It’s officially the last week of the offseason with the first games of the new regular season slated for Wednesday. Obviously roster pare downs dominated the headlines this week but there were a few other transactions of note as well as a handful of injuries that might prompt teams to see what’s available on the open market. Without further ado, here is the roundup of this week’s top hockey stories.
Key Free Agent Signings:
- Kris Russell – Edmonton (one year, $3.1MM): It’s probably not the lucrative deal Russell was looking for at the outset of free agency but the veteran shot-blocker finally did secure a contract for 2016-17. Perhaps with a solid performance for the Oil, Russell will be in better position to pursue a multi-year pact next summer.
- Tobias Rieder – Arizona (two years, $4.45MM): It looks like the Coyotes got the player at the price they wanted. It had been reported that Rieder was looking for $5MM over two years while the club was offering $4.4MM. Clearly the 23-year-old forward gave more than he got, presumably because he wanted to get back on the ice.
- Jakub Nakladal – Carolina (one year, $600K): It will be interesting to see how the 28-year-old Nakladal fits with the Hurricanes current crop of talented blue liners. Not including Nakladal, Carolina has seven NHL-caliber defensemen on the roster, only one of whom is older than 24.
Added on Waivers:
- Martin Frk – Carolina: Carolina wasn’t the only team that put a claim in on Frk but the Hurricanes were awarded the young Czech RW. He potted 27 goals for Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids in 2015-16 and it was mildly surprising to see the Wings risk losing him by placing him on waivers but clearly they felt the roster spot was best committed elsewhere.
- Edmonton trades RW Nail Yakupov to St. Louis in exchange for Zach Pochiro and a conditional draft choice (a third in 2017 can become a second in 2018 if Yakupov scores 15 or more goals).
- Montreal deals Tim Bozon to Florida for D Jonathan Racine in an exchange of minor leaguers.
- Jonathan Huberdeau is expected to miss 3 – 4 months with what is being called a lower-body-injury. It will be interesting to see if Panthers management looks outside the organization in an attempt to fill the void as Huberdeau was the team’s top scorer on the LW. The team does have around $10MM in cap space if they did choose to go that route.
- Nick Bjugstad will be out for four weeks due to a broken hand. The Panthers third-line pivot tallied 34 points in 67 games last season.
- Michael Del Zotto is set to miss the next 4 – 5 weeks with the dreaded lower-body-injury.
- Again with the lower-body-injury, the Flyers will also be without C Scott Laughton for three to our weeks.
- Devils defenseman Jon Merrill is out four weeks with a broken index finger.
- Penalty-killing specialist Matt Hendricks will miss significant time, once more due to a lower-body-injury. Oilers head coach Todd McLellan indicated it would be “weeks” before Hendricks would be able to return.
- Defenseman Barret Jackman called it quits after a solid, 14-year NHL career. Jackman was originally chosen in the first-round by St. Louis back in 1999 and played all but one season with the Blues before finishing up in Nashville. He wraps up his career with 186 points more than 1,100 penalty minutes in 876 regular season contests.
- Dan Boyle announced his retirement following 17 seasons in the NHL. Boyle, one of the league’s top offensive blue liners throughout much of his career, recorded at least 39 points eight out of nine seasons from 2002-03 through 2011-12. He would score more than 600 regular season points in nearly 1,100 NHL games. Boyle was a member of the 2003-04 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Lightning and also spent time with Florida and San Jose before wrapping up his career playing two seasons with the New York Rangers.