Author: Mike Halford

Eric Gelinas, Peter Harrold, Jon Merrill

Devils ink d-man Gelinas to ‘nice little bridge deal’ — two years, $3.15M


New Jersey has re-upped with one of its brightest blueline prospects, signing Eric Gelinas to a two-year contract extension worth $3.15 million.

Gelinas will be paid $1.5M in the first year and $1.65M in the second, per CBC. The deal carries an average annual cap hit of $1.575 million.

“They were talking for a while, so I was just waiting for my agent to give me some news and they told me today that they agreed on the terms,” Gelinas said, per “Obviously, I’m more comfortable with a  two-year deal. It’s a nice little bridge deal. I’m really happy to have agreed before arbitration also. I’m really happy with the deal.”

The two sides were scheduled to go to arbitration on July 21.

Gelinas, 24, is coming off his first two full seasons with the Devils — in ’13-14, he enjoyed a solid rookie campaign by scoring seven goals and 29 points in 60 games; last year, his production dipped slightly (six goals and 19 points) in 61 contests.

Gelinas also fell on some tough times.

He was parked as a healthy scratch for a six-game stretch in February amid concerns about his defensive awareness, the second time such concerns had been raised. Previously, in December, Gelinas was made a healthy scratch for two games.

“What young players, especially young defensemen, have to understand is if you create three chances and give up three, we’re not further ahead,” then-head coach Peter DeBoer said of Gelinas’ struggles, per the Bergen Record. “We always talk about having a positive impact on the game. [If] you’re creating one chance and giving up none, that’s a positive impact.

“If you’re creating five and giving up five, we’re no further ahead and that’s the battle for young defensemen and offensive players.”

Etem, acquired in Hagelin trade, signs one-year, $850,500 deal with Rangers

Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks

The New York Rangers have locked in the key piece acquired in the Carl Hagelin-to-Anaheim trade — on Tuesday, the club signed Emerson Etem to a one-year deal worth $850,500, per the New York Post.

Etem, 23, is a former first-round pick (29th overall, 2010) that never seemed to fit in Anaheim. Despite lightning-quick skating ability and a nice skill set, the California native never played more than 45 games in a single season for the Ducks, and never scored more than 11 points. He did show some flashes this postseason, however, scoring three goals in 12 games for Anaheim, including this beauty against Winnipeg in the opening round:

In New York, Etem will get a fresh start — something Ducks GM Bob Murray said the youngster might need at this stage of his career — and should get a decent shot at minutes on a Rangers team that’s been thinned out up front. Hagelin is gone, Martin St. Louis retired and UFA James Sheppard remains unsigned.

The Rangers did bring in speedy ex-Preds forward Viktor Stalberg, however, and that could cut into Etem’s opportunity.

Veteran NHLer Taylor Pyatt ready to call it a career

Taylor Pyatt

After a 13-year career and over 800 games played, Taylor Pyatt is ready to hang up the skates.

“I had a few more injuries this year, a few more concussions. It’s just time for me to sort of step away,” Pyatt told TB (Thunder Bay) News Watch this week. “I’m proud of what I accomplished in my career, but now’s the time to take a little time away from the game and we’ll see.”

Picked eighth overall by the Isles at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Pyatt broke in with New York and proceeded to play for Buffalo, Vancouver, Arizona, New York (Rangers) and Pittsburgh before spending last season in Switzerland with Geneve-Servette — where he played alongside his brother, Tom.

Pyatt’s most successful NHL stint came with the Canucks from 2006-08. He posted consecutive 37-point campaigns and scored a career-best 23 goals in ’06-07.

In 2012, he helped the surprising Coyotes advance to the Western Conference final by scoring six points in 16 playoff games, averaging over 15 minutes per night.

Pyatt wouldn’t rule out a return to the game in some capacity ldown the road, but sounded as though his playing days were essentially behind him.

I think it’ll start to hit me a little more in the fall when everyone starts going back to training camp and is starting to play again,” he said.

PHT Morning Skate: Ron Wilson expects Phil Kessel ‘to score at least 40 goals this year’

Phil Kessel

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Ron Wilson — Phil Kessel’s former coach in Toronto, who once ripped Kessel for being “uncoachable” — says the former Maple Leaf is destined for great things with the Penguins. “Pittsburgh is building a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup now, and I think Phil is only going to add to their success, so I expect him to score at least 40 goals this year and be a dominant player again.” (

Sounds like the Oilers will hire University of Alberta bench boss Ian Hebers as one of Todd McLellan’s assistants. (Edmonton Journal)

Are the NHL and NHLPA looking to score $8 million in jersey sponsorships fees from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? (TSN)

Fancy stats are being utilized in arbitration hearings. (TSN)

Nashville has re-upped with depth defenseman Anthony Bitetto on a one-year, two-way contract worth $665,500 at the NHL level and $60,000 at the AHL level. (NHL)

After a busy and important offseason, highlighted by the Brandon Saad trade, the Blue Jackets “have to go out and perform,” according to team president John Davidson. (NHL)

Despite rumors, Linden says Canucks haven’t tried to trade Higgins

Chris Higgins

On Monday, Canucks president Trevor Linden addressed trade rumblings surrounding one of his team’s most veteran skaters, Chris Higgins.

“Chris Higgins is an important player on our team,” Linden said in a statement, per The Province. “We have not talked to any clubs about trading him.

“We value Chris both for his on-ice abilities and his leadership in the locker-room.”

That Linden responded to the Higgins rumors was telling… because, um, Linden’s kinda the reason they’re out there.

Last week, he and Vancouver GM Jim Benning caught heat during a ticketholder event, as fans voiced their displeasure over the club’s offseason moves. Benning was actually booed after revealing he could’ve traded veteran goalie Ryan Miller rather than fan favorite Eddie Lack.

After the event, Linden reportedly pulled aside some of the more vocal attendees for a mini-hotstove.

From The Province:

It was not an easy night for Linden or Benning.

“When you’re sitting in this chair, it’s not as easy as you think,” Linden said.

What he did do, when it was over, was call over the biggest critics of the night for a 10-minute session.

It was a nice gesture, but may have been ill-advised.

In it, Linden revealed several tidbits, including his pitch that the Canucks have been trying to trade Chris Higgins but have found they cannot move his contract.

In short order, the comments were all over social media, and then on the radio. The Higgins trade horse is officially out of the barn.

Maybe they’re hoping something will change in August — unlikely — or people will forget to ask Higgins when he comes back to town in two months. Again, unlikely.

(Take this for what it’s worth, but one attendee apparently recapped meeting Linden on HF Boards.)

It’s hard to know where this leaves Higgins, 32, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $10 million deal with a pretty affordable $2.5M average annual cap hit. It’s not a Benning contract; Higgins was extended by Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, and the deal includes a Gillis staple — a no-trade clause (granted, it’s a limited NTC.)

As such, it wasn’t surprising to hear rumors of the Canucks trying to move Higgins. Benning’s already shipped out Gllis-era holdovers like Lack, Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler and Tom Sestito in his attempt to reshape the club — in that light, it would make sense that Higgins, who had 12 goals and 36 points last year, was dangled in potential trade talks.

Unless, of course, he wasn’t.