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.
Kind move here from Minnesota d-man Mathew Dumba, who will be switching from No. 55 to No. 24 this season:
Boogaard, who passed away in 2011 from an accidental drug and alcohol overdose, wore No. 24 in Minnesota from 2006-10 and emerged as something of a cult figure, thanks in large part to his pugilistic skills.
His jersey eventually became one of the Wild’s top sellers.
Two other players have since worn No. 24 for Minnesota — Martin Havlat and, most recently, Matt Cooke. Like Dumba, Cooke reached out to Boogaard’s family to get their blessing.
“The team told me they’re OK with me wearing it because Marty [Havlat] wore it after [Boogaard],” Cooke said, per the Star-Tribune. “I don’t really feel comfortable putting it on without his mum and dad’s blessing. I’ve sent emails off to them. I want to let them know that by putting it on I’m absolutely not doing anything disrespectful. It’s been my only number in the NHL, but at the end of the day, I don’t want anyone’s feelings hurt.
“I don’t want anyone to think that I am being disrespectful and I want to make sure I take care of that before I even entertain the thought of putting it on.”
Cooke was bought out of the final year of his deal last month, which paved the way for Dumba to inherit No. 24.
Nikolai Antropov, a veteran of nearly 800 NHL contests that last played for Winnipeg in ’13, could be eyeing a North American return.
Per Russian outlet Sport Express, Antropov’s agent, Shumi Babaev, said his client is mulling a NHL comeback rather than re-sign with KHL club Barys Astana.
The 35-year-old scored 21 points in 39 games last year for Barys, his second season with the team.
It remains to be seen how serious this “comeback” is. Antropov would be intriguing on a couple of fronts: One, he’s still 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. Two, his last year with the Jets was pretty decent — 15 goals and 35 points in 69 games.
He also has a son, Daniel, that’s currently playing high-level minor hockey in Toronto for the Don Mills Flyers program, so it’s not that hard to fathom him wanting to return.
All that said, it’s tough to see any team making a huge play for Antropov, who turns 36 in February and was never considered the fastest skater. That said, another veteran European — Ruslan Fedotenko — returned from a one-year stint in the KHL last season, and caught on with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate last season.
One more down, four to go.
Arbitration cases, we mean.
The Nashville Predators announced today that they’d signed restricted free agent Colin Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million contract. Wilson had been scheduled to go to arbitration tomorrow.
The Wilson signing, combined with today’s Derek Stepan signing, leaves four RFAs still scheduled to make their cases in front of an arbitrator:
— Washington’s Marcus Johansson, hearing scheduled for Wednesday
— Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman, Thursday
— Minnesota’s Erik Haula, Friday
— Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier, Friday
Wilson, 25, had 20 goals and 22 assists last season for the Preds.
Related: Preds sign ‘integral’ Smith to five-year, $21.25M extension
The departure of Thomas Greiss and a record-breaking AHL season apparently aren’t enough to inspire the Pittsburgh Penguins to tab Matt Murray as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, as the team website reports.
Management’s explanation is simple enough: Fleury is the No. 1 guy, so why not allow Murray to get more reps as the top dog in the AHL instead of being glued to the bench?
“He’s not coming in here and beating out Marc-Andre Fleury and taking over this team,” Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We love what we have down the line here, and it is down the line. He just turned 21. He needs to play hockey games. You can’t develop if he’s sitting on the bench. That’s just a fact.”
Although he said the Penguins knew he was good, Fitzgerald admitted that they didn’t expect him to generate the kind of 2014-15 campaign he did, winning the AHL’s goalie of the year award while putting up big numbers.
A devil’s advocate take might be that it’s sometimes wise to ride out surprise hot streaks with goalies. The Ottawa Senators rode Andrew Hammond’s out-of-left-field surge to a playoff berth while Devan Dubnyk went from the scrap heap to saving the Minnesota Wild’s season, and neither team anticipated either scenario, right?
Regardless, the good news for the Penguins is that Murray seems fine with both scenarios.
“I think either way could be good for me,” Murray said. “I think playing in the AHL wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but also practicing with the best players in the world wouldn’t be a bad thing either, so the way I look at it, either way I can take the positives out of it. Wherever I end up, I’m still going to have the same determinations and play the same way each and every day and let things take care of itself.”
Matching a record-breaking season might be asking for too much, but if Murray’s for real, he’ll get his big chance sooner or later.