Author: Mike Halford

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Lubomir Visnovsky #11 of the New York Islanders in action against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. The New York Islanders won, 1-0. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Report: Visnovsky considering European options


Veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky could be on his way overseas.

Per a report from Slovakian news outlet Novy Cas, Visnovsky is entertaining the option of starting the year in Europe — possibly in the Czech or Swiss League — while waiting on a potential NHL offer.

Back in late June, the 38-year-old — who has spent the last three years in New York — said he was “definitely” going to play next season, but Isles GM Garth Snow promptly threw cold water on a potential return to Long Island.

“I don’t anticipate Visnovsky coming back,” he explained. “So there’s potential for one of our young defensemen to earn a spot, whether it’s [Scott] Mayfield, [Ryan] Pulock, [Griffin] Reinhart, we’ll see what happens via the trade route at the draft and then look into free agency.”

Since then, the Isles traded Reinhart to Edmonton and were pretty quiet in free agency, with the only real splash on defense coming in the form of Thomas Hickey’s three-year extension.

If the Isles don’t eventually come calling — and it looks highly unlikely they will — Visnovsky will be hard-pressed to catch on elsewhere. While he had a decent offensive campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 53 games, he struggled defensively at times, and often looked a step slow.

Sabres name Cunneyworth AHL head coach

Randy Cunneyworth

What’s old is new again in Buffalo — on Tuesday, the Sabres announced that Randy Cunneyworth will be the new head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

“We are happy to have Randy Cunneyworth move into the role of head coach of the Rochester Americans,” Sabres GM Tim Murray said in a release. “Randy has already established himself as a valuable member of our hockey department in his previous role as development coach, and his track record for winning in the AHL and developing young players make him the ideal candidate to lead the Amerks.”

Cunneyworth, 54, is certainly familiar with the Amerks organization, having both played (from 1980-85, then ’98-99) and coached in Rochester (from 2000-08). After missing the Calder Cup playoffs in ’08, he shifted to the NHL, taking assistant NHL gigs first with Atlanta, then in Montreal.

With the Habs, he was promoted to interim head coach during the 2011-12 campaign but found himself at the center of controversy because he wasn’t French-Canadian, and couldn’t speak French.

Following that ill-fated stint with the Habs, Cunneyworth caught on with Buffalo in a scouting role, and was later promoted to player development coach.

Orpik undergoes wrist surgery, should be ready for season opener

PA: Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins

Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik had a successful procedure on his injured wrist Tuesday morning, the club announced.

Orpik, 34, appeared in 78 games for the Caps last year, his highest total in six seasons. He also recorded his highest point total (19) since the 2009-10 campaign and averaged over 22 minutes per night during Washington’s 14-game playoff run.

According to the Caps, he’s only supposed to miss the next two weeks of offseason training, and is expected to be ready to go when the team opens against New Jersey on Oct. 10.


Canucks stay busy, ink Baertschi to one-year, one-way deal (Update: $900K)

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Six

Just hours after trading Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter, the Canucks signed forward Sven Baertschi to a one-year, one-way deal.

UPDATE: Per Sportsnet, it’s worth $900,000 — up from the $894,166 cap hit he carried from his entry-level deal.

Baertschi, 22, was originally Calgary’s first-round pick (13th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, only to be flipped to Vancouver at last season’s trade deadline in a much-needed change of scenery. The skillfull Swiss winger struggled to find his niche with the Flames but showed well within the Canucks organization following the trade — he scored 15 points in 15 games for AHL Utica during the regular season, and another 15 in 21 games en route to the Calder Cup Final.

Baertschi also played in three regular-season games for the Canucks — scoring twice — and got called up for a pair of games in Vancouver’s opening-round playoff loss to Calgary.

The one-way deal suggests Baertschi should start next year in Vancouver.

Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Four

The Flyers opened up the checkbook in extending young center Sean Couturier.

On Tuesday, Philly announced it signed Couturier to a multi-year extension — per Sportsnet, it’s a six-year, $26 million deal with a $4.33 million average annual cap hit.

Courturier’s new contract comes with year left on his existing deal, which pays $1.75 million annually.

So yeah, nice raise.

The 22-year-old cashed in after scoring a career-high 15 goals and 37 points in 82 games last year, then chipping in with seven points in 10 games to help Canada win gold at the 2015 World Hockey Championships.

The eighth overall pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Couturier holds the distinction of ranking first among all players in his draft class in games played — 287 thus far.

Today’s signing is a key building block for the Flyers, but there’s still work to be done. Couturier is one of three key Flyers needing an extension beyond this season; fellow RFA Brayden Schenn is up after this year, while Jakub Voracek — who led the team in scoring last year with a career-high 81 points — is slated to go unrestricted after this year.