The Florida Panthers have inked veteran defenseman Matt Gilroy to a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Thursday.
Gilroy, 28, broke into the NHL with the Rangers in 2009-10 and proceeded to have his finest year during the 2011-12 campaign, when he appeared in 67 games for the Lightning and Senators, scoring 3G-17A-20PTS, finishing plus-6.
In 2013, Gilroy re-joined the Rangers on a one-year pact but only appeared in 15 games, spending the majority of his time with AHL Connecticut.
Gilroy should have a decent shot of making the Florida roster for 2013-14.
Florida lost the services of Tyson Strachan earlier today — he signed with the Capitals — and had already bought out the final year of Filip Kuba’s contract, so there are positions to be won on defense.
The Panthers only currently have five defensemen under contract for next season: Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov and Mike Weaver.
Of note, the Panthers also signed former Carolina center Jon Matsumoto today as well.
After just one season in Florida, Filip Kuba is on his way out.
The Panthers will buy out the final year of Kuba’s contract, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie — a decision that will cost the club $4.2 million in salary next year.
Also, because the team is using a standard buyout as opposed to a compliance one, his $4 million hit will still count against Florida’s cap.
It’s believed the Panthers aren’t worried about cap space this season — they’re $17 million under the ceiling with Kuba on the books — and this allows them to retain both compliance buyouts for next season, if they so choose.
Kuba, 36, signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Panthers in 2012 after reviving his career in Ottawa during the 2011-12 campaign.
Paired with Norris-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, Kuba enjoyed a 32-point effort and a plus-26 rating while playing nearly 24 minutes a night with the Sens, a big reason why Florida inked him to a lucrative deal to replace the departing Jason Garrison.
In 2013, Kuba played a bunch — 44 games, over 21 minutes a night — but his production fell to just 10 points and he finished minus-18 on the year.
Jim Nill has made his first move as general manager of the Dallas Stars, and it’s an interesting one.
On Friday, the Stars announced they acquired the rights to Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Stars GM Jim Nill explained the move to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
“It was a chance to get a high-character guy who we feel can help our team,” Nill said.
Gonchar, 39, will see his three-year, $16.5 million deal expire on July 5, at which time he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Nill told Garrioch that the Stars will begin contract negotiations as soon as possible.
Various media outlets have him linked to KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk — reportedly to the tune of $7 million per season — though it now appears Dallas will try to keep him in North America after his stellar 2013 campaign.
Gonchar was a steadying influence for the Senators this year after fellow vet Filip Kuba signed in Florida and Norris winner Erik Karlsson was lost for most of the season with a sliced Achilles.
He finished second on the Sens in scoring, with 27 points, and averaged nearly 24 minutes a night while finishing fifth among all NHL defensemen in assists (24).
Gonchar continued to log heavy minutes for Ottawa in the postseason, and finished tied for second on the team in assists, with six.
The move to bring in Gonchar harkens back to ones made by Nill’s predecessor in Dallas, Joe Nieuwendyk.
Last summer, the Stars went heavy into the veteran free agent pool, signing 40-year-olds Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney.
Brian Campbell has played 766 minutes and 53 seconds this season, the most among all NHL skaters.
And because he’s played those minutes for the Florida Panthers, his plus-minus rating has taken a beating.
Heading into Monday night’s action, Campbell ranks dead last among the league’s 765 skaters with a minus-20 rating, a startling number from a guy that’s plus-24 for his career (and went +51 over three years with Chicago.)
Of course, plus-minus has always been a contentious metric. It’s a team dependent statistic, so players on bad teams are going to have bad ratings, suggesting the plus-minus number isn’t truly indicative of an individual’s performance.
That’s part of the reason why Panthers GM Dale Tallon isn’t concerned about it.
“He plays 30 minutes a game on a team that has a hard time keeping the puck out of the net,” Tallon told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m not worried about Brian Campbell.”
To wit, Campbell’s not alone in the NHL’s basement for plus-minus.
Panthers teammate Erik Gudbranson has the league’s second-worst mark (minus-17) and forward Tomas Fleischmann has the third-worst (minus-14).
Other Florida skaters in the bottom-15 include Stephen Weiss (-13) and Filip Kuba (-11).
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After a one-year hiatus, Alexei Kovalev is back in the NHL.
That’s the story out of Sunrise on Thursday as the Florida Panthers announced they’ve signed the soon-to-be-40-year-old to a one-year deal.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the contract is for $1 million and includes some games-played bonuses.
Kovalev — who’ll turn 40 on Feb. 24 — hasn’t played in North America since skating with Pittsburgh during the 2010-11 season.
He returned to his native Russia for the 2011-12 season, playing 22 games with Atlant Moscow Oblast before suffering a knee injury that derailed his campaign.
Kovalev spent the summer and lockout without a team, focusing on rehab and getting healthy, though he did practice with Swiss second division team Martigny for a spell.
The former Ranger, Penguin, Canadien and Senator has some ties to the Panthers organization. He played with goalie Jose Theodore in Montreal and spent a season with Filip Kuba in Ottawa.
According to Harvey Fialkov of the Florida Sun-Sentinel, Kovalev has been skating on the Panthers’ second line along with Peter Mueller, and is working on the Panthers’ second power-play unit with Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau.