Author: Mike Halford

Brenden Morrow, Bobby Farnham

Pens re-sign AHL tough guy Farnham


Pittsburgh has re-upped with Bobby Farnham on a one-year, two-way deal worth $575,000 at the NHL level, per the Post-Gazette.

Farnham, 26, made his NHL debut with the Pens last season and appeared in 11 games, going scoreless with 24 PIM. He also fought 15 times — four with Pittsburgh, 11 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton — and it’s that sort of pugilism that will (presumably) keep Farnham in the mix for recalls moving forward.

The Brown University product has made a name for himself over the last two AHL campaigns as an undersized (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) yet willing combatant. In ’12-13, he fought 21 times while racking up a staggering 274 PIM and in ’13-14, Farnham fought 12 times while taking 166 penalty minutes.

In a January USA Today profile, Farnham explained his (slightly different) approach to fighting at the NHL level:

Farnham proudly notes that he’s started turning down fights, something he never did in his first year with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, when he got in 25 fights and would go with just about anyone who glanced in his general direction. He fought big guys even, guys way out of his weight class, guys who’d put him down in seconds. He’s stopped that.

“I’ve earned that right. I tell guys to [expletive] themselves now. I’ll say that, too. I’ll say: ‘Go [expletive] yourself.’ I can do that now.” He pauses, then laughs.

“Well, I can do that down in the AHL. I can’t do that up here.”

Related: Pens recall AHL tough guy Farnham prior to Flyers tilt

Sabres, Varone avoid arbitration with one-year, $600K deal

Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders
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Just over a week after filing for arbitration, Phil Varone has avoided the hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Sabres.

The contract is of the two-way variety.

Varone, 24, split last season between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate in Rochester, appearing in a career-high 28 NHL games while scoring five points. With the Amerks, he had 15 goals and 44 points in 55 games — and it was the AHL part of his contract that led to the original arbitration filing, per the Buffalo News:

Varone had a pro-rated NHL salary of $595,000 last season and made $62,500 in the AHL. The Sabres tendered him his NHL qualifying offer by last week’s deadline, which would push his NHL salary into the $655,000 range. He’s likely looking for a much bigger salary for the AHL portion of his deal, given the large minor-league salaries the Sabres handed out last week in free agency.

Buffalo will be paying former Utica Comets captain Cal O’Reilly $700,000 next season to play in the AHL, while defenseman Matt Donovan would make $400,000 with the Amerks, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti would make $300,000 and forward Jason Akeson would be at $250,000.

Varone will be in tough for minutes with Buffalo next season. The team will be dramatically different at center, with Ryan O’Reilly as the new No. 1 and both Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart looking to crack the roster and be full-time contributors.

GM Tim Murray also added some depth in veteran David Legwand, acquired from Ottawa in the Robin Lehner deal.

Wild sign ’15 first-rounder Eriksson Ek

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Minnesota has agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract with Swedish forward Joel Eriksson Ek, the 20th overall pick at this year’s draft.\

“We’re excited to officially have Joel under contract,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr said in a release. “He’s a top young player with an exciting package of size, skill, hockey sense and character. We are committed to working with him in the development process and look forward to seeing him in a Wild uniform in the near future.”

Per the Star-Tribune, Eriksson Ek will return to Sweden next year and play with SHL Farjestad (he’s under contract for the next two years). That he’s headed back home isn’t much of a surprise; Eriksson Ek split last season between Farjestad’s senior and junior teams and only turned 18 in January.

What’s more, there aren’t a ton of roster spots available at forward in Minnesota.

An overage of bodies saw the team cut ties with the likes of Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak and Chris Stewart this summer, and it’s expected GM Chuck Fletcher will use the organization’s internal options (Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Carter, Erik Haula, etc.) to fill the few spaces available.