Former Ducks and Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth is on his way to Russia.
On Thursday, Fasth reportedly agreed to join KHL powerhouse CSKA Moscow, the club announced. The deal comes after the 32-year-old failed to latch on with a new NHL club in free agency.
Fasth had a rough year in Edmonton last season, going 6-15-3 with a 3.41 GAA and .888 save percentage. The Swedish ‘tender, acquired from the Ducks for a pair of picks at the 2014 trade deadline, was really never able to replicate the success he had during his first season (’13) in Anaheim, when he burst onto the scene by going 15-6-2 with a .921 save percentage and 2.18 GAA, recording four shutouts.
If Connor McDavid’s Oilers “debut” was any indication, this is going to be quite the rookie year.
On Monday night, McDavid — the first overall pick at this year’s draft — scored five goals en route to winning the Billy Moores Cup, a scrimmage that wrapped up Edmonton’s six-day prospect orientation camp.
The No. 1 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft had three goals in two 20-minute halves of 4-on-4 play, then scored two more in seven minutes at 3-on-3, leading his team to an 8-6 win.
“It was fun. Anytime you get a chance to play in front of fans like that, it’s always exciting,” McDavid said. “It was pretty competitive, just with the guys that we had, and they made a lot of great plays out there.”
While the night was a showcase for McDavid, there were other Oilers prospects on the ice as well, including Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. The No. 3 and No. 7 picks in the 2014 and ’13 drafts, the two are looking to be alongside McDavid on the Oilers’ opening-night roster this October.
The Oilers elected to take defenceman Justin Schultz to arbitration to reach a contract conclusion. It also triggers an opportunity for the club to buy out a player making more than $2.75 million, which would free up more salary-cap room.
Players and NHL teams can continue to negotiate right up until they reach the arbitrator’s doorstep while the buyout window opens briefly for the club given the uncertainty of what the impact a new deal would have on the cap.
Schultz, 25, is coming off a year in which he scored 31 points in 81 games, but was a liability defensively; in addition to an ugly minus-17 rating, he had poor possession metrics and saw his ice time drop by nearly a minute, compared to the season prior.
The rub with Schultz, of course, is his salary — he earned $3.675 million last season, which is quite a bit given his precarious hold on a spot in Edmonton’s top-six defense. The additions of Andrej Sekera and Griffin Reinhart this offseason could greatly impact Schultz, as could the expected promotion of Darnell Nurse to the NHL level.
While a buyout seems unlikely — TSN’s Ryan Rishaug figures a deal will be reached — it does speak to how far Schultz has fallen. In 2012, the Oilers won the “sweepstakes” to sign Schultz after he opted not to ink with Anaheim, and in his first season in Edmonton he finished seventh in Calder voting, after scoring 27 points in 48 games.
Trade: Oilers add goalie depth, get Nilsson from Chicago
Nilsson, 25, is an interesting entity. Picked 62nd overall by the Isles in 2009, he appeared in 23 games for New York over three seasons before signing with KHL team AK Bars Kazan last summer. A few months later, the Isles traded Nilsson’s rights — he was an RFA upon leaving for Russia — as part of the deal that saw Nick Leddy head to Long Island.
In Russia, Nilsson resurrected his stock by going 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2015 Worlds, splitting time with Jhonas Enroth.
At 6-foot-5, Nilsson cuts an imposing figure in goal and it’ll be curious to see where he lands on the Edmonton depth chart. Chiarelli went out and acquired Cam Talbot from the Rangers at the draft, and already had Ben Scrivens in the fold. One has to think Scrivens could be in direct competition for the No. 2 gig with Nilsson, assuming Talbot enters the season as the Oilers’ starter.
Sabres fill out Bylsma’s staff, hire Lambert away from WHL team
Lambert joins the Sabres after guiding the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) to a 53-13-6 record and a Western Conference title in his first season as head coach in 2014-15. The Rockets followed up their regular-season success by posting a 16-3 record in the WHL Playoffs, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earning a berth in the Memorial Cup, where the team fell to the Oshawa Generals (OHL) in the Final.
Last year in Kelowna, Lambert coached a handful of top NHL prospects, including Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Nick Merkley (Coyotes), and Madison Bowey (Capitals).