Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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After Florida buyout, Jokinen signs with Oilers

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Jussi Jokinen wasn’t out of work for long.

Just six days after Florida bought him out of his contract, Jokinen has signed a one-year deal with the Oilers, the club announced on Friday.

Per TSN 1260, the contract is for $1.1 million.

Jokinen, 34, had one year left on his four-year, $16 million deal with the Panthers, one that carried a $4M cap hit. The decision to buy him out came after a difficult ’16-17 campaign, one in which he dealt with a MCL injury and finished with just 11 goals and 28 points in 69 games.

The hope for Edmonton is that the veteran Finn can regain the form shown two seasons prior. Jokinen had one of the best years of his career in ’15-16, scoring 18 goals and 60 points in 81 games. His 42 assists were a career-high, and he averaged a healthy 18:17 TOI per night.

The Oilers are also probably hoping Jokinen can be something of a mentor for fellow Finn Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth overall selection in 2016. It’s expected Puljujarvi will be pushing for a full-time gig in the NHL next season, after splitting last year between Edmonton and AHL Bakersfield.

Leafs prospect Toninato has ‘no other choice’ than to go UFA

Back in May, we wrote about Minnesota-Duluth standout Dominic Toninato, the Toronto draftee that’s yet to receive a contract offer from the club. His agent, Neil Sheehy, said there were ‘many teams’ interested in Toninato, should he eventually become a free agent.

He’s about to become exactly that.

Per the Star, Toninato passed on Toronto’s offer — an AHL contract with the Marlies — and will go UFA on Aug. 15. The decision comes after Toronto was fairly aggressive in free agency, most notably with the Patrick Marleau signing, and are pushed right up against the maximum of 50 professional contracts NHL teams are allowed.

Sheehy said Toninato wanted to sign with the Leafs, “but he didn’t get that option.” The veteran agent added his client had “no other choice” than to head to free agency.

“He likes Toronto and would have signed with Toronto,” Sheehy told the Star. “But they were not able to do anything. We want people to know he is going to be a free agent.”

Toninato, 23, was Toronto’s fifth-round pick way back in 2012. From there, he went the collegiate route and put together a strong four years at Minnesota-Duluth. His NCAA career culminated with a senior season in which he served as team captain, set a personal high in points and led the Bulldogs to the Frozen Four final.

It is worth noting Toronto offered an entry-level deal last summer, but Toninato turned it down to finish school.

 

Rangers d-man Klein announces retirement

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In a long-rumored move, Kevin Klein is hanging up his skates.

Klein, 32, has announced his retirement from the NHL after a 12-year career split between the Predators and Rangers. The veteran defenseman had earlier been linked to such a move, following a tough ’16-17 campaign that was derailed by back problems.

Klein penned a thank-you letter that was distributed by the Rangers’ Twitter account this morning. Shortly thereafter, the club made his retirement official.

With the move, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton now has some additional — and important — space under the salary cap. Klein was headed into the last of a five-year, $14.5 million deal, and by retiring his $2.9M cap hit will be wiped off the books.

That’s key, because the club still needs to sign RFA Mika Zibanejad, and would (presumably) want to upgrade the center position.

As for Klein, he walks away with over 600 games on his resume, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the Rangers in 2014. He was also part of the first Nashville team to ever win a playoff series, as he and the Preds upended Anaheim in the opening round of the 2011 postseason.

Vegas extends Pulkkinen — one year, $700,000

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One of the Golden Knights’ expansion draftees has signed on the dotted line.

Teemu Pulkkinen, the RFA forward taken from Arizona two weeks ago, has signed a one-year, $700,000 deal, the club announced on Thursday.

Pulkkinen, 25, takes a pay cut from $812,500 with this deal. It comes on the heels of a rocky ’16-17 campaign in which he started the year with Detroit, was waived and picked up by Minnesota, then was traded to Arizona.

All told, Pulkinnen played for four different teams last season — the Red Wings (preseason), the Wild, the Iowa Wild and the Coyotes.

The Finnish winger is a curious entity. He’s been a dynamite scorer at the AHL level, and Detroit GM Ken Holland compared his shot to Brett Hull’s. Pulkkinen netted back-to-back 30-goal campaigns in Grand Rapids, and made the American League All-Star Game with Iowa last year.

The problem? His game hasn’t translated well to the NHL level. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes in Vegas.

Kings re-sign Shore — one year, $925,000

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After entrenching himself in the L.A. lineup over the last two years, Nick Shore is back for another.

Shore, 24, has signed a one-year, $925,000 extension with the Kings, the club announced on Thursday. That AAV is up from the $600,000 he made on his last contract, which was a two-year deal.

Taken by L.A. in the third round of the 2011 draft, Shore set career highs in games played (70), goals (six) and points (17) last season. The former Denver University standout worked his way into the Kings lineup after a couple of successful seasons at the AHL level, including the ’14-15 campaign in which he scored 42 points in 38 games.

Shore largely manned the bottom-six center spots last season, to mixed reviews. It’s believed L.A. was looking for additional center depth this offseason and, not coincidentally, was rumored to be chasing Joe Thornton before Thornton re-upped in San Jose.