Author: Ryan Dadoun

Jaden Schwartz

Blues appear set in the short-term, but difficult decisions loom


Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance last season combined with his solid showing in 2013-14 gave the St. Louis Blues the confidence to sign him to a eight-year, $60 million contract.

With that the Blues are just about set for the 2015-16 campaign. They still need to re-sign restricted free agent Magnus Paajarvi, but that might be the only remaining action we see from them between now and the start of training camp.

That leaves St. Louis near the salary cap, but with a little bit of wiggle room, per General Fanager. The challenge will come next summer when David Backes and Troy Brouwer are set to become unrestricted free agents while Jaden Schwartz will test the restricted free agent market. Schwartz in particular will likely be expecting a big raise from his current $2.35 million cap hit, assuming he has another strong season after his 63-point 2014-15 campaign.

If the Blues intend to keep defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk then they’ll also need to account for the likelihood that he’ll ask for a big raise too once his current four-year, $17 million deal expires in the summer of 2017.

It sets up a scenario where St. Louis might be compelled over the next year or two to trade players they otherwise wouldn’t have to remain cap compliant.

The big X-Factor in this will be how much the ceiling rises, but as we’ve seen this year with the decline of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, big increases in the cap aren’t a given.

Related: Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors

Enforcer Depth: Predators sign Bass; Ducks ink Zolnierczyk

Harry Zolnierczyk

Cody Bass has agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Nashville Predators, per the team’s website.

He can earn $575,000 at the NHL level or $125,000 annually in the minors.

Bass, 28, spent the 2014-15 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs where he recorded six goals, eight assists, and 165 penalty minutes in 61 games. He’s also the veteran of 49 NHL contests between his stints with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile the Anaheim Ducks announced that they have inked Harry Zolnierczyk to a one-year, two-way contract.

Zolnierczyk had 18 goals, 44 points, and 78 penalty minutes in 60 contests. The 27-year-old forward also has nine points and 83 penalty minutes in 59 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Islanders.

Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov

Ivan Provorov

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Ivan Provorov has agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The financial terms were not released, but Provorov reportedly can earn up to the league’s maximum base salary for an entry-level contract — $925,000 annually — and is eligible for bonuses on top of that, per CSN Philly.

The 18-year-old defenseman was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The fact that the Flyers already locked him up doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s likely to make the team’s opening game roster, but CSN Philly did note that it’s unusual for them to sign their top pick this early.

Provorov already plays a complete game and won’t need time to adjust to North American hockey as he made the move from Russia four years ago. He had 15 goals and 61 points in 60 contests with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings last season.

He’ll be competing for a spot on a crowded blueline as the Flyers already have seven defensemen signed to one-way contracts and that doesn’t include restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto.

Related: Get to know a draft pick — Ivan Provorov

Caps agree to terms with veteran goalie Dan Ellis

Dan Ellis

The Washington Capitals have agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Dan Ellis, per the team’s website.

Ellis is a veteran of 212 career NHL games. The 35-year-old netminder posted a 2.35 GAA and .914 save percentage in eight contests with the Florida Panthers in 2014-15. He also had a 2.71 GAA and .904 save percentage in 37 AHL contests.

He’ll probably start the campaign competing for playing time in the minors with another veteran goaltender in Justin Peters. Meanwhile 25-year-old Braden Holtby and 23-year-old Philipp Grubauer are projected to begin the 2015-16 season as the Capitals’ starting and backup netminders respectively.

Due in part to the youth of the Capitals’ top two goalies, the projected AHL tandem has logged more NHL games than their Washington counterparts.

Washington has already had a busy summer with the signing of Justin Williams and acquisition of T.J. Oshie, but the team isn’t finished yet. It still needs to come to terms with restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Holtby.

Canucks ink journeyman Blair Jones

Blair Jones

The Vancouver Canucks announced that Blair Jones has agreed to a one-year contract.

The financial details were not announced, but Jones is coming off of a one-year, two-way deal that had a $600,000 annual cap hit at the NHL level.

The 28-year-old forward recorded nine goals and 21 points in 33 games with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season. He also logged four games with the Philadelphia Flyers and averaged 6:55 minutes per contest.

Jones is a veteran of 132 NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, and Flyers. Although he’s been unable to secure a regular spot with an NHL squad, he has appeared in at least four contests at the top level in eight of the last nine seasons.