Author: Mike Halford


Coyotes re-sign former first-rounder Gormley

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Arizona has re-upped with young blueliner Brandon Gormley on a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Thursday.

Gormley, 23, has spent his entire professional career with the Coyotes after they took him 13th overall at the 2010 draft. A former junior standout — he was named Top Defenseman at the ’12 Worlds — Gormley has yet to make his mark at the NHL level; as an illustration, consider that the defenseman taken one spot ahead of Gormley, Cam Fowler, has already appeared in 345 career contests.

Gormley, meanwhile, has played just 32.

Despite that, it looks as though he’ll have a good shot at extended minutes in Arizona this season. Gone from last year’s blueline are the likes of John Moore and Andrew Campbell but, that said, GM Don Maloney did bring in a pair of veteran presences this summer by re-signing Zbynek Michalek, and adding Nicklas Grossmann via trade.

Isles draftee Song named ambassador for Beijing’s Winter Olympic bid

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

Last month, Andong Song made history when he was picked by the Isles in the sixth round of the draft, becoming the first-ever Chinese-born NHL draftee.

And now, he’s kinda famous.

Song has been named an ambassador for Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics bid, per CCTV, and this week was in Kuala Lumpur to promote the bid along with another fairly famous Chinese athlete — former NBAer Yao Ming.

“After hearing the idea I was very excited. It’s a dream for any athlete to compete in Olympics, and it’s a special honor to be able to do it in your country and the city you grow up,” Song said. “So when I first heard the idea that China will put in a bid, especially Beijing, I was really excited and I felt I have the opportunity.”

A native of Beijing, Song moved to North America at age nine and was picked by New York after he captained the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey during his senior campaign.

He also captained the Chinese team at the 2015 U-18 World Jr. Championships (D-II).

It’s not surprising he was looped into the Beijing bid. NHL participation for future Winter Olympics is hardly a sure thing — NHLPA boss Donald Fehr did say recently that players want to go to Pyeonchang in 2018 — and hockey in China become increasingly popular in recent years.

This spring, CCTV (the Chinese state broadcaster) sent a seven-man crew to cover the Chicago-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Final.

Coyotes want long-term deal with Glendale

PNI Coyotes Deal 0611

Last week, the Coyotes and Glendale resolved their contentious arena lease dispute.

Now, the Coyotes want to extend the deal.

“I would like to see us structure something with the city of Glendale on an extended basis sometime over this next year,” team president Anthony LeBlanc said, per the Arizona Republic. “Because I don’t want to go into free agency next year having Don [Maloney, Arizona GM] dealing with the same uncertainty he was dealing with this year.”

That uncertainty, according to the Republic, affected negotiations with RFA winger Mikkel Boedker, who opted to sign a one-year pact rather than a long-term extension.

The Boedker negotiations, in turn, apparently played a role in the Coyotes’ decision to target long-term with Glendale, rather than wait for the renewed lease — which went from a 15-year agreement to a two-year — to expire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

The desire for a long-term pact isn’t surprising. Though the Coyotes were able to land free agents like Steve Downie, Anders Lindback, Brad Richardson and ex-Coyotes Zbynek Michalek and Antoine Vermette, none of them signed on for longer than three years. The Republic reports that “a number of players [were] uninterested in the Coyotes because of their drama.”

If the club is going to be a significant player in free agency moving forward, Maloney needs to sell potential targets on a number of things.

Like, y’know, where they’re going to play.

“We will begin in earnest in the month of August having discussions about what we need to see on both sides to extend this,” LeBlanc explained. “Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”

Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game One

Jim Benning wasn’t kidding when he called Brandon Sutter a “foundation piece.”

Just days after acquiring Sutter from Pittsburgh in a multi-player trade, the Canucks GM is reportedly close to inking the 26-year-old to a fairly large extension, per Sportsnet:

If accurate, the extension — which would kick in for 2016-17 — will make Sutter one of just two players on the active roster signed until 2020, the other being defenseman Chris Tanev. The estimated cap hit would also make Sutter one of the highest-paid forwards on the team next season, behind the Sedins ($7M each) and Alex Burrows ($4.5M).

Sutter’s two-year, $6.6M deal expires at the end of this season.

Given the reported money and term, it’s pretty clear Benning sees Sutter as the fix to Vancouver’s second-line center problem. Nick Bonino, part of the package sent to Pittsburgh for Sutter, looked over his head at times last year as the No. 2, and the club isn’t keen on rushing promising prospect Bo Horvat into the role.

“Horvat, the last half the year, played really well for us,” Benning said on Tuesday. “We don’t want to put pressure on him to be somewhere in the lineup that he can’t handle it going forward. We want to make sure that he keeps developing as a player.”

Whether Sutter can fill the No. 2 role remains to be seen. He was largely a No. 3 guy throughout his time in Pittsburgh, though some of that had to do with being stuck behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the depth chart.

Bruins in talks with veteran d-man Zidlicky

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

Per TVA, Boston GM Don Sweeney said he’s had discussions about bringing defenseman Marek Zidlicky to Boston.

Zidlicky, 38, split last year between New Jersey and Detroit, and showed relatively well upon getting dealt to the playoff-bound Wings. He had 11 points in 21 regular season games — averaging over 18 minutes a night — but was a bit of a disappointment in the playoffs, going scoreless in the first six games of the Tampa Bay series before missing Game 7 with an injury.

The former Wild and Predators blueliner has played each of the last two seasons on one-year, $3 million deals with an additional $1M in performance bonuses.

In Boston, Zidlicky would provide even more veteran experience to a group that already includes 38-year-old Zdeno Chara and 34-year-old Dennis Seidenberg. He’d also fill some of the offensive and PP duties that Dougie Hamilton had prior to his trade to Calgary.

While some are clamoring for the B’s to go younger to fill the Hamilton void — like, say, still-unsigned UFA Cody Franson — Zidlicky would likely be a cheaper option, and one seeking less term.

Related: B’s among five or six teams in on Franson, who’s ‘sick of doing one-year deals’