Joe Vitale


NHL, NHLPA agree on list of veteran players ‘exempt’ from expansion draft


With expansion draft getting closer and closer, the NHL and NHLPA continue to finalize small details regarding this summer’s big event.

According to Craig Custance, the league and the players’ association have agreed on a small list of players that will be exempt from being selected by Vegas.

Here’s the official list of names that was sent to every NHL team: Dave Bolland (Arizona), Craig Cunningham (Arizona), Chris Pronger (Arizona), Cody McCormick (Buffalo), David Clarkson (Columbus), Johan Franzen (Detroit), Joe Vitale (Detroit), Ryane Clowe (New Jersey), Mikhail Grabovski (Islanders), Pascal Dupuis (Penguins), Nathan Horton (Toronto), Stephane Robidas (Toronto).

In each case, the player has been forced to miss an extended period of time because of a serious injury, but they haven’t officially retired.

The move benefits certain teams, like Columbus, who would have been struck protecting Clarkson because he has a no-move clause in his contract. The same goes for Horton in Toronto.

It’s also important to remember that at the end of the expansion draft, Vegas needs to have selected players making at least 60 percent of the salary cap limit. Preventing these players from being taken means the Golden Knights can’t use an injured player’s salary to get to their 60 percent floor and then place the same player on LTIR to open up cap space during the season.

Detroit heads into training camp all kinds of banged up


Niklas Kronwall wonders if his knee will ever be pain-free.

Jonathan Ericsson said his ailing hip gets a little worse every year.

Henrik Zetterberg is limited due to the injury that kept him out of the World Cup.

Teemu Pulkkinen is hoping to be a full camp participant after undergoing shoulder surgery in June.

And now, you can add Tomas Jurco to the list of walking wounded — on Thursday, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill announced Jurco would be out until early November after undergoing back surgery.

Jurco, 23, is coming off a bit of a disappointing ’15-16 campaign, in which he only scored four goals and six points in 44 appearances. Those numbers were all down from the previous year (three goals, 18 points in 63 games), with the decrease in games played probably the most alarming.

Jurco was repeatedly a healthy scratch both during the regular season and in the playoffs. In an effort to get him some playing time, the Wings sent Jurco down to AHL Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint in mid-November.

The bigger story, of course, is Detroit’s health heading into the campaign. In addition to the five guys listed above, Wings GM Ken Holland has already ruled out both Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale for the year, as both are dealing with concussion issues.



Wings re-sign Pulkkinen, have quite the surplus of forwards


The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed winger Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year contract worth a reported $812,500.

Injuries limited Pulkkinen to just 36 games (6G, 6A) in 2015-16. The 24-year-old had shoulder surgery in June and may not be ready for the start of next season.

But the signing of Pulkkinen gives the Wings yet another forward under contract for 2016-17. They already had 15, not including Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale, both of whom are expected to remain on long-term injured reserve.

GM Ken Holland said recently that he might try and turn his surplus of forwards into a defenseman via trade. The key will be if youngsters Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are deemed NHL-ready come training camp.

“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland told the Detroit News. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”

Related: The Ducks have too many defensemen

Trade: Detroit unloads Datsyuk’s contract on Coyotes, who move up to take Chychrun


BUFFALO — Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Pronger are now teammates.

In Arizona.

Well, sort of.

The Coyotes took on the remainder of Datsyuk’s contract — like they did with Pronger at last year’s draft — from Detroit on Friday night, which allowed them to move up to 16th overall and select OHL Sarnia defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who’d fallen down the draft board.

Chychrun, the No. 4-ranked North American skater, was at one point considered to be one of the top prospects in this year’s class, and one of the top defensemen. Yet a steady decline in his stock saw him go as the fifth blueliner off the board, behind the likes of Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev, Jake Bean and Charlie McAvoy.

The son of former NHLer Jeff Chychrun, Jakob was an alternate captain and point-per-game player for Sarnia last year. It’s unlikely he’s NHL-ready, but is a good pickup for an Arizona club that’s light on defensive prospects.

As for the Datsyuk deal, there’s one year left with a $7.5 million cap hit. The Coyotes have one of the lowest payrolls in the league and were more than capable of taking on the money, something they leveraged into getting Chychrun.

As for the Red Wings, they were in salary cap jail after Datsyuk announced he was leaving for Russia, and now they’re out. That should help them in free agency, should they choose to make a big offer for Steven Stamkos.

Detroit also received forward Joe Vitale — who missed almost all of last season with a concussion — the 20th overall pick (which the Coyotes got from the Rangers) and Arizona’s second-round pick, No. 53 overall.

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

1 Comment

Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.