The New York Rangers added some goalie depth on Wednesday, acquiring Nashville’s Magnus Hellberg in exchange for a sixth-round pick at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Hellberg, 24, was the first goalie taken at the 2011 draft, one spot ahead of Anaheim’s John Gibson. He’s only played in one NHL game — a 12-minute appearance in which he allowed one goal — and has spent most of his time in North American shuttling between the ECHL and AHL.
Last year, Hellberg went 15-10-6 with AHL Milwaukee, posting a 2.33 GAA and .913 save percentage. He did appear to be passed on the Preds’ organizational depth chart, though, by the likes of Marek Mazanec and Finnish national team member Juuse Saros.
With the Rangers, Hellberg’s AHL-bound and likely competing with fellow prospect Mackenzie Skapski.
Shortly after landing one of the biggest UFA prizes in Mike Green, the Red Wings made another big move by signing Brad Richards to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
For Richards, 35, it’s his second straight one-year pact. Last year he inked with Chicago and enjoyed a good bounce-back campaign after getting bought out by the Rangers.
Richards’ regular season was solid — 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games — and he stepped up in the playoffs, emerging as a solid contributor in Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run by scoring 14 points in 23 games, averaging close to 17 minutes a night.
In Detroit, he’ll look to fill the second-line center void that Stephen Weiss was never able to fill.
The Red Wings bought out the former Panthers pivot yesterday, putting Richards in a group of centers that includes youngsters Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening. Should Richards emerge as Detroit’s 2C, it’ll allow new head coach Jeff Blashill to keep Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the club’s top line.
As for the team Richards left, there was some thought Chicago would have interest in retaining his services. But that possibility was ruled out yesterday when the team acquired center Artem Anisimov in the Brandon Saad trade, then inked Anisimov to a long-term extension.
Related: As Weiss struggles, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are split up
The Bruins locked in one of their better young forwards on Wednesday, signing Ryan Spooner to a two-year deal worth $1.9 million — a cap hit of $950,000.
Spooner, 23, finished last season with eight goals and 18 points in 29 games. He’ll likely get a crack at replacing Carl Sodeberg at center next season, now that the veteran Swede is a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
Spooner got a few looks down the middle last season and looked to have some chemistry on a line with Milan Lucic (another departed Bruin) and rookie David Pastrnak.
Boston’s 45th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Spooner was a restricted free agent that, earlier, had received his qualifying offer from the B’s.
After months of refusing to say whether he’d turn pro or return to school next year, Jack Eichel made up his mind on Wednesday:
He’s going pro.
Eichel, the second overall pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, signed his three-year entry-level deal today, which ends his brief-but-impressive tenure at Boston University, during which he became just the second freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker.
“It’s just so exciting,” Eichel told the Sabres’ website. “I think everyone’s excited about what’s happening around here, and I can’t wait to get things started.”
Eichel’s first order of business will be participating in Buffalo’s prospect development camp, which will get underway in a few days.
From there, all eyes will be on the reigning Hobey Baker winner to see where he fits in the Sabres lineup; he, along with Sam Reinhart and newly-acquired Ryan O’Reilly, should be in competition for minutes at center.
Related: Boston University or Buffalo? Eichel’s still playing coy (Video)
New York traded away speedy Swedish forward Carl Hagelin at the NHL Entry Draft.
On Wednesday, they signed speedy Swedish forward Viktor Stalberg.
A bit of a stretch? Sure, but there’s definitely something to it — the Rangers added an older, cheaper winger that can skate in Stalberg, who agreed to a one-year, $1.1 million pact just days after getting bought out by the Predators.
The former Blackhawk failed to live up to expectations in Nashville after signing a four-year, $12 million deal in the summer of ’13. He spent time in AHL Milwaukee last season, though part of that was rehabbing from injury; when up with the Preds, Stalberg had decent production — 10 points in 25 games — and was a pretty useful contributor in the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Chicago, finishing with three points in six contests.
For New York, the contract is a low-cost, low-risk move, and those are the types of deals the Rangers need to take on as they’re up against it in terms of the salary cap. New deals are still needed for the likes of Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Emerson Etem and Jesper Fast.