Author: Mike Halford

Martin Marincin

More trades: Oilers send Marincin to Leafs, get Gryba from Sens


New Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli stayed busy on Day 2 of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft — shortly after acquiring Cam Talbot from New York, Chiarelli shipped out d-man Martin Marincin to Toronto, then acquired blueliner Eric Gryba from Ottawa.

The deals:

Marincin, a 23-year-old pending RFA, appeared in 41 games for Edmonton last year, scoring five points. The former second-round pick (46th overall, 2010) has split most of the last three seasons between the Oilers and their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Gryba, 27, heads to Edmonton with a more polished NHL resume and one year left on his two-year, $2.5 million deal. The Boston University product is coming off his best season, posting career highs in games (75) and points (12). He’ll be part of a new-look Oilers blueline next season, which will likely feature Griffin Reinhart — acquired from the Islanders yesterday — and Darnell Nurse, who could become a full-time NHLer next season.

Stars say Niemi was top target, but still have faith in ‘elite’ Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

SUNRISE — Dallas GM Jim Nill knew he needed to upgrade his goaltending position.

So on the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he did exactly that.

Following Saturday’s intriguing trade — acquiring Antti Niemi’s negotiating rights from San Jose for a seventh-round pick, ahead of free agency opening on July 1 — Nill said Niemi was always the club’s primary target to pair with incumbent No. 1 Kari Lehtonen.

“[Niemi] was the top guy that we targeted as a free agent, if we were going to go that route,” Nill explained. “You don’t like to lose picks, but it was a chance to get the guy, let’s talk to him and try to get a deal done.

“You don’t know where the goalie market’s going to go. It can change fast. We knew it was a position we had to take care of.”

Nill said Dallas was already “very close” to signing Niemi, who brings a wealth of experience with him to Texas. A Vezina nominee in 2013, the veteran Finn has started at least 60 games in four of the last five seasons and notched a career-high 39 wins in ’13-14.

So, what does that mean for Lehtonen?

“Kari’s still an elite goalie,” Nill explained. “We’re in a tough situation with our travel. We probably travel as much as anybody in the league, back-to-back games, I really think it’s becoming a two-goalie league now.

“Kari’s the first one to admit he had a tough year last year. He’s going to bounce back. He’s been working on changing his conditioning over the summer, and competition’s healthy. Our goal is to win the Cup and this is going to help us get there.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Niemi fits in Dallas, both in terms of finances and with Lehtonen. At 31, it’s unlikely Niemi will score as big a deal as his previous one — a four-year, $15.2 million deal with a $3.8M cap hit — and it remains to be seen how he’ll co-exist with his fellow countryman (the two were teammates on Finland’s bronze medal-winning team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi).

To hear Nill explain it, though, money wasn’t going to get in the way of landing the guy he wanted.

“We have cap room right now,” he said. “We knew we had to improve this position, so we went this direction.”

Ducks stay busy, send Etem to Rangers for Hagelin

Carl Hagelin

SUNRISE — The trades continue to pour in on the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

In a fairly sizable move, the New York Rangers dealt speedy forward Carl Hagelin to Anaheim in exchange for another speedster, Emerson Etem. The Rangers also received the 41th overall pick, which they used to select WHL Seattle left wing Ryan Gropp; Anaheim received the 59th pick and the 179th pick in this year’s draft.

It’s an interesting deal. Both players are pending RFAs, though Hagelin has the more accomplished NHL resume and larger existing contract. The Swede, who tied a career-high with 17 goals last year, just wrapped a two-year deal worth $2.25 million annually.

Etem, a former first-round pick, just wrapped his entry-level contract, one that paid $870,000 per year. He’s struggled to keep a regular spot in the Anaheim lineup, though he did show flashes this postseason by scoring three goals in 12 games, including a highlight-reel tally against Winnipeg in the opening round.

It’s been a busy day for Anaheim. Earlier today, the Ducks sent underachieving defenseman James Wisniewski to Carolina in exchange for goalie Anton Khudobin.