NHL News & Notes to 16 Jun 2019

Here are some news & notes items from around the league. This week is busy for NHL teams as the Board of Governors are meeting in Vegas on Wednesday, June 19th, the NHL Awards show is that evening from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Vegas. Teams then go to Vancouver for this weekend’s entry draft. The GM’s meet Thursday, June 21 in Vancouver and the Entry Draft starts Friday and run through Saturday. Trade activity is expected to pick-up this week. We then get into UFA signings on July 1 which is always an interesting day.


  • The NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee met on Tuesday, June 11th in Toronto. Some of the players that were involved include Ron Hainsey, Connor Hellebuyck, Connor McDavid, John Tavares & James van Riemsdyk. Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold was there representing the owners plus GM’s Ken Holland (Oilers), Steve Yzerman (Red Wings), David Poile (Nashville) & Doug Wilson (San Jose) were in attendance. Additionally, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was there as well as Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau (both are non voting members of the committee). The most pressing and high profile topic that was part of the discussions is in game video review and, at the conclusion of the meeting, the committee did put forth a recommendation that video review be expanded. The details around a revised video review process were not made public but they are about having the ability for refs to use video replays during the game to confirm their calls plus possibly changes to how the Situation Room in Toronto plays a part in that. Experts see the fact they reached a general agreement around video review as very positive as the NHLPA and NHL sometimes don’t see things the same way. Apparently before the meetings, the league sat down and drafted some ideas (a draft video review plan) around what a revised video review process could look like and those ideas were brought into the June 11 meeting with good success. Changes to coaches challenge were recommended (currently only allowed for off-side and goalie interference) as well as recommending players who lose their helmet during play must immediately go to the player’s bench. Some other recommendations:
    • If the goalie freezes the puck after a shot from the other side of center, the defensive team can’t make a line change and the offensive team gets to choose which side in the offensive zone the face-off will be on
    • After an icing, the offensive team gets to choose which side the face-off will occur; to begin a PP, the offensive team will have a choice of which face-off circle the face-off will take place on; if official deems a player unintentionally knocks the net off, no line change by the the defending team will be permitted and the offensive team gets to choose which face-off circle will be used.
    • Puck out of bounds in the offensive zone caused by offensive team – face-off will be in the attacking zone (previously the face-off would move outside the offensive zone).
    • Additional criteria around regular season points tie breaking rules. If two teams are tied in points at season’s end, the tie breaker will be number of wins in regulation (was regulation plus OT wins).
  • All of the above changes require approval from the NHLPA Executive Board (the 31 team’s player reps) plus the NHL Board of Governors. The GM’s will also discuss video review and these other possible rules changes at the GM’s meeting in Vancouver on Thursday, June 20.
  • The NHLPA recently held meetings with their board, the 31 player reps, and about 40 players to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement from the players side. They are planning to hold more meetings both in North America and in Europe and the league and NHLPA are apparently having ongoing meetings & discussions around the CBA with the re-opener clause available to both sides in Sept 2019 effective for the 2020-21 season. The biggest issue with the players is the escrow. Players don’t like the ~ 10% taken from their pay each pay period (the players do often get some of the money back but can take up to a year). The league makes a estimate of hockey related revenue (which is split 50/50 with owners) and hold back ~ 10% of players pay until all the revenue is counted at season’s end. Then the players can get their refunds, if revenue exceeds their previous estimates. Players are saying don’t touch their pay; find another way to calculate hockey related revenue. With some players, they believe the issue of Olympic participation should be negotiated with the owners as the players generally want to go and represent their country but the owners are not in favor. Some of the other topics are post-career health care, the fate of older players as the league has gotten younger and the top earners for players has seen 22/23 year old players getting $10 M – $11 M / year and the older players are getting squeezed out. Here is a good article on the players concerns.
  • The League’s first player buy-out period opened June 15th and runs through to June 30th.
  • The Entry Draft starts Friday, June 21 at 8 PM EST, and just the first round selection will occur on the Friday with the remaining, 2-7 rounds taking place on Saturday, June 22 (starts at 1 PM EST).
  • The UFA speaking window opens Sunday, June 23rd. This is where pending UFA’s can talk to other teams but not discuss financial contract terms. For RFA’s, other teams can talk to them starting July 26 but, if the RFA’s are signed by another team, there is draft pick compensation owed to the players previous team.
  • Restricted free agents – players completed their entry level contract but before UFA – must be tendered a qualifying offer by June 25. The the player is not qualified, he become as UFA.
  • The 2019-20 NHL schedule is going to be released on June 25th with team home openers announced June 21.
  • Unrestricted free agents can sign with any team on July 1.
  • Coyotes sale -apparently the sale of the Arizona Coyotes is near. Billionaire entrepreneur Alex Meruelo is close to a deal for the team that would make him majority owner. Current owner Andrew Barroway would retain a minority ownership position. Meruelo is is Cuban-American and would become the only majority Latino owner in the league. Meruelo owns are variety of construction, real estate and other businesses throughout North America. He owns a few casinos including recently purchasing the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Vegas and he also owns Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. His Meruelo Group company also has a media arm called Meruelo Media and that includes TV and radio stations in the South West USA. The sale is expected to be approved at the upcoming BOG meeting, June 19 in Las Vegas. A closing date for the sale is expected to be sometime later this summer. Commissioner Bettman has been clear that the Coyotes need a new arena, their current building is in Glendale, and the majority of season ticket holders live on the more affluent east side of town (Gila River arena on the west side). The Coyotes franchise needs some stability, success and, some say, a more long-term vision of NHL hockey in the desert. The franchise  has not had a lot of on ice success since moving from Winnipeg back in 1996 and the team has changed ownership numerous times.
  • There is a gentleman in Houston that has some interested in bringing NHL hockey there. His name is Tilman Fertitta and he owns the Houston Rockets. He is apparently looking to get an NHL franchise at a sale price (current franchise fee is about $650 M USD) and the league is not willing to accommodate him-at least yet.
  • The Cup finals game 7 was the most watched NHL game on record since 1994. An average of 9 million viewers in the USA watched the game on TV. The post-season overall were the most watched in 23 years (up 6% over 2018). The Cup final series was the most watched final in 4 years and up 11% over 2018. Game 7 of the Cup final was the most streamed online game ever.

Team Management News

  • The Anaheim Ducks are expected to announce Dallas Eakins as their new head coach as soon as Monday. Some of the coaches considered for the position included Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson, Islanders assistant Lane Lambert and U of Minnesota/Deluth’s Scott Sandelin. Easkins was previously an NHL head coach for the Oilers for over a season and a half where he compiled a 36-63-13 record. More recently, he’s been head coach of the AHL affiliate of the Ducks, the San Diego Gulls, where he had a 154 W & 95 L plus 12 OTL record in 272 games coached. Eakins was also head coach of the AHL Toronto Marlies for 4 seasons, from 2009-2013.
  • The Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) added former Leafs & Senators exec Tom Anselmi as President of Business Operations and COO. The addition of Anselmi will apparently take a lot of the day-to-day business operations from Chairman Bob Nicholson. Nicholson, as Chairman, will oversee the Oilers GM role as well as the team’s AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors, and their WHL team, the Edmonton Oil Kings. Nicholson also still holds the title Vice President of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Generally, Nicholson will focus on hockey teams and Anselmi will deal with the business side. Anselmi had a 17 year career with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and held the position of COO of MLSE. He was apparently key in the creation of Maple Leaf Square and Jurrasic Park in Toronto. The Oilers Entertainment Group has a 50 acre park close to Rogers Place in Edmonton called Edmonton Ice District and Anselmi will get involved in further developing that. Anselmi said the other day that Oilers season ticket renewals are running at a 87% rate. Seems very positive as the team has struggled to make the post-season in recent times.
  • Oilers Assistant General Manager Keith Gretzky is staying on with the organization working with new GM Ken Holland. Gretzky was in the running for the GM position but said he feels he’ll learn a lot working with Holland. He called it a “perfect situation” for himself. Gretzky will take over from recently departed Craig MacTavish and run the Oilers affiliate in Bakersfield, California. Gretzky and the Oilers chief scout, Bob Green, will lead the Oilers in their drafting process. Gretzky is apparently strong on the scouting side having done a lot of work in that area particularly when he was with the Boston Bruins.
  • The Oilers have signed their AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors, head coach Jay Woodcroft to a 2 year contract extension. In his first season this past season as head coach in Bakersfield, Woodcroft had a record of 42-21-3-2. The Condors won the AHL Western Conference and make their first ever post season appearance. Woodcroft, 42, got his start with the Red Wings organization where he was the team’s video coach when Babcock and Ken Holland were there. LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan was an assistant coach to Babcock and hired Woodcroft as an assistant coach in Edmonton. Sounds like Woodcroft is heading towards a possible NHL head coaching career.
  • The Dallas Stars added former LA Kings head coach John Stevens as an assistant on head coach John Montgomery’s staff. Stevens played with Montgomery in the AHL Philadelphia Phantom’s organization.
  • The Ottawa Senators added former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano to head coach DJ Smith’s coaching staff. His contract is for three years. Capuano will reportedly work with the team’s young defense group plus have responsibility for the Senators penalty kill. Capuano had spent the past two seasons working as an assistant coach on Panthers then head coach Bob Bougher’s staff.
  • Former Senators player, Chris Kelly, who started his post-retirement career in a player development role with the Sens and last season was an assistant coach on Marc Crawford staff will not be back with the Senators in the 2019-20 season.
  • Marc Crawford was hired as an assistant coach in Chicago, an assistant to ‘Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. The ‘Hawks have a young coaching staff so Crawford should compliment the group. Crawford son, Dylan, is the ‘Hawks assistant video coach.
  • Sabres new head coach, Ralph Krueger, has added Don Granato and Mike Bales to their coaching staff. Former Oilers defenseman, Steve Smith, will stay on as an assistant coach from last years coaching staff. Granato was with the Blackhawks as an assistant coach the past 2 seasons. Mike Bales was, for the past two seasons, goalie coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Previous to the Hurricanes was a goalie coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 6 seasons.
  • Nashville has hired Dan Lambert as an assistant coach on head coach Peter Laviolette’s staff. Lambert was head coach of the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL for the past two season and led the Chiefs to the league’s top PP record. The Predators will use Lambert’s expertise to help improve their PP which was last in the league this past season (12.9%). Lambert was previously an NHL assistant coach – with the Sabres in the 2015-16 season. Additionally, he was head coach of the Sabres AHL affiliate in Rochester where nine players on the roster established career high in points.
  • With the Blue Jackets, former player Rick Nash has a new title, Special Assistant to GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Nash has been informally acting in the role for several months now. Blue Jackets AGM Bill Zito has had Senior VP of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor added to this title. Zito had reportedly been talking to Seattle about their vacant GM position but I’ve not heard anything about this recently. Former NHL’er Basil McCrae was promoted to Assistant GM (title had been Director of Player Personnel) and Josh Flynn who was Director of Hockey Administration was also given the AGM title. Chris Clark, who was Director of Player Development, assumes McCrae’s former title of Director of Player Personnel.
  • Former NHL player Tanner Glass has been hired by the New York Rangers in a player development role. Glass, 35, recently announced his retirement as an NHL player. He played the 2018-19 season in France. Experts say new Rangers president John Davidson has spent in the area of player development before as his approach in past positions has been on the important of developing young players -both ones in North America and in Europe. Glass has played in Europe recently as his new position with the Rangers could possibly be based in Europe. Another former NHL player, Jed Ortmeyer, is the Rangers director of player personnel. The Rangers are also looking for a new head coach for their AHL team in Hartford that is overseen by Rangers AGM Chris Drury. Rangers new president John Davidson is apparently placing an emphasis on strong communication skills in new hires, including the vacant Hartford head coach position, plus he’s placing a lot of emphasis on player development. He wants Rangers player personal attending Rangers drafted players games whether they are in North America or elsewhere. He wants to strong development practices from the time players are drafted to the Rangers through to their Rangers NHL career.


  • Last week, the Flyers acquired pending UFA forward Kevin Hayes from the Jets for the 5th round draft pick (2019) in an attempt to try and get him to sign a contract with them. Hayes visited with the Flyers in Philadelphia this past week but it does not sound like a deal is near. The impression I get based on some of the comments I read is Hayes wants to go to July 1 and consider all his offers. I’ve heard the Coyotes and Columbus both linked to Hayes but there could be others as he’s a top one or two center on most NHL teams. Flyers GM Fletcher regards him as one of the top 200 foot centers in the league.
  • The Flyers also waived defenseman Andrew MacDonald and he cleared though waivers so could look to Europe or the KHL next. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said it was a tough decision but he needed the cap space. MacDonald, 33, spent part of 6 seasons with the Flyers. The final year (2019-20 season) of his 6 year, $30 M contract will be bought out. He is owed $5 M for next season so the Flyers will pay 2/3’s of that amount spread over two seasons. Fletcher says they plan to use the regained cap space to be active on July 1 when UFA’s can be signed. I’ve heard Flyers defensemam Shayne Gostisbehere name mentioned in trade rumors with the Canadiens and Canucks linked to the player.
  • Washington and the Flyers swapped defenseman this past weekend. Going to Flyers is veteran Matt Niskanen and the Caps get Radko Gudas in return. The Flyers will retain 30% of Gudas’ $3.35 M annual salary. Gudas, 29, is an unrestricted free agent after next season and known as a physical defenseman. In 70 games played in the recent season, he recorded 20 points which averaging 18 minutes of ice time / game. Niskanen, 32, has 2 years left on his deal at $5.75 M /season. Niskanen has been to the post season in 5 straight seasons including winning one Cup (in 2018 with the Caps). He averaged 22 mins of ice time / game in the 2018-19 season. He should add experience and leadership to a young Flyers d group.
  • The Caps used the cap space freed up from the Niskanen deal to sign forward Carl Hagelin. It’s a 4 year deal for Hagelin at an average annual rate of $2.75 M (total contract value is $11 M). Hagelin will be 31 by the start of the 2019-20 season and was to be a July 1, 2019 UFA. He recorded 5 goals and 14 assists in 58 regular season games with the Caps this past season. GM Brian McLellan said Hagelin is a very versatile player who can play on any forward line and is good on the PK plus he’s won 2 Cups (2016 and 2017 with the Penguins).
  • Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry is expected to either get traded or be bought out by the team. Perry has two years left on his contract at a cap hit of $8.625 M. Experts say there is a market for the player with the Oilers having possible interest.
  • Jets RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba is expected to be traded soon. Teams in pursuit of the player include the Rangers, Devils and Islanders. Trouba is a top pairing defenseman who is 25 years old and had 50 points in 82 games in the 2018-19 season.
  • Erik Karlsson is reportedly in contract discussions with the San Jose Sharks on a new deal. Karlsson is unrestricted on July 1, 2019. He recently had surgery on his groin; an injury that affected him all season. It’s rumored the deal being discussed between the Sharks and Karlsson is a max 8 year deal at Drew Doughty money, $11 M /season. If the Sharks and Karlsson reach a deal, Ottawa would get San Jose’s second round draft pick in 2021. If the Sharks and Karlsson are unable to make a deal, he can sign a max 7 year contract on July 1 with a different team.
  • Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev has been linked to both the Oilers and Canucks. The Leafs apparently want a defenseman in return for Zaitsev.
  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington needs a new contract; he’s a RFA. It’s not clear what his next deal could look like as he’s played half a season and was stellar in the post-season. Binnington made the league minimum, $650,000, but pro-rated for half the season for the 2018-19 season. His agent is former Blues goaltender Mike Liut. The Blues have back-up Jake Allen under contract for 2 more seasons at $4.35 M /season. I expect Binnington will be looking for about $4.5 M – $5 M /season on a 3-4 year term. He’ll be UFA age in 2 seasons so that factors into contract terms.
  • Apparently there has been no contract discussions between pending UFA Hurricane Michael Ferland and the Hurricanes. He’ll be looking at his offers on July 1. Ferland is a tough winger that can score 20-25 goals /season in a good season but has battled concussion problems recently.
  • The Canucks are still working at trying to sign pending UFA defenseman Alex Edler. GM Jim Benning indicated the organization wants Elder back but the two sides have yet to find “common ground” regarding terms of a new deal. On RFA Brock Boeser, Benning says they are working towards a new deal for the player and the organization has every intention of reaching a contract  agreement. Benning also said the organization is interested in re-signing defenseman Luke Schenn.
  • There’s been some talk of a Canucks forward Loui Eriksson for Oilers Milan Lucic swap. Both players have not lived up to expectations after signing high priced contracts. Eriksson, 33, has 3 seasons remaining on his deal at $6 M /season while Lucic, 31, has 4 years remaining at $6 M /season. Eriksson recently made some public comments about having a trying relationship with Canucks head coach Travis Green. GM Jim Benning said he’s going to talk to Eriksson about why he spoke out about his relationship with the Canucks head coach.  I read where Eriksson’s agent recently said a trade from Vancouver is something his client would like considered.
  • Benning also said the Canucks are interested in bringing back defenseman Nikita Tryamkin. Benning talked to his agent at the scouting combine about a possible return to Vancouver for the Russian defenseman. Tryamkin, 24, has spent the last 2 seasons playing in the KHL. Tryamkin is 6-7 and 265 pounds. He was a 3rd round draft pick by the Canucks back in 2014.
  • Benning provided an update on the organizations former 1st rounder, 5th overall (2016), defenseman Olli Juolevi. The player was playing with the team’s AHL affiliate in Utica but injured his knee this past season and required surgery. Apparently, the Juolevi is recovering well and looking to start skating this week.
  • The Penguins dealt defenseman Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks for forward Dominik Kahun and a 5th round draft pick in 2019. Kahum, 23, was an undrafted free agent signed by the ‘Hawks back in May 2018. He recorded 37 points on on 13 goals in 82 games this season with Chicago. Maatta, 24, played in 60 Pens games this past season and recorded 14 points on 1 goal. Maatta was a first round draft selection of the Penguins, 22nd overall, in 2012.
  • Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said it’s now unlikely forward Phil Kessel is dealt before the start of the 2019-20 season. Kessel vetoed a deal that Rutherford worked out that would of seen him become a Minnesota Wild player. Kessel contract includes a clause that says he can only be traded to his preferred 8 teams. Also with the Penguins, head coach Mike Sullivan enters the final year of his contract in 2019-20. Rutherford said they will possibly look at an extension near the end of his contract but the organization is not in any rush to sign him right now. Sounds like Evgeni Malkin is not going to move. Rutherford acknowledged his 2018-19 was not to the usual Malkin standards but the player has been a Hall of Fame caliber player over his career in Pittsburgh. Rutherford said the changes that may happen with the team would be more of a re-tooling with no big name players leaving.
  • Devils star forward Taylor Hall recently indicated he’s in no rush to sign a new contract with New Jersey. Hall one season from UFA and can sign a max 8 year deal with the Devils as soon as July 1, 2019. Apparently, the Devils are focused on the Entry Draft where they have the number one (Jack Hughes) overall selection as well as three selections in the 2nd round. Defenseman Will Butcher needs a new deal (RFA) and forward Pavel Zacha does as well. Hall shares the same agent as Leafs RFA forward Mitch Marner. Hall reportedly does not want to rush into contract discussions as he says becoming UFA is a once in a lifetime event. Hall will turn 28 in November. He recorded 37 points in 33 games this past season but injured his knee around Christmas time and missed half the season. Devils GM Ray Shero says it’s an important decision and possibly negotiation from their side too. Hall says the Devils have treated him first class since he was traded there from the Oilers back in the summer of 2016.
  • Montreal is apparently looking for a good young defenseman and will try to trade to get such a player. I’ve heard Chicago is also looking for a solid d-man with names such as Hurricanes Justin Faulk, Calvin de Haan or Dougie Hamilton a possibility.
  • Senators GM Pierre Dorian recently said he’ll be looking to bring in an experienced player or two to complement their young roster. He said he’ll try on July 1 to get such a player but a trade could occur later as well.
  • Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi (80 GP 14 G 23 A 37 points) is a July 1, 2019 UFA and is apparently going to be looking at his options on July 1.
  • Heard there’s been no contract discussion between Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland and the team. Engelland, 37, is a pending UFA.
  • Was reported last this past week that the Leafs are shopping goaltender Garret Sparks. Sparks lost his back-up job to Michael Hutchinson late last season. The Leafs must be looking for an Andersen back-up as I don’t expect Hutchinson would be that person.
  • Red Wings veteran defenseman Nikalas Kronwall is still deciding if he’ll play next season. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has said they hope he’ll return for another season. Kronwall had said before the start of the recent season he expected it would be his last season but it’s possible he’s back for the 2019-20 season.
  • The Oilers enter the off-season with just one goalie under contract for next season, Mikko Koskinen. GM Ken Holland indicated he’ll be looking “after July 1” to bring in another goaltender. I assume that means via trade.
  • The Florida Panthers are reportedly looking for move goaltender James Reimer who has two years left on his contract at $3.4 M /season. Reimer did not have a strong 2018-19 season. He’s GAA was 3.09 with a .900 SV% and a 13-12-5 record. It’s well known the Panthers are looking to he active on July 1 with Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky linked to the Panthers.
  • Not much recent news on the Mitch Marner and Leafs negotiation. Last I heard there was some discussion of an annual rate of $11 M for the player but the Leafs have kept a lot of the details out of the news.

Stanley Cup Champs 2019 – St. Louis Blues

  • The Blues are the first team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after being last in the overall league standings with at least 30 games played.
  • Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly scored in four straight Cup finals games (first player to do that since Gretzky in 1985) to capture the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP. He’s also the only player to win the Conn Smythe in his first season with a new team. O’Reilly received 13 of a possible 18 first place votes. Jordan Binnington received 5 first place votes. Votes are counted as 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for a second place and 1 for 3rd place. O’Reilly had 78 MVP points to Binnington’s 46. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask placed 3rd in the voting. Rask had the top SV% of any goaltender in the post-season (.934). O’Reilly is also nominated for the Selke trophy is the league’s top defensive forward and the Lady Byng for most gentlemanly player. No player has won the Conn Smythe, Selke and Lady Byng in the same season. O’Reilly reportedly suffered a cracked rib in the Blues second round series against Dallas and played through the injury (with a lot of help from the Blues training staff).
  • The Blues had an incredible 10-3 record on the road in the post-season including winning three games in Boston in the Finals.
  • Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had a terrific post-season; he recorded the most points of any defenseman with 3 G & 16 A for 19 points in 26 GP. In the Cup winning game 7, Pietrangelo was on the ice for all four of the Blues goals. He assisted on the opening goal and scored the game winning, 2-0 goal, and played 26 minutes.
  • Blues rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington became the first rookie goaltender in NHL history to win 16 post-season games.
  • Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is the 12th Canadian to join the triple gold club. That is a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a IIHF World Championship. Bouwmeester has also won the World Cup of Hockey twice.
  • Bruins defenseman Torey Krug recorded 18 post season points in 24 games. His 18 points were most by a Bruins blueliner since Ray Bourque set a franchise record with 25 post season points. Krug also recorded 6 points in the Finals which is 3rd most in Bruins franchise history; only Bobby Orr in 1972 (8 points) and Orr again in 1974 (7 points) have recorded more. Krug has 46 points in 62 post-season games in his career. He enters the summer one year from UFA but has been clear, his preference is to remain a Bruin long term.
  • Playoffs points leader (9 G & 14 A), Brad Marchand, said he’ll never get over the game 7 loss saying he could not accurately put into words how getting so close and losing felt. Marchand has made three trips to the finals as a Bruin, 2011, 2013 and 2019, and has won one Cup.


  • The Buffalo Sabres signed forward UFA forward Jeff Skinner to a max / 8 year contract at an average annual rate of $9 M /season. Skinner scored 40 goals (40 G 23 A for 63 points in 82 GP) last season playing wing on the Sabres top line centered by Jack Eichel. GM Jason Botterill indicated there has been discussions with forward Jason Pominville about a new contract. Pominville, 36, is a July 1 UFA who recorded 31 points on 16 goals in the 2018-19 season.
  • Experts say with Skinner getting $9 M /season, pending UFA Matt Duchene can expect to get as least the same amount or probably more when he signs on July 1. In 73 games played in the 2018-19 season, Duchene recorded 31 goals and 39 assists for 70 points.
  • The New York Islanders signed forward Jordan Eberle to a 5 year contract at an annual rate of $5.5 M. Eberle was scheduled to become an UFA on July 1, 2019. In 78 games in the 2018-19 season, Eberle recorded 19 goals and 18 assists. He recently said he felt he found his niche with the team in the second half of the season and likes the direction the organization is going in. He added as he’s now 29 years old and winning is more important than it was earlier in his career.
  • Dallas signed pending UFA defenseman Roman Polak to a a one year contract for $1.75 M. It’s the forth straight one year deal Polak has signed.
  • Dallas also signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one year deal at $2.3 M.
  • The Stars have had some initial discussions with pending UFA forward Mats Zuccarello. The Stars acquired the player at the trade deadline from the New York Rangers. Discussion are suppose to continue leading up to July 1. If the Stars do reach a contract agreement with him, the 2020 3rd round draft pick that NY  received in the deal becomes a first rounder for the Rangers.
  • The New Jersey Devils signed one of their top forward prospects in Swede Jesper Boqvist. The player was drafted in the second round, 36th overall, in the 2017 Entry Draft (Devils forward Nico Heisher was drafted first overall in the same draft class). This season playing in the Swedish Hockey League, Boqvist, 20, recorded 12 goals and 22 assists for 35 points in 51 games played. I believe the Devils hope Boqvist can step into the NHL in the upcoming season. Jesper’s younger brother, Adam, is a first rounder (2018, 8th overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks. Adam Boqvist, 18, played this past season with the London Knights of the OHL where he recorded 60 points (20 G & 40 A) in 54 games played.
  • Former NHL goaltender Antti Niemi has signed a one year contract in the KHL. Niemi played 11 seasons in the NHL including recent stops in Montreal and Dallas.
  • The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Tarmo Reunanen to an entry level contract. Reunanen, 21, recorded 6 goals and 19 assists in 58 games with Lukko in Liiga this past season. He established Liiga career highs in several categories in 2018-19 including games played, goals, assists and points.
  • Columbus signed goaltender Veini Vehvilainen to a 2 year entry level contract. Vehvilainen was a 6th round draft pick of the organization back in 2018. He was named top goalie in Finland for the past two seasons. He had a 25-8-5 record, 1.58 GAA, .933 SV and 6 shutouts in 38 games with Karpat in Finland’s top pro league.
  • The LA Kings have signed Swedish forward Johan Sodergran to a 3 year entry level contract. Sodergran was the Kings 6th round draft pick in the 2018 entry draft. The player is 6-3, 205 pound native of Stockholm. In 42 games in the Swedish Elite league, he recorded 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points. Sodergran is expected to attend the Kings Development Camp at the end of June.

Odds & Ends

  • Connor McDavid reportedly suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his left knee in the Oilers final regular season game. No surgery was required but he is apparently still rehabilitating the knee and is expected to the ready for September training camp. Oilers GM Ken Holland was recently in Toronto and met with McDavid face to face.
  • Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is expected to the ready for September training camp. He suffered a torn ACL in his knee near the end of the season. Koivu, 36, has one year left on his contract at $5.5 M.
  • The AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Charolette Checkers, won the AHL championship (Calder Cup). It was their first AHL title.
  • The East Coast Hockey League champions for 2019 are the Newfoundland Growlers who are the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Marlies. It was the Growlers first season in the ECHL. Dubas said all credit goes to John Snowden, the team’s head coach. MLSE signed Snowden to a 2 year contract extension this past Wednesday.
  • St. Louis Blues senior consultant Larry Robinson won his 10th Cup. He won six Cups as a player and now four as a coach/consultant.
  • Seems many players like playing in Boston. Defenseman Tory Krug, who is one year from UFA status, says he hopes to play his entire career in Boston. Pending UFA Marcus Johansson (4 G & 7 A in 22 playoff games) recently said he hopes he can reach a contract agreement with the Bruins. Defenseman Brandon Carlo also recently said he loves playing in Boston. Similarly, RFA Charlie McAvoy says after the Cup Final loss, he wants to play in Boston for his whole career, if possible. McAvoy said the Cup finals loss was disappointing from the point of view he wanted to carry on Boston’s tradition (Patriots, Red Sox) of winning titles. McAvoy enters the summer as a RFA and is looking to sign a long term deal with the Bruins.
  • Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote has a son named Nolan that is expected to drafted in the 2nd round in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver. Nolan is a power forward who played for Kelowna of the WHL this past season. In 66 games with the Rockets this season, Foote recorded 36 goals and 27 assists for 63 points. Nolan’s older brother, Cal Foote, is a defenseman who was drafted in 2017 in the first round to Tampa Bay and played with the ‘Bolts AHL this past season.
  • Flames prospect Spencer Foo is reportedly leaving the Flames organization to sign in the KHL, with the Kanlun Red Stars. Foo is apparently wanting to represent his country, China, in the 2022 Winter Olympics which are in Beijing.
  • Some people have speculated the Canucks may announce something soon regarding the retirement of Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s #22 and #33 jersey’s. On the eve of the Entry Draft, June 20th at Rogers Arena the organization is holding a Summer Summit for season ticket holders. The Canucks will celebrate their 50th year in the NHL in the 2019-20 season.
  • I read 44% of Canadians (15.9 million viewers) watched all or part of the Raptors championship clinching win this past Thursday. I heard many people comment that Raptors basketball was at least, if not more, entertaining than the Stanley Cup playoffs.
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