After one year out of the NHL in the Swiss National League, Richard Park has a chance to get back to the big time. The 35-year-old forward signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins today. The contract will be worth $550K at the NHL level, while the AHL value hasn’t been disclosed yet.
Park should be familiar to Penguins fans. He started his NHL career with the Pens, who drafted him in the second round in 1994. Parked played in one game in 1994-95, 56 in 95-96 and one more in 96-97 before becoming a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Park played with Genève-Servette HC in the Swiss league in 2010-11 after spending the previous four campaigns with the New York Islanders. He scored 34 points in 47 games overseas.
A two-way contract illustrates that he’s not a sure thing to make the Penguins roster (or at least stick with the big club during the entire season), but SBN Pittsburgh points out that he might help fill the penalty-killing void left behind by checking forward Maxime Talbot’s free agent departure. Aside from that, Park is known for being the second South Korean-born player in NHL history – former Penguins defenseman Jim Paek was the first.
Every now and then, NHL transactions can produce awkward reunions. Ugly things can happen in the heat of competition, but players change uniforms often enough in the days of free agency and the salary cap that adversaries become teammates with regularity.
One can only imagine that there might have been some discomfort in the air when Brad May became a member of the Colorado Avalanche after he put a “bounty” on Steve Moore’s head or when Donald Brashear joined the New York Rangers an off-season after he completed some ugly acts against the team when he was with the Washington Capitals. Then again, even “Curb Your Enthusiasm” might struggle to top the discomfort comedy of a hypothetical situation in which Sean Avery joins Dion Phaneuf on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The latest awkward reunion might happen between Sidney Crosby and defenseman Boris Valabik, a rugged player who just signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. For those of you who don’t remember, Crosby hit Valabik below the belt and took a few other shots at him during a skirmish in December 2008 when the blueliner was playing with the Atlanta Thrashers.
That memory probably ranks pretty low on the “weirdly tense vibe in the locker room” scale, but it’s a bit funny that Valabik might occasionally be assigned to protect the Penguins’ crowned jewels (Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, that is) whenever he’s at the NHL level. Valabik will reportedly make $550K whenever he’s at the pro level, but Seth Rorabaugh gives a good explanation of the defenseman’s potential.
This is a signing for the sake of organizational depth. Valabik will come to training camp and will get a chance to compete for the bottom two defensive spots but we have a hard time seeing him ending up on the NHL roster barring injuring.
Valabik is pretty much as advertised. He’s a big body who plays physical. But he’s not much of a skater and he offers next to nothing offensively. He’s an AHL version of Hal Gill.
Here are two minor signings from around the NHL today.
- The New York Islanders signed Jeremy Colliton (drafted in the second round – 58th overall – in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft) to a one year, two-way contract. The center hasn’t played at the NHL level since the 08-09 season when he appeared in six games, putting up one assist while averaging 11 minutes per contest. Colliton also played in 16 games in 07-08 and 19 games (a career high) all the way back in 05-06.
In his 42 games as an NHL player over four seasons, Colliton scored one goal and two assists for three points with a -5 rating and 16 penalty minutes.
- Chris Vivlamore reports that the Atlanta Thrashers signed undersized 28-year-old journeyman forward Tim Stapleton to a two year contract that will be a two-way deal this season and a full NHL one in 2011-12. He had been playing with the San Antonio Rampage before the Thrashers signed him to this deal.
He joined the team in Denver today to be part of their roster as they prepare for a 10:00 pm ET game against the Avalanche, but it’s unclear if Stapleton will actually play for Atlanta. Still, he was very excited about the signing.
The contract is a two-way deal this season, worth $525,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. Next season’s NHL deal will be worth $525,000.
“I’ve never had that,” Stapleton said of an NHL contract. “It’s something you strive for your whole career. I’ve been playing since I was three years old so I’m really excited about it. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I was in San Antonio 48 hours ago. To be here now, it’s been so surreal.”
Stapleton played six games with the Thrashers last season and scored two goals. He was a free agent following the season and not re-signed. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Stapleton played 20 games for the Rampage with eight goals and seven assists this season.
Stapleton said he was trying to work out a deal with Phoenix before the Thrashers made him an offer.