<span class="vcard">Mike Halford</span>

Tom Wilson, Zach Sill

Caps sign tough guy Sill to one-year, two-way deal

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Washington has brought in someone to lessen Tom Wilson and Michael Latta’s fight load — Zach Sill, who announced his one-year, two-way deal to the Truro Daily News on Wednesday.

“They came with an offer and it was a good one,” Sill said. “I think there’s a good chance I’ll be able to play there. They have a good strong team and it looks like a good situation to go into.”

The 27-year-old split last season between Pittsburgh and Toronto, finishing with four points in 63 games… and nine fights. Sill’s willingness to drop the gloves should make Washington an even feistier team next year; the Caps were tied for the eighth-most fighting majors (31) last year, thanks in large part to Wilson (who fought 12 times — once against Sill!) and Latta (who fought eight).

No word yet on the financial details of Sill’s deal.

In Klingberg, Stars say they ‘got a chance of having the next Karlsson’

John Klingberg
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Whenever you compare a young defensemen two a two-time Norris Trophy winner, you’re going to garner some attention — and that’s exactly what Dallas GM Jim Nill has done by comparing rookie d-man John Klingberg to Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson.

“We think we’ve got a chance of having the next Karlsson,” Nill said, per NHL.com. “We think [Klingberg’s] heading that direction, and if he continues to improve, I think he will be that type of player.

“We’re sitting good.”

While he’s got a ways to go before reaching that level, Klingberg’s offensive potential makes the comparison somewhat legit. He enjoyed a tremendous first year in Dallas, finishing first among all rookie defensemen with 11 goals and 40 points in 65 games (the goals, assists and points were all single-season Stars records for a rookie d-man.)

The 22-year-old finished fifth in Calder voting and the Stars wasted no time locking him up long-term, signing him to a seven-year, $29.75 million deal just days after the regular season ended.

“John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that few in this league can match,” Nill said at the time. “He fits in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was felt immediately.

“We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman.”

It’s easy to see why Nill went the Karlsson route for his Klingberg comparison. Both are Swedes, both are talented offensive producers, both have slight frames (Karlsson is 6-foot, 180 pounds; Klingberg is 6-foot-2, 180) and both are solid puck movers out of their own end.

It also seems like Nill isn’t worried about placing lofty expectations on his players.

In an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast this week, he said Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin reminded him of “Toews and Kane when they were 22, 23, 24 years of age.”

Journeymen Butler, Williams sign in Europe

BobbyButler

A pair of veteran skaters will take their games overseas next season.

Bobby Butler, 28, will join SHL outfit Modo after signing a two-year contract this week while Jason Williams, 34, will join German League side Kolner Haie.

Butler spent last season with Florida’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio, scoring 59 points in 68 games. The former University of New Hampshire product had previously appeared in 130 NHL games with the Senators, Devils, Predators and Panthers, scoring a career-high 16 points during the 2011-12 campaign.

Williams spent last year with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. A veteran of nearly 500 NHL contests, Williams is a former 20-goal and 50-point man (with Detroit) that returned to North America last season after a two-year stint in Switzerland.

Longtime NHLer Rucinsky announces retirement

St. Louis Blues v Calgary Flames
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One of the highest-scoring Czech players of all time is hanging up his skates.

Martin Rucinsky — who sits 12th all-time among Czech NHLers in points — has announced his retirement from professional hockey at the age of 44, according to iSport.

The 20th overall pick at the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Rucinsky spent 17 years in the NHL with Edmonton, Quebec/Colorado, Montreal, Dallas, New York (Rangers), Blues and Canucks.

His best season came when he was involved in one of the biggest trades in NHL history — the Avs sent him to Montreal in ’95-96 as part of the Patrick Roy deal, and Rucinsky went on to finish the year with a career-high 75 points in 78 games. All told, Rucinsky scored 612 points in 961 contests.

Though his last NHL action came in 2008, Rucinsky continued to play at a fairly high level right up until his retirement. He spent parts of three seasons with Czech side Sparta Praha before moving to HC Litvinov and, last season, finished second on the team in scoring with 54 points in 51 games.

 

Flyers sign ’15 first-rounder Konecny

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Travis Konecny, the second of their two first-round picks at this year’s draft, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Konecny, 18, scored 29 goals and 68 points in 60 games for OHL Ottawa this season, captaining the 67’s in just his second year with the club. He also captained Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

On Day 2 of the draft, he was named the inaugural winner of the “E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence,” given to the draft-eligible prospect who best exemplifies the commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.

Expected by some to go higher than he did at the draft, Konecny was snagged by the Flyers after GM Ron Hextall traded up to the No. 24 spot to select him.

“It’s motivating,” Konecny said of his draft-day slide, per Philly.com. “When I went into the day, I wasn’t really sure where I was going to end up anyway, so it wasn’t like it was a disappointment.

“Being able to slip to 24 and come to Philadelphia was definitely not something I was upset about. It was awesome, and I was excited about it.”

Related: Philadelphia signs ’15 first-rounder Provorov