To me, that’s something that we missed last season.”
Bergevin had better hope he’s right about that. Because if he’s wrong, it’s going to be very tough for the fans to forgive him, and for the owner to keep supporting him.
Related: In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban