Eric Staal still believes he’s a top-six center. Now he’ll get a chance to prove it.
Staal, 31, has signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild for a reported cap hit of $3.5 million.
The Wild had been looking for a center. In fact, they were rumored to be interested in Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Signing Staal won’t cost them one of their good, young defensemen in a trade.
Depending how Staal plays behind first-line center Mikko Koivu, it might also allow Charlie Coyle to return to the wing in a top-six role.
The Wild also signed winger Chris Stewart for two years. The 28-year-old had eight goals in 56 games for the Ducks last season. He broke his jaw in February.
Related: Vanek isn’t ‘complaining’ about the Wild’s centers, but….
He’s not Pavel Datsyuk and he’s not Steven Stamkos, but Frans Nielsen is no slouch. He’s a solid two-way center, and the Islanders are going to miss him.
Nielsen has reportedly signed a six-year deal in Detroit with a cap hit of $5.25 million. It’s a big commitment from the Red Wings — especially for a 32-year-old — but they’ve got a lengthy playoff streak on the line, and they intend to keep it going.
Nielsen leaves the Islanders, for whom he played almost a decade. As mentioned, they’ll miss him. But they’ve got 19-year-old center Mathew Barzal in the pipeline, and they’ve got to re-sign John Tavares in a couple of years. They also signed Andrew Ladd to a big deal today.
Nielsen had 20 goals and 32 assists in 81 games for the Isles in 2015-16.
The Vancouver Canucks intend to get back to the playoffs next season. Though many doubt they can, Loui Eriksson should give them a better chance to do it.
The Canucks have reportedly signed Eriksson to a six-year, $36 million today. He scored 30 goals for the Bruins last season, playing mostly with center David Krejdi. In Vancouver, he’s expected to skate on the first line with fellow Swedes Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.
Eriksson turns 31 later this month, so there’s risk in signing him through 2021-22. The Canucks’ president of hockey ops, Trevor Linden, said last weekend that they’d “consider the age, consider the miles” on free-agent wingers, but they were unlikely to land a player of Eriksson’s caliber on a short-term deal. The Sedins, 35, have two years left on their contracts.
Eriksson’s departure from Boston leaves the Bruins with just Joe Morrow and Jimmy Hayes to show for the Tyler Seguin trade. They’re expected to sign a free-agent forward to replace him, reportedly David Backes.
Related: Sedin calls being ‘happy with losing’ a ‘dangerous road to go down,’
David Perron is going back to St. Louis. He’s signed a two-year deal with a reported cap hit of $3.75 million.
The Blues drafted Perron in 2007. He spent a number of seasons with them before he was traded to the Oilers. He’s since played for the Penguins and Ducks.
The Montreal Canadiens were reportedly interested in Perron, but they’ve reportedly signed Alexander Radulov.
In January, Perron was traded for the third time in his career. He went from Pittsburgh, where he struggled early this season, to Anaheim, where he got the “change of scenery” he apparently needed and scored an impressive eight goals in 28 games.
“He’s still a young guy,” said Ducks GM Bob Murray at the time of the acquisition. “He’s definitely been streaky, but he’s definitely skilled.”
The Blues are expected to lose David Backes and Troy Brouwer in free agency, so Perron will help replace them.
Update: Some comments from Blues GM Doug Armstrong…
Roberto Luongo is 37, the oldest starting goalie in the NHL.
Al Montoya is a free agent, who wasn’t expected to be back.
And that’s why the Florida Panthers just signed James Reimer to a five-year, $17 million contract.
Reimer, 28, split last season between Toronto and San Jose. He finished with a .922 save percentage in 40 appearances.
So expect Luongo to start fewer games next season. He started 60 in 2015-16, and that’s a lot for a goalie his age.
The Panthers have also reportedly signed Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault to two-year deals.