Author: Mike Halford

Andrej Sekera

After Lucic trade, Kings forced to let Sekera walk


Teams looking at free agent defensemen should be pleased to hear this news — following Friday’s pre-draft acquisition of Milan Lucic, Kings GM Dean Lombardi announced the team wouldn’t be signing d-man Andrej Sekera to a contract extension.

The news, reported by ESPN, comes after L.A. expressed major interest in bringing the 29-year-old back. Sekera was acquired at the deadline from Carolina and impressed in a limited body of work; he only appeared in 16 games for the Kings before suffering a season-ending knee injury in late March.

Any chance the Kings had of retaining Sekera went out the window after inheriting Lucic’s $6 million cap hit, even with Boston picking up $2.7M of it.

Sekera will undoubtedly garner interest on the open market. Colorado has already expressed an interest in adding a left-handed defensemen and Sekera, who scored a career-high 44 points in ’13-14, would certainly fit the bill.

Just don’t expect him to come cheap. The UFA defenseman market is thin and Sekera will be one of the best available, almost certain to get a big raise from the $2.75 million he made annually on his last deal.

Report: Rangers won’t re-sign St. Louis

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four

The Martin St. Louis era in New York is apparently over.

Per the Post, the Rangers won’t be bringing back the 40-year-old veteran for a third season with the club. The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise — the Rangers don’t have a ton of financial wiggle room with new deals still needed for Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast — but the development is still noteworthy, given what GM Glen Sather paid to acquire St. Louis and all that happened during his time as a Blueshirt.

New York advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in St. Louis’ first year with the club, then came within one game of getting back this season. While the veteran winger’s production dropped in 2014-15 — 52 points was his lowest total in over 10 years — St. Louis still managed to score 20 goals during the regular season and, given the Post’s report that he’s not ready to retire, there could be suitors for him in free agency.

Acquired at the ’14 deadline in exchange for Ryan Callahan and a first-round pick, St. Louis will finish his time in New York with 60 points in 93 games, and 22 points in 44 playoff appearances.

Wings re-sign Andersson: one year, $815,000


Detroit has re-upped with pending RFA Joakim Andersson on a one-year, $815,000 deal, per ESPN.

The deal represents a slight raise for the Swedish forward, who just finished off a two-year, $1.465 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $732,500.

Andersson, 26, had something of a disappointing campaign in ’14-15 after performing well in his first full NHL season. He scored just eight points in 68 games this year, after scoring 17 in 65 the year prior. He also saw his minutes drop, averaging just 11:30 TOI per night.

It will be interesting, however, to see if Andersson has more success under new Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill. Andersson was a solid contributor for Blashill with AHL Grand Rapids from 2012-13, scoring 78 points in 106 games.

Ducks hire Eakins for AHL gig

Dallas Eakins

Dallas Eakins has landed back behind in the bench — but in the American League, not the NHL.

On Friday, the former Edmonton head coach was named the new bench boss of the San Diego Gulls, Anaheim’s AHL affiliate. The move returns Eakins to the league in which he got his coaching start; he started as an assistant with the Toronto Marlies in 2005, eventually taking the head coaching gig before an ill-fated stint in Edmonton.

With the Gulls — previously the Norfolk Admirals — Eakins will get to work with a number of Anaheim’s young prospects, which could include former first-rounders Stefan Noesen, Shea Theodore and, possibly, Nick Ritchie, who the club took 10th overall at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Prior to accepting the San Diego job, Eakins had been on the radar for Philly’s then-vacant coaching spot — later filled by Dave Hakstol — and also interviewed for the head coaching gig in WHL Vancouver.

During his one-and-a-half seasons in Edmonton, Eakins compiled a 36-63-14 record.

Get to know a draft pick — Jack Eichel

BU's Jack Eichel A Standout At World Junior Training Camp
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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Jack Eichel (C)

Height: 6’2 Weight: 196 Shoots: Right

Team: Boston University (NCAA)

Country: U.S.

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

The most ballyhooed American hockey talent in recent memory — perhaps ever.

Though he only spent one year at the collegiate level, Eichel made a big impression. He scored a whopping 71 points in 40 games and became just the second freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker as the top player in NCAA hockey — and the first to do it since Paul Kariya in 1993.

Scouts have lauded all of the 18-year-old’s physical tools and on-ice skills, but also love his determination and competitiveness. It’s why Eichel, all but assured to go second overall, has and will likely continue to be compared to the No. 1 pick in this draft, Connor McDavid.

Seidel says:

“Eichel combines good size with tremendous quickness, often using his physical size to ward off defenders and makes plays for his teammates. His defensive game has continued to improve and he’ll be a premier center for years to come in Buffalo. Eichel would have gone first overall in any draft over the last decade — this year he trails McDavid, but nobody else.”

NHL comparable: Ryan Johansen

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.