Author: Mike Halford

Stephen Peat skates

Ex-NHLer Peat pleads guilty to arson


Former Washington Capital Stephen Peat, who was arrested in March for arson, pleaded guilty to charges of arson by negligence on Wednesday morning, stemming from an incident at his father’s house.

Details, per The Province:

The homeowner, Walter Peat, was in bed when the fire started but managed to escape. A basement suite tenant was not home at the time.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but the house and vehicles in the driveway were severely damaged.

Police were called to investigate the fire because a passerby saw a man lighting the fire and tried unsuccessfully to stop him.

Investigators learned that there was a “domestic dispute” between Walter and Stephen Peat which began that the afternoon and was renewed later in the evening.

A pre-sentence report was ordered for Peat, with sentencing scheduled for Nov. 18. The maximum sentence for arson by negligence is five years in prison.

After recovering from serious bike crash, Sarich holds out comeback hope

Colorado Avalanche v Calgary Flames

Veteran defenseman Cory Sarich, who missed all of last season recovering from injuries suffered in a major bicycling accident, says he’s still hopeful for an NHL return — even though the chances get increasingly smaller by the day.

“I’ve spoken with a few teams,” Sarich said, per the Calgary Herald. “That’s been obviously the goal — to try to see if there’s any interest out there. Nothing so far. I’m just going to keep skating, trying to get my legs under me.

“I’m a realist, though. If nothing happens, that’s the way it is.”

Sarich, 37, suffered five cracked vertebrae and multiple burns after getting run over by a truck while riding his bike in British Columbia last July. He spent significant time in hospital (in addition to the injuries, Sarich later suffered a staph infection) and didn’t play at all last year, after scoring 10 points in 54 games for the Avs during the ’13-14 campaign.

A veteran of nearly 1,000 NHL contests — currently stuck on 969 — Sarich has a wealth of experience and is a former Stanley Cup winner, having captured a championship with Tampa Bay in 2004. He says he’s now back at full health and hopeful he can land with an organization, even on an AHL deal.

But so far, it’s been silent.

“I am open to any opportunity,” he said. “But so far, none have presented themselves.”

New Oilers goalie Nilsson ready ‘to challenge for the No. 1 job’

Austria v Sweden - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

Back in July, Edmonton made an intriguing, under-the-radar move by acquiring the rights to KHL goalie Anders Nilsson.

The deal didn’t garner much attention, possibly because the Oilers had already made a bigger splash in goal — trading for ex-Rangers backup Cam Talbot at the draft — and, of course, they still had Ben Scrivens in the mix.

But the attention could soon be on Nilsson.

“My mindset is to challenge for the No. 1 job,” the Swedish stopper told the Edmonton Journal. “That’s why I signed the one-year contract and it’s up to me to perform.”

Nilsson, 25, is an interesting entity.

Picked 62nd overall by the Isles in 2009, he appeared in 23 games for New York over three seasons before signing with KHL team AK Bars Kazan last summer. A few months later, the Isles traded Nilsson’s rights — he was an RFA upon leaving for Russia — to Chicago, as part of the Nick Leddy deal.

In Russia, Nilsson boosted his stock by going 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2015 Worlds, splitting time with Jhonas Enroth.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder signed with Edmonton almost immediately upon being acquired, seemingly determined to resurrect his NHL career. With the Oilers, he’s projected to battle Scrivens for the No. 2 gig behind Talbot — who, tentatively, is penciled in as the No. 1 — but if the last few years in Edmonton have shown anything, it’s that minutes in net are constantly up for grabs.

Trade target Cowen says Sens’ support has been ‘awesome’

Jared Cowen

It’s safe to say Jared Cowen knows he hasn’t lived up to expectations in Ottawa.

And it’s safe to say he appreciates the Sens sticking with him — even though teams have called about a potential trade.

“It’s awesome to have that support and I feel that same way about myself,” Cowen said this week, per the Ottawa Sun. “I know that it’s not just me that feels I can be a lot better and be the player that I know I’m going to be and I want to be.”

Cowen, taken ninth overall in 2009, has struggled to replicate the success he found during his rookie year in 2011-12, when he scored 17 points in 82 games, averaged nearly 19 minutes a night and received a handful of Calder votes — pretty impressive for a 21-year-old defenseman.

Injuries have played a role in Cowen’s declide — hip and abdominal issues sidelined him for extensive periods — and that’s led to teams inquiring about potential availability, given his size (6-foot-5, 228 pounds) and the fact Cowen only turned 24 in January.

Doesn’t sound like Ottawa is willing to make a move, however.

From the Sun:

Senators GM Bryan Murray along with assistants Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee have received a lot of calls from teams interested in Cowen but dealing him wasn’t an option because it’s difficult for any organization to give up on a young defenceman who still has upside potential.

With two years left at $3.1 million per-season, the Senators want to see what they’ve got in Cowen and that’s why he hasn’t been dealt. He’s looking forward to a big year under coach Dave Cameron and wants to show he can return to the form.

One would assume Cowen’s in the group of seven defensemen Ottawa will mostly rely on this year, along with Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Borowiecki and Chris Phillips.

That said, there are other blueliners knocking on the door, including Chris Wideman, a minor-league standout that won last year’s Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman.

Report: Jets offer camp PTO to Raffl, older brother of Flyers’ Michael

Germany v Austria - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

There’s probably a joke opportunity about Winnipeg trying to win the Raffl, but we’re not going to go there.

Instead, we’ll simply pass along word that, per Austrian news outlet Kurier, Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has received an offer to attend Jets training camp on a professional tryout.

Raffl, 29, was never drafted by an NHL club and has spent his entire career playing in Europe — he did, however, have a two-year stint playing Canadian junior hockey, with WHL clubs Kelowna and Swift Current.

Since then, he’s spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg. Last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria (serving as team captain) at the World Hockey Championships.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the elder Raffl has good size — bigger than his brother, who’s listed at 6-foot, 190 — and there’s obvious hope he, like his brother, can be another diamond in the rough.

Philly brought over the younger Raffl in ’13-14 and he immediately contributed, with nine goals and 22 points in 68 games.

Last year Raffl scored 21 goals for the Flyers, fourth-most on the team.