Louis Leblanc was taken by the Montreal Canadiens with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but little has gone right for him since. He’ll get another shot though after signing a one-year, two-way deal with the New York Islanders, per the team’s website.
Prior to being drafted, the Quebec-native had 26 goals, 58 points, and 100 penalty minutes in 51 contests with the QMJHL’s Montreal Juniors.
He had five goals and 10 points in 50 career NHL games with Montreal over the course of his three-year, entry-level contract, but 42 of those contests were played during 2011-12. When his opening deal with the Canadiens expired they decided to trade him to the Anaheim Ducks for nothing more than a conditional pick. Montreal would have received a 2015 fifth round selection if Leblanc had participated in at least 15 games with Anaheim, but the 24-year-old forward spent the full campaign in the minors where he recorded 14 goals and 11 assists in 71 contests with AHL Norfolk.
The Ducks decided not to present him with a qualifying offer after that, which is what allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent.
With Eric Fehr an unrestricted free agent and Nicklas Backstrom’s availability for the start of the season “up in the air” after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery, the Washington Capitals’ situation at center is far from certain.
Washington has stated that Evgeny Kuznetsov will serve as the number two center and when Backstrom is healthy, he is the clear number one, but that still leaves the third line role undetermined.
“I think we’re going to let it play out,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told the Washington Post. “We could address it internally, the third-line center spot, and also depending on how the contract situation plays itself out, there’s a couple options in the free agency market that we see, and we’ll explore the trade market up until training camp. There might be something in that venue.”
Andre Burakovsky, 20, is among their internal options, but they also have veteran alternatives like 29-year-old Jay Beagle.
If they do decide to sign a center to help fill the void, then their options include Stephen Weiss, Matt Cullen, Derek Roy and, of course, Fehr.
Washington does have some cap considerations though. They have a little more than $10 million in space, but still have to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby, per General Fanager.
While the jury’s still out on Stefan Matteau after his entry-level contract, his new two-year deal announced by the Devils will cover key seasons that might go a long way towards determining what kind of career he has.
His contract comes with a $612,500 annual cap hit, according to The Record’s Tom Gulitti.
The 21-year-old was taken with the 29th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Known more for his physical game than offensive prowess, he has gone on to record 25 goals, 53 points, and 106 penalty minutes in 128 AHL contests over the last two seasons.
He also has two goals and four points in 24 career games with New Jersey, including a goal in seven contests last season. His lone 2014-15 marker with the Devils is a good example of the type of play New Jersey is hoping from him going forward:
“He has to use his size and strength. He’s a big boy,” Devils president Lou Lamoriello told NJ.com at the time. “He has to get in the corners. He has to finish checks and go to the front of the net.
“He’s not a finesse player, nor will he be, but he has skills.”