The San Jose Sharks added some speed, skill and goal-scoring ability on Friday, signing 26-year-old winger Mikkel Boedker to a four-year, $16 million deal.
“Mikkel’s tremendous speed is his best attribute and he has the ability to back off defenders with his combination of quickness and soft hands,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a release. “His creativity and puck-handling abilities make him a threat in the transition game and he is a positive contributor in all three zones. We think he will thrive with our group and look forward to him joining our team.”
“I’m very familiar with Mikkel having coached him in juniors with Kitchener,” added head coach Peter DeBoer. “He has world class speed but is also a world class person and teammate.”
Boedker split last season between Arizona and Colorado. He had four goals and eight assists in 18 games for the Avs, but in the end chose not to re-sign in Denver. (The Avs also lost their other rental, Shawn Matthias, today. He signed with the Jets.)
In San Jose, Boedker could be a fit on a line with Logan Couture, who seemed to be a fan of the acquisition:
It’s worth noting that Patrick Marleau only has one year left on his contract. In November, he was the subject of intense trade speculation, though that was pretty much forgotten when the Sharks made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
With Boedker signed, that speculation could pick up again.
Related: The Sharks couldn’t handle the Penguins’ speed
The Detroit Red Wings are taking a one-year gamble on Thomas Vanek. They’ll pay the 32-year-old winger $2.6 million next season, in hopes that he’ll be able to regain the form that once made him an elite NHL sniper.
Vanek was recently bought out of the final year of his contract with Minnesota. He had 18 goals in 74 games last season. The Wild opted for “salary cap flexibility” over keeping him.
“He’s definitely going to bring some offense,” said the Wings’ other new forward, Frans Nielsen, per NHL.com’s Nick Costsonika. “He could be the steal of this free agency.”
Nielsen was the Wings’ biggest signing of the day, and he was no one-year gamble. The 32-year-old center left the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million contract in Detroit.
GM Ken Holland is banking on Nielsen to help fill the void left by the departure of Pavel Datsyuk.
Granted, it might be a bluff. But according to St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong, the Blues are leaning towards keeping defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
“I think the Kevin Shattenkirk thing grew on a life of its own at the draft. What I’ve said internally here is that we’re excited to have Kevin Shattenkirk as a part of our team,” Armstrong told the NHL Network today, per CSN New England.
Shattenkirk has just one year left on his contract, and with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko on the right side of the defense in St. Louis, many felt that the 27-year-old, right-shooting puck mover would be traded for a solid return.
That wasn’t just speculation either. In fact, Shattenkirk’s agent recently called a trade “inevitable.”
But Armstrong isn’t saying that now. Even if he can’t get Shattenkirk re-signed, it may be that the next pressure point is the trade deadline.
“If you get to a part of the year and you have guys that are unrestricted and your team is no good, then you make those decisions,” he said. “But if you have a good team and you have guys that are unrestricted, you just play it out.”
Again, he might be bluffing.
The Boston Bruins were one of the favorites to land Shattenkirk. Currently, their defense looks pretty much the same as it did at the end of the regular season, save for the subtraction of Dennis Seidenberg who’s been bought out.
Related: Neely says fixing the defense is “at the top of the list” for Bruins this offseason
Another big signing in Tampa Bay, and this one could have consequences.
The Lightning have locked up 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year contract extension worth $3.5-million per season. The deal doesn’t start until 2017-18, so he’s Tampa Bay property through 2019-20.
Vasilevskiy went 11-10-0 with a .910 save percentage last season. Not the greatest numbers, but he’s been touted as the Lightning’s goalie of the future since they drafted him 19th overall in 2012. And for the record, he was solid in this year’s playoffs (.925 SV% in eight appearances) when Ben Bishop got hurt.
Speaking of Bishop, the Lightning can officially explore trading the 29-year-old. Not because they want to, but because Bishop can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and cap space is going to be an issue for GM Steve Yzerman.
This week alone the Lightning have signed both Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman to giant extensions.
Still unsigned for next season: restricted free agents Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov.
Those that will need a new contract before 2017-18: Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin, and Bishop.
They aren’t the biggest signings of the day, but they’re still…signings.
Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Adam Clendening have all signed with the New York Rangers.
Grabner, 28, gets a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.6 million. He’s fast and a good penalty killer, though he had just nine goals in 80 games last season for the Maple Leafs.
The other forward, Gerbe, gets a one-year deal for $600,000. The diminutive 28-year-old was absolutely snakebitten last season in Carolina. In 47 games, he had just three goals on 73 shots.
Clendening — a 23-year-old defenseman who’s already played for the Blackhawks, Canucks, Penguins and Oilers — received a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level. Known as a puck-mover, he should get a reasonable chance to play in New York. The Rangers had trouble moving the puck last season, and they don’t have Keith Yandle or Dan Boyle anymore.