Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli apparently determined that a well-rested Tim Thomas is a priority for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Chiarelli signed veteran goalie Marty Turco on the same night that word surfaced that Tuukka Rask will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an abdominal/groin injury.
Turco will join the Bruins unless he fails to clear waivers, but either way, he won’t be eligible for postseason play because the deadline for playoff-available waiver claims passed at the trade deadline. It’s clear that Boston decided to add him strictly to give the team an experienced backup for Thomas during the last month of the season.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Turco will receive a pro-rated $600K salary for one year.
There are a few amusing elements to this story, which I’ll rattle off nice and quick:
- Turco is actually a little younger (36) than Thomas (37).
- Both players enjoyed distinguished NCAA careers; Turco wow a national championship at Michigan while Thomas enjoyed some great times alongside Martin St. Louis at the University of Vermont. (Oh yeah, Thomas is a Flint, Michigan resident so they can probably discuss their roots in depth if they’d like.)
- Thomas holds the single-season save percentage record from last season while Turco previously held the lowest goals against average for one season (1.72 in 2002-03, only to be broken by Miikka Kiprusoff in 03-04).
- If he clears waivers, Turco will play for back-to-back defending Cup champions as he flopped with the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
In other words, it would be awfully cool if the two end up being in the same goalie rotation, but there are a number of candidates who might be interested in a short-term fix in Turco. My guess is that the Ottawa Senators might benefit from the puck-moving veteran with Craig Anderson on the mend, but feel free to speculate about other squads who might snatch him up – or if he’ll go to the Bruins without incident.
The New York Islanders locked down shutdown forward Frans Nielsen to a four-year, $11 million deal according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Nielsen would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer if this deal hadn’t been reached.
McKenzie reveals that the salary breaks down as such:
2012-13: $2 million
Nielsen doesn’t get much press because he’s a defensive forward, but he’d be the kind of sturdy two-way player who’d turn some heads if he played on a playoff contender.
Nielsen averages 2:09 shorthanded time per game, good for third overall on the Islanders and No. 1 among the team’s forwards. His offensive output isn’t half-bad, either, with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games this season.
Naturally, Nielsen lacks the platform to get the recognition of a Dave Bolland-type asset because he plays for the Islanders. That being said, if the young squad turns things around soon, he’s likely to be a very valuable piece – and at a reasonable price, too.
There were plenty of rumors that Alexei Kovalev was headed to the KHL this summer. Now, we have official word that former Penguins’ skilled winger is headed to Atlant Mytishchi in Moscow. The newly signed deal will send Kovalev to his native Russia for the next two seasons and very likely could spell the end of his North American career. Some would say a year or two too late.
Kovalev was acquired by the Penguins midseason in hopes that he would inject some offense into a team that was replacing the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In 20 games down the stretch, Kovalev only scored a pair of goals and five assists as he failed to meet short-term expectations in the Steel City. Atlant’s General Director talked about the move to bring Kovalev to Moscow (via Google Translate):
“We have long fought for Kovalev and we’re very glad that we could still come to terms with such a talented striker. We hope that Alex can reveal a wealth of potential in the Kontinental Hockey League, and thereby help to Atlant to fight for the highest places in the next championships.”
If this is truly the end of the NHL line for Kovalev, he’s had a great career in North America. Taking a brief look back, the insanely talented Russian has put up 428 goals and 596 assists in 1,302 regular season games. After bouncing between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins a few times, he ended up in Montreal for parts of five seasons, Ottawa for parts of two, and finally back to Pittsburgh for his last 20 games. The 38-year-old was drafted 15th overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers and broke into the league during the 1992-93 season. Over the course of his career, he scored 20+ goals in twelve separate seasons including a 44 goal, 95 point campaign in 2000-01. For a man known for his inconsistency, he consistently put up goals just about everywhere he went.
It was no secret that the Penguins weren’t interested in bringing Kovalev back for the 2011-12 season. He was a disappointment for the Ottawa Senators for the majority of his two years in town and continued the trend when he reached Pittsburgh. He’s been on the free agent market since July 1st but there hasn’t been much interest in North America—and if there was, they weren’t willing to spend the same amount of money that the KHL offering.
He’ll be remembered as one of the most skilled players over the course of his career. Hockey fans would be hard pressed to come up with too many players who had more pure talent than Kovalev. Hopefully he’ll be able to regain the fire with Atlant Mytishchi.