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

Kenny McCudden

Columbus adds McCudden to Richards’ coaching staff

The Blue Jackets have hired former Chicago Wolves skating and skills coach Kenny McCudden to serve on Todd Richards’ staff, the club announced on Thursday.

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The Chicago native, who originally joined the Wolves in 1994, spent three seasons with the club from 1994-97 and then returned prior to the 2002-03 season. He was a part of teams that qualified for the former International Hockey League Turner Cup Playoffs three times and the American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs on eight occasions. He helped the Wolves advance to the 2005 Calder Cup Final and capture the Calder Cup championship in 2008.

“Kenny has worked with players at every level from young kids to NHL All-Stars and is a very well-respected skills and skating instructor,” said Richards. “He adds a new dimension to our staff and I’m really excited about the contributions he’ll make to our team.”

McCudden will join associate coach Craig Hartsburg and fellow assistant Brad Larsen on the Columbus bench.

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    Sens sign Pageau, head coach Cameron to two-year extensions

    Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers
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    The Ottawa Senators made a pair of fairly significant moves on Thursday, signing both head coach Dave Cameron and forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau to two-year extensions.

    Pageau, 22, really flourished after Cameron took over for Paul MacLean last year, and finished with career-highs in games (50), goals (10), assists (nine) and points (19). As a result, he’ll now earn $900,000 annually on his new deal and, perhaps even more importantly, will now be on a one-way deal. Pageau has spent a considerable amount of time with AHL Binghamton over the last few seasons, but now looks to be a full-fledged NHLer.

    As for the head coach…

    Cameron, 56, officially inked the extension GM Bryan Murray put on the table soon after Ottawa was eliminated from the postseason. The deal is well deserved; Cameron took over on Dec. 8 and led Ottawa on one of the greatest playoff rallies in league history — the Sens went 32-15-8 for 72 points over 55 games during his tenure, overcoming a 14-point deficit to make the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

    Report: Cory Conacher signs in Swiss League

    Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders
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    Sounds like Cory Conacher is headed overseas.

    Conacher, the diminutive forward that broke onto the NHL scene during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, has reportedly signed with SC Bern of the Swiss League — a team that’s coached by his former Tampa Bay bench boss, Guy Boucher.

    Conacher enjoyed his greatest NHL success under Boucher in ’13, scoring 24 points in 35 games before being traded to Ottawa at the deadline (in exchange for Ben Bishop.) Conacher finished sixth in Calder voting that season but failed to match the same level of success in subsequent years — after failing to establish himself with the Sens, he moved to Buffalo, then to the Islanders, before finishing off with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica.

    News of Conacher’s move, first reported by Utica’s PR staff, means his time with the Canucks organization is over — for now. A pending RFA, Conacher’s rights can be retained should Vancouver make him a qualifying offer.

    The 25-year-old did enjoy some success with the Comets this year, scoring 16 points in 20 regular season games, then eight in 23 playoff appearances.

    Leafs file for arbitration on Bernier, contract talks ongoing

    Jonathan Bernier
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    The latest between RFA goalie Jonathan Bernier and the Toronto Maple Leafs, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

    Bernier, 26, just wrapped a two-year, $5.8 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $2.9M. In case you’re wondering about the differences between team- and player-elected arbitration — aside from the obvious — a few things to pass along:

    • A player can only be subjected to team-elected arbitration once in his career. A player can elect arbitration himself as many times as possible, so long as a qualifying offer has been made.

    • Players can still receive offer sheets after being subjected to team-elected arbitration (deadline is July 5).

    • Team-elected arbitration must be filed within 48 hours of the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.

    For historical context, three players were subjected to team-elected arbitration last summer:

    • Michael Frolik, Winnipeg. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $3.3 million deal before the hearing.

    • Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado. The two sides agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal before the hearing.

    • Vladimir Sobotka, St. Louis. Arbitrator awarded Sobotka a one-year, $2.725 million deal. Sobotka then proceeded to sign in the KHL.

    Bernier went 21-28-7 for the Leafs last year, posting a .912 save percentage and 2.87 GAA. His counterpart in goal, James Reimer, is heading into the last of a two-year deal worth $2.3 million annually.

    All quiet between Devils and UFAs Bernier, Gomez

    Steve Bernier, Scott Gomez, Adam Henrique
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    New Jersey’s penchant for leaning on veteran skaters could soon be coming to an end.

    Pending UFAs Steve Bernier, 30, and Scott Gomez, 35, haven’t heard much of anything from new GM Ray Shero about their futures with the club, per the Bergen Record.

    Bernier said his agent, Kent Hughes, also has yet to hear from Shero about his contract. So, though Bernier is understanding about how busy Shero has been, he also has to prepare for the possibility that the Devils might not want him back and see what other teams would be interested if/when he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

    “Obviously, it’s the same for every player,” Bernier said. “We don’t know where New Jersey stands in terms of me, so we have no choice but to talk to other teams and see what’s available.”

    That’s not his first choice, though.

    “I don’t know if I should be, but I’m still positive that New Jersey might call,” Bernier said. “I’m hoping, actually. I’m hoping they’re going to call, but you need to be prepared to move if you have a chance to. My family likes it a lot in New Jersey, so, hopefully, we’re going to know a lot more before July 1.”

    Center Scott Gomez’s agent, Ian Pulver, said that there was “nothing to report” as far as contract talks with the Devils other than some initial contact from Shero.

    While it’s been widely assumed the team’s other veteran UFAs — Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder most specifically — were done in New Jersey, there was some belief the Devils could retain Bernier and Gomez, based largely on their impressive performances last season.

    Bernier tied for second on the team with 16 goals while playing on a relatively inexpensive one-year, $600,000 deal. Gomez, who made $550,000, was even better — he finished tied for third on the team in scoring, with 34 points, and led all skaters with 27 assists.