The Los Angeles Kings locked up one of their prized youngsters on Thursday, agreeing to terms with rookie forward Tanner Pearson on a two-year deal.
Per Sportsnet, the contract is worth $2.8 million for an average annual cap hit of $1.4M, which is nearly double what Pearson made on his entry-level deal.
All told, it’s a pretty good arrangement for both the club and player. Pearson, 22, was L.A.’s first-round pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and rose to prominence during last year’s Cup run on “That 70s Line” with Jeff Carter and fellow youngster Tyler Toffoli.
This year, Pearson got off to a great start — he was October’s rookie of the month — and racked up 12 goals in 42 games before suffering a broken ankle in early January. (He’s currently out of the lineup and isn’t expected back until the playoffs… if the Kings make it.)
With Pearson now signed, Kings GM Dean Lombardi will turn his attention to Toffoli and the club’s other pending RFAs: Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff and goalie Martin Jones.
Boston University’s Jack Eichel, North Dakota’s Zane McIntyre and Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey have been named the Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists for 2015.
Eichel, considered the favorite for this year’s award, would become the first freshman to capture the Hobey since Paul Kariya did it for the University of Maine in 1993. Eichel led the country in scoring this year, with 67 points in 38 games, and captured a bounty of individual awards including the Hockey East Player of the Year and tournament MVP.
McIntyre, a Bruins draftee, emerged as arguably the best goalie in the country this season and set UND’s all-time mark in career goals-against average and save percentage. He led college hockey with 29 wins this season and finished 11th in GAA (2.00) and sixth in save percentage (.931) while helping North Dakota reach the Frozen Four.
Vesey, a Nashville draftee, led all NCAA skaters with 32 goals in 37 games and captured the ECAC’s Player of the year award in the process. He’s the first Hobey Baker finalist from Harvard in 10 years and recently stated his intention to return to school for his senior season, forgoing the opportunity to turn pro and join the Predators this season.
Dallas isn’t going down without a fight.
The Stars, six points out of playoffs with five games left, have recalled Valeri Nichushkin from his conditioning stint with AHL Texas.
Nichushkin, 20, has missed almost the entire regular season with a hip injury and subsequent surgery, appearing in just four games. It was a fairly significant loss for the Stars; in his rookie campaign, Nichushkin appeared in 79 contests and performed well, scoring 14 goals and 34 points while averaging just under 15 minutes per game.
The big Russian also played in all six of Dallas’ opening-round postseason games against Anaheim, scoring a goal and two points.
Should he shine in his return, Dallas will probably be thinking of what could’ve been.
After a slow start, the Stars have been one of the NHL’s top teams since Dec. 13 and made a strong playoff push in March, going 10-5-0. But for all the good they did, they also ended the month with a thud, losing 4-0 in Edmonton on Mar. 27 and 5-3 at home to Calgary on Mar. 30.
Dallas’ next game comes on Thursday, when it hosts the Blues.
The Boston Bruins have caught a few breaks for tonight’s all-important game against Detroit.
The Red Wings will be down the services of three — and possibly four — of their regular forwards as Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Jurco and Erik Cole have all been ruled out of action.
Riley Sheahan, who missed Tuesday’s game against Ottawa with an upper-body injury, will need to be medically cleared in order to rejoin the lineup.
On a bright note, the Wings will return the services of Drew Miller, who won’t miss any time after suffering a nasty skate cut to the face against the Senators. Miller, who was cut for 60 stitches across his face and forehead, didn’t suffer any eye damage — somewhat amazingly — and looks as though he’ll play in his usual fourth-line role this evening.
While most are focused on Boston’s ramifications for Thursday’s tilt, the game has significance for Detroit as well. The B’s could draw even with the Wings on 93 points with a win and, while Detroit would remain ahead on the tiebreaker, Boston would have four more games to try and secure third in the Atlantic Division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have added another quality young netminder to the organizational depth chart, signing University of Minnesota stalwart Adam Wilcox — their sixth-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — to a two-year, two-way contract on Wednesday.
Wilcox, 22, opted to forgo his senior year with the Gophers — like fellow teammate Brady Skjei did — and leaves the school tied for the all-time lead in shutouts, with 13. Over his three years at Minnesota, he was nominated for both the Mike Richter and Hobey Baker awards and, during a stellar sophomore campaign, was named the inaugural Big Ten Player of the Year.
As mentioned above, Wilcox joins an organization that’s pretty flush with talented young netminders. The Bolts have 20-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy, their first-round pick in 2012, currently serving as Ben Bishop’s No. 2 at the NHL level while Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis, 22, is the starter in AHL Syracuse.