New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero sure is getting a lot done on “Hump Day.”
Not long after the team announced a contract for Jiri Tlusty and tryout for Tyler Kennedy, the Devils also shared news that winger Lee Stepmniak is getting a professional tryout contract.
This comes as some surprise, as much of the scuttlebutt pointed to Stempniak trying to land a spot with the Boston Bruins.
Of course, he could still end up in a Bruins uniform to start the 2015-16 season, depending upon how things work out.
The Devils may opt against giving him a full deal (or leave too much money on the table), opening the door for the Bruins or another NHL team to acquire Stempniak.
The 32-year-old’s numbers have taken a slight dip lately, but to be fair, he’s been bouncing around the NHL quite a bit the past two seasons. Perhaps he can gain some stability by playing well during this month?
As training camps approach, Jiri Tlusty stood out as “the guy who wouldn’t accept a PTO.” Perhaps it makes sense, then, that he made a deal with the (New Jersey) Devils?
The team announced that they signed the 27-year-old to a one-year, one-way contract on Wednesday.
New Jersey didn’t reveal financial details, but multiple sources including the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti report that it’s worth $800K.
No doubt about it, that’s a bargain.
That wasn’t the only interesting move the Devils made heading into camp, either, as they also handed Tyler Kennedy a professional tryout contract today.
It’s an interesting situation, as one must ask: is Tlusty (pictured) much more deserving of a guaranteed deal than Kennedy, or even more deserving at all? Perhaps it simply comes down to Tlusty saying “full contract or bust,” while perhaps Kennedy was a little more malleable?
One would guess that Kennedy, 29, would get a reasonable shot at making the Devils. If anyone knows how capable he can be as a depth forward, it would be GM Ray Shero, who watched him skate alongside Jordan Staal for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neither Tlusty nor Kennedy should be seen as the difference-makers who would push the Devils to contender status, yet they may very well make New Jersey a little peskier.
Despite his brief stay with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is willing to roll the dice on another one-year contract.
Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, told PHT in an email that the 33-year-old unrestricted free agent “doesn’t mind having the flexibility of a single year commitment. He’s confident in his ability to provide a valued role to the right team. If there’s a mutual fit, an extension will likely follow.”
Ehrhoff signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pens last summer, not long after being bought out by the Sabres. After registering just 14 points in 49 games, in addition to suffering multiple concussions, it may be a one-year deal is the most he’ll be able to get anyway. (He’s apparently been give a “clean bill of health.”)
Curran insists “there’s continued serious interest” in both Ehrhoff and another UFA client, forward Jiri Tlusty.
“I would expect the log jam to clear a little once teams have a better handle on signing their remaining RFA players and know how much they have left in the till to spend,” wrote Curran. “Meanwhile, both players are content to remain patient until an appropriate offer hits the table from someone who will obviously be the right fit.”
Related: UFA of the Day: Christian Ehrhoff
Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
Recently, it was reported that the Jets and Stafford were working on a contract extension. No surprise there, after the 29-year-old was traded from Buffalo to Winnipeg and proceeded, according to Jets coach Paul Maurice, to make a “huge impact.”
Stafford finished with nine goals and 10 assists in 26 games for the Jets, an 82-game pace of 28 goals and 32 assists. Even in a limited sample, it reminded everyone that Stafford once scored 31 goals in 62 games for the Sabres.
Still, there are those who think the Jets should move on, perhaps in favor of top prospect Nikolaj Ehlers. Winnipeg also has to be mindful of its spending, considering Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd can become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Which takes us nicely into these tweets, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
Besides Stafford, the Jets’ other UFA forwards include Michael Frolik, Jiri Tlusty, Jim Slater and Lee Stempniak.
Click here for more UFAs.
Nikolaj Ehlers, taken ninth overall at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Jets, is reportedly on his way to Winnipeg, where he’ll join the big club — but won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s elimination Game 4 against the Ducks.
The 19-year-old Dane just finished his year with QMJHL Halifax, getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs. It ended what was an otherwise stellar second season in the Q; Ehlers scored 101 points in just 51 regular season games and continued to light it up in the postseason, scoring 31 points in 14 games.
There are some clamoring for Ehlers to go straight into the lineup, and it would make some sense as the Jets have scored just seven goals against Anaheim, four of those coming in Game 3. The club has also gotten little in the way of production from Andrew Ladd, Jiri Tlusty, Michael Frolik, Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele, all of whom are without a goal this series.
That said, throwing Ehlers into the mix would be a pretty bold move. Aside from never having played in the NHL before, Ehlers is relatively small (5-foot-11, 176 pounds) and this has been a brutally physical series.