David Wolf’s North American experiment has come to an end as he has decided to return to the Hamburg Freezers, according to the team’s announcement on Twitter.
The Calgary Flames signed the big forward to a one-year, $925,000 deal for the 2014-15 campaign after Wolf recorded 14 goals, 26 assists, and 152 penalty minutes in 48 games with the Hamburg Freezers of Germany’s top league.
Wolf’s tough play made it easy to link him with Flames president Brian Burke’s preferences and that belief only grows stronger with the knowledge that Wolf was invited to a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect camp when Burke was the general manager back in 2012.
The undrafted 25-year-old ended up spending most of 2014-15 with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames where he recorded 38 points and 168 penalty minutes in 59 AHL contests. However, he also participated in three regular season games with the Calgary Flames and logged 10:25 minutes in Game 2 of Calgary’s second round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
After establishing himself with the Nashville Predators, 23-year-old forward Calle Jarnkrok has earned a one-year, $735,000 contract extension, per the team’s website.
The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the 51st overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and he went on to excel with Brynas IF Gavle in Sweden, scoring 13 goals and 42 points in 53 contests in his final campaign with the squad back in 2012-13.
After a brief stint with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins that season, he prepared for his first full AHL campaign in 2013-14. He had 13 goals and 36 points in 57 contests with Grand Rapids, but that marked the end of his tenure within the Red Wings’ organization as he was part of the package to acquire David Legwand from Nashville.
Jarnkrok went on to record two goals and nine points in 12 contests with Nashville in 2013-14. He spent the full campaign with the Predators last season, but was limited to 12:50 minutes of ice time per game and finished with seven goals and 18 points in 74 contests.
Now that goaltender Devan Dubnyk has inked a six-year, $26 million contract with the Minnesota Wild, where does that leave Darcy Kuemper?
Kuemper had an opportunity to establish himself as Minnesota’s starter last season, but he barely played at all after the Wild acquired Dubnyk last season. Still, it sounds like there’s an opening for the workload to be far less one-sided in 2015-16.
“Well we’re still very excited about Darcy Kuemper,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, per the Star Tribune. “He’s a young man, and two seasons ago he had a tremendous year. Last year he was certainly more erratic. He started well and had a tough stretch in the middle of the year.”
Kuemper is just 25 years old and has enjoyed some good stretches. Overall he has a 2.48 GAA and .910 save percentage in 63 career starts.
Meanwhile, Niklas Backstrom is set to begin the season as the team’s third-string goaltender as the 37-year-old plays out the final campaign of his three-year, $10.25 million deal. He played in just 40 games over the first two seasons of that contract.
Keeping three goalies on a team’s roster is typically not seen as ideal, but in Minnesota it’s fast becoming the norm.
“For a lot of the last two years, we’ve had to carry three goalies, and it looks like that’s how we’re going to have it to start this season as well,” Fletcher said.
Bryan Bickell knew it wasn’t a concussion, but he didn’t know what was keeping him out of the lineup at the most important time of the year.
It was eventually revealed that the Chicago Blackhawks forward was dealing with vertigo. He missed the opening two games of the Stanley Cup Final, returned for Game 3, and then wasn’t used for the remainder of the series.
Over the summer he discovered the likely explanation for why he was having so much trouble: He had an infection from a tooth that needed to be pulled, per NHL.com’s Brian Hedger.
So that’s one mystery we can likely close to books on, but a very different question is lingering for Bickell. Will he be traded this summer? Given his $4 million annual cap hit and Chicago’s cap problems, he’s been a popular name in the rumor mill and it seems like he’s acutely aware of that.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff is already thinking about how he’ll use Dallas’ latest additions and there’s no shortage of possibilities.
Dallas recently acquired Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks and then inked unrestricted free agent and former Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year, $7.5 million deal. Combined with the earlier signing of goalie Antti Niemi and the Stars have added plenty of playoff experience.
“It’s really important for us to take that next step. These guys have been winners and know how to win. They should help us get there,” Ruff told the team’s website. “Ownership has really stepped up and said we can make this team better. I’ve got to give Tom [Gaglardi] and his family a lot of credit for making this team better with the last couple of pieces here. It’s been tremendous.”
Ruff could see Sharp being paired up with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line, but he’s also considering going with more of a one-two punch with a top line that features Benn and Seguin followed by a second unit that includes Sharp and Jason Spezza.
Whichever route he decides to take, the potential is certainly there for the Stars to have two significantly more balanced lines than they did last season. Spezza meshed well with Benn and Seguin when the trio played together, but whenever Ruff opted to employ that star studded line, it came at the expense of the team’s offensive depth. That trio were the only Dallas players to record more than 40 points last season while just Benn and Seguin surpassed the 20-goal mark. The addition of Sharp could expand both of those lists.
As for Oduya, Ruff would like to see him play alongside Jason Demers, which would keep the John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski pairing from last season intact.
Dallas fell just short of making the playoffs last season, but even before these additions, there were reasons to believe that the Stars could do better in 2015-16. It certainly didn’t hurt that they finished with a 14-5-0 run.
Related: Lehtonen, Niemi see benefit in splitting goalie duties