Author: Mike Halford

Pavel Zacha

After missing one deadline, Devils and Zacha hope to sign deal before the next


Keep an eye on negotiations between New Jersey and ’15 first-rounder Pavel Zacha over the next three weeks.

Zacha, the only top-10 European draftee that’s yet to sign his entry-level deal, has already missed one key deadline and is now facing another in mid-August, per The Record:

As part of the agreement between the NHL and the European professional leagues, any 2015 draft pick under contract with a European club had to be signed by 5 p.m. on July 15. With Zacha contractually committed to Liberec in the Czech Republic’s Extraliga for 2015-16, it remains unclear how the Devils and Stefan missed that deadline.

As first reported here last Thursday, the Devils must now pay a $100,000 transfer fee directly to Liberec to extend the deadline to 5 p.m. on Aug. 15. If Zacha isn’t signed by then, however, he cannot play in the NHL before the 2016-17 season.

When I asked [player agent Patrik] Stefan on July 15 about the deadline and Zacha’s contract status with Liberec, he stated, “There is no contract.” Stefan confirmed Zacha’s Liberec contract today, however, and explained his answer last week as a misunderstanding.

“I was only saying that there was nothing preventing Pavel from signing from the Devils,” Stefan said.

Zacha was taken sixth overall in June. The other top-10 Euros — Ivan Provorov (seventh, Philly), Timo Meier (ninth, San Jose) and Mikko Rantanen (10th, Colorado) — have all inked their entry-level deals.

Zacha, 18, impressed onlookers at New Jersey’s recent prospects camp, to the point where some have suggested he could start next season in the NHL.

“I thought he was fantastic,” Shero told the Bergen Record. “That was the feedback we gave him today. I think that was from the entire staff. Very professional, very mature.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the size and strength to play in the bigs right now — all that remains is getting that contract signed. Shero didn’t seem to think it would be much of a problem, saying there were no “red flags” with regards to the negotiations.

“There’s nothing that’s going to stop us from signing Zacha,” Shero explained. “All I’ll say is we’re continuing to try to work on something with Pavel Zacha.

“If and when there is a deal that makes sense for both parties, we’ll sign it.”

Coyotes and Glendale amend arena lease, ‘putting this dispute behind us’

PNI Coyotes Deal 0611

It’s over — for now.

On Thursday, the Coyotes announced they’ve resolved their arena lease dispute with the City of Glendale, agreeing to an amended agreement that will, per Fox Sports Arizona, keep the team at Gila River Arena for at least the next two seasons.

The city will vote on the amendment Friday morning at 9 a.m. MST.

“We have come up with a resolution that works for both sides and is best for the team, our fans, the city and most importantly the taxpayers,” said Arizona co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement. “Neither side benefits from a long, drawn out legal battle. What’s important is putting this dispute behind us and focusing on growing the Coyotes business and in turn, further growing revenues for the entire Westgate Entertainment District.”

Back in June — on the same night as Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, to be specific — Glendale city officials voted to void the previous 15-year lease agreement. The Coyotes responded by filing suit against the city, getting a temporary restraining order to keep the deal in place, then ordering Glendale to make its quarterly $3.75 million payment to the organization.

With today’s revised amendment, both sides avoid further legal battles — though questions will remain about the Coyotes’ future in Glendale, given this new agreement only goes to 2017.

In the later part of his statement, LeBlanc said the agreement will provide a short-term solution to certain parties, while establishing a longer-term commitment to others… without mentioning Glendale.

“This decision will bring much-needed certainty to our fans and sponsors about our near-term future and an end to the uncertainty brought about through this legal action,” he said. “We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term.

“We thank Coyotes fans and sponsors for their incredible support throughout this process. They have proven that they are among the most loyal and ardent in the NHL.”

Dallas d-man Johns, acquired in Sharp trade, says he’s ready for the NHL

New York Rangers v Chicago Blackhawks

Patrick Sharp isn’t the only former Blackhawk looking to make his mark in Dallas.

Defensive prospect Stephen Johns, acquired by the Stars two weeks ago in the Sharp deal, is looking to make his big-league debut next season and challenge for a spot on the blueline.

“I am just going to be like every other guy here, battling for a spot, competing and doing whatever I can,” Johns said, per “Personally, I think I am ready, but it’s not up to me.

“I am going to do the best that I can, play the best hockey I can and try to impress them.”

Johns, 23, was held in high regard by the ‘Hawks, who took him 60th overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s big (6-foot-3, 229 pounds), showed good offensive upside in Rockford this year — 21 points in 51 games, missing time to a knee injury — and garnered some consideration as a darkhorse candidate to step in on Chicago’s defense in the playoffs, following Michal Rozsival‘s season-ending ankle fracture in Round 2.

A broken forearm kept Johns from making that leap, but a new opportunity came calling two weeks ago when he and Sharp were flipped to Dallas for Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

Dallas’ blueline is hardly set in stone; while the likes of John Klingberg, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Johnny Oduya are all experienced NHLers, Johns should (theoretically) compete with fellow youngsters Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka and ’14 first-rounder Julius Honka for minutes.

It also remains to be seen where Jordie Benn, who struggled mightily last season, fits into the grand scheme of things.