Author: Jason Brough

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Blackhawks extend TVR through 2017-18

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The Chicago Blackhawks have come to terms with Trevor van Riemsdyk on a two-year contract extension, the club announced today.

The new deal locks van Riemsdyk up through 2017-18, after which he can become a restricted free agent. The reported cap hit for the extension is $825,000. (Which is actually less than his current NHL cap hit of $925,000 that runs through next season, though unlike his current contract, his extension is a one-way deal.)

A 23-year-old defenseman, van Riemsdyk was a pleasant surprise for the ‘Hawks at the start of the 2014-15 campaign. However, injuries to both his leg and wrist meant missing a significant chunk of the season. He only returned in time to play the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final.

“We saw firsthand what he was able to do when he came into training camp. Surprised us all how well he played, how effective and efficient he is,” coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the final. 

“One of his strengths is his reads, positionally aware, decision-making with the puck. He’s got a lot of attributes that can help our team. I think he came onto the scene rather fast for us. I think we have a lot of confidence and trust in him.”

Related: Chicago signs NCAA prospect Trevor van Riemsdyk

Bucks’ threat to move to ‘Las Vegas or Seattle’ has an NHL angle

Milwaukee Bucks New Court
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While we hesitate to give credence to what may ultimately be an empty threat, here’s something from the Milwaukee Business Journal that we’ll be watching nonetheless:

Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin told Wisconsin lawmakers Monday that time was of the essence in approving $250 million in public funding for the proposed arena in downtown Milwaukee or the NBA will move the team to another city.

At an informational hearing held by the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, Feigin said the Bucks owners’ purchase agreement for the team includes a provision that construction of a new arena start in 2015. If that does not occur, he said the NBA will buy back the team for a $25 million profit and move them to “Las Vegas or Seattle.”

Why should this matter to hockey fans? Well, because an NBA team moving to Seattle could spur somebody in that city to — in the words of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — get their “arena act together.”

Currently, nobody has that act together. When investor Chris Hansen failed to relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, it threw his arena plan into doubt.

An arena is already being built in Las Vegas, which is expected to get an NHL expansion team at some point in the near future.

Related: Milwaukee has a plan to build a new arena — could an NHL team move in?

Blue Jackets sign Columbus-born Kole Sherwood

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed forward Kole Sherwood to a three-year entry level contract, the club announced today.

While Sherwood is far from a top prospect — he went undrafted late last month — the signing is a big deal in the Columbus market, as the 18-year-old is a local product.

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Sherwood will be the first player signed directly out of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program, and the first Columbus-born player to sign a contract with the hometown NHL club.

Sherwood has also signed to play for the London Knights, one of the top programs in the Ontario Hockey League.

He had planned to play two years for Youngstown of the United States Hockey League and then attend Boston University beginning in 2017, but Youngstown and Boston U. were notified of Sherwood’s decision after he visited London’s facilities and met with management on Monday.

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen reportedly tried to acquire a seventh-round pick in the draft in order to select Sherwood, but couldn’t find a trade partner.

Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning
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A trio of young forwards have signed with the Boston Bruins.

The B’s announced today that Jimmy Hayes has inked a three-year deal with a cap hit of $2.3 million, while Brett Connolly has agreed to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.025 million and Brandon DeFazio has signed a one-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $575,000 at the NHL level.

Hayes, 25, was acquired last week in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He had 19 goals and 16 assists in 72 games last season.

Connolly, 23, was acquired in March in a trade with Tampa Bay, soon after which he suffered a fractured finger and missed most of the remainder of the season.

Hayes will be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires, while Connolly will remain an RFA. The latter’s $1.025 million cap hit could be a good bargain for the Bruins next season.

DeFazio was an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old spent the last two seasons in the Canucks organization, mostly with AHL Utica.

Related: Chiarelli believes Connolly can ‘help us right away’

Sabres fill out Bylsma’s staff, hire Lambert away from WHL team

2015 Memorial Cup - Championship
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The Buffalo Sabres have hired Dan Lambert as an assistant coach.

Lambert, 45, will leave his job as head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets to join Dan Bylsma’s staff, which already included assistants Terry Murray and Dave Barr.

From the press release:

Lambert joins the Sabres after guiding the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) to a 53-13-6 record and a Western Conference title in his first season as head coach in 2014-15. The Rockets followed up their regular-season success by posting a 16-3 record in the WHL Playoffs, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earning a berth in the Memorial Cup, where the team fell to the Oshawa Generals (OHL) in the Final.

Last year in Kelowna, Lambert coached a handful of top NHL prospects, including Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Nick Merkley (Coyotes), and Madison Bowey (Capitals).

Related: Murray joins Bylsma’s staff in Buffalo, not Hakstol’s in Philly