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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Capitals ink Grubauer to one-year contract extension

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Braden Holtby‘s trusty backup will be in Washington for the foreseeable future.

The Capitals made official a one year, $1.5 million extension with restricted free agent netminder Philipp Grubauer, which is up from the $750,000 he was making on his previous deal. Per the Post, he’ll have one RFA year left at the end of this deal.

Grubauer, 25, has capably served under Holtby for the last two years. He’s coming off an excellent campaign — 13-6-2, .926 save percentage, 2.05 GAA — and is regarded as one of the best backups in the league.

That’s worth mentioning, because at times this offseason it sounded like he was ready to make the next step in his career.

“I would like to stay here; Washington is awesome and the whole organization’s been awesome the last couple of years,” Grubauer said earlier this summer, per the Post. “But I’m ready if the opportunity comes to make the next step and try to be a starting goalie somewhere.”

Grubauer was made available to Vegas at the expansion draft, but Golden Knights GM George McPhee opted to take blueliner Nate Schmidt instead. That still didn’t diminish rumblings that Washington might dangle Grubauer in trade talks.

It’s also worth mentioning that, in late June, the Caps re-signed goalie Pheonix Copley on a two-year deal.

Copley has a very small NHL resume — just two games, both with St. Louis — but fared well with AHL Hershey last year. In 16 regular-season games he went 11-5-0 with a .931 save percentage and 2.15 GAA and, in the playoffs, went 5-4 with a .933 save percentage and 2.13 GAA.

Arizona takes one-year flier on Etem

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Emerson Etem is getting another chance with another organization.

Etem, the 29th overall pick in 2010, has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Coyotes, the club announced on Wednesday.

The contract comes after a tumultuous past few years for the former first-rounder. Etem was traded from the Ducks to the Rangers in 2015 — in exchange for Carl Hagelin — but quickly flamed out in New York, appearing in just 19 games before the Rangers flipped him to Vancouver for Nicklas Jensen.

Emerson put up decent production with the Canucks, scoring 12 points in 39 games, earning himself a one-year deal in the process. But he failed to impress out of training camp last year, and was waived just prior to the start of the regular season.

He was scooped up by Anaheim — yes, the team that drafted him originally — and split his time between the Ducks and AHL Gulls. Anaheim opted against re-signing him this summer.

Etem is a really fast skater and still only 25 years old, but has never really capitalized on the opportunities provided — especially at the NHL level. It’s very likely the Coyotes have designated him as a depth guy for AHL Tucson.

Sabres add Davis Payne to Housley’s staff

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Didn’t take long for Davis Payne to find work.

Payne, who was fired in the aftermath of the Darryl Sutter-Dean Lombardi housecleaning in Los Angeles, has caught on with the Sabres as an associate coach on Phil Housley’s staff.

Buffalo made the announcement today, the first significant coaching addition since hiring Housley on June 15.

Payne helped the Kings capture the Stanley Cup as Sutter’s assistant in 2014. Prior to that, he spent numerous years in the St. Louis organization, as both the head coach of the club’s AHL affiliate in Peoria and the Blues themselves.

 

 

Rangers re-sign Fast: three years, $5.5 million

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Following an impressive postseason performance, Jesper Fast has cashed in.

On Wednesday, the Rangers announced they signed Fast to a three-year, $5.5 million deal, one that carries a $1.85M average annual cap hit. The deal comes after the 25-year-old was one of New York’s top skaters in the playoffs, scoring six points in 12 games while playing just under 15 minutes per night.

This is a nice piece of business from Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, who locks in a steady lineup presence and contributor for less than $2 million per season.

Fast’s offense took a bit of a dip from ’15-16 to ’16-17 — his goals decreased from 10 to six, his points from 30 to 21 — though to be fair, last season was somewhat derailed by a separated shoulder.

Today’s signing also comes on the heels of Gorton adding depth to the center position, by inking veteran free agent David Desharnais.

Hitch talks up Radulov-Seguin-Benn line in Dallas

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Given it’s only July 5, talk of who will play on what lines next year is a tad premature.

That said, it’s also kind of exciting.

Especially in Dallas, where head coach Ken Hitchcock suddenly has a wealth of options at his disposal following the acquisitions of forwards Tyler Pitlick, Brian Flynn, Martin Hanzal and Alexander Radulov.

With all apologies to the first three, the real excitement in Texas is for Radulov, who came aboard on Monday courtesy a five-year, $31.5 million pact. Hitchcock doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but has already envisioned Radulov playing on the club’s top line next to Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

“I’ve coached against Radulov both in the NHL and internationally, and he brings an intensity to the game,” Hitchcock said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “You notice him and you have to account for him. Now, put Jamie Benn on the other wing, and you have the same thing. You know he’s there, and you know you have to account for him. Same with Seguin.

“I just think they will all feed off of each other if that’s the line we come up with.”

Riding shotgun with Benn and Seguin has been beneficial for a number of guys over the years. Last season, Patrick Eaves enjoyed a terrific offensive campaign while serving partial duty on the line. Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp and a flurry of others have also received minutes alongside the dynamic duo, and produced well.

Radulov brings some interesting attributes to the line. He, along with Benn, are both left-handed shots, which will give the Stars some unique looks in the offensive zone. There’s also his style of play. Despite not being overly large — listed at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds — he plays a big man’s game. The 31-year-old has terrific upper-body strength, is effective in winning board battles and knows how to leverage his body to protect pucks.

As an example, this wonder goal against the Rangers in the playoffs:

Between Radulov and Hanzal alone, the Stars will be a “heavier” team — at least stylistically — than they’ve been in previous years. It’ll be fascinating to see how that plays out with Seguin and Benn, and under Hitch’s watchful eye.