This season in New Jersey is going to feel like old times for a lot of Devils fans. Petr Sykora, who had been in camp on a tryout, was signed to a one-year deal to officially rejoin the Devils. The deal is worth $650,000 and for the Devils, they get to keep an experienced goal scorer around this year for a team that is looking to get back to the playoffs.
Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger has the excited words from Sykora about landing back in New Jersey where he won his first Stanley Cup.
“I’m ecstatic,” Sykora told The Star-Ledger. “Of course I’m very happy. It’s something that seemed very far away a couple of weeks ago and it happened.”
Making the moment for Sykora even cooler and showing how much his Devils teammates appreciate his efforts in getting back to the NHL after a year away, Tom Gulitti tweets the scene in Newark when he hit the ice for practice.
You want a feel-good story to follow this year? Sykora’s comeback to the NHL at 34 years-old after being tossed aside in Minnesota two years ago and having to play in the KHL and Czech league last year is about as good as it gets. Sykora getting to do it all again with the team he started his NHL career with makes it even sweeter for him and helps give the story more of a Hollywood twist.
Perhaps Sykora can help make it even more storybook by helping be a key part of the team and leading them deep into the playoffs. For now, we’ll enjoy the story for what it is in seeing a guy get to go home once again.
It was another busy day on the Island as GM Garth Snow got to work on locking down a pair of guys at the opposite end of the spectrum of their careers.
For the guy at the beginning of his career, 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome impressed everyone in training camp and signed his three-year, entry-level deal with the team and will at least get a nine game audition in the NHL. With the Islanders having John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, as well as potentially Nino Niederreiter at some point early in the season they’re teeming over with young talent at forward.
Strome had a strong training camp and give the Isles hope that perhaps he can be the next youthful spark to lead them perhaps to the playoffs. He’ll get nine games to show if he means business already in his young career. If he can’t cut it just yet, he’ll head back to Niagara in the OHL.
On the flipside of things, the Islanders also signed up training camp tryout candidate Jay Pandolfo to a one-year deal. Pandolfo is making his return to the NHL after not playing last season. Pandolfo had a long career with New Jersey before being eventually frozen out with the Devils after they felt he’d lost a step in his game.
Pandolfo will plug in as a fourth liner and they’ll hope he can show some of his defensive skills that made him a vital cog of the Devils Stanley Cup teams in 2000 and 2003. At the very least, Pandolfo will give the young Islanders the veteran presence to learn from in the locker room.
We’ve said it in our team preview, but the Islanders are a team worth keeping an eye on this year. They may not be a playoff team, but they’re going to be fun to watch.
Fabian Brunnstrom is finding out that there’s no real hard feelings in hockey. After spurning the Red Wings for Dallas three years ago, Brunnstrom signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Red Wings after impressing Ken Holland and Mike Babcock enough in training camp to get the deal. Brunnstrom will make $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL if he’s sent there.
Back in 2008 when Brunnstrom came over from Sweden to join the NHL, he had two teams in hot pursuit of him in the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings. Being Swedish and getting interest from Detroit seems natural, but Brunnstrom opted to sign with Dallas to prove he could hack it in the NHL. After a strong debut that saw him score a hat trick in his first game, Brunnstrom faded into irrelevancy after two years with the Stars and was traded to Toronto.
The Red Wings’ affinity for Brunnstrom was still there enough so that Holland extended an invite to Brunnstrom and, for the most part, he’s looked focused and motivated to win a job with the Wings. Whether Brunnstrom sticks in Detroit or spends most of the year in Grand Rapids remains to be seen, but for Brunnstrom this could be his last chance to make it in the NHL.
After not being able to break through in Toronto last year, if he can stick in Detroit it’ll be a miraculous turnaround for a guy who was thought to be the next big thing out of Sweden.