The rich got richer yesterday, as the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Zach Aston-Reese, arguably the top college free agent in this year’s class. The Northeastern forward led the nation in scoring, and should follow nicely in the footsteps of other NCAA free agents to find success in Pittsburgh. That doesn’t sound like it will be the case for Blaine Byron though, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports the University of Maine star will likely wait to become a free agent in August.
Byron was a sixth-round pick of the Penguins in 2013, and broke out this season as a senior for Maine. With 41 points in 36 games, the small center easily paced his team for the second straight year. Incredible vision off the rush is Byron’s calling card, though he will need to add strength to compete at the next level. He’ll likely have several teams after him in the summer, though it shouldn’t be as insane as last year’s Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes.
- As CapFriendly reports, Jack Eichel triggered a bonus last night when he scored his 20th goal. The Buffalo Sabres forward could receive a $2MM escalator should he finish the season in the top-10 of points per game. He currently sits ninth in the league, meaning the Sabres may face a overage penalty next season. They currently have just under $1.4MM in cap space remaining, meaning the other $600K would be applied as a penalty to next season. While that’s not crippling for a team, it is important to note as the Sabres go into this summer looking to compete next season.
- Brandon Kozun, a former Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, has re-signed with his KHL team according to Andrew Walker of Sportsnet. The diminutive forward has found immense success in Russia, scoring 56 points in 59 games this season for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. A team featuring several former NHL players and prospects, Kozun easily led the squad this year.
- The United States Women’s National Hockey Team will boycott the upcoming World Championships, as they fight for equitable support. The team released a statement today through several players, including Megan Bozek, the NWHL’s reigning winner of Best Defender. The team simply wants better financial support for their players who dedicate years of training to the international competitions. According to ESPN, the women are given $1,000 for each of the six months of Olympic residency, and nothing during the remainder of the four years of training. If the US team were to not compete in the tournament, it would be a huge blow. The matchups between Canada and the United States are the big draw for the tournament, and without one of the two powerhouses it will likely be a romp for the Canadians through to the gold medal.