On Friday, Toronto Maple Leafs property Raffi Torres — still a member of San Jose’s AHL affiliate, despite being traded earlier this week — announced he wouldn’t be playing “professional hockey for the remainder of the season,” in order to rehab from “yet another medical procedure.”
More, from the Barracuda website:
“Up to this point in my career, I have always aggressively pushed my recovery timelines to come back as quickly as possible from injury. However, after this most recent procedure, I want to give myself the proper amount of rest and recovery time so that my body can completely heal. I believe that this approach is the best course of action at this point in order to attempt to resume my career.”
“I want to thank the Sharks and Barracuda organizations, along with all of my teammates, for their support during my time with the Club.”
While he didn’t specify the injury or specific procedure, it’s fair to assume both are in relation to Torres’ troublesome right knee.
Back in early December, Sharsk head coach Peter DeBoer admitted the veteran forward was having issues with a surgically repaired ACL that’s undergone a variety of procedures over the last two years, costing Torres all of the ’14-15 campaign.
Upon being activated following a 41-game suspension for a headshot on Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg, Torres was sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint. His knee “didn’t react well” after his first two games played and, subsequently, appeared in just four more contests for the Barracuda.
Torres, 34, is in the last of a three-year, $6 million deal. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
A few notable transactions to pass your way in advance of Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline…
— Chicago has waived Jiri Sekac, just one month after acquiring him from Anaheim in exchange for Ryan Garbutt. Sekac, 23, appeared in just six games for Chicago, registering one assist while averaging 10:04 TOI per night.
It’s worth noting Chicago is Sekac’s third team since breaking in with Montreal during the ’14-15 campaign. He’s currently in the last of a two-year, $2.7M deal with a $1.35 average annual cap hit.
— Toronto has waived Jared Cowen, just two weeks after acquiring him from Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade. Cowen, who’s dealing with a hip injury, has yet to play for the Leafs and it’s widely assumed the club is looking to get out of his contract (a four-year, $12.4M pact with a $3.1M average annual cap hit, and one year remaining.)
— Carolina forward Brad Malone, put on waivers yesterday, has cleared.
Malone, 26, has five points through 37 games this year but has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions. Prior to getting parked in the press box, he was best known as a physical, hard-hitting presence that drew the ire of Columbus captain Nick Foligno for a big hit back in early January.
Malone is in the second of a two-year deal worth $1.3 million. It carries an average annual cap hit of $650,000.
Teams continued to lock in their defensemen on Friday — after Pittsburgh re-upped with Olli Maatta and Tampa Bay locked in Braydon Coburn, the Preds announced they signed Anthony Bitetto to a two-year, $1.225 million extension.
Bitetto, 25, will now carry a $612,500 cap hit through 2018.
Having come into this season largely as a depth defenseman, Bitetto’s become a lineup fixture in the wake of Seth Jones–Ryan Johansen trade, and the Victor Bartley move to Montreal. The spots vacated have allowed Bitetto to appear in each of Nashville’s last 11 games — all told, he’s appeared in 17 contests this season, averaging 12:03 TOI per night.
Bitetto usually appears on Nashville’s third pairing alongside Barret Jackman, though he has platooned in and out with Petter Granberg, who the Preds acquired off waivers from Toronto earlier this season.
One pending UFA that hasn’t gained much attention this season — partly due to the other high-profile UFAs around the league — is St. Louis captain David Backes.
Backes, in the last of a five-year, $22.5 million deal with a $4.75M average annual cap hit, is slated to hit the open market in July, which would be a fairly significant move given he’s spent his entire 10-year career in St. Louis.
So where are the Blues and Backes with regards to a new contract?
Not anywhere, really.
From the Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford:
And from his subsequent print piece:
The Blues, whom Armstrong acknowledged will not be re-signing pending unrestricted free agents David Backes or Troy Brouwer before Monday’s deadline, may look the same come Tuesday.
While there have been rumblings about the Blues potentially trading Backes, Armstrong all but shot them down in late January, telling the Post-Dispatch moving Backes would be the “least likely scenario,” noting that a “first-round pick does us no good when we’re going to this year’s playoffs.”
Which makes you wonder what the future has in store.
St. Louis has been gradually moving away from the “old guard,” trading T.J. Oshie to Washington last summer while allowing Barret Jackman to leave via free agency. But it would seem difficult to do the same with Backes, who’s been the club’s longest-serving captain since Chris Pronger.
Busy day for defensemen re-upping with their respective clubs.
Not long after the Pens gave Olli Maatta a six-year, $24.4 million extension, Tampa Bay announced it had signed veteran Braydon Coburn to a three-year pact worth $11.1 million, per TSN.
The former eighth overall pick was set to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Coburn’s currently in the last of a four-year, $18 million deal with a $4.5M average annual cap hit — so he takes a bit of a haircut with this extension, which carries a $3.7M AAV.
The 30-year-old is in his second season with the Bolts, having been acquired from Philadelphia at last year’s deadline. Coburn’s scored nine points through 60 games — hardly elite offensive production — but does sit third on the club in hits (90) and blocked shots (69).
At 6-foot-5, 226 pounds, Coburn is an imposing presence on the Lightning defense, though he’s not an especially nasty or physical guy. He’s often paired with a young, raw d-man in Andrej Sustr, and has provided a stabilizing presence at times.
Finally, it’s worth noting that with this extension, Coburn will become the fourth highest-paid Bolts blueliner in terms of cap hit, behind Matt Carle ($5.5M), Anton Stralman ($4.5M) and Victor Hedman ($4M).