Former Ducks and Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth is on his way to Russia.
On Thursday, Fasth reportedly agreed to join KHL powerhouse CSKA Moscow, the club announced. The deal comes after the 32-year-old failed to latch on with a new NHL club in free agency.
Fasth had a rough year in Edmonton last season, going 6-15-3 with a 3.41 GAA and .888 save percentage. The Swedish ‘tender, acquired from the Ducks for a pair of picks at the 2014 trade deadline, was really never able to replicate the success he had during his first season (’13) in Anaheim, when he burst onto the scene by going 15-6-2 with a .921 save percentage and 2.18 GAA, recording four shutouts.
If Connor McDavid’s Oilers “debut” was any indication, this is going to be quite the rookie year.
On Monday night, McDavid — the first overall pick at this year’s draft — scored five goals en route to winning the Billy Moores Cup, a scrimmage that wrapped up Edmonton’s six-day prospect orientation camp.
The No. 1 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft had three goals in two 20-minute halves of 4-on-4 play, then scored two more in seven minutes at 3-on-3, leading his team to an 8-6 win.
“It was fun. Anytime you get a chance to play in front of fans like that, it’s always exciting,” McDavid said. “It was pretty competitive, just with the guys that we had, and they made a lot of great plays out there.”
While the night was a showcase for McDavid, there were other Oilers prospects on the ice as well, including Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. The No. 3 and No. 7 picks in the 2014 and ’13 drafts, the two are looking to be alongside McDavid on the Oilers’ opening-night roster this October.
More is coming to light about the injury that hampered Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom through most of last season.
Per the Star-Tribune — working off an interview Backstrom did with Finnish TV station MTV 3 — Backstrom apparently aggravated an early-season elbow injury this past spring, to the point where he couldn’t perform standard activities with his right hand.
“It was a bit scary situation,” Backstrom told MTV 3’s Timo Kunnari during an interview that was translated for the Star Tribune by Usanomat hockey writer Juha Hiitela. “It happened pretty fast. All of a sudden two fingers are not working. Even in rest, two fingers were motionless. I couldn’t use my right hand to drive a car or to hold a phone.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s happened during my career, but this really made me stop and think. You need your hand for the rest of your career. I’m righthanded.”
Backstrom, 37, underwent surgery to repair the injury in May and didn’t dress in the playoffs. It’s believed the Wild wanted to buy him out of the last year of his contract (he’s carrying a $3.417M cap hit), but was unable to given the Finnish netminder was injured during the buyout window.
As a result, Minnesota could head into next season with nearly $9 million tied up in three goalies — Backstrom, Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper.
Further compounding the issue? Player agent Jay Grossman claims Backstrom should be cleared to play for the start of the regular season, which could rule out putting Backstrom on long-term injured reserve, and getting the cap relief that comes with it.
Per the Tribune, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher declined to comment on the Backstrom situation.
The Oilers elected to take defenceman Justin Schultz to arbitration to reach a contract conclusion. It also triggers an opportunity for the club to buy out a player making more than $2.75 million, which would free up more salary-cap room.
Players and NHL teams can continue to negotiate right up until they reach the arbitrator’s doorstep while the buyout window opens briefly for the club given the uncertainty of what the impact a new deal would have on the cap.
Schultz, 25, is coming off a year in which he scored 31 points in 81 games, but was a liability defensively; in addition to an ugly minus-17 rating, he had poor possession metrics and saw his ice time drop by nearly a minute, compared to the season prior.
The rub with Schultz, of course, is his salary — he earned $3.675 million last season, which is quite a bit given his precarious hold on a spot in Edmonton’s top-six defense. The additions of Andrej Sekera and Griffin Reinhart this offseason could greatly impact Schultz, as could the expected promotion of Darnell Nurse to the NHL level.
While a buyout seems unlikely — TSN’s Ryan Rishaug figures a deal will be reached — it does speak to how far Schultz has fallen. In 2012, the Oilers won the “sweepstakes” to sign Schultz after he opted not to ink with Anaheim, and in his first season in Edmonton he finished seventh in Calder voting, after scoring 27 points in 48 games.