Mike Halford

Datsyuk to return to Detroit after Worlds, reveal his decision

5 Comments

There’s a timeline for when Pavel Datsyuk will announce his intentions for next season.

Per Red Wings GM Ken Holland — by way of the Detroit News — Datsyuk is set to return to Michigan following his participation at the 2016 World Hockey Championships, and let the organization know if he’ll return in the fall.

Datsyuk is currently playing for the host Russians at the Worlds, and has three points through the first three games. The tournament runs through May 22.

There has been great speculation the 37-year-old has played his final game in a Red Wings uniform. In April, Datsyuk told the Detroit Free Press’ Mitch Albom he’s probably leaving the NHL, and Datsyuk’s agent was fairly evasive when asked about his client’s playing future.

It’s believed Datsyuk would leave Detroit and play in the KHL next year. The move would allow him to be closer to his 13-year-old daughter, who lives in Russia.

Following Detroit’s season-ending loss to Tampa Bay, the “Magic Man” said he was still undecided about what he’s going to do.

“I’m not thinking about two days or how many days,” Datsyuk explained. “I need a little bit cool down and emotions go out and start thinking about it more.”

It makes sense for Datsyuk to return to Detroit shortly after the Worlds and let the club know what he’s going to do.

Financially speaking, Holland probably needs as much time as possible to figure out the ramifications — Datsyuk is owed $5.5 million in salary next year, and carries a $7.5M cap hit, both of which could be problematic for Detroit’s cap situation.

But, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the issue might not be that complicated:

If Datsyuk does not report for training camp, the Red Wings (or any team which acquires him) can suspend him for breach of contract, two NHL cap managers confirmed on Friday. That team would then not be responsible for paying him any of the $5.5 million due to him in actual cash.

No team, including the Red Wings, would owe him a dollar. Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary-cap hit, a paper penalty in theory, could prove valuable to a small-market team struggling to hit the cap floor or spending minimum.

Related: Datsyuk’s agent basically gives non-answer about Russia rumors

Vesey: ‘The Bruins will definitely be on my list’

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 23:  Jimmy Vesey #19 of the Harvard Crimson skates against the Boston College Eagles during the second period of the 2015 Beanpot Tournament consolation game at TD Garden on February 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Getty Images
13 Comments

Jimmy Vesey is still a couple months away from being able to speak with NHL clubs, but that hasn’t stopped the reigning Hobey Baker winner from already shortlisting his hometown team.

“I think the Bruins will definitely be on my list of teams,” Vesey said on Monday at the Downtown Harvard Club, per the Boston Herald.

Vesey, 22, hasn’t been shy about his affinity for the B’s.

First, there was what he wrote for the Players’ Tribune back in February:

I can remember waking up for 5 a.m. mite hockey games with my dad when the sun wasn’t even up yet.  If I said I was tired, he’d say, “C’mon, Jimmy, someday this is all gonna be worth it.” Then on the way home we would pretend to announce my name as the first overall pick in my draft year.  Those days were the best; I still remember that stuff like it was yesterday.…

With the first pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft … the Boston Bruins are proud to select … from North Reading, Mass. … Jimmy Vesey.

Having played almost exclusively in Massachusetts over the last few years — Belmont Hill high school, South Shore Kings (USPHL) and Harvard — it’s not surprising that Vesey’s seriously considering sticking close to home.

And there’s no denying the Bruins would love to get Vesey in the fold. Coming off two terrific scoring campaigns at Harvard — 32 and 24 goals in his junior and senior seasons — Vesey is regarded as a future top-six NHL forward, and could bolster a Boston squad that’s failed to make the playoffs in consecutive years.

That top-six designation was something Vesey received from the GM that drafted him, Nashville’s David Poile.

Not surprisingly, Vesey had to discuss his spurning of the Preds on Monday night — when asked if he promised the Music City team that he’d sign with them, Vesey replied “no.”

He’s eligible to start talking with interested suitors on Aug. 15.

Related: Bruins sign Grezlcyk (who just so happens to be pals with Jimmy Vesey)

Blues look to ‘poised’ Elliott to close out Stars tonight

St. Louis Blues' goalie Brian Elliott (1) is congratulated by teammate Colton Parayko (55) after their overtime victory over the Dallas Stars during in an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
AP
7 Comments

(AP) – Brian Elliott‘s postseason play is the biggest reason the St. Louis Blues are one win away from their first appearance in the Western Conference final since 2001.

Game after game, the goalie has been handled the pressure.

Protecting a two-goal lead in Game 5 at Dallas on Saturday, the 31-year-old Elliott came up big when needed. The key stop among the 12 saves he made in the third period was thwarting Cody Eakin alone in front of the net.

“Just poised,” forward Alexander Steen said Sunday. “Just comes across, makes himself big, stops the puck. And it’s like, it’s business as usual, get the puck and go the other way.”

The Blues have played two long series and Elliott has been there all the way, giving him league highs in minutes (762:03) and saves (384) in 12 games. Elliott seized the job down the stretch of the regular season after Jake Allen was sidelined by injury, and a healthy Allen now can only watch and marvel along with the rest of the team.

“If we take care of second opportunities, he’s a guy that smothers pucks,” forward Scottie Upshall said. “He’s flexible, he sees the ice well and he’s very underrated playing the puck.”

After ending longstanding postseason frustration by eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in the first round, the Blues can close out Dallas at home Monday night.

Coach Ken Hitchcock cautions not to make too much of Saturday’s 4-1 victory. The Blues seemingly seized control of the series with a 6-1 rout in Game 3, and then the Stars bounced back with an overtime victory in St. Louis to tie the series at two games.

St. Louis has had standing-room crowds throughout the playoffs. Still, the road team has won two straight and three of five in the series.

The Blues are at their best with relentless forechecking and physical play counteracting a faster opponent. The Stars aren’t likely to panic, realizing they dictated much of the pace in Game 5, but lacked favorable bounces.

“We pretty well played close to our best game, we just didn’t finish,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Sunday. “There’s some puck luck in the game and they had all the puck luck.”

Hitchcock got mileage out of a few lineup changes and juggling lines early on in Game 5, but made no promises about sticking with a winning combination. Dmitrij Jaskin stepped up in his first game of the postseason, showing great hands on a second-chance goal and gives St. Louis more skill than agitators Ryan Reaves and Steve Ott.

“Everything is from feel, how I feel when I get up in the morning or think it through tonight when I get rid of you folks,” Hitchcock told reporters. “I don’t rest on keeping every routine the same.”

Dallas forward Tyler Seguin (lower body) isn’t making the trip to St. Louis, although forward Patrick Eaves (leg) could return for Game 6 after missing four games. Ruff has scratched Colton Sceviour, who got the lone goal in Game 3, in the past two games preferring a larger lineup to counteract the Blues.

Report: ‘Hawks to sign star Swedish League goalie Johansson

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15:  Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks second period goal against Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Six of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center  on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Lars Johansson, the SHL’s reigning Goalie of the Year, is reportedly close to signing on with the Chicago Blackhawks, per a pair of Swedish outlets (Expressen and Goteborgs-Posten.)

Johansson, 28, had terrific numbers for Frolunda this season, posting a .927 save percentage and 1.74 GAA during the regular season, and a .947 save percentage and 1.43 GAA in the playoffs.

Chicago would prove to be an interesting landing spot. Corey Crawford is locked in long-term, with a $6 million cap hit annually through 2020. His backup, Scott Darling, has one year left on a very affordable deal ($587,500) and posted solid-if-unspectacular numbers this year: 12-8-3, .915 save percentage, 2.58 GAA.

The ‘Hawks had a bit of a revolving door in goal with AHL Rockford this season, as four different ‘tenders — Mac Carruth, Michael Leighton, Mark Visentin and Drew MacIntyre — all got games. None of the four are currently under contract for next season. MacIntyre is out of the mix entirely, as he’s since signed in the German League. Leighton and Visentin are pending UFAs, while Carruth is a restricted free agent.

Johansson has spent his entire professional career in Sweden, having previously suited up for Mora and Vasteras.

Panthers ink ‘reliable, physical’ Gudbranson to one year, $3.5M deal

Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) gets up from the ice after being pushed in the second period during a preseason NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
AP
1 Comment

The Florida Panthers retained another key contributor on Monday, agreeing to a one-year, $3.5 million extension with RFA blueliner Erik Gudbranson.

(Financial terms via Sportsnet.)

“We are very pleased to have signed Erik,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a release. “He is an important part of our young core who has continued to develop into a reliable, physical presence on our blue line and a strong leader in our locker room.”

Gudbranson, 24, scored nine points in 64 games with the Panthers this season, and appeared in all six playoff games. While he’s failed to materialize into the star defenseman some envisioned when he went third overall in 2010 — the first d-man off the board — Gudbranson has managed to effectively utilize his size (6-foot-5, 216 pounds) and finished third on the team in hits this year, with 150.

As for the contract itself, the one year term might come as a bit of a surprise. Earlier today, the Sun-Sentinel reported the two sides were working on a multi-year deal, so it’s unclear what happened there.

Florida is reportedly undergoing a shift in its front office and hockey operations department, which could have played a role in Gudbranson’s short-term extension.

Last week, the club inked 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal as well. It should be noted these two one-year deals wouldn’t have anything to do with each other — Jagr has almost exclusively played on single-season contracts since coming back from the KHL.