Ruslan Fedotenko still has a desire to get back to the NHL.
The 36-year-old Ukrainian hasn’t played in the NHL since appearing in 47 games with the Philadelphia Flyers during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
After spending the 2013-14 season in the KHL, Fedotenko was a camp invite with the New Jersey Devils last year, but failed to turn the tryout into a contract.
In January, he signed a tryout contract with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League and scored three goals in 13 games with the Minnesota affiliate.
Fedotenko played well enough during his brief AHL stint to earn a one-year, two-way deal with the Wild worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $250,000 in the AHL for the upcoming season.
“I still feel pretty good and physically fit,” Fedotenko told The Des Moines Register. “At some point, when I realize I am getting too old or too slow and I cannot help the team, then I think I need to kind of look in the mirror and say, ‘Maybe, that’s enough.’
“I still have that passion to win another Cup.”
In parts of 12 NHL seasons Fedotenko, who won Stanley Cups with Tampa Bay (2004) and Pittsburgh (2009) has 173 goals and 366 points while appearing in 863 games.
Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek is feeling good after undergoing hernia surgery in June, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo. The 31-year-old forward has resumed skating and is expected to be ready for training camp.
The injury was bothering Vanek for a lot of the second half of the 2014-15 campaign, according to Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. Despite that, Vanek was fairly consistent in the regular season in terms of his offensive production.
He had 21 goals and 52 points in 80 games in 2014-15, with 30 of his points coming in his final 45 contests. He also never had a scoring slump last more than four games. In the playoffs, he registered four assists in 10 contests.
That was the first season of Vanek’s three-year, $19.5 million contract with Minnesota.
Erik Haula and the Minnesota Wild couldn’t agree to terms before their arbitration hearing on Friday, but they have managed to come to a settlement before the arbitrator was forced to pass judgment.
The Wild announced that they have signed Haula to a two-year contract. They didn’t reveal the financial terms of the deal, but it’s a two-year, $2 million contract, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
Haula was asking for $1.2 million in arbitration. Minnesota countered at $775K, which would have been a pay cut from his salary of $900K in 2014-15.
The 24-year-old forward had seven goals and 14 points in 72 contests last season. He only averaged 12:09 minutes of ice time per game, but he was leaned on heavily in shorthanded situations on a team that killed a league-best 86.3% of its penalties.
Statistically speaking, the last two seasons have been among the worst in Buffalo’s history, but Sabres owner Terry Pegula sees great value in those painful years. In fact, he would list them as “two of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had,” per the Associated Press.
Obviously, those losing records allowed the Sabres to draft second overall in back-to-back years (having lost the draft lottery both times). They used those picks to select Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, but general manager Tim Murray was also able to get plenty of other pieces for the rebuild over that span. He also acquired the likes of Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, and Robin Lehner in trades while moving other players like Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to get future assets, including first round picks.
A couple rough seasons in the service of a long-term goal can make sense, but the success of the Sabres’ rebuilding effort will be measured by how they do going forward. They don’t have to look any further than the Edmonton Oilers to know how hard it can be to transition from a rebuilding phase to a competitive one. Having a generational talent like Eichel on the roster certainly helps, but he and the Sabres have a lot to prove.
Given that, we can’t call the last two seasons successful for Buffalo in terms of on-ice accomplishments, we’ll have to let history judge if the off-ice moves are as beneficial as Sabres fans hope.
Related: Gionta: Sabres’ offseason ‘excites guys in the locker room’
Here’s the latest on Erik Haula’s negotiations with Minnesota heading into Friday’s arbitration hearing, from the Star-Tribune:
The Wild is looking to pay Haula $775,000 next season and Haula is seeking $1.2 million, sources confirm. If the sides go through with arbitration and don’t settle before an arbitrator makes his decision, the arbitrator will choose his own number equal to or between the ranges after hearing each side’s argument.
Since Haula filed for arbitration, the Wild gets to pick the term. The Wild has opted for a one-year award, sources say.
The $775,000 would represent a pay cut for Haula, who had a $900,000 cap hit on his last deal, a two-year pact.
The speedy Finnish forward is coming off an uneven campaign. While he did post career highs in games played (72), goals (seven) and points (14), the 24-year-old was scratched for eight of Minnesota’s 10 playoff games. That was a far cry from Haula’s breakout ’14 playoff run, in which he scored four goals and seven points in 13 games.
All that said, Haula is one of the Wild’s best penalty killers, and the Wild had the NHL’s best PK unit a year ago.