At the age of 39, it looks like Eric Boulton still has at least one more campaign in the NHL left in his career.
The New York Islanders announced that Boulton has agreed to a one-year deal for the 2015-16 campaign. The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but it’s a one-way deal, according to Elliotte Friedman.
This will be Boulton’s fourth season with the Islanders, but he’s only played in 48 games with the club. That’s partially due to a hand and lower-body problems, but he’s also been scratched when healthy. When he does play, Boulton serves as an enforcer.
He made headlines in that role during the preseason while he was participating in the Islanders’ training camp on a tryout basis. He attempted to fight Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who ended Lubomir Visnovsky’s 2014-15 season, and when Wilson refused Boulton claimed it was because he “was scared to death.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz countered that by saying that he specifically told Wilson not to fight Boulton. Now that Boulton has signed with the Islanders though, perhaps they’ll get into a sparring match during the regular season.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.
The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.
Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.
After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.
Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.
As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.
The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)
While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)
Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)
Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)
The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)
The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)
The Buffalo Sabres have had terrible luck on the injury front so far this season, but the news hasn’t been all bad.
Sabres captain Brian Gionta took part in Sunday’s practice and was “cautiously optimistic” about his chances of making his season debut on Monday.
“I felt great, today was a good day, I progressed well so it felt good to get out there with the guys and we’ll see how things respond tomorrow,” he told the Sabres’ website.
If he does play on Monday it will probably be on a line with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel. At the age of 36, Gionta is over a decade older than Kane and has nearly two decades of seniority over Eichel.
Gionta sustained a lower-body injury just before the start of the 2015-16 campaign and was forced to watch as the Sabres fell to Ottawa and Tampa Bay in its opening contests.
Buffalo will host Columbus at 3:00 p.m. ET. Like the Sabres, the Blue Jackets are searching for their first win.
The Flyers decided not to buy out the final season of Sam Gagner‘s contract, but thus far all he’s done is watch as Philadelphia lost its first two contests.
“I want to be a part of things, I definitely feel like I can help,” Gagner told CSN Philly. “It’s frustrating. I want to be out there helping my team. To not get the opportunity to play, it’s not fun.”
This is the first time in his career that he’s been made a healthy scratch in back-to-back games. Even after Philadelphia’s 7-1 defeat against Florida on Saturday though, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol might not insert him into the lineup.
It’s certainly a possibility as Gagner skated alongside Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn during Sunday’s practice, but it’s hard to read too much into that because R.J. Umberger took a maintenance day. For his part, Gagner hasn’t heard anything about the lineup for Monday’s rematch against the Panthers and Hakstol said on Sunday that he hadn’t made that decision yet.
Gagner is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and is playing for his third team in as many seasons, not including the Tampa Bay Lightning, which acquired him from Edmonton and promptly dealt him to Arizona in 2014.
After everything he’s been through over the last few years, the 26-year-old forward entered the campaign with plenty to prove and his stint in the press box has served to make his eventual Flyers debut all the more important.