The Pacific Division continued to get tougher on Friday in the wake of Milan Lucic’s arrival in Los Angeles.
The Anaheim Ducks signed Brian McGrattan while the Arizona Coyotes added tough guy John Scott on a one-year deal.
Scott spent the 2014-15 season with the San Jose Sharks scoring career-high three goals and four points to go along with 87 penalty minutes in 38 games. The 32-year-old has a history with Coyotes’ assistant GM Darcy Regier as the two were together in Buffalo.
According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Scott’s deal is a one-way contract worth $575,000.
Arizona also signed Steve Downie to a one-year deal on July 1.
The Canucks added Brandon Prust in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
“L.A. got tougher in bringing in Lucic. Other teams got tougher,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said on Thursday when discussing the Prust acquisition. “I don’t want our younger players getting picked on this year. I want them to go out, be able to play and feel comfortable.
“With (Derek) Dorsett and Prust in the lineup, they’re going to create a safe working environment for our young players.”
Dorsett (17) and Prust (16) were second and third in fighting majors last season, according to Hockeyfights.com. Colorado’s Cody McLeod led the league with 19.
Downie was 14th in fighting majors last season with eight.
Marco Sturm, the highest-scoring German player in NHL history, has agreed to become the head coach and general manager of Germany’s national team.
“I’m very proud that the DEB [German hockey federation] gives me the huge responsibility and I’m really immensely looking forward to this challenging and exciting task I will work on with huge motivation,” Sturm said, per the IIHF website. “Together we want to go the next step with German ice hockey.”
Sturm, 36, retired last January after a 15-year NHL career that went through San Jose, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, Vancouver and Florida. He also represented Germany at nearly every international level, participating in three Winter Olympics.
As mentioned in his quote above, this new gig will be a challenge. Sturm, who doesn’t have any pro coaching experience, inherits a struggling national team; Germany finished a disappointing 10th at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, suffering one of the biggest blowouts of the tournament, a 10-0 loss to Canada.
This came on the heels of an equally disappointing effort at the ’14 tourney, in which the Germans needed group stage wins over Latvia and Kazakhstan to avoid relegation.
Currently, there are seven German skaters in the NHL: Tobias Rieder, Dennis Seidenberg, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Leon Draisaitl, Korbinian Holzer and David Wolf. Thomas Greiss and Philipp Grubauer are the country’s lone netminders.
Columbus locked in one of its hardest-working forwards on Thursday, agreeing to a three-year, $6.6 million extension with left winger Matt Calvert.
Calvert, 25, will carry an average annual cap hit of $2.2 million on his new deal, a nice bump from the $987,500 he made on his previous one. The former WHL Brandon product earned his latest contract following a solid ’14-15 campaign, during which he scored a career-high 13 goals and 11 points in his final 18 games of the year.
“Matt Calvert is a heart and soul player, who works hard on and off the ice and is a relentless competitor at both ends of the rink,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. “He’s been an important contributor to our team and we are excited that he will continue to be a part of our organization moving forward.”
The Calvert extension is the latest in what’s been a busy summer for Kekalainen. Last week, he pulled off the Brandon Saad blockbuster trade — then inked Saad to a six-year, $36 million extension. Kekalainen also inked former Bruins forward Gregory Campbell in free agency, re-signed d-men Justin Falk and Cody Goloubef, and goalie Curtis McElhinney.
With many predicting the Vancouver Canucks will be hard-pressed to get back to the playoffs next season, will defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata be up for grabs at the 2016 trade deadline?
As of today, it’s certainly possible. GM Jim Benning has confirmed that both veterans — the former a 2014 Olympic gold-medal winner with Team Canada, the latter an NHL all-star last year — will enter next season as pending unrestricted free agents.
“We’re going to go into the season and see how it goes,” Benning said, per The Province. “We’ve touched base with their agents a little, but we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Canucks have other pending UFAs — Yannick Weber, Brandon Prust, and Matt Bartkowski — that could fetch them draft picks or prospects at the deadline. Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Nick Bonino could all theoretically be moved too. Such is the outlook in Vancouver that some are wondering if the Sedins should be traded.
As Benning said, it will all depend on “how it plays out.”
Prior to last season, Matt Beleskey had never scored more than 11 goals in a single NHL season.
For financial reasons, he picked a great year to double that output when he potted 22 in 2014-15 for Anaheim.
Beleskey cashed in as an unrestricted free agent with a five-year, $19 million deal with the Bruins.
How does he explain his career year?
“Coach Bruce Boudreau put me in good situations,” Beleskey said, per NHL.com. “I played on the power play. I played a lot with Ryan Kesler, who works extremely hard and he’s a great player to work with and play with. And I think I took some confidence strides in my game. I knew it was time that I needed to be more than just a grinder that’s going to help out and be a guy that’s able to lead in situations. And I think I took those steps.”
Now the pressure’s on to keep it up. Especially after the Bruins traded away Milan Lucic, a guy who scored 139 goals during his time in Boston. Not to mention all the hits he delivered.
With Lucic in Los Angeles, and after GM Don Sweeney had vowed to return the B’s to their aggressive ways, Beleskey sees Boston as a good fit.
“The big, bad Bruins play that physical style, and they’ve always been a team that I’ve liked watching,” Beleskey said, per CSN New England.
“They’ve always been a team I’ve been drawn to.”
Related: Bruins sign Beleskey for five years, despite some warning signs