When Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo signed a new two-year, $1.2 million deal this summer it did a lot of things for him.
One of those things was making sure he got to stay in the organization that drafted him as Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shares.
“Relieved, actually,” Bortuzzo said Saturday during a players-organized workout at Consol Energy Center. “Getting the contract done was big for me. It showed they believe in me.”
Bortuzzo has one worry put away and another to take care of on the ice as the Penguins have a host of players fighting for ice time. Guys like Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, and Matt Niskanen would figure to have jobs locked down leaving one spot in the top-six left to compete for.
That leaves Bortuzzo in a battle with Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres, and Brendan Mikkelson for a spot on the team. Bortuzzo’s low cap hit may give him an edge as the team is a million dollars over the cap, something that needs to be addressed before opening night.
It wasn’t one of the major changes made by the competition committee, but shallow nets will be making their debut in training camp.
The net depth will be reduced by four inches helping make the room behind the net slightly more spacious.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch spoke with former Blue Jackets forward, and current Director of Player Development, Chris Clark and finds out that while the change is subtle, the goalies will definitely take notice.
“You’re probably going to notice it a lot on wrap-arounds,” said Clark. “Those times when the goaltender gets his leg across just in time to cover the other post? Those might be goals now.
“The players haven’t seen them yet. The goaltenders haven’t played with them yet. But it’s going to take some getting used to.”
Good thing for everyone that preseason and training camp lasts about three weeks because that’s what they’ll have to get used to them before the games count.
Portzline also points out that the pipes will be more squared off in the corners and are also narrower. It’s not drastic by any means, but it might be just enough to help scorers find the back of the net more often.
When Phoenix Coyotes camp opens next week they’ll have one of their better offensive players there without worry.
Restricted free agent Mikkel Boedker signed a two-year deal with the Coyotes. TSN’s Bob McKenzie says it’s worth a total of $5.1 million with a cap hit of $2.55 million. Now he’ll look to show that the offense he generated last season was a sign of things to come. GM Don Maloney is more than happy with the signing.
“We are pleased to sign Mikkel prior to the beginning of training camp,” said Maloney. “Mikkel is an important player for us and having him under contract makes us a better team.”
Boedker, 23, had 26 points last season for the Coyotes, two points shy of his career-high set during his rookie year, putting him fourth on the team in scoring. Over his five seasons in the league, his 26 points in 48 games was the highest points-per-game ratio in his career.
With Boedker and Washington’s Marcus Johansson both signing today, there are just six key restricted free agents left to be signed. New York Ranger Derek Stepan, St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto’s Cody Franson and Nazem Kadri, Buffalo’s Cody Hodgson, and Ottawa’s Jared Cowen.
Los Angeles Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli had been a right wing his whole career until last season. He was used a left wing during last year’s late-season run, but now coach Darryl Sutter wants to get him back to where he started.
Sutter tells Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times he doesn’t want to mess with Toffoli’s development and will have him go back to working on the right wing.
“I don’t want to set Tyler back. That’s my thinking,” Sutter said Friday. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time. If he’s way better on the right than he is on the left, that’s the best chance. I’m really cautious about that one, because he’s never played it and he’s a good player.”
Toffoli arrived on the scene with a bang last season with two goals and three assists in 10 regular season games and another two goals and four assists in the playoffs. With the Kings losing Dustin Penner in free agency, that opens a spot in L.A.’s forward top-six, albeit on the left side.
One thing’s for sure, if he can keep producing points, they’ll find a spot for him no matter what.
One area the Philadelphia Flyers could use help is on defense and they’re looking to address that in training camp.
Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports the Flyers have invited veteran blue liner Hal Gill to camp on a tryout. The 38-year-old, 6’7″ defenseman spent the past season and a half with the Nashville Predators. Previous to that he’s played for Montreal, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Boston.
In his run with the Preds last season, Gill averaged just over 13 minutes per game as a third-pair defenseman. In 32 games he had no points, 12 penalty minutes, and was a minus-3.
The Flyers start the season with question marks still leftover from last year. Andrej Meszaros is still waiting for clearance to play and the rest of the corps is, to say the least, suspect.
One thing Gill has been good at in his career is actually playing defense and that’s what has to be appealing to Philly. If he’s got anything left, he could help out.